Chapter 236

Chapter 236

2003 -- S 0588 AS AMENDED

Enacted 07/15/03





     Introduced By: Senators Lenihan, Cote, and Perry

     Date Introduced: February 13, 2003   



It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:


     SECTION 1. Title 42 of the General Laws entitled "State Affairs and Government" is

hereby amended by adding thereto the following chapter:

     CHAPTER 64.8


     42-64.8-1. Short title. – This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Urban

Infrastructure Commission.”

     42-64.8-2. Legislative findings. – (a) It is found and declared that Rhode Island’s urban

centers serve as centers of economic activity and offer a wide range of cultural and architectural

assets; that these and other assets continue to contribute greatly to the economic and cultural

prosperity of the state’s urban centers, the greater metropolitan area, and the state as a whole.

     (b) It is further found that as cities age they often experience deteriorating infrastructure

and increasing effective tax rates, adversely impacting their ability to retain and attract business;

that the economic future of the suburbs, metropolitan areas, and the state as a whole, rests on the

overall health of the urban areas; and that continued urban decay further threatens Rhode Island’s

economic assets.

     (c) It is further found that creation of an urban renaissance fund is needed to leverage

private investment by providing resources for activities to improve the urban infrastructure from

activities including assessment of abandoned industrial sites to enhance marketability, brownfield

projects, urban land assembly and demolition of vacant and abandoned properties, waterside and

streetscape improvement, neighborhood and community “anchor” development and

transportation related projects.

     (d) It is further found and declared that because Rhode Island’s urban communities are

unable to sufficiently invest in local infrastructure supporting statewide economic activities, the

state should play a central role in developing and supporting a targeted urban infrastructure


     (e) The purpose of this chapter is to create a state urban infrastructure commission (UIC)

to develop a Rhode Island Urban Renaissance Fund.

     42-64.8-3. Creation of the commission. – There is hereby created and established the

Rhode Island Urban Infrastructure Commission hereinafter referred to as “the commission.” The

legislative authority for the commission shall cease as of February 15, 2004.

     42-64.8-4. Membership of commission. – (a) The commission shall be composed of ten

(10) members as follows:

     (1)_the chairperson of the house finance committee or his or her designee;

     (2) the chairperson of the senate finance committee or his or her designee;

     (3) the director of administration or his or her designee;

     (4) the director of the Rhode Island economic development corporation;

     (5) two (2) city and/or town officials from a municipality with two thousand (2,000)

persons per square mile or more based on the most recent U.S. Census appointed by the speaker

of the house;

     (6) two (2) city and/or town officials from a municipality with two thousand (2,000)

persons per square mile or more based on most recent U.S. Census appointed by the President of

the senate;

     (7) the president of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns or his or her designee;


     (8) the president of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council or his or her designee.

     (b) The governor shall designate a mayor to serve as chairperson of the commission, and

the vice chairperson of the commission shall also be designated by the governor from among the

members. In the event of the absence or disability of both the chairperson and vice chairperson,

the members of the commission shall elect a temporary chairperson by a majority vote of those

present and voting.

     (c) Should any member cease to be an officer or employee of the unit or agency he or she

is appointed to represent, his or her membership on the commission shall terminate immediately.

Any vacancy on the commission shall be filled by the appointing authority in the same manner as

the original appointment.

     42-64.8-5. Purposes. – The urban infrastructure commission is authorized, created and

established to develop a state-supported economic development financing tool known as the

urban renaissance fund and the necessary supporting legislation to assist eligible urban cities and

towns in local economic development projects and activities.

     42-64.8-6. Powers. – The urban infrastructure commission shall develop an action plan

to create and finance an urban renaissance fund. The plan shall include, but not be limited to:

     (a) the financial and administrative mechanisms necessary to support and spur private-

sector investments in urban communities, with public funds directly linked to private-sector

economic development initiatives;

     (b) the methods available to use the urban renaissance fund to provide municipalities and

redevelopment agencies access to seed capital to improve urban infrastructure and leverage

private investments, as well as assist communities in upgrading and reinvesting in existing urban

infrastructure (e.g. utilities, roads, sidewalks, sewers), arresting blight and decay, enhancing

municipal tax bases, and positioning urban communities to attract and retain employers;

     (c) eligibility requirements, standards, terms and conditions necessary for eligible cities

and towns to receive financial assistance in economic development activities through the urban

renaissance fund;

     (d) rules and regulations to address state certified comprehensive land use plans, capital

development plans and operating funds for maintenance of the assets;

     (e) the criteria and process for selecting and approving projects;

     (f) a process to monitor and evaluate the state’s investments through the urban

renaissance fund; and

     (g) alternative funding options to capitalize the fund for said purposes.

     42-64.8-7. Meetings -- Hearings -- Committees. – (a) The commission shall hold

meetings at such other times as it deems necessary. The commission may hold public hearings

from time-to-time on matters within its purview.

     (b) Each office, board, commission, council, department or agency of state government,

and each political subdivision of the state, shall cooperate with the commission in carrying out the

functions and duties imposed by this chapter.

     (c) The commission may establish committees as it deems advisable and feasible, whose

membership shall include at least one (1) member of the commission, but only the commission

itself may set policy or take other official action.

     (d) The commission shall promulgate rules of procedure governing its operations.

     (e) All meetings of the commission, or any committee thereof, at which public business is

discussed or formal action is taken shall conform to the state open meetings laws.

     42-64.8-8. Reports. – The urban infrastructure commission shall issue a report outlining

the findings and recommendations of the commission on establishing and financing an urban

renaissance fund no later than February 15, 2004. Copies of the report shall be submitted to the

governor, presiding officers of the general assembly, each city and town of the state, and

appropriate state departments and agencies regarding the commission’s work, including draft

legislation necessary to implement its recommendations. Reports of the commission shall be

available to the public.

     42-64.8-9. Severability. – If any provision or item of this act or the application thereof is

held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions, items or applications, and to this end

the provisions of the act are hereby declared severable.

     SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.