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15,073
  
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Providence) touted the benefits of legislation (2019-S 0112) that mandates financial literacy classes be taught to all students in the state’s public high schools at a National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) conference that was held in Providence this week.

The legislation, which she sponsored, states that the curriculum of the classes would include, but not be limited to, budgeting, maintaining credit, saving, investing, and protecting and insuring assets.
"We are letting our children down by not teaching them the most important and most needed skill in adulthood - financial literacy. Without adequate financial literacy, our graduating students are put at a distinct disadvantage in starting their adult lives. This must end for the sake of our students and our economies,” said Senator Cano.

The conference was titled the 2019 Treasury Management Training Symposium and it was been held in Providence from May 21 to May 24 and took place at the Rhode Island Convention Center.  The conference attracted over 725 attendees from more than 40 states.  There were several presentations on a variety of treasury topics and Senator Cano spoke at the presentation concerning personal financial education and empowerment programs.  There, she stressed the need for financial literacy classes to be taught to Rhode Island’s high school students.

“We are doing a huge disservice to our children when they become legal adults without the basic financial knowledge needed to navigate our complex financial system.  And sadly, this is especially true for our children who come from minority and immigrant households.  Many of the children from these backgrounds simply do not have access to the financial knowledge and literacy at home that many other children have and it is up to us to make sure these children are taught these basic financial tools at school,” said Senator Cano.

Seven Rhode Island school districts have made personal finance a graduation requirement, and most Rhode Island high schools offer classes that include personal finance, but, Rhode Island is an outlier in not guaranteeing that all students benefit from personal finance education.

Senator Cano’s bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Education.

From the left: Sen. Sandra Cano, Yanely Espinal, Rick Metters, and Patricia Page, presenters at the NAST Financial Education and Empowerment Program presentation at the Providence Convention Center

5/24/2019SenSen. Sandra Cano; #245; Andrew Caruolo
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NoYesApproved3703365/24/2019 11:02 AMSystem Account5/24/2019 11:02 AMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
15,070
  
STATE HOUSE – The House today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese to create a statewide animal abuser registry aimed at preventing those with a history of mistreating animals from obtaining other animals.

“People who have abused animals should not be allowed to own other animals. Pets are utterly defenseless, and allowing those who are known to abuse them to have more of them is subjecting those animals to an almost-certain fate of pain, suffering and perhaps death. This is a common-sense measure to prevent known abusers from having easy access to more likely victims,” said Representative Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence). “Besides protecting animals, a registry would provide assistance and peace of mind to the dedicated people who work to find homes for homeless animals. The last thing they want is to send a pet into the arms of an abuser, and this will give them a tool to avoid that situation.”

Under the legislation (2019-H 5113aa), which will now go to the Senate, the registry would be maintained by the Attorney General’s office, and would include all animal abusers who are convicted or plead guilty or nolo contendere after the legislation has been enacted. The abuser’s information would be on the registry for 15 years after his or her release from incarceration, or upon conviction if no jail time is served.  Those convicted of a second animal abuse charge would be on the registry for life. All convicted animal abusers would have five days from release or conviction to register and must pay a one-time $125 fee for the administration and maintenance of the online registry. 

The legislation requires the registry be made available on the Attorney General’s website, and requires that animal shelters and pet sellers check the registry before allowing the sale or adoption of any animal to confirm that the animal buyer is not on it, or face a fine of up to $1,000.  Any animal abuser who fails to register is subject to a misdemeanor conviction punishable by incarceration of no more than one year and a fine not to exceed more than $1,000. The same punishment applies for abusers on the registry who are caught owning or possessing an animal, with the exception of farm animals for farmers and service animals for people with disabilities.

The legislation is modeled after “Rocky’s Law,” which was enacted in Orange County, N.Y., and named after a Staffordshire Terrier named Rocky whose owner left him outdoors in freezing temperatures without food or water for five weeks while he went on vacation. Rocky’s resulting deterioration led to his euthanization, and his owner was arrested.

According to the legislation, those who have abused animals are likely to do so again. Some types of animal abuse, such as animal hoarding, have a recidivism rate of nearly 100 percent. There is also a strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence.

Creating an animal abuse registry that is available online would make animal welfare agencies, shelters and pet stores partners with the state in helping to prevent abuse. It would also enable ordinary citizens who might be looking for a new home for their pet or its offspring to be sure they are not handing an innocent creature over to a known abuser.

The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) and Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence).
5/23/2019RepRep. Arthur Corvese; #11; Meredyth R. Whitty
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The House approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese to create a statewide animal abuser registry aimed at preventing those with a history of mistreating animals from obtaining other animals.

YesYesApproved3703335/23/2019 12:54 PMSystem Account5/23/2019 5:49 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
15,072
  
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Mario Mendez is sponsoring legislation to help schools find more teachers who are qualified to teach specialty subjects.

The legislation is part of the comprehensive education reform package recently introduced in both chambers of the General Assembly to better equip students and schools to succeed.

The legislation (2019-H 6100) would create a process for certifying teachers with certain specialty skills. Its intent is to alleviate difficulties that districts have in finding qualified teachers with certain skills for elementary and secondary education. Typically, such specialty skills are needed for the STEM curricula: science, technology, engineering and math.

“In order for students to be fully equipped for the 21st century, they need a strong foundation in the STEM subjects. Every district needs highly educated STEM instructors, and this legislation will provide a broader pool of qualified candidates. Ultimately, it will mean more teachers with a passion for these subjects will be available to our schools so students will have the highest quality instruction we can provide,” said Representative Mendez (D-Dist. 13, Johnston, Providence).

The legislation creates a certification program for provisional educators, through which qualified individuals could teach, with supervisory conditions, while pursuing the educational requirements for standard certification. To qualify, candidates must be of sound moral character, have a bachelor’s in a subject appropriate to their instructional field and pass a two-part test on writing and literacy and the subject matter they would be teaching. Districts hiring provisional educators would be required to develop a plan to be approved by the Department of Education for how the teacher will be supervised, supported and further trained. The provisional educator could be eligible for standard certification after at least a year and completion of a master’s program or equivalent training.

Rep. Mendez introduced the bill May 10, and it was heard May 15 by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. Similar legislation (2019-S 0867) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Thomas J. Paolino (R-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield).

5/23/2019RepRep. Mario F. Mendez; #247; Meredyth R. Whitty
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NoYesApproved3703355/23/2019 5:05 PMSystem Account5/23/2019 5:05 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives has passed legislation introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would extend the air quality monitoring program at T.F. Green Airport.

The bill (2019-H 5672A) would extend the required air quality monitoring program at the airport for two years to July 31, 2021. The act would also provide the sunset provision for the air quality monitoring program would be dependent upon the airport corporation undertaking certain specific actions regarding the collection and reporting of air quality data from monitors set up around the airport.

“This law was first passed in order to monitor the air quality around T.F. Green Airport,” said Representative McNamara, who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. “The citizens of Warwick have a right to know how air quality is being affected by jet engines taking off and landing at T.F. Green Airport. Two years ago we changed the location of air monitoring sites, specifically near the Winslow Park playing fields, where hundreds of children gather regularly for various sports leagues. In addition to the quarterly reports, the bill will require the Airport Corporation to compile at least 20 months of 9 complete air quality monitoring data from these monitors and submit that data to the Department of Health.”

The law calls for long-term air monitoring at four sites located near T.F. Green Airport to determine the impact of air pollutants, which may be harmful to public health on the densely populated, primarily residential area of the city of Warwick that surrounds the airport.

The Airport Corporation began monitoring for pollutants in early 2008 using procedures and specifications outlined in a work plan developed in consultation with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Health.

This bill also requires the corporation, the Department of Health, and the city of Warwick to publish technical reports and scientific publications that resulted from this health study on their respective websites no later than July 31, 2019, and to maintain them for at least five years.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2019-S 90906
5/23/2019RepRep. Joseph McNamara; #41; Daniel Trafford
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NoYesApproved3703345/23/2019 1:51 PMSystem Account5/23/2019 4:46 PMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Louis P. DiPalma’s legislation (2019-S 0715) that changes the way in which new, fully reflective registration plates would be issued, starting December 1, 2019, passed the Senate this week. The legislation would replace the wave-design license plates upon the renewal of the registration so that, over the course of a two year period, all wave plates would be phased out.

“I am thankful to the Senate for their overwhelming support of the plate re-issuance legislation, which is something I have been working on for over 7 years. I chaired a commission on this issue, which reinforced the current state law that all current wave plates should be re-issued with a new design. That should have been accomplished in 2008. Today, there are approximately 25,000 Rhode Island vehicles on the road which are unregistered, uninsured, and uninspected. The time to act is long overdue,” said Senator DiPalma.

The act would increase the registration fee for fully reflective plates from $6 to $15. Senator DiPalma said, “As a Rhode Island resident myself and an owner of a few vehicles with RI wave plates, I too do not want to see an increase in the price. However, the current cost of $6 per set of plates goes back to 1997. The $15 cost contemplated in the legislation is driven by the increase in material costs, specifically aluminum, as well as the approach the state has chosen to process, produce and deliver the plates to the owners via the mail.”

He noted that the alternate plan proposed by the governor in the budget for next fiscal year would have residents replace their plates when needed, but would cost $31.50 per set of plates.

Senator DiPalma states that plate re-issuance is a public safety, security and financial issue. It is also an issue of fairness and equity to all Rhode Islanders and that is why he has been advocating for a license plate re-issuance for many years.

The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

5/23/2019SenSen. Louis DiPalma; #147; Andrew Caruolo
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NoYesApproved3703325/23/2019 11:50 AMSystem Account5/23/2019 11:50 AMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
15,068
  
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives has passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) promoting the website ClinicalTrials.gov.

The bill (2019-H 5540A) would require the state Department of Health to post and maintain on its website a link to ClinicalTrials.gov, a free service of the National Institutes of Health Library of Medicine.

“Time is of the essence when individuals receive a diagnosis,” said Representative McNamara, who chairs the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. “This bill will help people immediately access clinical trials that are available here in Rhode Island; and with many diseases, such as pancreatic cancer, having access to these trials can make a huge difference.”

ClinicalTrials.gov is a web-based resource that provides patients, their family members, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with easy access to information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions. Information on ClinicalTrials.gov is provided and updated by the sponsor or principal investigator of the clinical study. Studies are generally submitted to the Web site when they begin, and the information on the site is updated throughout the study. In some cases, results of the study are submitted after the study ends. This website and database of clinical studies is commonly referred to as a "registry and results database."

A clinical trial is a research study in which human volunteers are assigned to interventions such as a medical product, behavior, or procedure based on a protocol and are then evaluated for effects on biomedical or health outcomes. ClinicalTrials.gov also contains records describing observational studies and programs providing access to investigational drugs outside of clinical trials.

The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.

5/23/2019RepRep. Joseph McNamara; #41; Daniel Trafford
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NoYesApproved3703315/23/2019 10:17 AMSystem Account5/23/2019 11:34 AMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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Bill is response to the St. Joseph pension insolvency
 
STATE HOUSE – The House today approved legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi to require pension plans managed by religious organizations in Rhode Island to send regular updates on the financial health of the pensions to their plan participants.

“This common-sense legislation will ensure members and retirees of all Rhode Island pension plans have information about the health of their pension plans,” said Majority Leader Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “It is the members of these pension plans, many of whom have spent decades serving their community, who are directly impacted. Members and retirees have a right to know about the health of their plan.”

The federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires most private pension plans to send members a letter each year outlining the health of their plan. Pension plans administered by religious organizations claim exemption from both ERISA and GASB reporting standards. Members of these plans often have no ability to access information regarding the financial health of their pensions.

Until they are required to provide this information, there remains a risk that other church-run pension plans could conceal vital financial information from plan members. 

The bill  (2019-H 5287Aaa) now goes to the Senate, which voted May 7 to approve companion legislation (2019-S 0431Aaa) sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).

The $85 million St. Joseph pension plan, which covers about 2,700 current and former employees of Our Lady of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals, was left insolvent when contributions to it ceased following the sale of Fatima and Roger Williams to Prospect Medical Holdings in 2014. A pending lawsuit filed on behalf of plan participants alleges that hospital operators conspired to conceal from regulators and fund participants that they were vastly underfunding the pension fund for years.

Majority Leader Shekarchi sponsored the bill in cooperation with General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.

“There are thousands of Rhode Islanders, including more than 2,700 current and retired employees of St. Joseph’s and Our Lady of Fatima hospitals, who have been kept in the dark regarding the health of their pension plan because of this loophole,” said Treasurer Magaziner. “Church plans should be required to be transparent with their members, just like other pension plans.”
5/22/2019RepRep. K. Joseph Shekarchi; #187; Meredyth R. Whitty
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NoYesApproved3703305/22/2019 4:41 PMSystem Account5/22/2019 4:42 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
15,066
  
STATE HOUSE – Legislation (2019-S 0201A) sponsored by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis that caps the interest rates charged by the town of Coventry to ratepayers for the town’s sewer project was passed by the Senate yesterday.  The vote on the bill was 35-0 in favor of the legislation.

“Sadly, this bill was necessary in order to protect the sewer ratepayers of Coventry from the unjustifiable actions of the Coventry Sewer Authority.  This project should not be a money-making scheme for the town.  We must make sure this is fair to homeowners and that no undue burden is being placed on those who are affected by the sewer expansion project. It’s inexcusable that the homeowner be charged almost twice the percentage the town is being charged as a rate for the sewer construction project loan or bond,” said Senator Raptakis.

The act would enable the town of Coventry to charge ratepayers of the Coventry sewer project a monetary interest charge in excess of those interest charges actually paid by the town for the funds it has borrowed for sewage works purposes. The excess interest charges shall be a maximum of one-half of one percent and shall be used only for administrative purposes.

The Auditor General recently completed a report at the request of Senator Raptakis and other members of the Coventry delegation in the General Assembly regarding the troubled sewer project.

The report lays out a detailed analysis of the operations and implementation of the controversial sewer project and offers several recommendations to rectify concerns about the program, as well as, recommendations to ensure the project’s short-term and long-term financial viability and success.
In particular, the Auditor General points to the recently passed legislation sponsored by Senator Raptakis which prohibits the town of Coventry from charging its sewage works’ users more than the interest the town has actually paid for its borrowed funds for sewage works’ purposes.

The report states, “The interest rate charged to homeowners has been higher at 6% than the Town’s actual borrowing costs which approximates 3% to 4%. Legislation has been introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly to limit the interest rate charged to homeowners on sewer assessments. Aligning the Town’s costs of borrowing with the interest charged on the assessments is both appropriate and necessary to lessen the cost of sewer assessments on homeowners and businesses.”

“I thank Auditor General Hoyle for this comprehensive and factually accurate report about the troubles that have plagued the Coventry sewer project and his recommendation for the need of my legislation that protects Coventry’s ratepayers.  Since the program’s inception, I have called for an independent report about the outrageous costs being imposed on Coventry’s ratepayers and the report lays out the problems associated with the program quite clearly.  It also offers many solutions to these issues and I will be fighting for the report’s other recommendations to be followed for the sake of Coventry’s residents and businesses,” said Senator Raptakis.

Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) has sponsored the companion legislation (2019-H 5798) in the House of Representatives.

The bill sponsored by Senator Raptakis is now before the House Municipal Government Committee.

5/22/2019SenSen. Leonidas Raptakis; #100; Andrew Caruolo
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NoYesApproved3703295/22/2019 4:39 PMSystem Account5/22/2019 4:39 PMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
15,065
  
STATE HOUSE – The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) honored four legislators yesterday during their annual Humane Lobby Day at the State House.  Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima, Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata, and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault were each honored with the Humane State Legislator Award due to their ground-breaking advances and advocacy for animal welfare in Rhode Island.

Speaker Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) was honored because under his leadership as Speaker of the House, Rhode Island has climbed in the Humane State Rankings by HSUS to the top tier.  The HSUS compiles an annual report based on a comprehensive rating of public policies dealing with animal cruelty and fighting, pets, wildlife, equines, animals in research, and farm animals.

“I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the Humane Society.  The work they do protecting our animal friends is not easy, but they are dedicated and driven, and every animal in Rhode Island is better off because the Humane Society exists.  Thank you for this award and I look forward to continuing our excellent professional relationship with the Humane Society,” said Speaker Mattiello.

Deputy Speaker Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence) received the award due to the passage of a bill she sponsored that ensures that dogs and cats used as test subjects at higher education research facilities in Rhode Island be afforded an opportunity to live out their lives in loving homes through adoption.

“Everyone knows that I am a tireless advocate for the health and safety of Rhode Island’s animals and this is why I am so touched to be honored by the Humane Society.  The society truly serves as a voice and protector to our voiceless animals and it is a privilege to work with them in the fight against animal abuse,” said Deputy Speaker Lima.

Senator Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) was honored because of a bill she sponsored that defines the term "adequate shelter" where dogs may be kept passed the General Assembly and became law. The bill limits the weight of any dog chain or tether to one-eighth of the dog’s total body weight. In addition, the legislation limits the time dogs may be tethered outdoors.

“Animal abuse is an abhorrent crime that sadly happens too often in our society.  That is why I am thankful for the ever-present efforts of the Humane Society to protect our animals through the modernization of our laws and the watchful and compassionate eyes of its members.  I thank them for this humbling award and for all the good work that the Humane Society does on a daily basis,” said Senator Lynch Prata.

Senator Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence) was recognized due to his sponsorship of legislation that protected animals from being left alone in hot cars as well as his sponsorship of legislation that aims to prohibit the operation of puppy mills in Rhode Island.

“I’d like to thank the Humane Society for this tremendous honor, and I would also like to thank them for their vigorous determination to help and protect the animals of Rhode Island.  We have made great strides against animal abuse, but there is still more work to be done and I am looking forward to continuing to work with the Humane Society to ensure the protection of Rhode Island’s animals,” said Senator Archambault.

Front row: Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima, Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault are joined by Stephanie Harris, the state director for the Humane Society, at the Human Society’s Lobby Day at the State House. Representatives from different Rhode Island animal protection groups join in the background.

5/22/2019SenRep. Nicholas Mattiello; Rep. Charlene Lima; Sen. Erin Lynch Prata; Sen. Stephen Archambault; #120; #16; #151; #204; Andrew Caruolo
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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) honored four legislators yesterday during their annual Humane Lobby Day at the State House.  Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima, Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata, and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault were each honored with the Humane State Legislator Award due to their ground-breaking advances and advocacy for animal welfare in Rhode Island.



YesYesApproved3703285/22/2019 11:21 AMSystem Account5/22/2019 11:22 AMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
15,063
  
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) has introduced a resolution (2019-S 0829) that denounces and opposes white nationalism and neo-Nazi groups in Rhode Island.

“I represent a large number of people of color, and tragically, we are witnessing a resurgence of hateful ideas and actions fueled by a vile and disturbing ideology of white supremacy.  I cannot stand by and do nothing. Hate crimes and attempts to turn back the clock on decades of racial progress are unacceptable. It is imperative to officially denounce and oppose these hate in our state and country.  This resolution seeks to send a strong message that white supremacy has no place in Rhode Island,” said Senator Nesselbush.

The resolution states that the Rhode Island Senate and the State of Rhode Island strongly denounces and opposes the totalitarian impulses, violent terrorism, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

The resolution cites the heinous attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in Poway, California to confirm that white nationalism and neo-Nazism are threats to social and racial progress, and they remain very real threats here in Rhode Island and throughout the United States of America.

If passed, this Rhode Island resolution will be sent to the Honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, the members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation, and the Honorable Gina M. Raimondo, Governor of the State of Rhode Island.

The resolution is currently before the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

5/21/2019SenSen. Donna Nesselbush; #179; Andrew Caruolo
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Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) has introduced a resolution (2019-S 0829) that denounces and opposes white nationalism and neo-Nazi groups in Rhode Island.


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STATE HOUSE – The House Finance Committee will be meeting on Thursday, May 23 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House to hear testimony on a new budget article relating to government efficiency proposed by the governor.  The committee will also hear testimony on recommendations from the governor’s efficiency commission report.

5/21/2019RepRep. Marvin Abney; #199; Andrew Caruolo
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NoYesApproved3703275/21/2019 1:22 PMSystem Account5/21/2019 1:22 PMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
15,060
  
STATE HOUSE – The House Judiciary Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, May 22 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 205 of the State House to consider one bill and hear testimony on several other bills.

The committee will consider legislation (2019-H 5329) sponsored by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) which enables innocent persons who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime to petition the presiding justice of the Superior Court for an award of compensation and damages.

The committee will also hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 6112, sponsored by Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), requires state departments and agencies to promulgate rules and regulations prior to the first day of the next legislative session after passage with General Assembly oversight committees to keep public record of same.
  • 2019-H 6113, sponsored by Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), permits Division of Motor Vehicles to issue probationary operator's licenses to those who had their licenses suspended, under certain conditions and for reasons of extreme hardship. Offenses involving alcohol, injury or death would be ineligible.
  • 2019-H 6114, sponsored by Representative Serpa, requires that all persons seeking appointment as a limited guardian or guardian pursuant to chapter 15 of title 33 ("Limited Guardianships and Guardianship of Adults") be required to undergo a criminal background check.
  • 2019-H 6115, sponsored by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), makes a number of technical amendments to the general laws, prepared at the recommendation of the Law Revision Office. Article I contains the reenactment of title 5 of the general laws. Article II includes the statutory construction provisions.

5/21/2019RepRep. Robert Craven; #189; Andrew Caruolo
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NoYesApproved3703235/21/2019 10:33 AMSystem Account5/21/2019 1:21 PMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
15,062
  
STATE HOUSE – Rep. David A. Bennett, chairman of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced legislation that would ban Rhode Island food service establishments from using disposable polystyrene foam containers and plastic stirrers.

The legislation (2019-H 6126), introduced Thursday, is aimed at eliminating waste that is generally not recycled in Rhode Island in favor of more environmentally friendly packaging.

“If we don’t drastically reduce waste in Rhode Island, the central landfill will reach its capacity in just 15 years. We simply have to stop making so much trash,” said Chairman Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston). “Single-use foam containers and plastic stirrers are low-hanging fruit in terms of wasteful things that we can easily live without. It’s 2019, and we have lots of alternatives to disposable foam, from paper and compostable containers to recyclable and reusable ones. Wooden stirrers work just as well as plastic, or — even better — you can put your cream and sugar in first and it’ll blend as you pour in the coffee, no stirrer needed. Let’s say no to this trash and yes to less waste in our environment.”

The chairman said his bill is inspired by the worldwide movement to eliminate disposable plastic straws, an effort that is the subject of a separate bill (2019-H 5314) he is also sponsoring. The bill is based on legislation signed into law in Maine last month, making that state the first to pass a statewide ban.

His legislation would apply to restaurants and any other establishment where prepared food is served, including farmers’ markets, food pantries and nursing homes, although the bill does include exceptions for hospitals and “Meals on Wheels”-type programs.
 
The bill, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2021, would prohibit such establishments from providing food in single-use containers and cups made in whole or in part of blown, expanded or extruded polystyrene foam, or from providing beverage stirrers made from plastic. The bill is intended to apply to items like takeout containers and cups as well as egg cartons and trays that hold items like meat.

Polystyrene foam has long been used for packaging because it is cheap to produce, lightweight to ship and effective at retaining both heat and cold. However, it is not often cost-effective to recycle and does not biodegrade. It also breaks apart easily and floats, which makes it dangerous to animals that mistake it for food.

Many establishments already have stopped using foam, and others are currently phasing it out. Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s both committed to eliminating its use.

Maine became the first state to ban polystyrene foam food containers when its governor signed the bill April 30. The measure takes effect in 2021. Maryland’s legislature has passed a ban although it is unclear whether its governor will sign it, and Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon are also weighing statewide bans. Many municipalities around the country, including New York City, have adopted local ordinances banning some or all types of polystyrene foam food packaging.
 

5/21/2019RepRep. David Bennett; #161; Meredyth R. Whitty
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Rep. David A. Bennett, chairman of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced legislation that would ban Rhode Island food service establishments from using disposable polystyrene foam containers and plastic stirrers.


YesYesApproved3703255/21/2019 11:25 AMSystem Account5/21/2019 11:25 AMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
15,061
  
STATE HOUSE — The House Committee on Oversight is scheduled to meet Thursday to hear an update on the vendor that provides transportation to the elderly and Medicaid beneficiaries.

The committee will meet Thursday, May 23, at the rise of the House (about 5 p.m.) in Room 101 on the first floor of the State House.

Since Jan. 1, Missouri-based Medical Transportation Management has been responsible for coordinating transportation services for Medicaid beneficiaries and individuals over the age of 60 for non-emergency medical services. The transition has been a rocky one, with almost 1,300 complaints that the service has either been delayed or that drivers never showed up.

The Oversight Committee met twice in February to review hundreds of complaints lodged against the vendor. During the hearings, it was revealed that the company would pay a $1-million penalty and agree to future monetary sanctions until all problems have been resolved. The committee met again in April to continue overseeing the improvements, and will continue to do so to ensure that the remaining problems have been fixed to the satisfaction of the committee.

The House Oversight Committee is chaired by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick).
5/21/2019RepRep. Patricia Serpa; #121; Daniel Trafford
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NoNoApproved3703245/21/2019 10:56 AMSystem Account5/21/2019 10:57 AMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – The Special Legislative Commission to Study and Evaluate the Impact of “Project Sustainability” in the State of Rhode Island will be meeting this Wednesday, May 22 at 2:00 pm in the Senate Lounge of the State House.  The commission is chaired by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Tiverton, Newport).

Project Sustainability, which was enacted in the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals’ (BHDDH) FY2012 budget, is the fee-for-service reimbursement and payment system for Medicaid supported adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The commission will continue to hear and discuss presentations that will help form the commission’s recommendations for the desired future state of Project Sustainability.  The presentations have been created by members of the commission.

The 19-member commission consists of Senator DiPalma as chairman, two consumer advocates, several representatives from BHDDH and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, other patient advocates, and representatives from different service providers.

Public comment will be taken at the meeting.

5/21/2019SenSen. Louis DiPalma; #147; Andrew Caruolo
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NoYesApproved3703225/21/2019 9:31 AMSystem Account5/21/2019 9:31 AMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – The House Finance Committee will be meeting twice this week in order to receive a budget update and to hear testimony on several new budget articles

On Tuesday, May 21 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will receive a briefing on the state budget’s status.

On Wednesday, May 22 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following budget articles:

5/20/2019RepRep. Marvin Abney; #199; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate Judiciary Committee will be meeting tomorrow, May 21 at the RISE of the Senate (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 313 of the State House, to hear testimony on legislation (2019-S 0830) sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) that would provide for the establishment of "limited compassion centers." The additional centers would be identical to compassion centers except that limited compassion centers would not grow, cultivate or manufacture marijuana, but they would acquire it by purchase and provide it to registered qualifying patients and their registered primary caregivers or authorized purchasers. 

5/20/2019SenSen. Erin Lynch Prata; #151; Andrew Caruolo
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NoYesApproved3703185/20/2019 11:22 AMSystem Account5/20/2019 11:23 AMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to vote on extending the musical and theatrical productions tax credit. The panel will also hear several bills, including legislation creating an opioid stewardship payment program.

The committee will meet Tuesday, May 21, at the rise of the Senate (about 4:30 p.m.) in Room 211 on the second floor of the State House.

The panel is scheduled to consider legislation (2019-S 0203) introduced by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) that would extend the period for musical and theatrical productions to obtain tax credits to July 1, 2024.

In addition, the committee is scheduled to hear testimony on several bills, including the following:
  • 2019-S 0062 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), would require municipalities to exempt from taxation the real property of a surviving spouse of a law enforcement officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty, who occupies the real property as their principal place of residence.
  • 2019-S 0433 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence), would protect seniors and qualified disabled adults from financial exploitation.
  • 2019-S 0558 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton), would require the state to phase in the use of zero emission vehicles beginning in 2020 using state fleet replacement revolving loan funds.
  • 2019-S 0798 — This bill, sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), would establish an opioid stewardship payment program which manufacturers and distributors of opioids would pay into, to support opioid treatment programs.
The Senate Finance Committee is chaired by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket).

5/20/2019SenSen. William Conley; #202; Daniel Trafford
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NoNoApproved3703175/20/2019 11:03 AMSystem Account5/20/2019 11:04 AMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The leadership of the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives unveiled a package of education reform bills during a press conference at the State House today.

“We were all disappointed by the standardized test scores last year,” said Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston). “There was also a great disparity in results from community to community, often based on income. This package of bills will standardize curriculum, improve governance and accountability so more decisions are made at the local level, and improve teacher training and evaluation. These are long-term solutions that will really change the ways that schools do business.”

The legislation would bring a comprehensive reform to curriculum, instruction support, accountability, teacher certification, specialty skills certification, teacher assessments and the principal certification process.

“We have high standards in place, as well as assessments that are aligned to those standards. However, we never did the hard work of ensuring our curriculum prepares students for these expectations. Nor have we done the difficult work of better preparing and supporting teachers so they are equipped to help students succeed. We have the gold standard in education right next door in Massachusetts, and we looked to their model to see what best practices could make a real difference here,” said Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).

The first bill (2019-S 0863, 2019-H 5008) would require the Commissioner of Education to align statewide academic standards with curriculum and the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System. It would also require the Commissioner to develop curriculum frameworks, which are broad, research-based instructional strategies for educators to help students develop the skills, competencies, and knowledge called for by the statewide standards.

“This bill would ensure that our academic standards set forth the skills, competencies, and knowledge expected of each student. The curriculum will align with those standards, and the frameworks would provide strategies to help meet the diverse needs of our students, closing any gaps that exist,” said Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee and sponsor of the bill. “The bills seek to bring about a culture change within our education system so that the talented professionals at the Department of Education can shift from ensuring compliance to assisting schools with on the ground – or in the classroom – support. We need educators, not regulators.”

“The goal is to give parents a clear map of what their children will be learning, and have it be consistent statewide,” said Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare, and sponsor of the bill. “It’s tremendously important that we bring these three tiers — standards, curriculum and testing — into alignment.”

Under the second bill (2019-S 08642019-H 6111), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would become a professional support partner with local education agencies regarding effective ways to evaluate student improvement and proficiency. The department would support local schools by providing a comprehensive understanding of how curriculum affects those schools based on their specific characteristics, such as size, budget, and demographics. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) and Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence).

The third bill (2019-S 0865, 2019-H 6084) increases building-level management of our schools, increases on-the-ground support for underperforming schools, and provides for the same support at the district level, which has not existed before. Student assessments would include a range of elements, such as work samples, projects, and portfolios, in recognition of the variety of student learning styles.

 “This bill will increase the authority and power of those who know their schools best – the principals, teachers and community members who are fully aware of the their school’s needs and how to best meet these needs,” said Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), the House sponsor of the bill. “I have spoken with numerous school professionals, in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, and they tell me such a change would make a significant difference in their ability to properly cultivate the educational environment in order to best serve our children. This bill is an important piece of the reforms we are trying to enact so that our children have the best educational opportunities in our state.”

“This legislation will create a greater collaboration among state, district and school officials to develop and implement plans,” said Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), the Senate sponsor of the bill. “This bill is really a culture change for our schools. It’s reform that will focus on the success of individuals by giving greater authority to those who are actually doing the educating at a school and district level.”

The fourth bill (2019-S 0866, 2019-H 6098), which applies to new teachers, would add an instructional component to the test that teachers must pass to get their certificates. This component will demonstrate that, in addition to understanding what they will teach, the aspiring educator must understand how to teach that subject matter to students. The bill is sponsored by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket).

The fifth bill (2019-S 0867, 2019-H 6100) would create a process for certifying teachers with certain specialty skills. Its intent is to alleviate difficulties that districts have in finding qualified teachers with certain skills for elementary and secondary education. Typically, such specialty skills are needed for the STEAM curricula: science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Mario F. Mendez (D-Dist. 13, Johnston, Providence) and Sen. Thomas J. Paolino (R-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield).

The sixth bill (2019-S 0868, 2019-H 6099) would create a new teacher evaluation system designed, in part, to promote growth, place student learning in the center, and shorten improvement timelines. It will apply to both administrators and educators. The bill is sponsored by Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich).

The seventh bill (2019-S 0869, 2019-H 6085) would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a fast-track program to certify new principals. Applicants to the program must have at least 10 years of experience as an “effective” or “highly effective” teacher, a recommendation from the superintendent where they have taught, a record of leadership and a master’s degree. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) and Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence).
5/7/2019SenRep. Nicholas Mattiello; Sen. Dominick Ruggerio; Sen. Hanna Gallo; Rep. Joseph McNamara; Rep. Gregg Amore; Sen. Ryan Pearson; #120; #85; #88; #41; #195; #203; Daniel Trafford
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The leadership of the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives unveiled a package of education reform bills during a press conference at the State House today.

YesYesApproved3702865/7/2019 3:48 PMSystem Account5/17/2019 12:31 PMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate Finance Committee this week took testimony on legislation sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer to protect student loan borrowers and establish oversight of student loan servicers operating in Rhode Island.

The legislation (2019-S 0737), titled the Student Loan Bill of Rights, sets standards for student loan servicing, both prohibiting predatory behavior and providing best practices for protecting consumers’ rights. It requires that student loan servicers register with the state and allows state regulators to examine servicers’ business practices. Additionally, the legislation allows the Attorney General and Department of Business Regulation to penalize servicers who violate borrower rights and to seek restitution on behalf of borrowers in Rhode Island. It would also require better communication from lenders to borrowers about any transfer of their loan to another institution and about any alternative repayment or forgiveness program for which the borrower may qualify.

Borrowers in Rhode Island report being double-charged or incorrectly marked as delinquent in payment, with loan servicers taking months, or ever years, to correct mistakes.  Additionally, many student loan borrowers eligible for the national “Public Service Loan Forgiveness” program have received incorrect and contradictory information from their loan servicers, leading to improper denials of loan forgiveness.

“The heavy burden of student debt is challenging enough for the majority of college graduates. Incompetent, inefficient or even deceitful loan servicers should not be allowed to exacerbate their struggles. Student loan servicers must be held accountable to ensure that they are providing honest, reliable information and services to their borrowers,” said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown).

The bill is backed by both General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha and has been incorporated into Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s 2020 budget proposal.

More than 133,000 Rhode Islanders, including 16,000 senior citizens, have a combined $4.5 billion in student loan debt. Over $470 million of Rhode Islanders’ student loan debt is delinquent.

House Health, Education and Welfare Chairman Joseph M. McNamara has introduced the legislation (2019-H 5936) in the House.
5/16/2019SenSen. Dawn Euer; #244; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE – With approval in both chambers today, the General Assembly has given its assent for the City of Providence to issue up to $20 million in bonds for repairs to city schools.

The legislation (2019-H 5174, 2019-S 0847), sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Scott A. Slater, will now go to the governor.

The $20 million bond was approved by the Providence City Council in February, and is to be borrowed through the Providence Public Buildings Authority.

About 82 percent of the funding would be reimbursed by the state.

“Providence schools are crumbling and many are in desperate need of repair. Our children deserve, at minimum, a safe, clean, healthy environment in which to learn. The money in this bond is critical for some of the more urgent needs, but in reality, it is a small part of the investment necessary to bring our aging fleet of school buildings up to today’s standards,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence). “With the addition of the $160 million in bonds approved by city voters in November and money from the state bonds, I am hopeful that our buildings are on their way to becoming the safe and innovative facilities that our kids should have.”

Said Representative Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence), “While buildings, of course, are only part of the picture, they set the tone for learning. It sends a poor message to kids about the value of their education when we send them to a school that’s dingy and plagued by mold, where they dodge trash cans set out to catch leaks, where the heat doesn’t work properly. Providence schoolchildren matter, their education matters, and it matters that they go to school in safe, modern buildings where the focus can be on learning.”

The money is slated for repairs at several city schools. It includes roof replacements at Hope High School, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Veazie Street Elementary School and Fortes Elementary School, a new boiler at Carl Lauro Elementary School and a new fire alarm and sprinkler system for Spaziano Elementary School. 

5/16/2019RepSen. Maryellen Goodwin; Rep. Scott Slater; #104; #155; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller to help protect Rhode Islanders’ access to insurance coverage in the face of threats to the federal Affordable Care Act.

The legislation, sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller and House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara, would ensure that the standards of the Affordable Care Act — often called Obamacare — remain in effect in Rhode Island, even if the courts or Congress were to eliminate the federal laws that created it.

The bill (2019-S 0738A) is also designed to provide predictability to insurers, stabilizing the Rhode Island insurance market regardless of the future of the federal law.

“Whatever may happen at the federal level, we want to do everything we can to help Rhode Islanders remain adequately insured. This bill enacts the Affordable Care Act’s standards of care that in most instances have been in place since 2010 at the state level in case the ACA is overturned or repealed. It also tells insurers that, here in Rhode Island, the quality of insurance is not going to change, so they know what benefits and coverage they can offer to policyholders. They have to be able to know the parameters to which they’re going to be held in the near future in order to write policies. This bill will protect Rhode Islanders’ health and wallets, no matter what politics play out in Washington,” said Chairman Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives, where House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-H 5916).
 
The legislation enacts into state law the current insurance practices that protect consumers under the ACA, such as:
  • Giving people clearer explanations of their benefits.
  • Prohibiting annual limits and lifetime dollar caps on coverage for essential benefits.
  • Requiring that insurers keep their administrative costs in check.
  • Guaranteeing that dependents up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ plans.
  • Guaranteeing protections against pre-existing condition exclusions.
  • Requiring essential benefit coverage that must be included at every tier of coverage (preventive services, maternity, hospital, mental health, etc.).
  • Guaranteeing coverage of preventive services without any patient cost-sharing.
  • Guaranteeing issue and renewal so no one can be denied a policy, even if sick.
  • Allowing discounts for wellness programs.
  •  Allowing insurance premium rates to vary only by age (not gender or health).
  • Setting out-of-pocket limits with a process for updating these annually.
In March, the Justice Department filed a letter with a federal appeals court changing its position on the ACA. It previously objected to the law’s protection prohibiting insurers from turning away people with pre-existing conditions, but is now arguing for the entire law to be struck down, which could result in millions of Americans losing health care coverage.

5/16/2019SenSen. Joshua Miller; #118; Meredyth R. Whitty
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The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller to help protect Rhode Islanders’ access to insurance coverage in the face of threats to the federal Affordable Care Act.


YesYesApproved3703145/16/2019 5:29 PMSystem Account5/16/2019 5:31 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The State Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would create the Rhode Island Small Business Development Fund.

The bill (2019-S 0055) would establish a fund designed to encourage the formation of private capital investment in small business by federally licensed investment companies.

“This gives smaller businesses the access to capital that they need to grow,” said Senator Conley, who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “It provides for the flow of capital investment into small businesses identified as critical to our state’s future and creates jobs. In fact, an impact assessment demonstrates that for every 100 jobs created in the targeted industries, another 113 indirect and individual jobs are created.  Further, every 100 jobs created or retained in the targeted sectors will support nearly $21 million in Gross State Product (GSP).  This is a six-year program. After the first three years, those companies providing the investments would receive tax credits applicable against the Rhode Island insurance premium tax as long as they meet certain criteria, such as meeting and maintaining investment requirements for the life of the program.”

Investments would be designated for targeted growth industries for the state, including clean energy, biomedical innovations, life sciences, information technology, cyber security, defenses maritime, and others would be required to be diversified — no one small business would receive more than $4 million or 20 percent of a fund’s investment authority and  the business must have a strategy for reaching out to and investing in minority business enterprises.

“Too often we see Rhode Island small businesses poised for growth only to leave the state and move to other areas where they can acquire the capital they need,” said Senator Conley.

The measure, which is cosponsored by Senators Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton), Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Bristol, Tiverton, Warren) and Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), now heads to the House of Representatives where similar legislation (2019-H 5216) has been introduced by Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick).

5/16/2019SenSen. William Conley; #202; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE, Providence – The Senate this week passed legislation to ensure developers can get their projects inspected in a timely manner. The legislation enables contractors or builders to hire a third party inspector or use a state inspector if a municipal building official fails to perform required inspections within 48 hours. The municipality would be required to reimburse the state in the event a state inspector is used.
 
The bill (2019-S-0687A) is part of the Senate’s “Building A More Vibrant Rhode Island” package of economic development legislation.
 
“In construction, time is money. Delays make projects more costly and may discourage development altogether,” said President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio (D – Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), sponsor of the legislation. “Inspections can be required at multiple points during a building project, and delays in these inspections cost contractors in terms of lost productivity, personnel, and more. This legislation ensures that developers can proceed on locally-approved projects without needless delays.”
 
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senator Frank S. Lombardi (D – Dist. 26, Cranston), Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D – Dist. 29, Warwick), Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D – Dist. 1, Providence), and Senator Ryan W. Pearson (D – Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), has been sent to the House of Representatives.
 

5/16/2019SenSen. Dominick Ruggerio; #85; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello to help prevent overdose deaths by better protecting law enforcement and emergency medical personnel who try to save victims.

The bill (2019-H 5536), which now goes to the Senate, would add law enforcement and emergency medical personnel to the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act, which protects them from civil or criminal liability arising from helping a person they believe is overdosing.

Many police and EMTs in the state are equipped with kits for administering naloxone – the  opioid-overdose antidote commonly known by its trade name, Narcan. In fact, a change made to the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act last year allows them to distribute naloxone kits to at-risk individuals or their families or friends so they are equipped in case of an overdose.

But the new law did not specifically shield them for liability for administering or distributing the drug. This bill would do just that, provided they act in good faith. It would also provide the protection to officers and agencies participating in the Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE).

The Speaker is also sponsoring a separate bill (2019-H 5537) that would limit most first-time opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply when prescribed for the first time to adults, and every time for patients under 18. The bill provides exceptions for treatment related to cancer and other serious conditions, as well as medications designed to treat substance abuse or dependence. The purpose of the limit is to prevent patients from becoming addicted. That bill is currently before the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee, which held a hearing on it May 1.

“Over the course of several years, lawmakers, policymakers, medical professionals and community leaders have been collaborating and working hard to curb the opioid epidemic that has destroyed or taken the lives of so many in Rhode Island and across the nation. We are continuing to identify every possible contributing factor and implement every solution we can find to address this very complex crisis. We are making headway — recent figures show Rhode Island is experiencing fewer overdose deaths — but we still have much work to do to put an end to this devastating epidemic,” said Speaker Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston). “My legislation will make improvements that will help prevent addiction in the first place, and ensure that nothing stands in the way of an overdose victim getting the emergency help they need.”

Both pieces of legislation build upon two other bills that Speaker Mattiello sponsored last year to help prevent opioid dependency, both of which were signed into law. The first (2018-H 7416) gives patients the option of only partially filling their prescription for painkillers. The second (2018-H 7496A) establishes a procedure for individuals to file a revocable, voluntary non-opiate directive form with their doctor, indicating that the patient does not want to be administered or offered a prescription for an opiate.

5/15/2019RepRep. Nicholas Mattiello; #120; Meredyth R. Whitty
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The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello to help prevent overdose deaths by better protecting law enforcement and emergency medical personnel who try to save victims.


YesYesApproved3703115/15/2019 9:18 PMSystem Account5/15/2019 9:19 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved up to $200 million in GARVEE bonds that will allow Rhode Island to take advantage of current low interest rates to fund the reconstruction of the viaduct that carries Route 95 north though downtown Providence.

Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds are a common funding mechanism that allows the state to begin highway projects in anticipation of receipt of federal funds.

The joint resolution approving the issuance of the bonds (2019-S 0633A) is sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. It will now proceed to the House of Representatives, where House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) is sponsoring similar legislation (2019-H 5883).

The 1,300-foot long bridge, built in 1964, brings the highway alongside Providence Place Mall over train tracks, the Woonasquatucket River and numerous streets, carrying an estimated 180,000 to 190,000 vehicles daily. Replacement of the southbound bridge was completed in 2017, but the northbound side remains structurally deficient and in need of widening and better traffic control.

The DOT’s plan would add lanes and better separate entering and exiting vehicles from other traffic to relieve congestion. The agency hopes to begin the construction in 2020, and expects it to last about five years.

Funding the project with GARVEE bonds would allow the state to lock in current low interest rates and take advantage of increased federal funding made available through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act enacted by Congress in 2015.

“The Providence viaduct is one of the busiest, most congested sections of highway in all of Rhode Island, and it’s a structure that is both outdated and structurally deficient. Replacing it sooner rather than allowing it to continue to deteriorate is good public safety policy, sound economic development and a way to save money due to the low interest rates that are currently available. Rhode Island needs to address our crumbling infrastructure to attract businesses and improve our quality of life, and this particular bridge stands out as one that plays a central role to the Providence commute. Its replacement will make a difference to many Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Goodwin.
5/14/2019SenSen. Maryellen Goodwin; #104; Greg Pare
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STATE HOUSE – Three bills that are part of the Rhode Island Senate’s “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island” economic development package passed the Senate today. The bills that relate to expanding apprenticeship opportunities were sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) and Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).

The first bill (2019-S 0713A), sponsored by Senator Ciccone, expands state law for public works contracts so that public school construction contracts valued at $5 million or more shall have apprenticeship programs and that no less than 15 percent of labor hours worked shall be by apprentices.

“With the massive investment in school construction that our state is undertaking, it is imperative that we help train and educate future laborers through apprenticeships on these projects. More apprenticeships means more future well-paying middle class jobs that will strengthen our economy going forward,” said Senator Ciccone.

The second bill (2019-S 0726A), sponsored by Senator Cano, cleans up state apprenticeship laws to align with federal language. The state of Rhode Island is among the states that administer their apprenticeship programs on behalf of the federal government. When the federal government approved Rhode Island’s administration of such programs, certain state laws needed to be updated. The bill codifies when Rhode Island shall recognize out-of-state apprentices registered elsewhere and working in Rhode Island. It also aligns apprenticeship requirements with federal standards, such as making the number of hours required by apprentices enumerated instead of the number of years of on-the-job learning. Finally, the legislation defines apprentice in state law, mirroring the national definition.

“If Rhode Island is going to have a vibrant and effective apprenticeship program, we must comply with and follow the best practices laid out on the federal level. This bill will make it easier for our residents to take part in apprenticeship programs, paving the way for economic success for Rhode Island’s future workers,” said Senator Cano.

The third piece of legislation (2019-S 0714A), sponsored by Senator Coyne, would require the workforce board to fund a non-trade apprenticeship incentive program for industries identified and approved by the board, including, but not limited to, agriculture, commercial fisheries and marine trades.

“It is important that we as a state look outside the box when implementing our apprentice programs. The traditional trades such as construction and plumbing are still crucial to our economic health, but if we expand our apprenticeship programs to industries such as fishing and agriculture, we can expand our workforce for industries that Rhode Island has relied upon for generations. Apprenticeships for these industries will allow these businesses to thrive in the future,” said Senator Coyne.

All three bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.
5/14/2019SenSen. Frank Ciccone; Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne; Sen. Sandra Cano; #77; #208; #245; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) that would protect the rights of customers to pay for things in cash.

“More and more retailers are shifting to cashless transactions in other parts of the country for various reasons,” said Representative Ackerman. “From a consumer perspective, this could have a negative impact on working class customers, senior citizens and college students who don’t have credit cards.”

The legislation (2019-H 5116A) would make it unlawful for any retail establishment offering goods or services for sale to discriminate against a prospective customer by requiring the use of credit for purchase of goods or services.

“The U.S. dollar is legal tender and should be accepted at any retail establishment in Rhode Island,” said Representative Ackerman. “Others might not want to share their purchasing habits, which can be tracked by using a credit card and used to build a profile on a consumer’s spending tendencies. Cash transactions also make identity theft more difficult.”

According to a survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, about 8 percent of households have no bank account and only 75 percent of American adults have credit cards.

“Given the age requirements for credit cards, a cashless policy creates a type of age discrimination that we should not be tolerating,” said Representative Ackerman. “Businesses still have an obligation to be accessible to everybody — not just those who have a credit card.”

The legislation would not apply to online purchases or sales made over the Internet. The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.
5/14/2019RepRep. Mia Ackerman; #191; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Lauren H. Carson recently held a public celebration of trees and their essential role in Rhode Island’s ecology at the State House.

The event was held Thursday to foster public conversation regarding trees and their stake in our communities. Among those who spoke were Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Newport Tree Conservancy President Lilly Dick and Sheila Dormody, government relations and cities program manager at The Nature Conservancy.

Speakers discussed the importance of trees to environmental and human health and ongoing legislative efforts to protect woodlands, including the Woodland Stewardship and Preservation Act, sponsored by Senator Valverde. The act recognizes and protects Rhode Island’s woodland habitats.

“An early provider of shelter, medicine and tools, trees remain an integral resource to modern life. Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, helping with water conservation and soil preservation, and supporting wildlife and biodiversity,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

Said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), “Rhode Island’s trees and woodlands are key contributors to mitigating climate change. Trees are a natural resource that fundamentally enhance the ecological, social, and economic value of our communities.”

The Arbor Day Foundation recognizes 12 of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island — including Newport and Jamestown — as “Tree Cities” due to their commitment to tree care and urban forestry.

“Arbor Day reminds us how important trees and forested landscapes are to the beauty, health and resiliency of Rhode Island. Audubon thanks Senator Valverde for introducing the Woodland Preservation and Stewardship Act of 2019 and we look forward to working with her to help get the bill passed this session,” said Meg Kerr, Senior Director of Policy for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

Said Dick, of the Newport Tree Conservancy, “We are temporary stewards of this place we call earth and home — it is our responsibility to leave our children a healthy viable future. Trees and forests are an essential element of this legacy.”

IN PHOTO: At the Arbor Day celebration, from left: Mark Marotis, Newport Open Space Partnership Director Tanya Kelly, Newport Tree Conservancy President Lilly Dick, Rep. Lauren H. Carson, Sen. Dawn Euer, Newport Tree and Open Space Commission Chairwoman Maureen Cronin, Sen. Bridget G. Valverde and Audubon Society of Rhode Island Senior Director of Policy Meg Kerr.

5/14/2019RepSen. Dawn Euer; Rep. Lauren H. Carson; #244; #224; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE — The House Committee on Oversight is scheduled to meet Thursday to hear an update on the Voluntary Extension of Care Program from the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

The committee will meet Thursday, May 16, at the rise of the House (about 5 p.m.) in Room 101 on the first floor of the State House.

The program allows young people to access care and support through DCYF up to age 21. Providing an opportunity to continue care up to age 21 tends to build stronger transition plans and help young people in DCYF care access the job training and education they need to get and keep a job. Approximately 70 youth each year exit DCYF care when they turn 18.

Child Advocate Jennifer Griffith and representatives of DCYF are expected to testify in front of the committee to explain how the status of the program implementation and how many young adults have taken advantage of the program.
The House Oversight Committee is chaired by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick).

5/13/2019RepRep. Patricia Serpa; #121; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE – The House Judiciary Committee will be meeting on Tuesday to consider two pieces of legislation and hear testimony on several other bills.

On Tuesday, May 14 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 101 of the State House, the committee will consider legislation (2019-H 5113) sponsored by Rep. Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence) which creates the "Animal Abuser Registry Act" which would require all persons convicted of crimes involving animal abuse to register with an online registry to be established and maintained by the attorney general's office.

The committee will also be considering legislation (2019-H 5485) sponsored by Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) that establishes a voluntary mutual consent sibling adoption registry where adult adopted children and adult siblings can identify each other.  A proposed substitute of the legislation can be found here.

The committee will also hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 6065, sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), amends the conditions of bail and recognizance to permit the release of a person charged with a misdemeanor without financial conditions.
  • 2019-H 6066, sponsored by Representative Williams, entitles that past criminal misdemeanors and felonies for possession of marijuana may be expunged.
  • 2019-H 6091, sponsored by Rep. Joe Serodio (D-Dist. 64, East Providence), protects seniors and qualified disabled adults from financial exploitation.
  • 2019-H 6102, sponsored by Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), an insurer found in violation of the unfair claims settlement practices act can be liable for three times the amount of damages.
  • 2019-H 6103, sponsored by Representative Barros, this act would, upon its own motion or upon request of a parolee, enable the parole board to terminate a parolee's supervision and legal custody order. Prisoners with a life sentence for first and second degree murder are excluded.

5/13/2019RepRep. Robert Craven; #189; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – The House Finance Committee will be meeting twice this week to testimony on a variety of legislation.

On Tuesday, May 14 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5204, sponsored by Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), requires that enrollees in the Rhode Island best RX Prescription drug discount program for the uninsured are not charged a copay for their prescriptions.
  • 2019-H 5387, sponsored by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), repeals the automatic phase out of the nursing facility reimbursement price based methodology.
  • 2019-H 5579, sponsored by Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), requires the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to adjust the per diem reimbursement rate to nursing facilities every 3 years; and provides that any time state minimum wage is increased, the reimbursement rate increases by the same percentage.
  • 2019-H 5623, sponsored by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), expedites the Medicaid assistance application process and the recoupment process including interim Medicaid assistance payments.
  • 2019-H 5913, sponsored by Rep. Raymond A. Johnston (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), directs the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to adopt a Medicaid fee for services and reimbursement rate for non-emergency medical transportation service providers.
On Wednesday, May 15 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5106, sponsored by Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), expands the tiered-rate structure for childcare assistance program to meet federal benchmark for access to high-quality childcare for all age groups of children.
  • 2019-H 5402, sponsored by Representative Bennett, expands the Health Services Council from 12 to 24 members and amends the Hospital Conversion Act relative to disclosure.
  • 2019-H 5858, sponsored by Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence), requires the General Assembly to appropriate not less than $5 million annually in capital financing for affordable housing development.
  • 2019-H 5370, sponsored by Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence), extends the reimbursement to a school district or municipality for the employment of a new hire school resource officer from a period of three years to ongoing.

5/13/2019RepRep. Marvin Abney; #199; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE — The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare is scheduled to meet Wednesday to hear testimony on a package of education reform bills that was unveiled by House leadership last week.

The committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday, May 15, at the rise of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 101 on the first floor of the State House.

The committee will hear testimony on several pieces of legislation relating to education reform, including the following:
  • 2019-H 5008  — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), would require the Commissioner of Education to align statewide academic standards with curriculum and the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System. It would also require the Commissioner to develop curriculum frameworks, which are broad, research-based instructional strategies for educators to help students develop the skills, competencies, and knowledge called for by the statewide standards.
  • 2019-H 6084 — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), would increase building-level management of our schools, increases on-the-ground support for underperforming schools, and provides for the same support at the district level, which has not existed before. Student assessments would include a range of elements, such as work samples, projects, and portfolios, in recognition of the variety of student learning styles.
  • 2019-H 6085 — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a fast-track program to certify new principals.
  • 2019-H 6098 — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), would add an instructional component to the test that teachers must pass to get their certificates. This component will demonstrate that, in addition to understanding what they will teach, the aspiring educator must understand how to teach that subject matter to students.
  • 2019-H 6099 — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), would create a new teacher evaluation system designed, in part, to promote growth, place student learning in the center, and shorten improvement timelines.
  • 2019-H 6100 — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Mario F. Mendez (D-Dist. 13, Johnston, Providence), would create a process for certifying teachers with certain specialty skills. Its intent is to alleviate difficulties that districts have in finding qualified teachers with certain skills for elementary and secondary education.
The committee will also consider a bill (2019-H 5543A) sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) that would add the multi-disciplinary maternal mortality review committee to the review of the office of state medical examiners and extend certain immunities and confidentiality agreements to multi-disciplinary teams.

The panel will also consider a bill (2019-H 5964A) sponsored by Rep. Julie Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) that would provide for an annual report on academic achievement of foster care youth.

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare is chaired by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).

5/13/2019RepRep. Joseph McNamara; #41; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet twice Tuesday to vote on the creation of a small business development fund and to hear testimony on the Student Loan Bill of Rights Act.

The committee will meet Tuesday, May 14, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 211 on the second floor of the State House.

The panel is scheduled to consider legislation (2019-S 0055) introduced by Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would establish a small business development fund to encourage formation of private capital investment in underserved small businesses.

In addition, the committee is scheduled to hear testimony on a bill (2019-S 0847) introduced by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) that would allow bonds issued by the Providence Public Buildings Authority in support of Providence school housing projects to be eligible for state housing aid reimbursement.

The committee will meet again on Tuesday, May 14, at the rise of the Senate (about 5:00 p.m.) in Room 211 to hear testimony on a bill (2019-S 0737) introduced by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) that would create the Student Loan Bill of Rights Act, which establishes guidelines for the issuance of postsecondary loans. The language has also been introduced in a proposed budget article.

The committee will also hear legislation relating to various proposed tax credits.

5/13/2019SenSen. William Conley; #202; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate Committee on Education is scheduled to meet Wednesday to hear testimony on a package of education reform bills that was unveiled by Senate leadership last week.

The committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday, May 15, at the rise of the Senate (about 4:30 p.m.) in Room 313 on the third floor of the State House. The committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-S 0863  — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), would require the Commissioner of Education to align statewide academic standards with curriculum and the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System. It would also require the Commissioner to develop curriculum frameworks, which are broad, research-based instructional strategies for educators to help students develop the skills, competencies, and knowledge called for by the statewide standards.
  • 2019-S 0864 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick), would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to become a professional support partner with local education agencies regarding effective ways to evaluate student improvement and proficiency.
  • 2019-S 0865 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), would increase building-level management of our schools, increases on-the-ground support for underperforming schools, and provides for the same support at the district level, which has not existed before. Student assessments would include a range of elements, such as work samples, projects, and portfolios, in recognition of the variety of student learning styles.
  • 2019-S 0866 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett), would add an instructional component to the test that teachers must pass to get their certificates. This component will demonstrate that, in addition to understanding what they will teach, the aspiring educator must understand how to teach that subject matter to students.
  • 2019-S 0867 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Thomas J. Paolino (R-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield), would create a process for certifying teachers with certain specialty skills. Its intent is to alleviate difficulties that districts have in finding qualified teachers with certain skills for elementary and secondary education.
  • 2019-S 0868 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton), would create a new teacher evaluation system designed, in part, to promote growth, place student learning in the center, and shorten improvement timelines.
  • 2019-S 0869 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence), would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a fast-track program to certify new principals.
The Senate Committee on Education is chaired by Senator Gallo.

5/13/2019SenSen. Hanna Gallo; #88; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate Judiciary Committee will be meeting twice this week to vote on the Reproductive Healthcare Act and other legislation.

On Tuesday, May 14 at the RISE of the Senate (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 313 of the State House, the committee will consider legislation (2019-S 0152A) sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence) which codifies the privacy rights guaranteed by the decision reached in the United States Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and its progeny.  The committee will also consider the House companion legislation (2019-H 5125A) sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence).

On Thursday, May 16 at the RISE of the Senate (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 313 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on legislation (2019-S 0153) sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) which allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driving privilege licenses and driving privilege permits to applicants unable to establish lawful presence in the United States.

The committee will also hear testimony on legislation (2019-S 0238) sponsored by Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) which imposes a $300 substance abuse education assessment for conviction of driving under the influence or a violation for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer. Funds would be allocated to Department of Behavioral Health and used to fund substance abuse programs.

5/13/2019SenSen. Erin Lynch Prata; #151; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) is congratulating a team of high schoolers from across Rhode Island and Massachusetts on a successful season that sent them to the Robotics FIRST World Championship in April.

“These students are direct evidence of the benefits of STEM learning in our schools and I could not be any prouder of their huge accomplishment in placing fourth at the world robotic championship.  They all have bright futures ahead of them and I wish them the best of luck in continuing their educations in STEM fields,” said Representative Canario.

AIR STRIKE made it to the semifinals after finishing fourth out of 68 teams in its division at the World Championship, held in Detroit April 25 through April 27. The team is part of Aquidneck Island Robotics, a nonprofit organization in Newport that mentors local youth in science, technology, engineering and math through worldwide robotics competitions.

The team had its most successful season in its decade-long history, winning three New England district events and placing ninth out of 210 teams in the New England district of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. The team and its members also won several special awards at various competitions.

In just six weeks, the students worked with professional mentors to design, build, program and practice using a robot to compete in a challenge titled “Destination Deep Space.” Their 125-pound robot, which is controlled remotely by the students, quickly retrieves, loads and seals balls into the hatches of “spaceships” and efficiently climbs a 1½-foot step.

5/10/2019RepRep. Dennis Canario; #197; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday heard testimony on legislation introduced by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) that would limit the terms that can be included in an agreement that settles a claim of sexual harassment.

The bill (2019-S 0456) would permit sexual harassment victims the opportunity to make public, if they choose, the identity and nature of a charge after a five-year period.

“If this bill is approved, it would help put an end to the practice of using nondisclosure agreements to forever cover-up abusive behavior in the workplace and society by providing victims the option to publicly identify those individuals who abuse or harass others,” said Senator Sheehan. “Putting a five-year limit on NDAs involving sexual misconduct provides victims a window for truth and accountability that will help put a stop repeat offenders.”

A non-disclosure agreement is a confidentiality contract that prohibits the disclosure of factual information related to a claim by a party to the agreement. Such agreements were initially used by high-tech firms to protect trade secrets, but victims’ rights advocates say that they are increasingly being used to shield those in power from allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

“Without nondisclosure agreements, which are essentially a lifetime gag agreement, countless victims will be free to come forward to identify sexual misconduct after a five-year period, making it harder for abusers to dodge accountability and consequences for their actions,” said Senator Sheehan. “I find it unconscionable and unjust as a matter of public policy to permit perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault to perpetually hide behind a veil of secrecy of nondisclosure agreements.”

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket), James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton), Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick), and Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence). 
5/10/2019SenSen. James Sheehan; #90; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE – Representative Terri Cortvriend yesterday welcomed a team of high schoolers from across Rhode Island and Massachusetts to the State House today to congratulate them on a successful season that sent them to the Robotics FIRST World Championship in April.

AIR STRIKE made it to the semifinals after finishing fourth out of 68 teams in its division at the World Championship, held in Detroit April 25 through April 27. The team is part of Aquidneck Island Robotics, a nonprofit organization in Newport that mentors local youth in science, technology, engineering and math through worldwide robotics competitions.

The team had its most successful season in its decade-long history, winning three New England district events and placing ninth out of 210 teams in the New England district of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. The team and its members also won several special awards at various competitions.

In just six weeks, the students worked with professional mentors to design, build, program and practice using a robot to compete in a challenge titled “Destination Deep Space.” Their 125-pound robot, which is controlled remotely by the students, quickly retrieves, loads and seals balls into the hatches of “spaceships” and efficiently climbs a 1½-foot step.

Representative Cortvriend welcomed the team to the House of Representatives yesterday, following a State House video presentation about the team’s work. She also presented them with citations and a resolution honoring them for their successful season.

“The accomplishments of the students on this team is a great testament to the exciting possibilities of diving deep into STEM learning. They worked very hard as a team and developed their own personal skills while having a great time. They should be very proud of their success. They serve as a great example of the potential that exists for students who develop their interest in the STEM fields,” said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown).

The team includes: Anthony Abuisi , Freddy Collins, Spencer Dellenbaugh, Wren Hager, Tom Hilmer, Joey Hook, Nathan Janssen, Sami Jefferds, Jacob Kimes, Tim Lopes, Garen Seibert, Charlie Silveria, Aislinn Sullivan, Seamus Sullivan, Rick Blight, Mark Seidman and Tim Sieben of Portsmouth; Tom Dolan, Austin Estrella and Kim Lesieur of Middletown; Alexander Gaines, Noah Manuel, J. Rick Casey, Paige Manuel, Joseph Menassa and Elizabeth Stevens of Newport; Ella Junge and Eva Junge of Jamestown; Emilia Delemontex of South Kingstown; Michael DeSousa of North Kingstown; Ben Rosenberg of East Greenwich; Isabella Heffernan of Warwick; Gregory Sanford of Cranston; Lucy Bosch of Providence; Jack Viveiros of Fall River, Mass.; Ben Jope and Jacob Jope of East Freetown, Mass; Gary Gabriel of Westport, Mass.; and Brad Mello of Waltham, Mass.

IN PHOTO: Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown) and Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) with members of the AIRSTRIKE team at the State House.
5/9/2019RepRep. Terri Cortvriend; #258; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE – Four sponsors of legislation that now requires Rhode Island schools to teach students about genocide and the Holocaust were recognized last week at Rhode Island Interfaith Commemoration of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) and former representative Aaron Regunberg of Providence were presented the Never Again award to honor their effort to ensure future generations learn about the atrocities of the past so they will not be repeated.

The legislation (2016-H 7488A2016-S 2396A), which was passed and signed into law in 2016,  requires each school district to include in its curriculum a unit on the Holocaust and genocide for every student by the time he or she graduates. The subject could be taught in either middle school or high school, as the local district deems appropriate. Additionally, the law requires the state Department of Education to provide Holocaust and genocide curriculum materials to school districts.

The award was given May 1 during the Rhode Island Interfaith Commemoration of Yom HaShoah at Temple Emanu-El in Providence.

The annual program is a collaboration between the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Greater Rhode Island Board of Rabbis and Temple Emanu-El. The event commemorates the annihilation of 6 million Jews, along with people of many nations who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the extreme racist attitudes, policies and actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. The day also celebrates the heroism of Jewish resistance during this period.

IN PHOTO: From left: Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian, Sen. Gayle L. Goldin, Sen. Joshua Miller, Ralph Preiss and former representative Aaron Regunberg. Preiss is a Holocaust refugee and the grandfather of former representative Regunberg.

5/8/2019SenSen. Gayle Goldin; Rep. Katherine Kazarian; Sen. Joshua Miller; #200; #194; #118; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Walter S. Felag’s (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) legislation (2019-S 0178) that authorizes the state’s higher education institutions to waive application and transcript fees for veterans passed the Rhode Island Senate tonight.

“Our brave and selfless veterans have already given so much to the people of Rhode Island through their military service and to thank them for their honorable duty, application and transcript fees should be waived if they apply to one of our public higher education institutions.  We should be making their lives easier after they return home and this is just one way we can express our gratitude for their service to our country,” said Senator Felag.

The legislation states that the Council on Postsecondary Education shall authorize and encourage the presidents of the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the University of Rhode Island to exempt all veterans from any and all application and transcript fees.

The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

5/8/2019SenSen. Walter Felag; #112; Andrew Caruolo
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Sen. Walter S. Felag’s (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) legislation (2019-S 0178) that authorizes the state’s higher education institutions to waive application and transcript fees for veterans passed the Rhode Island Senate.


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STATE HOUSE – Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) has introduced legislation (2019-H 5887) that would require licensed elementary level teachers to be proficient in scientific reading instruction.

Scientific reading instruction is the teaching of how sounds relate to letters and words during reading instruction.  It is based upon research regarding how the brain works while learning spoken and written language with an emphasis on phonological awareness, alphabetic principle, orthographic awareness, and comprehension strategies.

Currently, many teachers and teaching students are unaware of the research and teaching methods behind scientific reading instruction and the goal of the legislation is to rectify this gap in educational instruction. 

“Too many of our children, especially those with dyslexia, cannot read at their grade level and are being left behind in the educational process.  This gap in literacy teaching is because outdated methods of teaching literacy are still being taught to our teachers and this bill requires our teachers to learn and to instruct their students with the clinically-tested and scientifically-proven ‘scientific reading instruction’ model,” said Representative O’Brien.

“I want to thank Representative O’Brien for sponsoring this House initiative to work on the dyslexia issue in our public schools.  He has been talking to me about dyslexia for years and I want to thank him for his persistence on the issue and the information and research he has provided in order to fix the important problem that our public school system does not adequately address the needs of dyslexic students,” said Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston).

The legislation establishes several benchmarks for when current and future teachers should be prepared to teach literacy with the scientific reading instruction model.  The legislation also lays out penalties for schools and teachers who are not proficient with the literacy teaching method within the defined time period.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare.

5/8/2019RepRep. William O'Brien; #193; Andrew Caruolo
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Legislation has support from tobacco industry this year
 
STATE HOUSE – For the sixth consecutive year, Rep. Teresa Tanzi has once again filed legislation to increase the age to buy tobacco products in Rhode Island to 21. This time, she has support from an unlikely backer: the tobacco industry.

Representative Tanzi said the industry is supporting the bill for the first time ever, agreeing to the need to protect adolescents from the highly addictive product. Tobacco giant Altria, which owns a 35-percent share in the largest vaping device maker, Juul, submitted testimony in favor of a companion bill when it was heard in the Senate last month. 

The legislation (2019-H 5603), which is scheduled for a hearing before the House Finance Committee, Thursday, May 9, at the rise of the House session, would make Rhode Island the 13th state in the country to raise the age to buy tobacco products to 21. Massachusetts changed its minimum age to 21 on Jan. 1. In Rhode Island, Central Falls and Barrington have adopted local ordinances prohibiting sales to those under 21, joining Boston and New York City among the more than 450 municipalities across the country with such ordinances.

“The still-developing brains of youth are particularly susceptible to the drug nicotine and the lure of the sleek devices and the sweet flavors, creating a lifelong addiction without comprehension of the long-term health consequences. Raising the age for the sale of tobacco and nicotine products makes them harder for young people to acquire through both social sources — an older sibling or friend — or through retail outlets, and will help the next generation avoid addiction and live longer, healthier lives,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 80 percent of all adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18; and approximately 95 percent of all adult smokers began smoking before age 21.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, most tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence, and therefore preventing tobacco use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States, which is responsible for the deaths of 480,000 Americans annually. In Rhode Island, 1,800 adults die each year from their own tobacco use, and the state’s annual health care costs due to tobacco use are about $640 million. While teen smoking rates have declined significantly in recent years, teens’ use of vaping products has risen swiftly in the few years they’ve been on the market. According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, in 2018, 5 percent of American adolescents reported smoking a cigarette in the last month, verses 28 percent in a 1996/1997 survey. About 300 Rhode Island children become new daily smokers every year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2017. But the percentage of high school seniors who had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days increased from 1.5 percent in 2010 to 26.7 percent in 2018.

Changing the tobacco purchase age to 21 has the support of health advocates in Rhode Island and nationwide, including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have cosponsored federal legislation to raise age to 21 nationwide.

Representative Tanzi points to success in reducing youth tobacco use in communities that adopt higher age restrictions, and the positive effect that less smoking would have on Rhode Islanders’ health as well as public and private health care costs. 

The Institute of Medicine for the Food and Drug Administration estimated that raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21 nationwide would result in a 25-percent reduction in youth tobacco use initiation, a 12-percent reduction in rates overall, and 16,000 fewer preterm or low birth weight births in the first five years of the policy. The report estimated that such a policy throughout the United States would prevent 4.2 million years of life lost to smoking in children alive today. In another study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that 75 percent of adults favor raising the tobacco age to 21, including 70 percent of smokers and 65 percent of those age 18 to 24.
 

5/8/2019RepRep. Teresa Tanzi; #166; Meredyth R. Whitty
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For the sixth consecutive year, Rep. Teresa Tanzi has once again filed legislation to increase the age to buy tobacco products in Rhode Island to 21. This time, she has support from an unlikely backer: the tobacco industry.
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that would bring further transparency to the St. Joseph's Health Services pension plan.

The legislation (2019-S 0431Aaa), which President Ruggerio developed with General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, would require all pension plans with at least 200 members not covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, to submit to the same public scrutiny, including public reporting of all its liabilities and assets.

“The beneficiaries of this pension plan deserve the same level of transparency as other pension plans, said President Ruggerio. “This legislation affords them an opportunity to level the playing field by bringing much-needed transparency to the pension plan process.”

Last year, a law introduced by President Ruggerio helped members of the insolvent pension plan to reach settlements in their multiple class-action lawsuits by better positioning members to reach fair, equitable settlements with the multiple defendants of the lawsuits.

The $85 million St. Joseph pension plan covers about 2,700 current and former employees of Our Lady of Fatima and Roger Williams hospitals, but was left insolvent when contributions to it ceased following the sale of Fatima and Roger Williams to Prospect Medical Holdings in 2014.

The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where the House Judiciary Committee passed similar legislation (2019-H 5287A) introduced by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).
5/7/2019SenSen. Dominick Ruggerio; #85; Daniel Trafford
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The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that would bring further transparency to the St. Joseph's Health Services pension plan.

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STATE HOUSE – Rooftop solar arrays have been popping up all over Rhode Island in recent years, bringing clean energy and decentralizing generation to enrich the state’s electric resources, all while creating thousands of new jobs with dozens of solar installation companies.

But like in any other rapidly expanding industry, there have been some complaints from customers who say their experiences have not been all sunshine and lower electric bills.

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero — a strong proponent of renewable energy who has sponsored laws that helped pave the way for the industry’s rise — is urging state regulators to implement consumer protection measures to ensure that Rhode Island solar customers are getting what they’re promised.

“While there are excellent opportunities and incentives that can make residential solar projects very rewarding, there are many installers doing the work now, and they are not all equal. Consumers need some assurance that the installer is offering them a product that will work for their site. They deserve an honest representation of the energy and savings their system is likely to produce. They need to know the risks, too. If companies want to benefit from our state’s incentive programs, they must be willing to adhere to good business practices that protect consumers,” said Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown).

She has proposed legislation (2019-H 5991) seeking to have the Office of Energy Resources adopt greater consumer protection measures for homeowners who invest in solar.

The Office of Energy Resources has already proposed a draft of a consumer protection disclosure, based on one in place in neighboring Massachusetts that would become mandatory for installers. If the form is approved by the Public Utilities Commission, it could be in use by the 2020 round of proposals for Renewable Energy Growth program.

Among the complaints consumers have made about solar installers is that some are overstating the electrical output of systems or the savings consumers can expect from their systems. Others are convincing homeowners to install extra panels to make up for less-than-ideal sun exposure. Others are not helping customers take advantage of all of the available incentive programs.

Representative Ruggiero said she is optimistic that the adoption of the disclosure form will protect Rhode Islanders from unfair practices by installers. If not, she plans to introduce more stringent requirements, she said.

“The state has an interest in encouraging homeowners to invest in solar. It’s better for our environment, our electric grid and our economy. We can do more to help promote solar installations by providing consumer protection and holding the few bad actors in the market accountable,” she said.

The legislation, which had a hearing last week before the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, is cosponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) and House Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston). 

5/7/2019RepRep. Deborah Ruggiero; #145; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE — The leadership of the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives have scheduled a press conference tomorrow to unveil a package of education reform bills.

The press conference is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, at 3:30 p.m. in the State Library on the second floor of the State House.

Those speaking will include Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston), Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) and Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln).

5/6/2019SenRep. Nicholas Mattiello; Sen. Dominick Ruggerio; Sen. Hanna Gallo; Rep. Joseph McNamara; Rep. Gregg Amore; Sen. Ryan Pearson; #120; #85; #88; #41; #195; #203; Daniel Trafford
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The leadership of the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives have scheduled a press conference tomorrow to unveil a package of education reform bills.


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STATE HOUSE – The House Judiciary Committee will be meeting once this week on Tuesday, May 7 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 101 of the State House to consider one bill and also hear testimony on a variety of legislation.

The committee will consider legislation (2019-H 5986) sponsored by Rep. Stephen R. Ucci (D-Dist. 42, Johnston, Cranston) which permits, in certain circumstances, the publication, or broadcast of the likeness of an elected official on an official government website with 120 days preceding an election.
The committee will also hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 6043, sponsored by Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), provides special protection to public safety canines and horses that are intentionally or maliciously subjected to cruelty, injuries, or death, by increasing the potential criminal and civil penalties for the offenders.
  • 2019-H 6044, sponsored by Rep. John W. Lyle (R-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket), removes the exemption that allows elected officials to appear on a Rhode Island PBS Foundation television station program 120 days before any election in which they are a candidate.
  • 2019-H 6054, sponsored by Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), allows a motor vehicle repair shop owner to sell, at a commercially recordable sale, a customer's vehicle if they fail to pay over 30 days of properly charged storage fees.
  • 2019-H 6066, sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), entitles that past criminal misdemeanors and felonies for possession of marijuana may be expunged.

5/6/2019RepRep. Robert Craven; #189; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold hearings this week on several bills, and is scheduled to vote on legislation to enact much of the federal Affordable Care Act at the state level.

The committee meets tomorrow, Tuesday, May 7, at the rise of the Senate session (around 4:45 p.m.) in the Senate Lounge on the second floor of the State House. The bills on its agenda include:
  • 2019-S 0774 — Sponsored by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), this bill would allow physical therapists to order diagnostic images and studies provided they are performed and interpreted by a licensed health care professional.
  • 2019-S 0826 — Sponsored by Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence), this bill would allow pharmacists under certain conditions to prescribe drugs and devices for minor health conditions.
  • 2019-S 0827 — Sponsored by Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown), this bill would require public places with a capacity of 100 or more people to keep the overdose-reversing drug naloxone on the premises and train employees to administer it.
On Thursday, May 9, the committee will meet at the rise of the Senate session in the Senate Lounge to vote on:
  • 2019-S 0738  — This bill sponsored by Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) would enact many provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act at the state level to protect Rhode Islanders’ health care if the federal act is eliminated or scaled back.
The committee is also scheduled to hear:
  • 2019-S 0260 — This bill sponsored by Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) would exempt natural hair braiders from the requirement to be licensed hair dressers or cosmeticians.
  • 2019-S 0676 — This bill sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) on behalf of the Department of Health would expand the provisions requiring the reporting of immunization status and any other relevant information to adults, not just children, and would require the Department of Health to include routine adult immunization in its immunization program.

5/6/2019SenSen. Joshua Miller; #118; Greg Pare
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STATE HOUSE – The House Finance Committee will be meeting three times this week to hear testimony on a variety of legislation.

On Tuesday, May 7 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5103, sponsored by Rep. John J. Lombardi (D-Dist. 8, Providence), enables the RIPTA to work with the MBTA to allow commuter rail passes to be used as dual passes for both RIPTA and MBTA.
  • 2019-H 5318, sponsored by Rep. James N. McLaughlin (D-Dist. 57, Cumberland, Central Falls), reestablishes a nursing loan interest forgiveness program that had sunset on December 31, 2010.
  • 2019-H 5392, sponsored by Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston), requires that any altered roadway be restored to the same or better condition than that which existed prior to the alteration.
  • 2019-H 5780, sponsored by Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence), creates the Percentage of Income Home Energy Affordability Program, an income-sensitive tiered subsidy program to ensure that home energy utility costs are affordable for eligible low-income households.
  • 2019-H 5876, sponsored by Rep. Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry), repeals the licensure fee for a hemp license and reduce the license application fee from $250 to $100.
On Wednesday, May 8 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5098, sponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), exempts self-employed sole practicing investigators operating independently from any partnership, corporation, limited liability company or association from the sale tax imposed on services.
  • 2019-H 5157, sponsored by Rep. Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence), adds urns and shrouds, prayer cards and other items customarily sold or provided by a funeral director to those funeral items which are already exempt from sales and use taxes.
  • 2019-H 5159, sponsored by Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), provides a tax credit for community service hours provided by state residents to certain not for profit entities and municipal departments that are certified to issue credits for state community service volunteerism hours.
  • 2019-H 5793, sponsored by Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket), exempts from taxation real property acquired or leased by a railroad entity used in the boarding or disembarking of railroad passengers or supporting passenger railroad operations and services.
On Thursday, May 9 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5156, sponsored by Representative McNamara, excludes pension income from taxation under the same circumstances as social security exclusion.
  • 2019-H 5394, sponsored by Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly), permits cigarette distributors to have partial rolls or sheets of unused tax stamps redeemed by the tax administrator for 98% of their face value.
  • 2019-H 5417, sponsored by Rep. Joe Serodio (D-Dist. 64, East Providence), provides an income tax credit of 25% of an elderly resident taxpayer's primary residence water and sewer bills, not to exceed $250.
  • 2019-H 5523, sponsored by Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), creates a tax on sugary drinks and creates a dedicated revenue source for programs designed to benefit public health.

5/6/2019RepRep. Marvin Abney; #199; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate Judiciary Committee will be meeting twice this week to hear testimony a several different bills.

On Tuesday, May 7 at the RISE of the Senate (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 313 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following legislation:
  • 2019-S 0332, sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), regulates snow removal contracts between service providers and service receivers, limit liability between them, and declare certain indemnity agreements void as against public policy.
  • 2019-S 0333, sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland), raises amount from $1,500 to $5,000 at which insurer may fail to renew private passenger auto policy/assess premium surcharge for property damage claim payment.
  • 2019-S 0458, sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), defines service contracts and clarifies that consumer service contracts are not insurance and not otherwise subject to the insurance code.
  • 2019-S 0848, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), an insurer found in violation of the unfair claims settlement practices act can be liable for three times the amount of damages.
On Thursday, May 9 at the RISE of the Senate (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 313 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following legislation:
  • 2019-S 0169, sponsored by Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence), ends Rhode Island's "employment-at-will" legal doctrine and provides job protection for employees that satisfactorily perform their duties provides specific remedies for wrongful discharge.
  • 2019-S 0345, sponsored by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), prohibits the inclusion of non-compete agreements in broadcast industry employment contracts that are entered into after January 1, 2020.
  • 2019-S 0456, sponsored by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett), places limits on the terms that can be included in an agreement that settles a claim of sexual harassment, retaliation for reporting sexual harassment and stalking.
  • 2019-S 0460, sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), changes the definition of employee and employer for purposes of the fair employment practices act, while expanding personal liability for violations.
  • 2019-S 0598, sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), forbids an employer to require an employee to execute a nondisclosure agreement; or non-disparagement agreement regarding alleged violations of civil rights or criminal conduct as a condition of employment.

5/6/2019SenSen. Erin Lynch Prata; #151; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) are making the public aware of a presentation by the Auditor General Dennis Hoyle on his report regarding the long-troubled Coventry sewer program and the high costs being levied on Coventry’s taxpayers. 

The presentation will be given at the next Coventry Town Council meeting to be held on Monday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Coventry Town Hall Annex at 1675 Flat River Road.

The Auditor General completed the report at the request of Senator Raptakis, Representative Serpa, and other members of the Coventry delegation in the General Assembly.

“I thank Auditor General Hoyle for this comprehensive and factually accurate report about the troubles that have plagued the Coventry sewer project.  Since the program’s inception, I have called for an independent report about the outrageous costs being imposed on Coventry’s ratepayers and the report lays out the problems associated with the program quite clearly.  It also offers many solutions to these issues and I will be fighting for the report’s recommendations to be followed for the sake of Coventry’s residents and businesses,” said Senator Raptakis.

“I am very appreciative of the Auditor General’s report and the thorough examination that was undertaken regarding the costly and frustrating concerns that have arisen surrounding this project.  The costs that have been put upon the ratepayers are unsustainable and ridiculous, so I will be a strong advocate to ensure that the report’s recommendations are followed and put into place,” said Representative Serpa.

The report lays out a detailed analysis of the operations and implementation of the controversial sewer project and offers several recommendations to rectify concerns about the program, as well as, recommendations to ensure the project’s short-term and long-term financial viability and success.

In particular, the Auditor General points to legislation (2019-S 0201 / 2019-H 5798), sponsored by Senator Raptakis and Representative Serpa, which prohibits the town of Coventry from charging its sewage works’ users more than the interest the town has actually paid for its borrowed funds for sewage works’ purposes.

The report states, “The interest rate charged to homeowners has been higher at 6% than the Town’s actual borrowing costs which approximates 3% to 4%. Legislation has been introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly to limit the interest rate charged to homeowners on sewer assessments. Aligning the Town’s costs of borrowing with the interest charged on the assessments is both appropriate and necessary to lessen the cost of sewer assessments on homeowners and businesses.”

“This project was already an exorbitant and unnecessary expense for so many in Coventry and the town should not be charging its residents any more than the actual cost of the project.  There are too many families, seniors, and those living on fixed incomes, who are facing true financial harm due to the mandate of this project.  This bill will protect the taxpayers from the large interest rates for a project they do not want in the first place,” said Representative Serpa.

Senator Raptakis and Representative Serpa have long-been champions for Coventry residents who live in sections of Coventry where the sewers have been expanded.  Those residents now have to pay for tie-in fees, use fees, and assessment fees, regardless of whether they possess a fully compliant septic system.

“It is imperative that the report’s solutions and recommendations are listened to and followed so that our town’s sewer system works for the ratepayers rather than driving them out of their homes.  This report also cost nothing to the taxpayers, unlike the Citrin Cooperman report which cost taxpayers $35,000 and offered no solutions to the ballooning problems associated with this project.  We are too far along with the project to turn back now, but hopefully, with the Auditor General’s report, we can correct the errors in implementation that have occurred and establish this project for future success,” concluded Senator Raptakis.

The Auditor General’s report can be found here.

5/3/2019RepSen. Leonidas Raptakis; Rep. Patricia Serpa; #100; #121; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – The Special Legislative Commission to Study and Evaluate the Impact of “Project Sustainability” in the State of Rhode Island will be meeting this Monday, May 6 at 2:00 pm in the Senate Lounge of the State House.  The commission is chaired by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Tiverton, Newport).

Project Sustainability, which was enacted in the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals’ (BHDDH) FY2012 budget, is the fee-for-service reimbursement and payment system for Medicaid supported adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The commission will continue to hear and discuss presentations that will help form the commission’s recommendations for the desired future state of Project Sustainability.  The presentations have been created by members of the commission.

The 19-member commission consists of Senator DiPalma as chairman, two consumer advocates, several representatives from BHDDH and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, other patient advocates, and representatives from different service providers.

Public comment will be taken at the meeting.

5/3/2019SenSen. Louis DiPalma; #147; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) were passed by the Rhode Island Senate this week.  The two bills relate to apprenticeship programs and contractor bonds for state projects.

“Apprenticeships and increased competition for state contracts will keep our economy strong, vibrant and competitive.  In order for our state to continue its economic progress from the Great Recession, we must adapt to new models of development and both of these bills will keep our residents, and future employees, working toward a successful middle class life while also saving money and lowering costs for taxpayers,” said Senator Lawson.

On Wednesday, May 1, the Senate passed a resolution (2019-S 0711) respectfully requesting that the Governor’s Workforce Board partner with the Department of Labor and Training (DLT) to develop a report on the feasibility of expanding non-trade registered apprenticeship programs in Rhode Island.
Non-trade apprenticeship are models that fall outside the traditional trades such as plumbing and carpentry and into new areas such as information technology and healthcare.

The Senate resolution does not require House approval and copies of it were sent to the executive director and the chairperson of the Governor’s Workforce Board and the director of DLT.

This past Thursday, May 2, the Senate passed legislation (2019-S 0585) that requires contractors awarded road and bridge construction projects by the Department of Transportation with a contract price in excess of $150 thousand be required to furnish a bond equal to at least 50 percent of the contract price.

The legislation amends the statutory bonding requirements for public projects which have not been amended in 20 years.  The amendment will increase the pool of companies that can bid on state projects which could potentially increase competition and lower costs for taxpayers.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

5/3/2019SenSen. Valarie J. Lawson; #260; Andrew Caruolo
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Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) were passed by the Rhode Island Senate.  The two bills relate to apprenticeship programs and contractor bonds for state projects.


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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Elaine J. Morgan is asking the communities in her district to adopt resolutions declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuary Towns,” as the Burrillville Town Council did last week.

Senator Morgan (R-Dist. 34, Hopkinton, Charlestown, Exeter, Richmond, West Greenwich) sent a letter to the town councils and police chiefs in the five towns she represents urging them to make the declaration.

Last week, the Burrillville Town Council adopted a resolution stating that the town will support “the Burrillville police department’s [right] to exercise sound discretion when enforcing laws impacting the rights of citizens under the Second Amendment.” The Glocester Town Council is slated to discuss a similar proposal May 16.

“I swore an oath when taking office to protect and uphold our Constitution from any infringements. It is with substantial consideration that I bring forth this matter of discussion based on stabilizing our jurisdictions’ ability to uphold and defend our 2nd amendment rights,” Senator Morgan wrote in the letter. “An abundance of states, counties, cities, and towns across the United States have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” which means any gun-control laws that infringe upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms will not be enforced.”

She continued, “Between 2014 and 2017, Rhode Island maintained a position in the top five LEAST likely states to be injured by a firearm, death resulting. Considering this movement, I humbly ask the towns of Charlestown, Richmond, Hopkinton, West Greenwich and Exeter for the support of our local Police Departments and Town Council members in proposing a similar resolution as that of Burrillville.  It is imperative that these five historic towns as well as our local Police Departments and Town Council members work together in preserving and maintaining our freedom and constitutional rights. We must enforce the legislation currently on the books.”

5/3/2019SenSen. Elaine J.  Morgan; #209; Legislative Press Bureau
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STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. David A. Bennett updating state law concerning physician assistants.

The legislation would specify that physician assistants work collaboratively with physicians instead of under their supervision, providing a measure of freedom that will help them see more patients and help address the shortage of health care providers in the state.

“Physician assistants are an important part of the teams that provide care to Rhode Islanders today. They are well-trained professionals who help ensure that patients can get the care they need in a timely manner. This bill more accurately reflects the role they play, and provides physician’s practices with greater flexibility so they can better meet the health care needs of Rhode Islanders,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), who works as a psychiatric nurse.

The bill (2019-H 5572), which has the support of the American Medical Society, does not allow physician assistants to represent themselves as doctors or to attempt to offer procedures or services outside their competence or that are prohibited by law, but it does allow them to be considered primary care providers if they practice within the medical specialties required for a physician to be a primary care provider. It adds a requirement that a physician must be accessible at all times for consultation by the physician assistant.

It removes doctors’ liability for the work of physician assistants within their practice, and increases the minimum number of continuing education hours required annually for physician assistants from 10 to 25.

Additionally, the bill adds new legal language that allows physician assistants to volunteer their services at a children’s summer camps, public or community events or in a licensed ambulatory health center that provides free care.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-S 0443). The bill is cosponsored in the House by House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) and Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence).
5/2/2019RepRep. David Bennett; #161; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE — Rep. James N. McLaughlin (D-Dist. 57, Cumberland, Central Falls) has announced that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation will be completing repairs to the catch basin, drains and repaving of Marshall Avenue in Cumberland by June 7.

“This has been three years in the making and has saved the Town of Cumberland about $600,000,” said Representative McLaughlin. “I applaud the DOT for stepping up to take on this project, and I thank all the residents of the area for bearing with us. We’re finally going to have a smooth road on Marshall Avenue.”

The drains were repaired, the sidewalks rebuilt and the road repaved on the stretch of Marshall Avenue between Mendon Road and Garden Street.

5/2/2019RepRep. James McLaughlin; #173; Daniel Trafford
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NoYesApproved3702755/2/2019 1:44 PMSystem Account5/2/2019 1:45 PMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island has named Sen.  James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) Legislator of the Year for his sponsorship of a 2018 law improving the mental health of Rhode Island.

Senator Seveney was honored at the organization’s Mental Health Month kickoff at the State House on April 25.

Last year, Senator Seveney sponsored a law that requires insurers to treat behavioral health counseling and medication maintenance visits the same as primary health care visits when determining patient cost-sharing.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from the Mental Health Association,” said Senator Seveney. “I believe with this law we have improved mental illness prevention and intervention. Seeking mental health treatment can be an extremely difficult process for people. When it’s unaffordable because insurance companies require higher copays, it can become inaccessible to many Rhode Islanders who need it.”
5/1/2019SenSen. James A. Seveney; #229; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) is highlighting a $20,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Management to Ferolbink Farm in Tiverton for the purpose of installing a solar energy system.

“This is exciting news for Tiverton and I thank the DEM and the Ferolbink Farm for committing to responsible, sustainable green energy to power this agricultural small business in our town.  It is important that we all adapt to the changes in our climate through the use of green energy and I find it very encouraging that our state’s administration and our small businesses are working together to ensure the future protection of our environment,” said Representative Canario.

The RI DEM, in partnership with the RI Office of Energy Resources and the RI Resource Conservation & Development Area Council, awarded grants to help farmers “green” their operations, enabling the farmers to save energy and money.  The grants were funded through the RI Farm Energy Program.

The Ferolbink Farm will use the grant to install a 41.25 KW roof-mounted solar array that will offset all the energy needs for the main barn and the storage area at the potato and squash crop farm.

5/1/2019RepRep. Dennis Canario; #197; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Walter S. Felag’s (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) legislation (2019-S 0620) that would increase the amount of beer sold directly to customers by breweries was passed by the Rhode Island Senate tonight.

The bill is part of the Senate’s “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island” economic development package of legislation.

“Rhode Island’s craft brewery industry has been a true bright spot in Rhode Island’s resurgence from the Great Recession and this legislation will ensure that this promising and successful industry continues to grow within Rhode Island’s borders.  This bill will allow our breweries to better compete with those in our surrounding states and continue the growth we have witnessed in a very short amount of time,” said Senator Felag.

The legislation raises craft beer limits for sale so Rhode Island’s brewing industry continues to grow.  It allows breweries to sell a full case of 24 beers. If they produce 12-ounce cans or bottles, the brewery’s limit on the amount of beer sold remains the same. If the brewery produces 16-ounce cans or bottles, as many of the craft breweries do, the limit increases to a full case of 24 16-ounce bottles or cans.

The proposal seeks to allow additional growth in an industry that has recently gone from 14 to 30 craft breweries due to an earlier law addressing the same issue.

4/30/2019SenSen. Walter Felag; #112; Andrew Caruolo
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Sen. Walter S. Felag’s (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) legislation (2019-S 0620) that would increase the amount of beer sold directly to customers by breweries was passed by the Rhode Island Senate.


YesYesApproved3702724/30/2019 4:27 PMSystem Account4/30/2019 5:08 PMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing today on legislation sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio to remove a barrier to access to lifesaving anti-overdose medication.

The committee meets today, Tuesday, April 30, at the rise of the Senate session (around 4:45 p.m.) in Room 211 on the second floor of the State House. Among the bills on the committee’s agenda is:
  • 2019-S 0799 — Sponsored by Senate President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), this bill would address a situation experienced by some individuals who obtained naloxone, then had trouble getting life insurance. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a drug that counteracts opioid overdose. Rhode Island has an open prescription for naloxone, meaning any person can obtain the medication at a pharmacy for their own use or to help a friend or family member.

4/30/2019SenSen. Dominick Ruggerio; #85; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE – The House Judiciary Committee will be meeting twice this week to consider several bills and to hear testimony on a variety of legislation.

On Tuesday, April 30 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 101 of the State House, the committee will be considering legislation (2019-H 5482) sponsored by Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) which allows the Family Court, after a fact-finding hearing establishing paternity, including the use of DNA, to terminate the parental rights of a person convicted of sexual assault which resulted in the birth of a child.

The committee will also hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5354, sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), creates a 12 member commission to study the health and safety impact of revising commercial sexual activity laws.
  • 2019-H 5768, sponsored by Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), prohibits the purchase, sale, offer for sale or possession with intent to sell covered animal parts or products and provides for penalties for violation ranging from misdemeanor to felony upon conviction.
  • 2019-H 5822, sponsored by Representative Lima, creates a custody procedure for pets in divorce and separation proceedings based on the best interests of the animal.
  • 2019-H 5884, sponsored by Representative Lima, makes the possession and ownership of stun guns legal.
On Wednesday, May 130 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 205 of the State House, the committee will consider legislation (2019-H 5287) sponsored by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) which requires that all defined pension plans which are not covered by the ERISA and have at least 200 members, comply with ERISA's annual reporting provisions.

The committee will also consider legislation (2019-H 5708) sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) that adopts the uniform interstate depositions and discovery act, and amends the current law regarding depositions taken for use in a foreign jurisdiction by referencing the new act.

Finally, the committee will consider legislation (2019-H 5745) sponsored by Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) which updates the language required to be given by police officers when responding to domestic abuse calls.

4/29/2019RepRep. Robert Craven; #189; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) was unanimously elected as the chairman of the Permanent Joint Committee on State Lottery this week by his fellow committee members.

“I am honored that my colleagues on the committee had faith in my abilities to chair this important committee that provides oversight to one of our state’s largest revenue generators.  I am eager to begin the work leading the committee and one of my top priorities will be to work with all the stakeholders to ensure that mobile sports betting is up and running in time for the 2019 football season,” said Representative O’Brien.

The Joint Committee on State Lottery is responsible for legislative oversight of all lottery operations, which fall under the Department of Administration. The General Assembly created the committee following voter approval of the Separation of Powers constitutional amendment, which removed legislators from various boards and commissions.

At the same meeting, Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) was elected vice-chairwoman and Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) was elected secretary.

Other members of the committee include Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket), House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi (R-Dist. 36, New Shoreham, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly), Rep. Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket), Sen. Thomas J. Paolino (R-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield), and Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence).

Representative O’Brien, who was first elected in 2012, is also a House Deputy Majority Leader, Second Vice-Chairman of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Second Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, and a member of the House Finance Committee.

4/26/2019RepRep. William O'Brien; #193; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) was unanimously elected as the chairman of the Permanent Joint Committee on State Lottery this week by his fellow committee members.



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Rep. Carson, Sen. Euer invite constituents to celebrate trees and their role in creating cleaner environment
 
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Sen. Dawn Euer invite the public to join them in celebration of trees and their essential role in Rhode Island’s ecology, Thursday, May 9, at 3 p.m. in the State Room on the second floor of the State House.

“An early provider of shelter, medicine and tools, trees remain an integral resource to modern life. Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, helping with water conservation and soil preservation, and supporting wildlife and biodiversity,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

Said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), “Rhode Island’s trees and woodlands are key contributors to mitigating climate change. Trees are a natural resource that fundamentally enhance the ecological, social, and economic value of our communities.”

The Arbor Day Foundation recognizes 12 of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island — including Newport and Jamestown — as “Tree Cities” due to their commitment to tree care and urban forestry.

Senator Euer and Representative Carson are hosting the event in celebration of Arbor Day as a way to foster public conversation regarding trees and their stake in our communities. They will discuss ongoing legislative efforts to protect woodlands, including the Woodland Stewardship and Preservation Act, which recognizes and protects Rhode Island’s woodland habitats.
4/29/2019SenRep. Lauren H. Carson; Sen. Dawn Euer; #224; #244; Meredyth R. Whitty
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STATE HOUSE — Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), chairwoman of the Permanent Legislative Commission on Child Care (PLCCC), invites the public and media to an eighth anniversary celebration of Child Care Awareness Day and Early Care and Education Advocacy Day Wednesday, May 1, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the State House.

This year’s celebration will begin with a Strolling Thunder march from the Rhode Island Convention Center to the State House, which will mirror the child advocacy march taking place the previous day in Washington, D.C. The national march is sponsored by Think Babies, an advocacy campaign whose mission is to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life.

Each year, the commission puts together a special program to highlight various organizations in the state that work to improve the lives of children, youth and families. 

Families will gather in the Bell Room at the State House, which will be transformed into a pop-up early learning classroom, donated by Kaplan Early Learning.

Representative Diaz and Committee Vice Chairwoman Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) will begin a short speaking program at 3:30 p.m. in the State House Rotunda, which will also include House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73 (Newport, Middletown).

This year’s program will include remarks by Courtney Hawkins, director of the Department of Human Services, and Veronica Manfredi, the director of Over the Rainbow in Providence.

The baby-friendly event will include a stroller parking area, a baby play area, informational tables from various agencies and musical performances by the students of Sackett Street School in Providence.

Child care providers, advocates, afterschool professionals, parents and members of the public are all welcome to attend.

4/29/2019RepRep. Grace Diaz; #46; Daniel Trafford
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NoYesApproved3702674/29/2019 10:46 AMSystem Account4/29/2019 10:51 AMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – The House Finance Committee will be meeting three times this week to hear testimony on a variety of legislation.  The committee will also be voting on legislation extending the state’s motion picture tax credits.

On Tuesday, April 30 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5047, sponsored by Rep. Christopher T. Millea (D-Dist. 16, Cranston), limits public school Kindergarten through Grade 2 class size to 20 students.
  • 2019-H 5100, sponsored by Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence), requires free lunches to be provided for all elementary and secondary students attending public schools, to the extent state and federal funds are available.
  • 2019-H 5192, sponsored by Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), establishes and requires funding for a world language and dual language immersion program.
  • 2019-H 5853, sponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), establishes the Rhode Island Early Childhood Innovation Act and funds to support programs designed to narrow the education achievement gap for at-risk children who are entering kindergarten.
  • 2019-H 5862, sponsored by Representative McNamara, extends the Promise Scholarship program for two years through 2022.
On Wednesday, May 1 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will consider legislation (2019-H 5381) sponsored by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) which extends the period for musical and theatrical productions to obtain tax credits to July 1, 2024.

The committee will also hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5161, sponsored by Rep. Robert. E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), removes the $7 million limit allowing the motion picture production company tax credit to be carried forward. Increases the total credits that may be issued up to $25 million.
  • 2019-H 5220, sponsored by Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), authorizes the Quonset Development Corp. to borrow up to $1 million for operational purposes, including from the RI infrastructure bank, which debt would not be a debt of the state and would be secured only by the Quonset development corporation's assets.
  • 2019-H 5388, sponsored by Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland), creates micro zones in distressed areas to stimulate economic revitalization, employment opportunities, and business development through the redevelopment of obsolete, dilapidated and abandoned industrial and commercial structures.
  • 2019-H 5949, sponsored by Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket), imposes a fee of $160 for all domestic and foreign corporations for a certificate of authority to transact business in this state.
On Thursday, May 2 at the RISE of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 35 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-H 5236, sponsored by Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), establishes the Office of Inspector General as an independent administrative agency charged with the responsibility to investigate, detect, and prevent fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in the expenditure of public funds.
  • 2019-H 5391, sponsored by Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston), requires the first inspection of any new vehicle within five years from the date of purchase. If the vehicle is sold within five years, the new owner must obtain an inspection sticker before the current sticker expires.
  • 2019-H 5631, sponsored by Rep. Alex D. Marszalkowski (D-Dist. 52, Cumberland), requires the state to phase in the use of zero emission vehicles beginning in 2020 using state fleet replacement revolving loan funds.
  • 2019-H 5792, sponsored by Representative Diaz, provides that all beach parking fees remain at the current rate for the next three beach seasons.
  • 2019-H 5959, sponsored by Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), strips tax exempt status of municipal detention facility corporation; provides corporation ceases 90 days after dissolution vote and city/town council resolution; requires annual municipal approval of lease.

4/29/2019RepRep. Marvin Abney; #199; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet three times this week to discuss budget issues relating to the Department of Health, the Child Advocate, the Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Business Regulation, among others.

The committee will meet Tuesday, April 30, at the rise of the Senate (about 4:30 p.m.) in the Senate Lounge on the second floor of the State House.

The panel will hear testimony on budget articles relating to the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services and the Office of the Child Advocate.

In addition, the committee is scheduled to consider a bill (2019-S 0431A) introduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that would require all pension plans with at least 200 members not covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, to submit to the same public scrutiny, including public reporting of all its liabilities and assets.

The committee will also hear testimony on the following bills
2019-S 0129 — This bill, submitted by Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Bristol, Tiverton, Warren), would provide a taxpayer entitled to federal earned-income credit increase from 15% to 18% as a state-earned income credit not to exceed the amount of state income tax.

2019-S 0272 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket), would raise the earned income tax credit from 15% to 20% for the tax years 2020 and beyond.

The committee will also meet jointly with the Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, May 1, at the rise of the Senate in Room 211 on the second floor of the State House.

The committees will hear testimony on budget issues relating to the Department of Environmental Management, specifically proposed park fee increases, proposed investments in state parks, enhanced compliance and monitoring, the Food Safety Modernization Act and other budget priorities and operational issues.

The committee will also meet on Thursday, May 2, at the rise in Room 211 to hear testimony on budget issues relating to the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals, and the Department of Business Regulation.

The Senate Finance Committee is chaired by Senator Conley. The Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee is chaired by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham).
4/29/2019SenSen. William Conley; Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski; #202; #111; Daniel Trafford
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture is scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider legislation that would curtail the use of plastic straws in restaurants, as well as hear testimony on other proposed legislation.

 The meeting will take place Wednesday, May 1, at the rise of a joint meeting between the committee and the Senate Finance Committee (about 5 p.m.) in Room 211 on the second floor of the State House.

The committee is scheduled to vote on a bill (2019-S 0202) introduced by Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) that would prohibit a food service establishment from providing a consumer with a single-use plastic straw unless requested by the consumer.

The panel will also hear testimony on several bills, including the following:
  • 2019-S 0406 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), would have Rhode Island assent to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and empower the director of DEM to perform those acts necessary to be in compliance with the provisions of the act for the modernization of the safety of the food supply.
  • 2019-S 0658 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), would establish the Rhode Island Global Warming Solutions Act to reduce carbon emissions across various sectors of the local economy.
  • 2019-S 0759 — This bill, sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), would grant solar energy system retail purchasers protections requiring disclosures in the retail/lease documents the right to cancel/rescind agreement within 90 days prior to installation/notice of liens filed on their property.

4/29/2019SenSen. V. Susan Sosnowski; #111; Daniel Trafford
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NoNoApproved3702644/29/2019 10:41 AMSystem Account4/29/2019 10:43 AMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare is scheduled to meet Wednesday to vote on legislation that would add a link to a free service on the Department of Health’s website. It will also hear testimony on various bills, including two relating to the opioid crisis.

The committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday, May 1, at the rise of the House (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 101 on the first floor of the State House.

The committee will consider a bill (2019-H 5540A) introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would require the state Department of Health to post and maintain on its website a link to ClinicalTrials.gov, a free service of the National Institutes of Health Library of Medicine.

The committee will also hear testimony on several pieces of legislation, including the following:
  • 2019-H 5536 — This bill, sponsored by Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) would provide that law enforcement personnel, emergency medical personnel, and agencies participating in the HOPE (Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort) initiative be exempt from civil liability or criminal prosecution as a result of administering opioid antagonists.
  • 2019-H 5537 — This bill, also sponsored by Speaker Mattiello, would require that adult patients who have been prescribed opiates for 30 days or more enter into a pain treatment agreement with their practitioner.
  • 2019-H 5433 — This bill, sponsored by Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) would authorize certain state and municipal agents to take possession of animals found abandoned or neglected, and to proceed to provide all necessary care and treatment for the animal.
  • 2019-H 5553 — This resolution, sponsored by Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), would create a nine-member commission to study and make recommendations for encouraging more persons of color to enter the field of education.
The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare is chaired by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).

4/29/2019RepRep. Joseph McNamara; #41; Daniel Trafford
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NoNoApproved3702664/29/2019 10:42 AMSystem Account4/29/2019 10:43 AMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet twice this week to vote on one bill and hear testimony on a variety of legislation.

On Tuesday, April 29 at the RISE of the Senate (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 313 of the State House, the committee will be voting on legislation (2019-S 0494) sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) which provides that a release by one claimant relative to encourage settlements related to the Field Entertainment/Ringling Brothers Circus accident of May 4, 2014.

The committee will also hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-S 0073, sponsored by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston), requires the tax administrator to commence any action for collection of personal income tax due and payable within 10 years of April 15 of the year the tax return was or would have been filed.
  • 2019-S 0224, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), mandates that the E-911 uniform emergency telephone system division develop and commence operation of a text-to-911 emergency system on January 1, 2020.
  • 2019-S 0455, sponsored by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence), changes the definition of owner to exclude the state and municipalities for the purposes of liability limitations relating to public use of private lands.
  • 2019-S 0471, sponsored by Leader McCaffrey, amends multiple sections relating to "open meetings" including utilizing advances in technology for observing meetings, how quorums are calculated, procedures for closed meetings and notice requirements.
On Thursday, May 2 at the RISE of the Senate (approximately 5 p.m.) in Room 313 of the State House, the committee will hear testimony on the following bills:
  • 2019-S 0343, sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), clarifies the jurisdiction of special police officers upon the land and buildings of educational institutions, and on roads adjacent to the educational institutions to instances where the officer notices that a person is in danger of bodily harm.
  • 2019-S 0696, sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence), adds Rhode Island certified state constables to the definition of peace officer.
  • 2019-S 0779, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), provides special protection to public safety canines and horses that are intentionally or maliciously subjected to cruelty, injuries, or death, by increasing the potential criminal and civil penalties for the offenders.
  • 2019-H 0803, sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), enables creation of special economic development districts to streamline development on large tracts of state land.

4/29/2019SenSen. Erin Lynch Prata; #151; Andrew Caruolo
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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Alex D. Marszalkowski’s (D-Dist. 52, Cumberland) legislation (2019-H 5322) which establishes comprehensive immunity provisions for individuals donating food to food banks passed the House of Representatives tonight.

“As a farmer, I’m keenly aware of the importance of avoiding waste. I’m very interested in solving the problems in the food stream that result in good food getting thrown away while people are going hungry in the same community. This kind of waste is senseless and harmful, but is often compelled by regulations about food safety and by the potential for litigation. This bill will help to eliminate the roadblocks while maintaining safety, and help businesses and organizations get excess food to people in need, instead of dumping it in the landfill,” said Representative Marszalkowski.

The purpose of the legislation is to provide incentives and protections to implement and increase food recovery and donations in Rhode Island. 

The bill states that except for injury resulting from gross negligence or intentional misconduct in the preparation or handling of donated food, no individual or food facility that donates food to a food bank or charitable organization can be liable for any damage or injury resulting from the consumption of donated food. Individuals and organizations that donate perishable and nonperishable food that has exceeded its expiration date are protected from civil liability under the act if the person or food bank that distributes the food makes a good faith evaluation that they food is still fit for consumption.  Food banks and organizations that distribute the food are also protected under the act.

The bill also calls for a public information campaign from food safety inspectors to retail food facility operators to promote the recovery and donation of safe and edible food by informing the food facility operators about the protections from civil and criminal liability when donating food.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

4/25/2019RepRep. Alex Marszalkowski; #239; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. Alex D. Marszalkowski’s (D-Dist. 52, Cumberland) legislation (2019-H 5322) which establishes comprehensive immunity provisions for individuals donating food to food banks passed the House of Representatives.



YesYesApproved3702614/25/2019 4:35 PMSystem Account4/25/2019 4:35 PMNo presence informationAndrew CaruoloCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare has heard testimony on legislation sponsored by Rep. Michael Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket) that would require insurance plans to cover non-opioid pain treatments.

The legislation (2019-H 5120) would require health insurance contract plans or policies to provide coverage for certain licensed practices including physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and oriental medicine and would consider such licensed practices as “evidence-based, non-opioid treatments for pain.”

“Over the past few years we’ve been looking at more creative ways to fight the opioid addiction crisis,” explained Representative Morin. “Making sure that patients have access to other types of treatments — and coverage of those alternatives — is another way we can combat this serious public health emergency.”

Representative Morin has supported numerous laws aimed at combatting the opioid crisis. Most recently, during the 2018 session, the General Assembly passed laws giving patients the option of only partially filling their prescription for painkillers, establishing a procedure for individuals to file a revocable voluntary non-opiate directive form with the patient’s licensed health care practitioner, allowing judges to sentence drug dealers who sell fatal doses of illicit drugs to up to life in prison, and directing the Department of Education to incorporate substance abuse and suicide prevention education into the health education curriculum.

The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland), Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and Christopher T. Millea (D-Dist. 16, Cranston). Similar legislation (2019-S 0068) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland).

4/25/2019RepRep. Michael Morin; #207; Daniel Trafford
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NoYesApproved3702604/25/2019 10:46 AMSystem Account4/25/2019 10:47 AMNo presence informationDaniel H. TraffordCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne has introduced three pieces of legislation aimed at better supporting Rhode Islanders affected by Alzheimer’s disease and securing more federal funding for Alzheimer’s programs in the state.

“Alzheimer’s disease profoundly reshapes families, often for years. Its effects slowly rob people of the abilities they have had their whole lives. Providing the care that their loved ones need can be an enormous challenge for families. We must ensure that we are carefully and effectively using every available resource we have to ensure that every person affected by Alzheimer’s has the support and care they need,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), whose father died after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

 The first bill (2019-S 0223), which is based on legislation signed into law last year in Massachusetts, establishes a program within the Department of Health dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease, and creates a 13-member advisory council that would provide policy recommendations, evaluate state-funded efforts for care and research and provide guidance to state officials on advancements in treatment, prevention and diagnosis.

The bill would require the Department of Health to assess all state programs related to Alzheimer’s, and maintain and annually update the state’s plan for Alzheimer’s disease. The bill would also require the Department of Health to establish an Alzheimer’s disease assessment protocol specifically focused on recognizing the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairments, and appropriate resource information for effective medical screening, investigation and service planning. The bill would require caseworkers working with the Department of Elderly Affairs to be familiar with those protocols. Additionally, the bill would require a one-time, hour-long training on diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with cognitive impairments for all physicians and nurses licensed in the state.

Adoption of the bill would enable Rhode Island to qualify for federal funding that is available to help states with their efforts to support those with Alzheimer’s disease.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Senate session in Room 313 on the third floor of the State House. House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) is sponsoring the bill (2019-H 5178) in the House.

The second bill (2019-S 0302) would allow the spouses or partners of patients residing in Alzheimer’s or dementia special care unit or program to live with them, even if they do not meet the requirements as patients themselves. Allowing couples to live together would help maintain patients’ relationships, connections and personal dignity. Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) is sponsoring the bill (2019-H 5141) in the House.

The final bill (2019-S 0310) is a resolution in support of the adoption and implementation of a new five-year update to the state plan for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The state’s Long-Term Care Coordinating Council, led by Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee, developed the updates over the course of a year, announcing its completion in February. The plan includes more than 30 recommendations, including the allocation of one director-level position within the Department of Health to coordinate the implementation of actions in the plan, efforts to promote Alzheimer’s and dementia research in Rhode Island and the inclusion of brain health in existing publicly-funded health promotion and chronic disease management activities. Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) is sponsoring the bill (2019-H 5569) in the House.

There are an estimated 23,000 Rhode Islanders age 65 and older living with Alzheimer’s disease — about 17.4 percent of that population, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, the rate of Alzheimer’s is expected to increase. In just six years, the number is expected to increase to 27,000. In the United States, nearly one in every three seniors who die has Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
4/24/2019SenSen. Cynthia A. Coyne; #208; Meredyth R. Whitty
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Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne has introduced three pieces of legislation aimed at better supporting Rhode Islanders affected by Alzheimer’s disease and securing more federal funding for Alzheimer’s programs in the state.


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Measure intended as part of effort to curb opioid epidemic
 
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Justine Caldwell to require signs at pharmacies warning customers about dangers associated with opioids.

The signs would be similar to warning signs that are required where tobacco products are sold, and are meant to ensure that customers are aware of the possible dangers connected with opioids when they fill prescriptions for them.

The bill (2019-H 5184), which was the first piece of legislation introduced by the freshman representative, will now go to the Senate, where Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett) is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-S 0291).

Representative Caldwell says she views the legislation as a necessary part of a wider response to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis in Rhode Island.

“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis. We want to give everyone the knowledge, the reminder, the chance — whether it’s someone who is chronically ill, in recovery, a parent —to use their medication only in the way as prescribed by their doctor.  While I would hope they’ve already had conversations about them with their prescribing doctors, warning signs will drive home just how serious these risks are, and prompt them to ask their pharmacist if they have any further questions,” said Representative Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich). “Given the scale of the opioid epidemic, we should be using every available means to ensure that patients who are prescribed opioids are armed with the information they need to prevent dependence.”

The legislation would require the Department of Health to compile a list of the 10 most commonly prescribed drugs containing opioids or other Schedule II controlled substances, and distribute that list to the Board of Pharmacy, which would then distribute the list to every pharmacy in the state, along with warnings about “the overuse, misuse and mixing of those drugs with other drugs and/or alcohol including, but not limited to, dependence, addiction or death.” Each pharmacy would be required to post the sign near where prescriptions are filled.

The bill would also require pharmacists to inform patients about their option to partially fill their prescription, and the procedures for dispensing other partial fills until the prescription is fully dispensed. A law passed by the General Assembly in 2018 allows patients to fill only a portion of their opioid prescription if they choose, to prevent overuse or overdoses. Under the law, they can come back for more of the prescription if they choose, until the prescription has been completely filled, until 31 days after it was first dispensed.

The bill is not expected to result in any significant cost to the state.

The bill’s cosponsors include House Judiciary Chairman Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown); Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman  Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston); Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston); and House Minority Whip Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry).
4/24/2019RepRep. Justine A. Caldwell; #252; Meredyth R. Whitty
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Measure intended as part of effort to curb opioid epidemic
 
The House of Representatives approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Justine Caldwell to require signs at pharmacies warning customers about dangers associated with opioids.


YesYesApproved3702584/24/2019 2:38 PMSystem Account4/24/2019 4:53 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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Panels would ensure warning signs aren’t missed
 
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello to increase school safety by creating threat assessment teams in schools to serve as the “boots on the ground” in identifying potentially threatening behavior by those in the school community.

Under the bill (2019-H 5538), which will now go to the Senate, school districts would also adopt policies for assessment and intervention, including procedures for referrals to community services or health care providers for evaluation.

The legislation is a recommendation of the School Safety Committee, a panel led by the State Police to develop statewide policy for school safety. Speaker Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) met with the State Police over the summer to discuss legislative efforts that could help prevent violence in schools such as the mass shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last year.

“So many times after a tragedy, members of the school community say there were so many warning signs from the eventual perpetrator of the violence. Then people are puzzled about how those signs could possibly be missed, to such devastating effect,” said Speaker Mattiello. “Many times, it’s because of segmented administrative structures that don’t result in anyone in charge recognizing multiple warning signs from a single person. There needs to be people at every school — people who are part of that school’s fabric, who know the students, the staff, the parents and the structures — whose job it is to collect that information and decide what to do with it. Everyone at that school needs to know who to tell if they see concerning behavior, so they can help keep schools safe, and connect troubled individuals to help so they don’t become the next perpetrator of violence at school.”

Under the bill, every district school committee would be required to adopt a written policy for the establishment of threat assessment teams, and for assessment and intervention with individuals whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of school staff or students. The policies, which must be consistent with a model policy the statewide School Safety Committee has recommended, shall include procedures for referrals to community services or health care providers for evaluation or treatment when appropriate.

Each district superintendent would establish, for each school, a threat assessment team with expertise in guidance, counseling, school administration, mental health and law enforcement. The team would be in charge of implementing the district safety policy. It would also provide guidance to students, faculty, and staff in recognizing threatening or aberrant behavior that may represent a threat to the community, school, or the individual, and ensure that everyone at the school knows who to tell if they recognize such behavior. If there is reason to believe someone in the school poses a threat of violence to others or himself or herself, the team would immediately pass information on for action: to the superintendent or other designated administrator, and to the school building administrator, who would be in charge of contacting parents or guardians in the case of a student. Members of the team would be prohibited from disclosing any information regarding any individual collected through the course of the team’s work, except for the purpose of addressing the threat.

The superintendent would also establish a district committee with similar expertise to oversee the school-level committees.

The bill is modeled after a Virginia law. Similar models have been adopted in Maryland, Florida and other states since the Parkland massacre.

“Besides preventing violence, this approach is aimed at getting troubled individuals the help they need. With this bill, we can prevent people from becoming victims, others from becoming perpetrators, and keep our schools safe places where kids and teachers can focus on learning,” said Speaker Mattiello.

The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Rep. Mario Mendez (D-Dist. 13, Johnston, Providence), Rep. Joe Serodio (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) and Rep. Thomas Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick).
4/24/2019RepRep. Nicholas Mattiello; #120; Larry Berman
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Panels would ensure warning signs aren’t missed
 
The House of Representatives approved legislation sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello to increase school safety by creating threat assessment teams in schools to serve as the “boots on the ground” in identifying potentially threatening behavior by those in the school community.


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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Sandra Cano’s (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) legislation (2019-S 0330) that requires employers of four or more employees to conduct sexual harassment training and includes retaliation as an unlawful employment practice was passed by the Rhode Island Senate tonight.

“Everyone deserves a workplace that is free from harassment and retaliation, regardless of the job that they possess.  The momentum to speak against and denounce harassment, especially sexual harassment in the workplace, will continue with the passage of this bill because we still have a long way to go in educating people on what is and what isn’t appropriate behavior in the workplace,” said Senator Cano.

The legislation would require employers of four or more employees to comply with sexual harassment education and workplace training requirements.  Current law encourages employers of 50 or more to do so. The employers would also be responsible to conduct the training for new employees within one month of the employee’s hire date.

The bill would also extend workplace protections to domestic service employees and include retaliation as an unlawful employment practice.  The Commission for Human Rights and the Department of Labor and Training would be responsible for enforcement of the act.

The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

4/10/2019SenSen. Sandra Cano; #245; Andrew Caruolo
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Sen. Sandra Cano’s (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) legislation (2019-S 0330) that requires employers of four or more employees to conduct sexual harassment training and includes retaliation as an unlawful employment practice was passed by the Rhode Island Senate.


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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Anastasia P. Williams’ (D-Dist. 9, Providence) legislation (2019-H 5677) that would exempt natural hair braiders from the state’s requirement for hairdressers and cosmeticians to be licensed with the state passed the House of Representatives tonight.

“Over the years as I have introduced this bill, there has been a long and steady stream of misinformation relating to this bill that has downplayed the cultural and economic significance that natural hair braiding has to different communities in our state.  Natural hair braiders not only see their craft as a proud demonstration of their culture, but also as a means to advance their economic well-being for themselves and their families.  To continue to subject these hardworking and creative braiders to oppressive regulations and fees is to deny them the opportunity to pursue the American Dream while passing down the rich traditions and culture that we have celebrated over generations,” said Representative Williams.

According to the legislation, natural hair braiding is a service of twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding hair by hand.  Natural hair braiding may include the use of natural or synthetic hair extensions, natural or synthetic hair and fibers, decorative beads, and other hair accessories.  The use of topical agents such as conditioners, gels, moisturizers, oils, pomades, and shampoos in conjunction with hair braiding can also be used.

Natural hair braiding does not include the application of dyes, reactive chemicals, or other preparations to alter the color of the hair or to straighten, curl, or alter the structure of the hair; or the use of chemical hair joining agents such as synthetic tape, keratin bonds, or fusion bonds.

“Without the presence of toxic chemicals in the braiding process, there is no need to take any money out of the pockets of these hardworking women and men who work with hair in a natural and safe way,” said Representative Williams. 

"For centuries, natural hair braiding has been a common practice for African and African American women.  Hair braiding skills and techniques come naturally.  Natural hair braiding is an art form, limited only by the braider’s creativity and does not require any kind of formal training.   Forcing natural hair braiders to meet the same licensing requirements as cosmetologists is a clear injustice,” added Representative Williams.  

“The state does not require licenses to produce art, yet, that is in effect what is occurring now with natural hair braiders.  It should be telling to all those that would attempt to stifle our state’s natural hair braiders that this legislation has garnered a wide-range of support, including the support of the political spectrum from the Right to the Left. All natural hair braiders should be able to practice their art form, continue with their cultural practices, promote or share their heritage without undue burdens to provide for themselves and their families,” concluded Representative Williams.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

4/10/2019RepRep. Anastasia Williams; #10; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. Anastasia P. Williams’ (D-Dist. 9, Providence) legislation (2019-H 5677) that would exempt natural hair braiders from the state’s requirement for hairdressers and cosmeticians to be licensed with the state passed the House of Representatives.


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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Frank A. Ciccone’s (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) legislation (2019-S 0090) that would establish a cause of action against employers and employees for workplace bullying, harassment and other abusive behavior that may not fall into other categories that are already protected such as race, sex or sexual orientation passed the Rhode Island Senate tonight.

 “I have been introducing this legislation for four years and in today’s climate of accountability being brought upon harassers, bullies, and abusers, we must continue the social progress we have made and pass this protective legislation for all employees in Rhode Island.  Rhode Island workers deserve to have the Healthy Workplace Act of 2019 become law and I thank my colleagues in the Senate for supporting this important piece of workplace protection legislation,” said Senator Ciccone.

The purpose of the legislation is to provide legal relief for employees who have been harmed psychologically, physically, or economically, by deliberate exposure to abusive work environments.  The legislation would also provide legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to abusive mistreatment of employees at work.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

4/10/2019SenSen. Frank Ciccone; #77; Andrew Caruolo
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Sen. Frank A. Ciccone’s (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) legislation (2019-S 0090) that would establish a cause of action against employers and employees for workplace bullying, harassment and other abusive behavior that may not fall into other categories that are already protected such as race, sex or sexual orientation passed the Rhode Island Senate.


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STATE HOUSE, Providence – President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio plans to introduce two pieces of legislation today to address the opioid overdose epidemic in Rhode Island. The bills would provide a dedicated funding stream to combat the crisis and remove a barrier to accessing lifesaving anti-overdose medication.
 
More than 200 Rhode Islanders have died due to accidental drug overdose in each of the last six years, and more than 300 have died each of the last three years, according to data published by the Rhode Island Department of Health.
 
“It is critical that we do all we can to educate Rhode Islanders about the crisis, prevent overdose incidents when possible, and support treatment and recovery programs,” said President Ruggerio. “One bill I am submitting today puts the financial burden where it belongs, on the manufacturers profiting from the sale of opioids, so that we can better address this crisis. The other bill removes a barrier that may discourage an individual from keeping NARCAN readily available. These bills build upon action we have already taken to address this public health crisis.”
 
NARCAN and EVZIO are brand names of naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.
 
The first piece of legislation is known as the “Opioid Stewardship Act.” The bill (2019-S 0798) would establish a restricted receipt account to fund opioid treatment, recovery, prevention and education services administered through several state departments, including: the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals; the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; the Department of Children, Youth and Families; the Department of Education; the Office of Veterans’ Affairs; the Department of Corrections; the Department of Corrections; and the Department of Labor and Training.
 
The stewardship fund would be financed by an assessment on opioid products sold or distributed in Rhode Island, up to a cap of $7.5 million. Manufacturers and distributors would be assessed based on the total number of morphine milligram equivalents, or MMEs, sold or distributed in the state.
 
The second bill (2019-S 0799) would address a situation experienced by some individuals who obtained naloxone, then had trouble getting life insurance. Rhode Island has an “open prescription” for naloxone, meaning any person can obtain the medication at a pharmacy.
 
“We as a state should be encouraging anyone who may come in contact with overdose victims to have NARCAN accessible. That’s the reason we make it available to all,” said President Ruggerio. “Individuals who work in health care, public safety and other fields may want to have NARCAN easily accessible in case there is a need for it, as might individuals who have a friend or family member struggling with an opioid addiction.”
 
He continued; “Filling a prescription for naloxone does not automatically mean an individual is a greater risk to the insurer. No one should be denied life insurance for the sole reason that they carry medication that they could use to save another person’s life. This legislation removes a barrier to accessing this life saving medication.”
 

4/10/2019SenSen. Dominick Ruggerio; #85; Greg Pare
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President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio plans to introduce two pieces of legislation today to address the opioid overdose epidemic in Rhode Island. The bills would provide a dedicated funding stream to combat the crisis and remove a barrier to accessing lifesaving anti-overdose medication.
 
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STATE HOUSE – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata’s (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) legislation (2019-S 0257) that prevents consideration of an applicant’s credit history when determining automobile insurance rates was passed by the Rhode Island Senate tonight.

“There is no reason why an individual who may have struggled financially in the past should be haunted by poor credit when purchasing car insurance,” said Senator Lynch Prata. “Insurance rates should be based on the risk one poses on the road, not an arbitrary factor such as credit rating. Tying insurance rates to credit history may make it harder for drivers to secure the appropriate level of insurance. This bill will prevent that from happening, ensuring a more equitable system and helping to ensure Rhode Island motorists are insured.”

The legislation states that only past claim experience and “merit rating” or “experience rating” can be used in determining automobile insurance rates.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

4/9/2019SenSen. Erin Lynch Prata; #151; Andrew Caruolo
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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Erin Lynch Prata’s (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) legislation (2019-S 0257) that prevents consideration of an applicant’s credit history when determining automobile insurance rates was passed by the Rhode Island Senate.


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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) are highlighting the release of Auditor General Dennis Hoyle’s report on the long-troubled Coventry sewer program and the high costs being levied on Coventry’s taxpayers.  The Auditor General completed the report at the request of Senator Raptakis, Representative Serpa, and other members of the Coventry delegation in the General Assembly.

The report lays out a detailed analysis of the operations and implementation of the controversial sewer project and offers several recommendations to rectify concerns about the program, as well as, recommendations to ensure the project’s short-term and long-term financial viability and success.

“I thank Auditor General Hoyle for this comprehensive and factually accurate report about the troubles that have plagued the Coventry sewer project.  Since the program’s inception, I have called for an independent report about the outrageous costs being imposed on Coventry’s ratepayers and the report lays out the problems associated with the program quite clearly.  It also offers many solutions to these issues and I will be fighting for the report’s recommendations to be followed for the sake of Coventry’s residents and businesses,” said Senator Raptakis.

“I am very appreciative of the Auditor General’s report and the thorough examination that was undertaken regarding the costly and frustrating concerns that have arisen surrounding this project.  The costs that have been put upon the ratepayers are unsustainable and ridiculous, so I will be a strong advocate to ensure that the report’s recommendations are followed and put into place,” said Representative Serpa.

“I would like to first thank Senator Raptakis, Representative Serpa, and former Representative Nunes, along with the entire Coventry Delegation for all of their support during this arduous process.  When they heard that the Town Council not only was going to slap astronomical $22,000 to $30,000 sewer assessments on taxpayers, along with a 20-year, 6% note and thousands of dollars in required tie-in fees on ratepayers living in the least economically advantaged area of town, the Coventry Delegation acted swiftly to protect us.  The Auditor General’s report confirmed years’ worth of efforts obtaining facts, documents, and questionable decisions made by the Town Council that I, along with Senator Raptakis and Representative Serpa had previously presented.  The recommendation of notifying residents two years in advance, removing paving costs, removing police details, and reducing the interest rate, will save the ratepayers of this community tens of thousands of dollars each.  The report, which was 46 pages long, in my opinion clearly documents the significant financial issues (the tens of millions of dollars spent and the tens of millions of dollars that still need to be repaid), due to a significant lack of planning and oversight - all for a project that was never approved by the taxpayers in an all-day referendum,” said James LeBlanc, a Coventry resident concerned with the sewer project.

In particular, the Auditor General points to legislation (2019-S 0201 / 2019-H 5798), sponsored by Senator Raptakis and Representative Serpa, which prohibits the town of Coventry from charging its sewage works’ users more than the interest the town has actually paid for its borrowed funds for sewage works’ purposes.

The report states, “The interest rate charged to homeowners has been higher at 6% than the Town’s actual borrowing costs which approximates 3% to 4%. Legislation has been introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly to limit the interest rate charged to homeowners on sewer assessments. Aligning the Town’s costs of borrowing with the interest charged on the assessments is both appropriate and necessary to lessen the cost of sewer assessments on homeowners and businesses.”

“This is project was already an exorbitant and unnecessary expense for so many in Coventry and the town should not be charging its residents any more than the actual cost of the project.  There are too many families, seniors, and those living on fixed incomes, who are facing true financial harm due to the mandate of this project.  This bill will protect the taxpayers from the large interest rates for a project they do not want in the first place,” said Representative Serpa.

Senator Raptakis and Representative Serpa have long-been champions for Coventry residents who live in sections of Coventry where the sewers have been expanded.  Those residents now have to pay for tie-in fees, use fees, and assessment fees, regardless of whether they possess a fully compliant septic system.

“It is imperative that the report’s solutions and recommendations are listened to and followed so that our town’s sewer system works for the ratepayers rather than driving them out of their homes.  This report also cost nothing to the taxpayers, unlike the Citrin Cooperman report which cost taxpayers $35,000 and offered no solutions to the ballooning problems associated with this project.  We are too far along with the project to turn back now, but hopefully, with the Auditor General’s report, we can correct the errors in implementation that have occurred and establish this project for future success,” concluded Senator Raptakis.

The Auditor General’s report can be found here.

4/5/2019RepSen. Leonidas Raptakis; Rep. Patricia Serpa; #100; #121; Andrew Caruolo
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Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) are highlighting the release of Auditor General Dennis Hoyle’s report on the long-troubled Coventry sewer program and the high costs being levied on Coventry’s taxpayers.  The Auditor General completed the report at the request of Senator Raptakis, Representative Serpa, and other members of the Coventry delegation in the General Assembly.


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STATE HOUSE — Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) has introduced legislation that would extend veterans’ benefits to gay or transgender members of the armed forces who failed to receive honorable discharges.

The bill (2019-H 5443) would permit former members of the armed forces who received less than honorable discharges based solely on sexual orientation to receive earned veterans’ benefits as if their discharge had been characterized as honorable including housing and employment veterans’ preferences.

“Today, gay members of the armed forces can serve proudly and openly since ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was repealed in 2011,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson, a retired Navy officer. “But that doesn’t absolve us of our duty and obligation to those who served with honor before then. Many gay service members who were unceremoniously shown the door have been denied benefits for decades. And it’s time to right that wrong.”

By some estimates, as many as 100,000 service members were discharged for being gay between World War II and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Many of these were given undesirable discharges, barring them from veterans’ benefits.

“While the military will now upgrade some of those undesirable discharges to ‘honorable’ status as long as there were no instances of misconduct, digging up decades-old records can be difficult and time-consuming — and it often takes years,” explained Representative Vella-Wilkinson, who serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Some of our LGBT vets who served during World War II, Korean or Vietnam wars choose to deny their service rather than answer prying questions.  We don't have the authority to reinstate federal benefits but Rhode Island can certainly take a bold, compassionate step to ensure state and local benefits are afforded to all our deserving patriots.”

The bill, which is cosponsored by Representatives Christopher T. Millea (D-Dist. 16, Cranston), Joseph S. Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence), Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) and Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), has been referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
4/4/2019RepRep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson; #235; Daniel Trafford
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Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) has introduced legislation that would extend veterans’ benefits to gay or transgender members of the armed forces who failed to receive honorable discharges.

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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Terri Cortvriend has introduced a resolution requesting that Rhode Island public schools incorporate environment and climate literacy into school curricula to ensure that young Rhode Islanders understand the environmental challenges they will face in their lifetime.

The idea was a recommendation of “Resilient Rhody,” the statewide climate resilience action strategy created as a result of an executive order signed by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo in 2017.

The resolution asks public schools to offer courses in climate and environmental literacy, and also asks the Department of Education to develop a set of key environmental and climate principals that can be incorporated into existing curricula in any subjects.

“The students of today are going to be the next generation of stewards of this earth. They are inheriting a planet that needs help, and a state that is being significantly impacted by sea level rise. It’s imperative that they are provided accurate scientific information about climate change and that they understand what it means for their future,” said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown). “Kids are also some of the greatest ambassadors for messages about protecting the earth. When kids learn about the necessity of reducing our impacts, they are willing to make change and ask their families to do the same. Making sure they all learn about how real and serious climate change is will have an impact here and now as well as when they grow up.”

The vast majority of climate scientists — 97 percent — agree that human activities have contributed to global warming. But, as the resolution states, only 30 percent of middle school science teachers and 45 percent of high school science teachers are aware of the extent of that scientific consensus. Politics that have become associated with the topic may leave some teachers hesitant about bringing up the subject in class.

But future generations must grasp the extent of the problem to understand that they must address it and to develop the ways to do so, and learning about it in school from an early age is critical, said Representative Cortvriend.

Representative Cortvriend developed her legislation to meet the recommendation of the Resilient Rhody strategy, which called for expanding K-12 education on environmental literacy, including climate-related emergency preparedness, by developing resources for school use and identifying how these concepts can be incorporated into existing state standards.

The resolution (2019-H 5563) is cosponsored by Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich). It is before the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee, which held a hearing on it March 27.
4/4/2019RepRep. Terri Cortvriend; #258; Meredyth R. Whitty
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Rep. Terri Cortvriend has introduced a resolution requesting that Rhode Island public schools incorporate environment and climate literacy into school curricula to ensure that young Rhode Islanders understand the environmental challenges they will face in their lifetime.


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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Gregg Amore’s legislation (2019-H 5766) which extends the “look back” period on repeat alcohol-related vehicular offenses from the current five years to 10 years was heard by the House Judiciary Committee last week.

“Serial drunk drivers are currently gaming the legal system due to our lax “look-back” laws and this situation needs to be rectified immediately so that those who continuously drink and drive are held fully responsible for their dangerous, selfish and habitual behavior," said Representative Amore.
According to the Century Council’s Hardcore Drunk Driving Sourcebook, a majority of jurisdictions have a “look back” period of 10 years. In fact, Rhode Island is the only New England state with a “look back” period of less than 10 years.

“The current five-year look back period is a dangerous loophole,” said Representative Amore. “It allows repeat offenders to be treated as first offenders, after the five year period has elapsed, in both the District Court and the Traffic Tribunal. Not only does that threaten the lives of Rhode Islanders who must share the roads with individuals with a long history of driving drunk, it also allows these repeat drunk drivers to receive lessened sanctions.”

The 10 year “look back” period is supported by the National Highway Safety Administration, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Hardcore Drunk Driver Project.

Last year, Representative Amore was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as their Legislator of the Year for his sponsorship of two bills, the “look back” bill that he has reintroduced this session and legislation that creates a new criminal offense of driving under the influence resulting in non-serious bodily injury.

The bill was held for further study by the committee.

4/3/2019RepRep. Gregg Amore; #195; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. Gregg Amore’s legislation (2019-H 5766) which extends the “look back” period on repeat alcohol-related vehicular offenses from the current five years to 10 years was heard by the House Judiciary Committee last week.


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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) two bills that update the Rhode Island law concerning parentage and the law on adoption processes were heard by the House Judiciary Committee.

“Our state’s adoption and parentage laws are significantly outdated, especially toward our state’s loving LGBTQ parents who want nothing more than to love, protect, and be responsible for their children.  These bills are needed because we must acknowledge that our society and its definition of ‘families’ has changed and we cannot discriminate or put up undue burdens for those who wish nothing more than to love and raise the future members of our society.    These two bills are specifically about one thing - equality and fairness,” said Representative McEntee.

The RI Confirmatory Adoption Act (2019-H 5706) provides for a process for married and unmarried parents, to complete adoption to confirm their parentage of children born into their relationships with mutual intent and through assisted reproduction.  The bill will codify a streamlined process for co-parent adoptions by LGBTQ couples who petition to adopt their own children and the bill will ensure greater clarity, efficiency, and consistency in the adoption process.

The current system creates barriers and delays for families by requiring home studies, providing notice of adoption to anonymous donors, a six-month waiting period, and other court requirements.

The RI Parentage Act (2019-H 5707) repeals current state law regarding paternity and replaces it with a more comprehensive parentage act that provides procedures establishing parentage, genetic testing, surrogacy agreements and assisted reproduction.

The bill provides for the following paths to legal parentage in Rhode Island: birth, adoption, acknowledgement, adjudication, genetics, assisted reproduction, surrogacy, de facto parentage, and presumptions.  It also provides clear standards for the Family Court to apply in order to establish parentage.

“The ‘family dynamic’ of the past no longer exists and families now come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Just because a particular family does not consist of one heterosexual male and one heterosexual female does not mean that these individuals do not love and provide for their children, nor should it remove the rights of these individuals to raise their children in the eyes of the law.  There are so many horrific stories of neglect and abuse perpetrated by parents who do not want, or deserve, their children so we must not make it harder for loving individuals to raise their own families, regardless of their gender or sexual identity,” concluded Representative McEntee.

The bills were held for further study by the committee.

4/3/2019RepRep. Carol Hagan McEntee; #226; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) two bills that update the Rhode Island law concerning parentage and the law on adoption processes were heard by the House Judiciary Committee.



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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Walter S. Felag (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) was honored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) with the organization’s Capitol Caregiver Award for his sponsorship, support, and passage of the RI Livable Home Modification Grant at a ceremony held at the State House on Tuesday.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive recognition for legislation we worked so hard to get passed.  The AARP was an instrumental partner in crafting this bill that will help so many of our elderly residents stay in their homes and it was a pleasure working with this great organization to help and protect our senior citizens,” said Senator Felag.

Senator Felag’s legislation (2018-S 2554Aaa) allows eligible homeowners and renters to retrofit their residence to nationally recognized accessibility standards and receive 50 percent of the total sum spent, up to $5,000, to retrofit their existing residence.

“The act is aimed at helping Rhode Island’s aging population stay safely in their homes longer rather than over burdening the state’s nursing homes, which costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year in Medicaid costs.  With the state’s aging population rising each year, there is a distinct need for housing that is safe and adapted to the needs of the elderly,” said Senator Felag.

Sen. Walter S. Felag, right, with AARP RI State Director Kathleen Connell, left, accepting the 2019 Capitol Caregiver Award


4/3/2019SenSen. Walter Felag; #112; Andrew Caruolo
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Sen. Walter S. Felag (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) was honored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) with the organization’s Capitol Caregiver Award for his sponsorship, support, and passage of the RI Livable Home Modification Grant at a ceremony held at the State House on Tuesday.


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STATE HOUSE – At a rally held in the State House rotunda, Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) announced she will be introducing a resolution to support the efforts of the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee to ensure that every Rhode Island resident is counted in the upcoming 2020 Census.  The committee was created by Governor Raimondo last year through an executive order.  It is has been tasked with developing and recommending a census outreach strategy to encourage full participation in the 2020 federal Census.

“An accurate census count is crucial to our state because if our census count is too low in 2020, we may lose a congressional seat and our state would be deprived of much needed federal dollars.  I know of many people who are scared to participate due to the rhetoric coming out of Washington but it truly is urgent that everyone responds to the 2020 census so that we do not lose out on a decade’s worth of federal dollars,” said Senator Cano.

The rally was co-emceed by RI Complete Count co-chairs Mayor James Diossa of Central Falls and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of the RI Department of Health.  Senator Cano was joined by fellow speakers Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), companion legislation sponsor Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Attorney General Peter Neronha and RI AFL-CIO President George Nee.

The Committee's outreach strategy includes--but is not limited to--initiatives to encourage participation in the 2020 Census, the establishment and support of school-based outreach programs, partnerships with non-profit community-based organizations and a multi-lingual, multi-media campaign designed to ensure an accurate and complete count of Rhode Island's population.

Later in the evening, Senator Cano will lead a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee where she will advocate for funding in the state budget for the Census 2020 and Complete Count Initiative.  Senator Cano will stress the importance of a complete and accurate census count to her colleagues on the Finance Committee.

Governor Raimondo has included $150,000 in her budget proposal for the Complete Count Committee.  Senator Cano is advocating for the General Assembly to increase that amount to $500,000 in the state budget.

“The upcoming census will determine our federal funding for the next decade.  It is imperative that we have an accurate count so that the proper and necessary amount of federal dollars is applied to Rhode Island’s residents.  This extra appropriation of $350,000 in the state budget is a small investment for the billions of dollars in federal money that is at stake so we must take the census count very seriously,” said Senator Cano.

4/2/2019SenSen. Sandra Cano; #245; Andrew Caruolo
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At a rally held in the State House rotunda, Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) announced she will be introducing a resolution to support the efforts of the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee to ensure that every Rhode Island resident is counted in the upcoming 2020 Census.  The committee was created by Governor Raimondo last year through an executive order.  It is has been tasked with developing and recommending a census outreach strategy to encourage full participation in the 2020 federal Census.


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STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives this week passed two bills recommended by a House commission that studied sexual harassment and discrimination laws last year.

The bills, which both provide more time for victims to report abuse, are the first of the bills recommended by the commission to pass the House. The two sponsors, Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), were both members of the commission, along with the commission’s chairwoman, Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), and Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick).

On Wednesday the House passed legislation (2019-H 5341) sponsored by Representative Shanley to extend the timeframe within which a person can file a complaint about an alleged unlawful employment practice with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights from one year to two years.

“People who suffer discrimination or harassment often don’t report it immediately. Sometimes they have no idea who to tell, or that there is a commission that handles these matters in Rhode Island, or sometimes they struggle to get the courage to tell anyone at all. Victims deserve more than a 12-month window to start the process. We hope this will enable more victims to seek the justice they deserve,” said Representative Shanley.

Today the House approved legislation (2019-H 5340) sponsored by Representative McEntee to exclude the period of investigation of a discrimination case by the Human Rights Commission from counting toward the legal statute of limitations on any other legal notice, claim or lawsuit concerning the matter of a complaint.

“Filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission is a good first step for anyone who believes he or she has been discriminated against. But doing so shouldn’t have any negative effect on the victim’s ability to pursue all other available legal courses of action. This legislation allows that process to run its course before the clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations for victims to pursue justice in Superior Court,” said Representative McEntee.  

Both bills now go to the Senate.

Representative Tanzi, who as chairwoman of the commission cosponsored both bills, thanked the House Labor Committee for its support of the bills and said they are both aimed at better ensuring that justice is served in matters of harassment or discrimination.

“I think this is important recognition that matters of discrimination are complicated and often intersectional, and that victims don’t always immediately recognize that they are being discriminated against or know what to do about it. Through these two measures, we are providing Rhode Islanders better opportunities to take action to seek justice. Although these changes are a small part of far greater change that must occur, it’s our hope that strengthening the process for complaints will also ultimately contribute to reducing the frequency of harassment and discrimination overall,” said Representative Tanzi.
3/28/2019RepRep. Evan P. Shanley; Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee; Rep. Teresa Tanzi; #236; #226; #166; Meredyth R. Whitty
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The House of Representatives has passed two bills recommended by a House commission that studied sexual harassment and discrimination laws last year.


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STATE HOUSE – Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara have introduced legislation (2019-S 0737, 2019-H 5936) backed by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha to protect student loan borrowers and establish oversight of student loan servicers operating in Rhode Island.

The sponsors joined Treasurer Magaziner, Attorney General Neronha, Commissioner of Postsecondary Education Brenda Dann-Messier and Department of Business Regulation Director Liz Tanner at an event today to announce the legislation.

“By several measures, student loan debt has increased greatly in the last 10 years,” said Representative McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare. “It has surpassed the amount households owe on auto loans, home equity loans and credit cards. This legislation will help to address the crisis by establishing oversight of the student loan process and prohibiting predatory practices.”

Said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), “The heavy burden of student debt is challenging enough for the majority of college graduates. Incompetent, inefficient or even deceitful loan servicers should not be allowed to exacerbate their struggles. Student loan servicers must be held accountable to ensure that they are providing honest, reliable information and services to their borrowers.”

The legislation, titled the Student Loan Bill of Rights, sets standards for student loan servicing, both prohibiting predatory behavior and providing best practices for protecting consumers’ rights. It requires that student loan servicers register with the state and allows state regulators to examine servicers’ business practices. Additionally, the legislation allows the Attorney General and Department of Business Regulation to penalize servicers who violate borrower rights and to seek restitution on behalf of borrowers in Rhode Island.

Borrowers in Rhode Island report being double-charged or incorrectly marked as delinquent in payment, with loan servicers taking months, or ever years, to correct mistakes.  Additionally, many student loan borrowers eligible for the national “Public Service Loan Forgiveness” program have received incorrect and contradictory information from their loan servicers, leading to improper denials of loan forgiveness.

“Too many Rhode Islanders are vulnerable to deceptive and predatory practices by their student loan servicers, who make it hard for borrowers to keep their loan payments affordable,” said Treasurer Magaziner. “Too often, borrowers aren’t receiving accurate information about their loan, which can result in higher interest, leave them in debt longer, and make them more likely to default. This legislation will hold student loan servicers accountable and help Rhode Islanders choose the options that are best for them.”

Said Attorney General Neronha, “If and when borrowers have issues with their loans or loan servicers, this legislation provides them with a place to go to address those issues. While our primary focus will be on helping Rhode Islanders get the information they need to solve their student loan problems, my office will be ready, on behalf of mistreated borrowers, to investigate and enforce violations of the student loan standards outlined in this bill.”

More than 133,000 Rhode Islanders, including 16,000 senior citizens, have a combined $4.5 billion in student loan debt. Over $470 million of Rhode Islanders’ student loan debt is delinquent.
3/28/2019SenRep. Joseph McNamara; Sen. Dawn Euer; #41; #244; Meredyth R. Whitty
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Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara have introduced legislation (2019-S 07372019-H 5936) backed by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha to protect student loan borrowers and establish oversight of student loan servicers operating in Rhode Island.

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STATE HOUSE – As the Trump administration this week urged a federal appeals court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act, the chairmen of the health committees in both the House and the Senate are introducing legislation to protect Rhode Islanders by enacting many of its provisions at the state level.

The legislation (2019-S 07382019-H 5916), sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller and House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara, would ensure that the standards of the Affordable Care Act — often called Obamacare — remain in effect in Rhode Island, even if the courts or Congress were to eliminate the federal laws that created it.

The bill is also designed to provide predictability to insurers, stabilizing the Rhode Island insurance market regardless of the future of the federal law.

“Whatever may happen at the federal level, we want to do everything we can to help Rhode Islanders remain adequately insured. This bill enacts the Affordable Care Act’s standards of care that in most instances have been in place since 2010 at the state level in case the ACA is overturned or repealed. It also tells insurers that, here in Rhode Island, the quality of insurance is not going to change, so they know what benefits and coverage they can offer to policyholders. They have to be able to know the parameters to which they’re going to be held in the near future in order to write policies. This bill will protect Rhode Islanders’  health and wallets, no matter what politics play out in Washington,” said Chairman Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).

The legislation enacts into state law the current insurance practices that protect consumers under the ACA, such as:
  • Giving people clearer explanations of their benefits.
  • Prohibiting annual limits and lifetime dollar caps on coverage for essential benefits.
  • Requiring that insurers keep their administrative costs in check.
  • Guaranteeing that dependents up to age 26 can stay on their parents’ plans.
  • Guaranteeing protections against pre-existing condition exclusions.
  • Requiring essential benefit coverage that must be included at every tier of coverage (preventive services, maternity, hospital, mental health, etc.).
  • Guaranteeing coverage of preventive services without any patient cost-sharing.
  • Guaranteeing issue and renewal so no one can be denied a policy, even if sick.
  • Allowing discounts for wellness programs.
  •  Allowing insurance premium rates to vary only by age (not gender or health).
  • Setting out-of-pocket limits with a process for updating these annually.
The Justice Department filed a letter with a federal appeals court Monday changing its position on the ACA. It previously objected to the law’s protection prohibiting insurers from turning away people with pre-existing conditions, but is now arguing for the entire law to be struck down, which could result in millions of Americans losing health care coverage.

“The Affordable Care Act has helped many Rhode Islanders get the health insurance coverage they need. But the law has been under assault since before it was even introduced, including several failed attempts by Congress to repeal part or all of it. We all deserve better than to have a constant threat to our health care. Enacting the protections of the bill at the state level will mean that Rhode Islanders will be better protected, and that our insurance market will be stable,” said Chairman McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).
 

3/27/2019RepSen. Joshua Miller; Rep. Joseph McNamara; #118; #41; Meredyth R. Whitty
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As the Trump administration this week urged a federal appeals court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act, the chairmen of the health committees in both the House and the Senate are introducing legislation to protect Rhode Islanders by enacting many of its provisions at the state level.
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Greek Consul General Efthymiou, Mohegan Gaming Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos and Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, President & Director Boston Museum of Science, join local Greek leaders, elected officials in celebration of Greek heritage

STATE HOUSE – State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and the Cranston Hellenic community hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Rhode Island State House yesterday, bringing together state leaders and members of the Hellenic community to recognize the 198th anniversary of Greece’s independence. This is the twenty-seventh consecutive celebration of the event. The event included the Consul General of the Hellenic Republic Stratos Efthymiou, keynote speakers Mohegan Gaming Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos and Dr. Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, President and Director of the Boston Museum of Science, who also met with Rhode Island Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) prior to the festivities.

Throughout the day, Greece’s national flag was flown in four different areas of the Rhode Island State House: the Governors State Room, the Senate chamber, the House of Representatives chamber and atop the State House building. Following the ceremonies in the Senate chamber, a program was held in the Governor’s State Room, with remarks offered by Consul General Efthymiou, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magazine, Attorney General Peter Neronha and Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick). The mayors from several Rhode Island cities that are home to Greek Orthodox churches also participated, including Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza and Mayor of Cranston Allan Fung. Also speaking were President of Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of New England, Vasilis Kafkas and George Gialtourdis, President Pontian Society Panagia Soumela of Boston. Other dignitaries of Hellenic descent who attended were Charles Tsonos, East Providence School Committee Chairman, Providence Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. and Joan Panichas Milas.

The state’s Congressional delegation sent representatives and Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee sent a written greeting. The letters of congratulations from all the members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation, including United States Senator Jack Reed, were read by Senator Leonidas Raptakis. Father Andrew George of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church also brought greetings from Metropolitan Methodios, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of New England. This year's co-emcee was Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church parishioner Attorney Nicholas Lambros.

“This event is always a wonderful expression of our strong Hellenic community in Rhode Island and the strong connection between this state, known for its commitment to independence, and the nation which was the birthplace of democracy,” said Raptakis.  “I want to thank the Senate and House for hosting this event, passing resolutions during their sessions yesterday, and consistently supporting Hellenic issues over the years. I am grateful to all of the legislators and general officers who attended again this year, coming together in the Rhode Island State House to take part in this special celebration, including the many Hellenes who participated from Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Our community shares in the values of Greece."

As part of the main program in the Governor’s State Room, Father Andrew George of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Cranston delivered the invocation and Father Nicholas Lanzourakis, also from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, gave the benediction. The audience joined together to sing the national anthems of the United States and the Hellenic Republic.  Father Philip Zymaris of the St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in Newport gave the invocation in the House of Representatives, while Father Aaron Walker, St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church, Newport, and retired Rev. Dr. George Economou also took part in the program.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Greek Language teachers Koula Rougas, Ioanna Andreopoulou, and Eleni Trikoulis facilitated the program this year. Children from all three Greek Orthodox parishes made individual presentations of poems and sang together the song "O Thourios."             

Both the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions commemorating the Feast of the Annunciation and the 198th Anniversary of Greece’s independence and highlighted the continuing bonds between both the United States and Greece. Most importantly, the resolution recognized the continuing support by the United States to the people of Greece, especially during the economic crisis that has plagued the country the last several years, and the expanding economic partnership and military cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean. A reception, sponsored by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, was held in Cranston following the program at the Statehouse.

The ceremony was recorded by Capitol Television and can be viewed here.

The resolution can be found here.


3/27/2019SenSen. Leonidas Raptakis; #100; Andrew Caruolo
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State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and the Cranston Hellenic community hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Rhode Island State House yesterday, bringing together state leaders and members of the Hellenic community to recognize the 198th anniversary of Greece’s independence. This is the twenty-seventh consecutive celebration of the event. The event included the Consul General of the Hellenic Republic Stratos Efthymiou, keynote speakers Mohegan Gaming Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos and Dr. Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, President and Director of the Boston Museum of Science, who also met with Rhode Island Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) prior to the festivities.


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STATE HOUSE – Rep. William W. O’Brien’s (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) legislation (2019-H 5253) that amends substance abuse and suicide prevention education in the health education curriculum by including information that mixing opioids and alcohol can cause accidental death was passed by the House of Representatives. 

“While the law we passed last year that mandates substance abuse and suicide prevention education be taught in all schools has had positive results, there is more we can do, especially in the face of our ever present opioid overdose epidemic.  We need to provide our children with every piece of information available about the dangers of these substances in order to protect them, and others, from suffering a horrible tragedy,” said Representative O’Brien.

The bill amends legislation that was passed last year that states that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall incorporate, in consultation with the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, substance abuse prevention and suicide prevention into the health education curriculum. Substance abuse prevention is defined as the implementation of evidence-based, age appropriate programs, practices, or curricula related to the use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.  Suicide prevention is defined as the implementation of evidence-based appropriate programs, practices, or curricula related to mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

“Working as an educator has taught me the necessity for these educational curriculums and their importance to our children’s health cannot be overstated.  These programs work and have positive results for our children and their families,” concluded Representative O’Brien.

3/21/2019RepRep. William O'Brien; #193; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. William W. O’Brien’s (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) legislation (2019-H 5253) that amends substance abuse and suicide prevention education in the health education curriculum by including information that mixing opioids and alcohol can cause accidental death was passed by the House of Representatives. 


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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Gregg Amore’s (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) legislation (2019-H 5434) that would exclude chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management” for the purposes of prescribing opioid medication was heard by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee.

“We want to make sure that our public policy in regard to addressing the opioid crisis does not have the unintended consequence of hurting patients who are trying to manage chronic pain.  These patients are not addicts, they are suffering with pain associated with cancer, palliative care, and in many cases, chronic intractable pain.  We need to let physicians determine how best to manage their patients’ pain,” said Representative Amore.

Chronic intractable pain is defined as pain that is excruciating, constant, incurable, and of such severity that it dominates virtually every conscious moment.  It also produces mental and physical debilitation and may produce a desire to commit suicide for the sole purpose of stopping the pain.

The bill calls for new guidelines for the treatment of chronic intractable pain be based upon the 2016 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.  Specifically, the legislation calls for the consideration of individualized needs of patients suffering from chronic intractable pain.

The bill was held for further study by the committee.

3/21/2019RepRep. Gregg Amore; #195; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. Gregg Amore’s (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) legislation (2019-H 5434) that would exclude chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management” for the purposes of prescribing opioid medication was heard by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee.


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STATE HOUSE — Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) has introduced legislation
that would improve over-the-phone CPR instructions by requiring the 911 system to certify and staff individuals trained in telecommunicator CPR.

The legislation (2019-H 5568) would establish an emergency telephone system call review and quality improvement, and would require at least one 911 system operator trained in telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation be on duty at all time.

“911 operators are the real first responders and can make the difference between life and death,” said Representative Ackerman. “When CPR starts before the arrival of an emergency medical technician, the person in cardiac arrest is two-to-three times more likely to survive. T-CPR can help untrained callers provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It can also remind those who are trained how to provide high-quality CPR.”

Each year an estimated 350,000 sudden cardiac arrest events occur in the United States in an out-of-hospital environment, according to the American Heart Association, which strongly endorses T-CPR-trained 911 operators. Almost all of these events result in a call for help to 911. Without quick intervention in the form of CPR and defibrillation, death becomes more likely.

“Implementing a policy where operators trained in T-CPR are always on duty could save countless lives,” said Representative Ackerman. “Emergency telecommunicators are a vital link in the lifesaving chain, and this legislation will help to ensure that CPR is being performed before emergency medical personnel arrive.”

The bill, which is cosponsored by Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Julie Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) and Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), has been referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare.
3/20/2019RepRep. Mia Ackerman; #191; Daniel Trafford
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Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) has introduced legislation 
that would improve over-the-phone CPR instructions by requiring the 911 system to certify and staff individuals trained in telecommunicator CPR.

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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) has been elected as the new chair of the Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus by his fellow caucus members.  The previous co-chairs were Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) and Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket).

“I am humbled and honored to serve as the new chairperson and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance the causes that impact the communities we all represent,” said Representative Barros.

Representative Barros comes into the role in his third term in the Rhode Island General Assembly.  He sits on the House Committee on Finance and is the chairman of its Public Safety Subcommittee. He is also the first vice chairman of the House Committee on Municipal Government.  He is a former member of the Pawtucket City Council.

Chairman Barros will lead the newest iteration of the caucus as they welcome in five new legislators, which includes three representatives and two senators. The caucus was originally formed decades ago with only three members and has now grown to its current membership of 15 legislators.

In addition to Representatives Barros, Maldonado and Tobon, the caucus includes Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence), Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence), Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6 Providence, North Providence), Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown), Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence), Rep. Mario F. Mendez (D-Dist. 13, Providence, Johnston), Rep. Liana M. Cassar (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence), Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Providence), and Sen. Jessica de la Cruz (R–Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield).

The Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus (RILBLC) represents and advocates for the interests of disadvantaged people throughout the State of Rhode Island. It seeks to increase a diverse participation and representation in all levels of government. The  goal is to close, and ultimately to eliminate, disparities that still exist between white and non-white Americans in every aspect of life.

3/15/2019RepRep. Jean Philippe Barros; #222; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) has been elected as the new chair of the Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus by his fellow caucus members.  The previous co-chairs were Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) and Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket).


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Panels would ensure warning signs aren’t missed
 
STATE HOUSE – House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello has introduced legislation to increase school safety by creating threat assessment teams in schools to serve as the “boots on the ground” in identifying potentially threatening behavior by those in the school community.

Under the bill, school districts would also adopt policies for assessment and intervention, including procedures for referrals to community services or health care providers for evaluation.

The legislation is a recommendation of the School Safety Committee, a panel led by the State Police to develop statewide policy for school safety. Speaker Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) met with the State Police over the summer to discuss legislative efforts that could help prevent violence in schools such as the mass shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last year.

“So many times after a tragedy, members of the school community say there were so many warning signs from the eventual perpetrator of the violence. Then people are puzzled about how those signs could possibly be missed, to such devastating effect,” said Speaker Mattiello. “Many times, it’s because of segmented administrative structures that don’t result in anyone in charge recognizing multiple warning signs from a single person. There needs to be people at every school — people who are part of that school’s fabric, who know the students, the staff, the parents and the structures — whose job it is to collect that information and decide what to do with it. Everyone at that school needs to know who to tell if they see concerning behavior, so they can help keep schools safe, and connect troubled individuals to help so they don’t become the next perpetrator of violence at school.”

Under the bill (2019-H 5538), every district school committee would be required to adopt a written policy for the establishment of threat assessment teams, and for assessment and intervention with individuals whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of school staff or students. The policies, which must be consistent with a model policy the statewide School Safety Committee has recommended, shall include procedures for referrals to community services or health care providers for evaluation or treatment when appropriate.

Each district superintendent would establish, for each school, a threat assessment team with expertise in guidance, counseling, school administration, mental health and law enforcement. The team would be in charge of implementing the district safety policy. It would also provide guidance to students, faculty, and staff in recognizing threatening or aberrant behavior that may represent a threat to the community, school, or the individual, and ensure that everyone at the school knows who to tell if they recognize such behavior. If there is reason to believe someone in the school poses a threat of violence to others or himself or herself, the team would immediately pass information on for action: to the superintendent or other designated administrator, and to the school building administrator, who would be in charge of contacting parents or guardians in the case of a student. Members of the team would be prohibited from disclosing any information regarding any individual collected through the course of the team’s work, except for the purpose of addressing the threat.

The superintendent would also establish a district committee with similar expertise to oversee the school-level committees.

The bill is modeled after a Virginia law. Similar models have been adopted in Maryland, Florida and other states since the Parkland massacre.

“Besides preventing violence, this approach is aimed at getting troubled individuals the help they need. With this bill, we can prevent people from becoming victims, others from becoming perpetrators, and keep our schools safe places where kids and teachers can focus on learning,” said Speaker Mattiello.

The bill was introduced Feb. 27, and has been assigned to the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. It is cosponsored by Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), Rep. Mario Mendez (D-Dist. 13, Johnston, Providence), Rep. Joe Serodio (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) and Rep. Thomas Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick).

3/13/2019RepRep. Nicholas Mattiello; #120; Larry Berman
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Panels would ensure warning signs aren’t missed

House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello has introduced legislation to increase school safety by creating threat assessment teams in schools to serve as the “boots on the ground” in identifying potentially threatening behavior by those in the school community.


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STATE HOUSE, Providence – Rhode Island Senate leaders hosted a “policy roundtable” today to unveil and discuss a package of bills related to economic development.
 
Themed around “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island,” the legislative initiatives propose action in a number of areas, including development, workforce training, housing, education, solar energy, and supporting small businesses and Rhode Island’s seafood industry. The legislation was slated for introduction during the Senate session following the forum.
 
“These bills help to remove some of the impediments to development that still exist, and they better prepare Rhode Islanders for tomorrow’s economy,” President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio told the participants. “We recognize that many factors need to be addressed in order for residents to thrive here and for companies and their employees to want to live and work here. Through this package, we aim to remove impediments to development and housing, enhance education and workforce training, incentivize sustainable growth in the solar industry, and support local industries, including seafood, craft beer, and small business.”
 
Joining the Senate president at the roundtable were members of Senate leadership, including Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey, Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere, and Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, as well as the chairpersons of the committees likely to be reviewing much of the legislation: Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller, who also chairs the Democratic Policy Caucus; Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley, Jr.; Special Legislation & Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Walter S. Felag, Jr.; Education Committee Chairwoman Hanna M. Gallo; Housing & Municipal Government Chairman Frank Lombardo, III; and Environment & Agriculture Committee Chairwoman V. Susan Sosnowski.
 
Roundtable participants also included:
 
  • Kathleen S. Connell, State Director for AARP-Rhode Island;
  • Andrew Cortes, Director of Apprenticeship Rhode Island and Executive Director and Founder of Building Futures;
  • John Gregory, President and CEO of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce;
  • John Marcantonio, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Builders Association;
  • Cortney Nicolato, President and CEO of the United Way of Rhode Island; and
  • Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.
 
The Senate worked with dozens of individuals and organizations to develop the legislation, including those participating in the roundtable and others who were in the audience.
 
The package encourages residential development by updating the building inspection process, much of which hasn’t been changed since the 1970s and 1980s. It proposes new housing options so individuals and families struggling to find suitable housing have new options, including accessory dwellings.
 
The legislation also proposes expanding apprenticeship opportunities in school construction contracts, and it encourages K-12 school systems to teach children of all ages that apprenticeships are among the options they can pursue as they consider careers.
 
It also reflects a commitment to continue researching issues that require further study, including housing, additional apprenticeship options, the seafood industry, and health care provider reimbursement rates.
 
“We look forward to working collaboratively with the folks in this room – with business, with labor, with cities and towns, and with the public – to build a more vibrant Rhode Island,” said President Ruggerio.
 
The legislative initiatives are outlined on the following pages.
 
# # #
 
 
 

 
Senate Logo
SENATE POLICY OFFICE
Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island
 
 
Economic development-related priorities                        March 13, 2019
 
 
  • The Rhode Island Senate has embarked on a thoughtful, two-year initiative called “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island.”
 
  • This economic-development package includes legislation to be introduced this week and crucial issues that the Senate expects to research in the next year for potential legislation next session.
 
  • The Senate recognizes that for Rhode Island’s economy to flourish, the state must address a diverse range of topics that require attention, including the following:
 
  • development barriers;
  • the need for more workforce training;
  • housing options for all Rhode Islanders;
  • an improved education system;
  • a focus on Rhode Island’s core industries and businesses;
  • attention to Rhode Island’s small business community; and
  • an analysis of reimbursement rates for health care providers and the economic impact such rates have on retaining medical specialists and offering health options for Rhode Islanders.
 
  • These factors all require attention if Rhode Island is to have a thriving economy where people want to live and work and where companies want to stay or locate their businesses and grow.
 
  • The themes and details of the Rhode Island Senate’s economic-development package are outlined on the following pages.
A. Speed up Building Inspections for Development
 
These bills update the state’s building inspection process, including some sections of state law that haven’t been revised since the 1970s and 1980s.
 
  1. § 23-27.3-107.1 Local Building Official – Sharing and Prioritizing Building Code work
 
  1. Limits the sharing of Building Officials to 2 communities.
  2. Currently, there is no limit on the number of municipalities that can share a Building Official.
  3. Municipalities shall not require local Building Officials to do non-Building Code work while Building Code work is pending.
 
  1. § 23-27.3-111.2 Building Inspection – Timeline and Penalty
 
  1. If a local Building Official fails to inspect within 48 hours after notification, the contractor or builder may notify the Building Official that a qualified third-party inspector or a state inspector will perform the inspection.
  2. If a state inspector performs inspection, salary and operating expenses for services shall be reimbursed to the state by city or town and shall be deposited as general revenues. Developers would cover costs for third-party, external inspectors.
  3. The 48 hours exclude weekends and holidays.
 
  1. § 23-27.3-107.1.1. Local inspector – To sign permits
 
  1. Building inspectors who possess the qualifications enumerated in state law would have the authority to affix their signatures to every permit within the jurisdiction of his/her specialty.
  2. For example, building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing inspectors would be able to sign respective permits for areas they’re qualified to inspect.
 
  1. Expand Apprenticeship Opportunities
 
  1. § 37-13-3.1. State public works contract apprenticeship requirements and § 37-13-3.2. Public school construction contract apprenticeship requirements.
 
  1. Expands state law for public works contracts so that public school construction contracts valued at $5 million or more shall have apprenticeship programs and that no less than 15 percent of labor hours worked shall be by apprentices.
  2. Does not require such apprenticeships for contractors and subcontractors with fewer than 5 employees.
  3. Allows a user agency to lower the 15 percent requirement in cases where such apprentices aren’t available or contractors have demonstrated a good faith effort to comply but cannot.
  4. Maintains the state law that says all public works contracts awarded by the state of $1 million or more shall employ apprentices.
 

 
  1. § 16-2-9. General powers and duties of school committees.
 
  1. Gives school committees in K-12 systems the power to establish policies regarding implementation of career and technical education programs into the curriculum that include knowledge of careers, employment, registered apprenticeships, and the advantages of completing school with marketable skills. 
 
  1. §§ 5-6-24; 5-6-34; 5-20-5; 5-70-5; 28-3; 28-4; 28-27; 28-45 and more: Omnibus apprenticeship legislation to align with federal requirements and add definitions where necessary
 
  1. Cleans up state apprenticeship laws to align with federal language.
  2. The state of Rhode Island is among the states that administer their apprenticeship programs on behalf of the federal government. When federal government approved Rhode Island’s administration of such programs, certain state laws needed to be updated.
  3. Codifies when Rhode Island shall recognize out-of-state apprentices registered elsewhere and working in Rhode Island.
  4. Aligns apprenticeship requirements with federal standards: Number of hours required by apprentices are enumerated instead of number of years of on-the-job learning.
  5. Defines apprentice in state law, mirroring the national definition.
 
  1. Senate Resolution to study expanding non-trade apprenticeship grant program
 
  1. Requests the Governor’s Workforce Board to work with the Department of Labor and Training regarding the feasibility of expanding the GWB’s non-trade registered apprenticeship grant program.
  2. Requires a report to Senate leadership by Jan. 1, 2020.
 
  1. Create More Housing Opportunities and Incentivize Sustainable Growth in Solar Energy Industry
 
  1.  § 39-3-7.1 Regulatory Powers of Administration: Solar Siting legislation.
 
  1. This solar-siting bill incorporates proposed legislative options put forth by the Office of Energy Resources, which has worked with a variety of environmental and other stakeholders, and it requires municipalities to create comprehensive ordinances for solar-siting projects
  2. Encourages municipalities to develop solar-siting policies that incentivize such projects on brownfields, landfills, superfund sites, gravel pits, etc.
  3. Includes a housing density option for when solar projects go on land zoned for housing developments. Within six months, the municipality must have a plan for replacing that lost residential density elsewhere in the municipality. 
  4. Office of Energy Resources would recommend megawatt expansion for PUC approval.
  5. Mandates reimbursement for interconnecting costs, determined by PUC.
  6. Allows master meters.
  7. Sets 10 megawatt limit in residential area; 4 megawatt limit in area of environmental concern. Both may be waived by municipality.
 
  1. § 45-24-37. General provisions – Permitted uses/Accessory Dwelling Units
 
  1. Expands allowances for Accessory Dwelling Units to be built in single-family residences for more family members than are currently allowed.
  2. Accessory Dwellings are now allowed for those who are at least age 62 or for family members with disabilities.
  3. Expands definition of family to include members of a household.
  4. Accessory dwellings have separate kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. They’re within the house or in a garage/barn. They maintain the single-family appearance of the home.
 
  1. Senate Study Commission or Additional Research to Encourage Population Growth with More Housing and Other Initiatives
 
  1. Ongoing research expected to continue beyond the 2019 legislative session.
  2. A key component of building a more vibrant economy is the ability to encourage a growing population, a younger demographic, and more housing options so that as companies decide to move here they’ll have adequate housing options for their employees and so that families of all sizes have housing options that work for them.
  3. Some housing options to consider include workforce housing, retaining mixed-income neighborhoods, and age-friendly housing.
  4. In 2000, Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino launched a multi-year initiative, “Leading the Way,” to create 20,000 more new housing units in the city, including slightly more than a quarter of them that would be affordable units. His efforts on the housing front coincided with addressing health disparities, education reform, and more.
 
  1. Educational Outcomes Should Prepare Students for the Workforce
 
  1. § 16-97-1.2 Powers and duties of the board of education
 
  1. This STEAM strategic plan bill is intended to ensure a more focused approach toward providing K-12 students more opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math education.
  2. Includes a particular focus on ensuring that all children have access to such programs.
  3. The 5-year plan shall set goals for improving student performance, for attracting more students to earn postsecondary degrees in STEAM, and for addressing teacher shortages in these fields.

 
 
  1. § 16-40-12 Schools instructing persons above compulsory school age
 
  1. When the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner approves for-profit, higher-education programs that grant certificates, such programs shall demonstrate financial stability and quality academics and shall address projected workforce needs of the state.
 
  1. Additional education bills are in development as part of a separate package.
 
  1. It is important to emphasize that improving our schools has economic advantages for Rhode Island.
  2. That’s why the two bills above, which impact the way students are prepared for jobs in today’s economy, are included in this economic-development package.
  3. Expect more education bills to be forthcoming soon.
 
  1. Enhance Rhode Island’s Seafood Industry
 
  1. § 20-3.3-1. Nuisance actions against seafood and commercial fishing industry
 
  1. Right to Fish legislation modeled after the Right to Farm law.
  2. Local fishers and aquaculturists cannot be found to be public nuisances due to the odor or noise of their seafood or fishing equipment.
 
  1. § 42-102-13. Non-trade apprenticeship incentive program.
 
  1. Expands the Governor’s Workforce Board’s charge for funding apprenticeship programs to include the fisheries.
  2. Seeks to address an aging fisheries workforce and to encourage the next generation of fishers.
 
  1. Reinvigorate the Senate Task Force on Fisheries
 
  1. Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio recently reactivated the task force and appointed senators to replace those who are no longer in office.
  2. Senator Sosnowski chairs the reinvigorated task force.
  3. The task force will seek input from people in the fishing industry.
  4. The task force will also review state statutes, rules, and regulations and hear from DEM, DOH, DBR, and others to consider how rules and regulations impact the industry.
 
  1. Monthly resolutions to support Rhode Island’s fishing industry.
 
  1. These resolutions will be read monthly on the Senate floor, focusing on a variety of topics to encourage more recognition and support of the fishing industry.

 
 
  1. Help Small Businesses and a Growing Industry Flourish
 
  1. § 3-6-1 Manufacturer’s License: Alcoholic Beverages
 
  1. Raises craft beer limits for sale so the brewing industry may continue to grow.
  2. Allows breweries to sell a full case of 24 beers. If they produce 12-ounce cans or bottles, their limit remains the same. If they produce 16-ounce cans or bottles, as many of the craft breweries do, their limit increases to a full case of 24 bottles or cans.
  3. No increase for spirits.
  4. This seeks to allow additional growth in an industry that has recently gone from 14 to 30 craft breweries due to an earlier law addressing this issue.
 
  1. § 42-64.33-1. The Rhode Island Small Business Development Fund
 
  1. Allows investors to raise a fund to make loans to and early-stage investments in smaller companies.
  2. The idea is to help companies with fewer than 250 employees expand.
  3. In turn, the investors get tax credits for their capital investments in Rhode Island.
 
  1. Examine Health Care Provider Reimbursement Rates
 
  1. Effort under way to Examine Health Care Provider Reimbursement Rates
 
  1. Anecdotally, we hear that reimbursement rates are lower for Rhode Island providers – doctors, nurses, behavioral health care specialists, and others.
  2. However, without more data, we don’t really know how these rates impact whether Rhode Island doctors may look to move out of state in coming years.
  3. RI health care providers often talk of being paid lower reimbursement rates by health insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
  4. We will examine whether health care providers may be moving to Massachusetts and Connecticut or commuting from Rhode Island homes to practices in other states, where they can earn more.
  5. It’s important to study this issue to understand the impact on Rhode Island’s economy and any potential danger the state may face by losing specialists to neighboring states.

3/13/2019SenSen. Dominick Ruggerio; #85; Greg Pare
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Rhode Island Senate leaders hosted a “policy roundtable” today to unveil and discuss a package of bills related to economic development. Themed around “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island,” the legislative initiatives propose action in a number of areas, including development, workforce training, housing, education, solar energy, and supporting small businesses and Rhode Island’s seafood industry.
NoYesApprovedhttp://www.rilegislature.gov///pressrelease/SocialMediaPictures/_w/RISenateSeal_jpg.jpg517853/13/2019 1:51 PMSystem Account4/24/2019 3:34 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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STATE HOUSE – Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) has introduced legislation (2019-H 5553) that would create a nine member special legislative commission to study and make recommendations for encouraging more persons of color to enter education fields.

“Study after study have proved the beneficial aspects of having a diverse teacher workforce, especially in regards to closing achievement gaps for students of color.  A more diverse teacher workforce that represents our state’s demographics also benefits students of all racial backgrounds.  Yet, our teachers are not representative of the communities our students come from and we have to rectify this imbalance for the sake of our kids.  This commission will be an important first step to attaining a diverse teacher pool that our students, especially our students of color, deserve,” said Representative Alzate.

The recommendations of the commission should include:
  • An intentional and sustained approach to informing students of color in the state's public high schools on the importance and benefits of entering the field of education.
  • A process or method to prepare, support, encourage, and retain newly hired teachers of color.
  • Recommendations and methods to increase teacher workforce diversity in the state's urban school districts.
The commission will consist of three members of the House of Representatives, the President of the RI Association of School Committees, the President of the RI Association of Administrators, the President of the RI Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, the President of the RI Chapter of the National Education Association, the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department Chairperson of the Rhode Island College School of Education.

The commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the House of Representatives no later than January 28, 2020 and the commission will expire on March 28, 2020.

The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare.

3/13/2019RepRep. Karen Alzate; #255; Andrew Caruolo
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Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) has introduced legislation (2019-H 5553) that would create a nine member special legislative commission to study and make recommendations for encouraging more persons of color to enter education fields.


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STATE HOUSE — The State Senate has passed legislation introduced by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would provide a process for collecting sales tax from out-of-state sellers such as online retailers.

The bill (2019-S 0251A) would extend the requirement to collect sales tax to remote sellers in a way that conforms to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision making it easier for states to compel collection of the sales tax from retailers who do not have a physical presence in their state.

“Out-of-state retailers should adhere to the state sales tax the same as every store on Main Street,” said Senator Conley, who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s a question of fairness. This legislation is good news for Rhode Island’s brick-and-mortar businesses, allowing them to save the salaries and health benefits of their employees.”

The legislation would require a remote seller to register in Rhode Island for a permit to make sales at retail and collect and remit sales and use tax on all taxable sales into the state. The act comes on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, which granted states the authority to collect a sales tax on online purchases made by state residents. In that case, the Supreme Court determined that retailers don’t have to have physical presence in the state in order for the state to collect taxes — or that physical presence can be defined in other ways, such as an online presence.

“That decision will have major ramifications on Rhode Island and other states by leveling the playing field and taking away the stranglehold that online retailers have had for so long on our businesses,” said Senator Conley. “This law will eliminate that unfair market advantage. We are finally able to shift our tax policy to align with the shift in retail technology.”

The measure, which is cosponsored by Senators James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton), Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton), now heads to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2019-H 5278A) has been approved by the House Finance Committee. The legislation mirrors language that has been included in this year’s proposed budget.
3/12/2019SenSen. William Conley; #202; Daniel Trafford
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http://www.rilegislature.gov////pressrelease/Pictures/_w/18-Conley_jpg.jpgNoApproved
The State Senate has passed legislation introduced by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would provide a process for collecting sales tax from out-of-state sellers such as online retailers.

NoYesApprovedhttp://www.rilegislature.gov///pressrelease/SocialMediaPictures/_w/Conley-Social_png.jpg517813/12/2019 5:30 PMSystem Account4/24/2019 3:34 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The Rhode Island General Assembly today approved legislation introduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) and Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) that would allow mobile sports wagering through the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton.

The legislation (2019-S 0037A, 2019-H 5241) would enable the creation of an app consumers could use to access the sports gaming offerings at Twin River from anyplace within the parameters of the state of Rhode Island. Consumers must initially set up their accounts in person at Twin River, and thereafter could place a wager from anywhere in the state. They must be physically in the state of Rhode Island in order to wager. The system would utilize technology to determine the location of any person placing a wager, and would not accept wagers from outside of the state’s boundaries.

“The new in-person sportsbook that opened in November has been very popular, with lines sometimes stretching out the doors,” said President Ruggerio. “It is an entertainment option that many Rhode Islanders enjoy, and visitors from outside the state are also flocking to our gaming facilities to place their wagers on sporting events. Expanding to mobile gaming would provide a convenient option for those wishing to enjoy this form of entertainment, and open up the economic benefits beyond the walls of Twin River. I can envision a group of friends from out-of-state spending an evening out in a local establishment where they can both watch the game and place a wager.”

Similar to other states, such as New Jersey, wagering is received upon a server-based gaming system located on the premises of the casinos, and therefore deemed to be placed and accepted at the casino. The State of Rhode Island would continue to receive 51 percent of all winnings from sports wagering, among the highest rates in the country.

“This revenue, along with the revenue we anticipate from an expansion to mobile gaming is a tremendous benefit to the state,” said Speaker Mattiello. “It’s an added benefit that we can capture revenue that would have otherwise gone to an illegal market. When you consider that up to 97 percent of sports wagering is done illegally, it makes good sense for the state to increase its revenue by providing an entertainment that can be done safely and legally.”

The measure now moves to the governor’s office.

3/12/2019RepSen. Dominick Ruggerio; Rep. Nicholas Mattiello; #85; #120; Daniel Trafford
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The Rhode Island General Assembly today approved legislation introduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) and Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) that would allow mobile sports wagering through the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton.

NoYesApprovedhttp://www.rilegislature.gov///pressrelease/SocialMediaPictures/_w/a86e7ac3-9711-4cb0-b947-cccace06da46-large16x9_1280x720_80514B00SYUGA1_jpg.jpg517803/12/2019 5:26 PMSystem Account4/24/2019 3:34 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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STATE HOUSE — The Senate and House of Representatives will celebrate both Irish and Italian culture Thursday, March 14, as the legislative chambers observe both St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day.

In the House, the celebration will begin at the conclusion of business. An Italian toast will be given by Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro (D-Dist. 37, Westerly) and the Italian heritage address will be delivered by Providence Municipal Court Judge Frank Caprio, whose court proceedings are shown on the television program “Caught in Providence.” An Irish poem will be offered by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), an Irish toast will be given by Rep. James B. Jackson (D-Dist. 26, West Warwick, Coventry Warwick), and Barbara S. Cottam, chairwoman of the Rhode Island Board of Education, will deliver the Irish heritage address.

The Senate will also conduct its celebration at the conclusion of business. The Irish heritage address will be delivered by Jo-Ann Ryan, majority leader of the Providence City Council. The Italian heritage address will be delivered by Gene Valicenti of NBC10 News. The Irish celebration will have musical selections by Marie O’Loughlin Jenkins, while the Italian celebration will have accordion music by Vincent D’Adamo, doorman for the Senate.
3/11/2019SenRep. Nicholas Mattiello; Sen. Dominick Ruggerio; #120; #85; Daniel Trafford
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http://www.rilegislature.gov///pressrelease/Pictures/_w/Irish-Italian_jpg.jpgNoApproved
The Senate and House of Representatives will celebrate both Irish and Italian culture Thursday, March 14, as the legislative chambers observe both St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day.

NoYesApproved517723/11/2019 11:16 AMSystem Account4/24/2019 3:34 PMNo presence informationMeredyth WhittyCompleted
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