There are lots of ways you can find out about the activities of the General Assembly right here on our website.
At the top of our home page, you'll find a link to
news, where you'll find
news releases about the latest action in the General Assembly. Click on View all Recent Press Releases for a more comprehensive list, or use the search function if you're looking for something particular. Click on
Weekly Highlights for a weekly news roundup issued each Friday when the Assembly is in session.
You can use our site to watch the action live or on-demand through Capitol Television. Just click on the
Watch link at the top of our home page. There you will find the day's television schedule, including the web channels to use if you want to stream an event live. Below the web channels are links where you can access, on demand, video of past House and Senate sessions, committee and commission meetings, and a variety of special events and programming.
Of course, you can also watch Capitol Television through your local cable television provider. Cox subscribers can watch it on Channel 15 or 61 for high-definition. For i3 Broadband (formerly Full Channel) viewers, it's on Channel 15. Capitol Television is on Channel 34 for Verizon customers.
You can use the
Bills & Laws link at the top of our home page to access a trove of information about bills, votes and meetings past and present and much more. Here you will find a variety of searchable data collections as well as pages that are kept up-to-date with the latest posted meetings of the
General Assembly and all its
Commissions. You can look up the
status of bills, as well as voting records from the
committees. The House and Senate Journals – the official record of all House and Senate sessions – are also available here.
Our homepage features a calendar that will keep you up-to-date on upcoming sessions and committee meetings.
By order of Rhode Island's Constitution, each General Assembly session begins the first Tuesday in January. The session generally continues until sometime in June. The weekly schedule can vary, but generally in the early months of session, the full House of Representatives meets at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the full Senate meets at 4 p.m. on Thursdays. Additional days are added in later months. Committee hearings are usually scheduled in the afternoon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, but can occur on other days, especially during the later months of session. Committee meetings can be scheduled before or after session on days when there is a floor session.
Occasionally, House or Senate leaders call legislators back to session after they have wrapped up business for the year for actions like overriding vetoes or handling urgent legislative matters.
Commissions and task forces can meet any time of the year. Many are formed to study a particular issue and make recommendation to the General Assembly, so they do a great deal of their work in “off-session" – the months the General Assembly is not regularly meeting.
There are two routes you can take to locate a specific bill through our website, the
Bill Status/History search, or searching the
Bill Text. You can find both of these options by clicking the
Bills & Laws link in the blue bar on the header of our site.
If you don't know much beyond the bill's subject matter, try a
Bill Text search to search for text that might be included in the bill. That search will return all bills containing those words. You can search either House bills or Senate bills, or both at once. There is a link on that page that provides tips to
help you with your search.
Bill Status/History search is easier, but you'll need a bit of information about the bill, such as the bill number or a sponsor's name. Click on the
Bills & Laws link at the top of this page. On the Bills & Laws page, click on
On that page, there are several fields you can use for your search. You can select more than one field at the same time to narrow your search results.
Session Year — A year must be selected. This field is pre-populated with the current year, but you can change it to search for a bill from an earlier year.
— You can use this field if you know the legislative committee to which the bill was assigned. You must select either “in" or “out of." “In" means the committee has not yet voted the bill out to the chamber. “Out of" will give you the bills that committee has recommended for passage by the chamber.
Category — If you have a general idea of what the bill is about, you may be able to find it by selecting one of the many categories in this field.
Sponsor – Use this field if you know the name of the prime sponsor or any cosponsor of the bill. Be sure to click “prime" option to the right if you know the legislator who is the prime sponsor (also called the “lead sponsor"). It will narrow your search results significantly.
Bills — Use this field if you know the bill number. Enter only the four-digit number, nothing else. You can look up multiple bill numbers in the same search by entering all their four-digit numbers, separated only by commas or + without a space in between.
Bill range – Entering two four-digit numbers in these two spaces will return all the bills between them numerically.
Action – You can use this field to find all the bills that have been transmitted to the governor, signed by the governor, vetoed by the governor or allowed to become law without the governor's signature.
You can check
Bill Status/History on our
Bills & Laws page regularly, or you can use the
bill tracker tool on our website. Set up a free account, enter the bill numbers of the legislation you wish to track, and you will receive an email each time there is an update on any bill you are tracking, including when they are posted for upcoming committee hearings or votes in committee or before a chamber.
You can submit written testimony to the committee to which the bill is assigned, or testify in person to that committee at the bill's scheduled public hearing.
To stay informed about when the bill's hearing will be scheduled, track the bill through the
bill tracker tool. You will receive an email when the bill is scheduled for a hearing.
The posted agenda for the hearing will tell you when and where the hearing will take place, and will include instructions for submitting written testimony. You may come and testify in person, or you may submit written testimony, which should be emailed to the address listed on the committee agenda, preferably in a pdf format and prior to the hearing. Written testimony must include your full name, any organization or agency you represent, if applicable, and the number of the relevant bill, bills or budget article. It should also be labeled to indicate whether you are in favor or against the legislation. Written testimony is considered a public document, and may be posted online.
The General Assembly often forms special legislative commissions to study topics of concern. Those commissions meet publicly, and generally accept relevant public testimony at one or more meetings during that process, and in writing. Check out the
Commissions page for info on current commissions. Each commission has a page there for its membership, and there is a link that will provide a list of upcoming
commission meetings. Each posted agenda will tell you whether public testimony is being accepted at that particular meeting. If you wish to submit written testimony, each agenda will also provide the address to which you can email your testimony.
You may also want to contact your own legislators and ask for their support for your cause. Their contact information is available on their page, which you can find using the
Senators pages. Use
this tool if you do not know who your legislators are.
If testifying in person, try to refrain from reading written comments to the committee or commission members. Speak simply and briefly, and avoid repeating yourself or those who've already spoken. In written testimony, unique submissions are more impactful than text that has been copied and pasted by dozens of individuals.
Senators pages, which are linked at the top of the home page. On each page is a button that will bring you to a page with contact information for that chamber's members. Those pages also include links to each legislator's page, where you can access their biographical information and photos, as well as links to the legislation they are currently sponsoring and news releases they have issued.
Holding a bill for further study is a procedural move that is part of the legislative process for virtually all bills that have a hearing before a committee. The action enables committee members to review the verbal and written testimony submitted about the bill, and consider whether there should be any amendments to the legislation.
Look it up through the
Bill Status/History search tool on our
Bills & Laws page. If it has been signed into law or enacted without the governor's signature, that will be the final action listed for the bill. Due to the volume of bills passed in the final days of the legislative session, it is not unusual for there to be a lag between when a bill passes the chambers in concurrence and when it is transmitted to the governor for consideration.
Note: If the bill is a resolution, such as initiatives creating a House or Senate study commission, or offering congratulations or condolences, it needs only the approval of the chamber in which it originated. Joint resolutions require approval from both chambers, but not the governor, to pass. Resolutions that are approved do not become part of the state's General Laws. Resolutions are transmitted to the Secretary of State's office.
Bills & Laws page, click on “Floor votes" to see votes taken by the full House or Senate. You will need to know the date the vote was taken, which you can find by checking the bill's history, available to you through the
Bill Status/History search on our
Bills & Laws page. The floor votes on each date will be listed with vote tallies. Each vote has a “Details" link you can click to see how all members voted.
The process for searching for committee votes is similar, although in addition to the date on which the vote occurred, you will need to know which committee took the vote. That information will also be displayed when you search for the bill through
Bill Status/History. Go to
Bills & Laws, click on
Committee Votes, select the committee, then click the date on which the vote took place.
Rhode Island General Laws are available on our
Bills & Laws page. The General Laws are updated with new laws annually after the General Assembly sessions conclude.
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