This week at the 

General Assembly

 

STATE HOUSE — Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this week. For more information on any of these items visit http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease

 

 

§  Senate OKs Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act
The Senate approved the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act (2021-S 0002) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to protect the health care of Rhode Islanders by setting standards for nursing home care. The bill, which is intended to address an ongoing crisis in nursing home staffing exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, now goes to the House, where Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) is sponsoring a companion bill (2021-H 5012).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. McNamara bill would ban animal importation for canned hunting
The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources heard legislation (2021-H 5058) introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would ban the practice of importing non-native animals into the state for the purpose of canned hunting. Canned hunting is a hunt that occurs in a confined area where the animal cannot escape, increasing the hunter’s chances of success.
Click here to see news release.

 

·         Rep. O’Brien reintroduces bill to repeal social gaming ban

Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) has reintroduced his legislation (2021-H 5399) that would allow social gaming in private residences, public taverns and private clubs.  Representative O’Brien’s bill would legalize activities such as Super Bowl “squares” and NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket “pools” as long as there is a social relationship between participants and no person other than the participants receives anything of value.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Speaker of the House names new committee chairs
Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) appointed several new committee chairs, including Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), Conduct Committee; Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), Corporations Committee; Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Education Committee; Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), Health and Human Services Committee; Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), Innovation, Internet and Technology Committee; Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6 Providence, North Providence), Municipal Government and Housing Committee; Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Small Business Committee; Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Special Legislation Committee; and Rep. Evan Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), State Government and Elections Committee.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Representatives Edwards, Fellela named to newly created leadership positions
Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) was named to the newly created position of Majority Floor Manager, where he will help to manage House floor sessions. Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) was named Senior Deputy Majority Leader, where she will run the newly created first-term Legislator Mentorship Program that will connect incoming legislators with more experienced members.
Click here to see Edwards release.

Click here to see Fellela release.

 

·         Governor gives farewell State of the State address

Gov. Gina M. Raimondo held her sixth State of the State address on Wednesday. Due to COVID-19 prevention measures, the address was held in the House chamber with only the governor’s family, two staffers, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) in attendance.  The address was broadcast virtually throughout the state. Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, North Smithfield Burrillville, Glocester,) gave the Republican response to the address.

 

§  Rhode Island leaders voice support for Question 2

A coalition of community partners from throughout Rhode Island, including legislative leaders and environmental and labor organizations, kicked off a campaign in support of the 2021 Beach, Clean Water, and Green Bond. The $74 million bond will appear as Question 2 on the ballot for Rhode Island’s March 2 special election and gives voters the opportunity to approve major investments in clean water, state beaches and parks, outdoor recreation, farmland and forested land, and community resilience to climate change.

Click here to see news release.

§  Sen. Valverde, Rep. Caldwell oppose medical waste burning proposal
Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) are strongly opposing a proposal to build a medical waste treatment plant on the East Greenwich-West Warwick border. MedRecycler-RI Inc. is seeking approval to construct a facility that plans to accept 70 tons of medical waste daily from across New England and burn it at extreme temperatures through a process called “pyrolysis,” which turns the waste into energy and oil and tar byproducts.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Henry Kinch Jr. named Executive Director of JCLS
Henry Kinch Jr. has been chosen as the executive director of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services, which is responsible for the overall financial and administrative functions of the General Assembly.
Click here to see news release.

 

President Biden will be getting his coronavirus booster shot today. The White House announced Biden will get it "in line with the CDC's and FDA's recommendations." Those over 65 who have received two Pfizer shots are eligible for the boosters, along with other high risk populations.       The CDC is releasing several studies showing that enforcing mask-wearing in schools helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. One of the studies, which looked at one-thousand schools nationwide, showed 113 of the 191 COVID outbreaks that occurred between mid-July through August were in schools that did not enforce mask mandates. It's a hot button issue in several states including Texas, Florida and Arizona, which have tried to bar school districts from enforcing mask policies.       The man who shot President Ronald Reagan 40 years ago is winning back his eventual freedom. A judge approved John Hinckley's unconditional release next year. It's scheduled to happen in June, but he'll continue to be monitored until then.       The Senate will take a big test vote later today on extending government funding and the debt limit. Sixty votes are needed to move the measure forward and Republicans are threatening to withhold support. Meantime, the Treasury Department has warned the U.S. could default on its debt obligations next month without a hike or extension of the federal debt limit.       The FBI is now in charge of looking for Gabby Petito's fiance. A North Port, Florida, Police spokesman told Fox News the search for Brian Laundrie will be "scaled back" as the federal agency takes over. The search for Laundrie has centered around the vast Carlton Reserve after Petito was found dead in Wyoming earlier this month.       Beyond Meat is set to launch a line of meatless chicken tenders nationwide. The alternative meat maker announced its newest meat-free product will be hitting stores in October. The meatless chicken tenders will be available at select Walmart and Giant Foods locations next month.