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 passes bill to increase minimum wage to $15 by 2025
The Senate passed legislation (2021-S 0001aa) introduced by Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) that would increase Rhode Island’s minimum wage from $11.50 to $15 over a four-year period. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2021-H 5130) has been introduced by Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston).
Click here to see news release.

 

·         Senate passes charter school moratorium
The Senate approved legislation (2021-S 0013Aaa) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to place a three-year moratorium on the expansion or creation of charter schools in Rhode Island to allow the General Assembly to review the charter funding structure. Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) is sponsoring similar legislation (2021-H 5193) in the House.
Click here to see news release.

 

·         Measures to curb gun violence introduced in House

House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) and Rep. Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) introduced a package of bills to prohibit the possession of firearms on school grounds and ban the sale and possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. In the Senate, President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) has introduced the bill banning firearms in schools (2021-S 0073). 
Click here to see news release.

 

·         Senate OKs bill providing for Senate confirmation of education commissioners 
The Senate approved legislation (2021-S 0063aa) sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) to require appointments to the offices of Elementary and Secondary Education commissioner and Postsecondary Education commissioner to be subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, just as other high-level state government appointments are. Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2021-H 5423) in the House.
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·         Ruggerio, McEntee introduce Plastic Waste Reduction Act
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) and Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) have introduced the Plastic Waste Reduction Act (2021-S 00372021-H 5358) to prohibit single-use plastic checkout bags at retail establishments.
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·         Bennett bills take aim at waste, litter from food packaging
House Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chairman David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced several bills aimed at reducing waste and litter from single-use food containers. The bills would ban food service establishments from using disposable polystyrene foam containers and plastic stirrers (2021-H 5138), limit the distribution of single-use plastic straws (2021-H 5131), put a 50-cent deposit on “nips” miniature alcoholic beverage bottles (2021-H 5113) and provide for the sanitary use of multi-use food and beverage containers owned by consumers (2021-H 5152). In the Senate, Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) has introduced the straw bill (2021-S 0155), and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) has introduced the polystyrene foam bill (2021-S 0036).
Click here to see news release.

·         Rep. O’Brien bill would raise earned income tax credit to 50 percent by 2022

Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) has introduced legislation (2021-H 5366) that would raise the state’s earned income tax credit to 50 percent by Jan. 1, 2022. Currently, the state’s earned income tax credit is 15 percent.  Under Representative O’Brien’s legislation, for the tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2022, a taxpayer entitled to a federal earned-income credit will be allowed a Rhode Island earned-income credit equal to 50 percent of the federal earned-income credit.

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·         Rep. Slater introduces bill to ban captive hunting in RI

Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) has introduced legislation (2021-H 5329) that would prohibit captive hunting in Rhode Island. “Captive hunting” is defined as a hunt that occurs within a structure designed to restrict the free movement of animals and prevents the animal from escaping. The bill describes the structures used as fences, manmade structures, or natural barriers used to prevent animals from escaping or fleeing the confined area of the hunt.

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·         Rep. Alzate elected chairwoman of R.I. Legislative Black and Latino Caucus

Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) has been elected as the chairwoman of the Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus by her fellow caucus members.  The previous chairman was Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket).  The caucus represents and advocates for the interests of disadvantaged people throughout 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.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. Place and Sen. Bell bill would limit corporate giveaways
Rep. David J. Place (R-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) and Sen. Samuel W. Bell (D-Dist. 5, Providence) have introduced legislation (2021-H 53162021-S 0046) that would limit corporate giveaways used to lure companies from neighboring states. They are seeking to enlist Rhode Island in an interstate compact that protects public investments now and in the future.
Click here to see news release.

 

 

A third COVID vaccine could hit the U.S. market soon. Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine is being endorsed by F-D-A staff for emergency use. It could get the F-D-A's official stamp of approval after an advisory committee reviews the company's emergency use authorization request on Friday.        Tiger Woods is recovering from surgery after being injured in a car accident yesterday morning. Doctors reportedly inserted a rod and screws in his right leg below the knee to stabilize what they called multiple open fractures in the two main bones in the lower leg. The crash also broke bones in the 45-year-old's right foot and ankle.       The nearly two-trillion-dollar stimulus bill is drawing criticism from House Republican leaders. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the Democratic measure is "too costly, too corrupt and too liberal," while Minority Whip Steve Scalise [[ skall-EESE ]] called it a liberal wish list. Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a relief package providing 600-dollar stimulus payments to low-income Californians.       Bruce Springsteen is having some of his drunk driving charges dropped and is pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Springsteen appeared in court by video conference on charges of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area after allegedly drinking with fans at a parking lot in Sandy Hook, New Jersey back in November. The rocker pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol in a closed area and was fined 540-dollars.       The House is assessing the mental health impact and physical damages following the January 6th Capitol attack. Democrat Tim Ryan of Ohio said Congress cannot "militarize" the Capitol in response to a ransacking of representative democracy. Republican Jamie Herrera Beutler [[ butler ]] of Washington state said Congress should assess what needs to be repaired, while also preserving marks from that day as a historical reminder.       Ghost restaurants are on the rise due to coronavirus. These are delivery only kitchens that may operate out of another brand's location. Restaurant tech expert Kristen Hawley says one kitchen might be operating as a chicken, pizza, burger and salad restaurant all at the same time.