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

 

 

§  Shekarchi re-elected Speaker; lists housing, homelessness as top priorities

Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) was re-elected to lead the House of Representatives as the 2023-2024 term began. He outlined a legislative agenda topped by addressing the state’s affordable housing and homelessness crises, and pledged to continue fostering a collaborative spirit in the House and state government, to spend state resources prudently and to renew the push to make Rhode Island a hub for bioscience and green industries.

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§  Senate President Ruggerio re-elected; lays out legislative priorities for 2023
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) was once again chosen to preside over the Senate for its 2023 legislative session, laying out the agenda for the year including ensuring a quality education for every student, ensuring every Rhode Islander can access health care, ensuring that children inherit a cleaner, more resilient environment, ensuring that small businesses can create jobs and thrive, continuing to strengthen and expand early childhood care and education, reviewing the education funding formula, addressing the mental health crisis, taking action to replace all of Rhode Island’s lead pipes, continuing to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to safe and affordable housing.

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§  Whip Kazarian introduces Equality in Abortion Coverage Act

House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) has introduced the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act. The legislation would ensure that individuals on Medicaid and state health insurance plans have coverage for abortion procedures. The bill would add Rhode Island to the ranks of 16 states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine, whose Medicaid programs cover abortion.

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§  Sen. Acosta and Rep. Felix elected co-chairs of R.I. Black and Latino Caucus

Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) have been elected as the co-chairs of the Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus by their fellow caucus members.  The previous chair was Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket).

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§  General Assembly honors late Gov. Lincoln C. Almond
The House and the Senate honored former Gov. Lincoln C. Almond, who passed away Jan. 2 at age 86. Almond, a Republican, served as governor from 1995 to 2003. He championed public education at all levels and is remembered by lawmakers for working with them in a bipartisan fashion. 

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More than three-thousand people are dead after two massive earthquakes rocked Turkey and Syria. Just over half of those deaths have occurred in Turkey. The first quake was a magnitude seven-point-eight and the second tremor was just below that.        President Biden says the shooting down of a Chinese balloon will not change his State of the Union Speech Tuesday night. Speaking on the White House lawn, Biden said it was always his idea to shoot it down once it was safe to do so. He said he will talk to the American people and tell them what he's accomplished and what he wants to achieve.        Americans are feeling less confident about the economy. A new Gallup poll shows more than two-thirds of those surveyed expect inflation to rise in the first half of this year, while 48-percent believe stock market values will decline. A whopping 74-percent look for more interest hikes in 2023.        Wall Street is closing lower to start the week as bond yields rise. Investors took some profits while weighing the latest batch of corporate earnings. Stocks traded down for much of the session, but trimmed losses late in the day. At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 35 points to 33-891.        Police in one Kentucky town are passing along a heads-up about a scam targeting coffee drinkers. Cops in Georgetown, north of Lexington, say a link is being circulated around the web offering free coffee and donuts. Clicking on the link will release a virus which will allow typing only in all caps. Police say don't be fooled as there's no free coffee or donuts.