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 names new committee chairs
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) announced the new committee chairs for the 2023-24 term. They are Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton), Finance Committee; Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Judiciary Committee; Sen. Alana DiMario (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett, New Shoreham), Environment and Agriculture Committee; and Sen. Mark P. McKenney (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight Committee.
Click here to see DiPalma release.

Click here to see Euer release.

Click here to see DiMario release.

Click here to see McKenney release.

 

§  New senators given committee assignments
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) announced the committee assignments for the new senators who were elected in November. They include Sen. Robert Britto (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket), Sen. Anthony P. DeLuca II (R-Dist. 29, Warwick), Sen. Victoria Gu (D-Dist. 38, Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown), Sen. Matthew L. LaMountain (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), Sen. Pamela J. Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), Sen. Mark P. McKenney (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), Sen. David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Lincoln, North Providence) and Sen. Linda L. Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol).

§  Senators elected, appointed to leadership positions
Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) was elected president pro tempore of the Senate, where she will be responsible for presiding over the Senate in the absence of the president. Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) was elected deputy president pro tempore. Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) appointed Sen. John Burke (D-Dist. 9 West Warwick) to serve as a deputy majority leader.
Click here to see Gallo release.

Click here to see Picard release.

Click here to see Burke release.

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  • Sen. Valverde introduces Equality in Abortion Coverage Act
    Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown) has introduced the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act to ensure that individuals on Medicaid and state health insurance plans have coverage for abortion procedures. The House companion bill (2023-H 5006) was introduced by House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence).
    Click here to see news release.
  • Rep. O’Brien, President Ruggerio introduce lead pipe replacement bill

Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) introduced legislation (2023-H 5007, 2023-S 0002) to address lead pipes in Rhode Island’s water supply system. The Lead Poisoning Prevention Act would create a lead water supply replacement program for both public and private service lines, with a requirement that all affected lines are replaced within 10 years.

Click here to see O’Brien release.

Click here to see Ruggerio release.

 

  • Senate Finance Committee reviews ARPA spending

The Senate Finance Committee received an update from the governor’s administration on previously authorized federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF) programs and appropriations.  The committee heard testimony from the R.I. Pandemic Recovery Office and the Executive Office of Commerce.

 

§  Pell Bridge ramp signs improve following Rep. Carson’s request
One day after Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) hand-delivered a letter to the Department of Transportation seeking better signage and communication about the ongoing Pell Bridge ramp realignment project, new signs went up clarifying the temporary traffic patterns. When the ramps were rerouted for the major construction project in December, a lack of signs resulted in many drivers accidentally crossing the bridge and others struggling to find their way to it, snarling traffic on the main route connecting Newport to the mainland.
Click here to see news release.

§  Housing panel hears United Way plan to speed affordable housing creation
The same week that the state’s first Housing Secretary Josh Saal resigned amid criticism of slow implementation of new housing programs, the Special Commission to Study the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, led by Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol), met with United Way of Rhode Island leaders to hear their proposals to encourage swifter affordable housing development.
Click here to see Speaker Shekarchi’s statement on Secretary Saal’s resignation.
Click here to see news advisory on commission meeting.

 

§  Ackerman, Goodwin honored by Cancer Action Network, Brown Cancer Center
The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network and Brown University’s Legoretta Cancer Center have honored Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and House Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) for their legislative contributions to cancer prevention and treatment.
Click here to see Ackerman release.
Click here to see Goodwin release.

§  Representatives join together to condemn antisemitism, racism
House Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) introduced a resolution (2023-H 5031) urging all Rhode Islanders to join together to strongly condemn antisemitism. Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6 Providence, North Providence) introduced a resolution (2023-H 5066) commemorating the life and work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The resolutions come as incidents of antisemitism are on the rise in Rhode Island and nationally, and as the country is set to celebrate King’s birthday on Monday.

Click here to see media release.

 

A New York appeals court is rejecting Donald Trump's request to pause the enforcement of the civil fraud penalty he's facing. Trump's legal team had argued the judgement made it "impossible" to secure a bond covering the full amount of 454-million. His lawyers instead offered to put up a 100-million dollar bond. An appellate judge, however, ruled that Trump must cough up the full amount. But he did freeze the ban on Trump and his adult sons from running their business in New York, which could enable the former president to access some funds. This as Trump appeals the judgement finding him liable for fraudulently inflating his net worth on financial statements.        The impeachment inquiry into President Biden is moving into its next phase. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer says it involves a public hearing including testimony from the president's son, Hunter Biden. Hunter gave a deposition to lawmakers today behind closed doors, in which he denied his father was ever involved in his business ventures. Comer said Hunter's testimony included claims that contradicted testimony from other witnesses. Republicans have accused Biden of carrying out an influence peddling scheme while serving as vice president.        President Biden's doctor says he's fit to serve as president. Biden underwent a routine physical today at Walter Reed. A summary from doctors says there are "no new concerns" from this year's physical. The president, however, did not take a cognitive test, as the White House says doctors said it was not necessary. This comes as Biden faces questions about his age and ability to serve a second term. Recent polls have shown a large majority of Americans believe he's too old to serve in office.        The Supreme Court appears to be torn over a challenge to the gun accessory "bump stocks." Bump stocks allow a semi auto rifle to fire more quickly. A ban on the accessory was imposed by the Trump administration in 2017 after the Las Vegas mass shooting, where a shooter used bump stock-equipped guns to kill dozens at a country music festival. In oral arguments today, both liberal and conservatives justices asked questions that indicate they believe it's possible an older law aimed to ban machine guns could also include bump stocks. Whether or not there's a majority that will reach that conclusion remains unclear.       "Dune: Part Two" is looking to jump start the box office this weekend. The film is expected to bring in 170-million-dollars worldwide in its first weekend in theaters. It's currently projected to make around 80-million-dollars domestically in its debut in theaters. 2021's "Dune" opened with 41-million-dollars in its first weekend, but it also released on HBO Max the same day it hit the big screen.       Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher is calling the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "a load of bollocks." Oasis is one of this year's nominees for induction into the Rock Hall, along with Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner and other famous rockers. The nominees also include Mariah Carey and hip-hop groups Eric B. & Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest, which triggered the outspoken Oasis singer. In a recent interview, Gallagher said, "As much as I love Mariah Carey and all that," it's "like putting me in the rap hall of fame." He continued, saying "I've done more for rock n' roll than half of them clowns." The Rock Hall Class of '24 will be announced in late April.