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 Picard bill seeking constitutional right to adequate education
    The Senate passed legislation (2023-S 0072) sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) to place a question on the next statewide ballot asking voters to amend the state constitution to guarantee “an equitable, adequate and meaningful education to each child.” Such a constitutional guarantee would ensure that systems that are failing children are addressed because the guarantee would be legally enforceable. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket) is sponsoring companion legislation (2023-H 5771).
    Click here to see news release.
     
  • House OKs McEntee bill extending outdoor dining at restaurants

The House of Representatives passed legislation (2023-H 5264A) introduced by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) that would extend the law that allows restaurants to continue outdoor dining. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) has introduced similar legislation (2023-S 0300).

Click here to see news release

  • Senate approves bill to limit kindergarten-Grade 2 class sizes
    The Senate approved legislation (2023-S 0177) sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) to set a limit of 20 students for kindergarten through Grade 2 classes in public schools. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) is sponsoring companion legislation (2023-H 5085).

Click here to see news release.

 

  • Senate OKs bill naming CCRI Newport for Paiva Weed
    The Senate approved legislation (2023-S 0442) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to rename the Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus in honor of former Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, who was the Senate’s first female president and its first female majority leader. She was a champion for CCRI’s Newport campus, among many other things during a legislative career that spanned nearly 25 years. The bill goes to the House.
    Click here to see news release.

 

  • Rep. Alzate introduces bill to turn commercial buildings into housing

Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) has introduced legislation (2023-H 6090) that would make it easier to convert commercial structures such as hospitals or mills into housing. The bill would allow, as a permitted use, the adaptive reuse of commercial structures, such as mills, factories, hospitals, malls, churches and schools, into high density residential developments without the need to go before a municipal planning board for a zone change.

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  • Rep. Cruz introduces bill to eliminate rental application fees

Rep. Cherie L. Cruz (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket) has introduced legislation (2023-H 6087) that would eliminate housing rental application fees. ​The bill states that a landlord, lessor, sub-lessor, real estate broker, property management company, or designee shall not be allowed to require or demand any prospective tenant to pay a rental application fee. Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) has introduced similar legislation (2023-S 0311) in the Senate.

Click here to see news release

 

§  Rep. Felix and Sen. Acosta introduce bill to reform solitary confinement

Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. Leo Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) have introduced legislation (2023-S 0617) that would establish an oversight committee to monitor the use of solitary confinement, lay out clear guidelines for when solitary confinement could be used and restrict its use to punishment for violent offenses. The bill would also prohibit solitary confinement, except in emergencies, for inmates with developmental or psychiatric disabilities. No one could be kept in solitary confinement for more than 22 hours each day.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sen. Lawson bill would protect seniors on Medicare from discrimination

Sen. Valarie Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) has introduced legislation (2023-S 0583) that would prohibit insurers providing Medigap coverage from subjecting seniors to an underwriting process, denying them coverage or charging higher rates due to pre-existing conditions.

Click here to see news release.
 

§  Rep. Felix bill would promote transit-oriented development 

Rep. Leo Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) has introduced a bill (2023-H 6084) that would create a pilot program to fund projects that build dense, mixed-use development around transit centers such as train stations and bus hubs.
Click here to see news release.

 

Former President Donald Trump is in Washington, D.C. huddling with Republican lawmakers. Trump told reporters today Republicans are unified and he expects to take back the White House in November. He said he plans to "bring common sense back to the government" and secure the southern border if he wins the election.        The Supreme Court is keeping widely used abortion pill mifepristone [[ mif-ah-pris-tone ]] available to Americans. The high court unanimously ruled that a group of anti-abortion doctors who challenged the FDA's actions to make mifepristone [[ mif-ah-pris-tone ]] more accessible did not have legal standing to sue and threw out the case. The ruling will allow the pill to be mailed to patients without an in-person doctor's visit.       Wisconsin Republicans are coming to the defense of Donald Trump after the former President allegedly criticized Milwaukee during a meeting with Congressional Republicans. Punchbowl News reported that Trump called Milwaukee a "horrible city." Wisconsin Congressman Derrick Van Orden said Trump was specifically referring to the crime rate in Milwaukee, while Representative Bryan Steil said Trump didn't say the comment at all. This comes as Milwaukee is set to host the Republican National Convention next month.       There are growing fears in the U.S. that the Israeli-Hamas war is widening. This as attacks between Israel and the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah are increasing. The Iran-backed group has been shelling Israel's northern border in retaliation for Israel's assassination of a senior Hezbollah commander. Israel has since sent fighter jets to hit "Hezbollah military structures."       A U.S. Navy submarine is now in Cuba a day after two Russian war ships arrived at the Havana Port. The U.S. Southern Command confirmed the USS Helena arrived at Guantanamo Bay Thursday. It said it's part of a routing port visit and the vessel's location and transit were previously planned. The arrival of a Russian frigate and submarine at the Havana Port has been seen as a show of force by the longtime ally of Cuba, but both the U.S. and Cuba said it posed no threat.       The Eagles are next in line to play the Sphere in Las Vegas. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will play a total of eight shows over four weekends at the cutting edge venue this fall. The residency will kick off on September 20th and end on October 19th. U2 opened the venue last year and have been followed by residencies from Phish and Dead & Company.