State House view from the southThis 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

 

 

§  Legislators announce Working Families Agenda of 2024 legislative priorities

A diverse group of 25 legislators came together Tuesday to announce their Working Families Agenda, a list of top priorities for the 2024 legislative session. This agenda includes expanding and improving public transit, building more affordable housing, strengthening the rights of renters, a comprehensive reform of LEOBOR, lowering prescription drug prices by legalizing wholesale purchases from Canada, providing free, healthy lunches to all students, expanding paid family leave and taxing the income of Rhode Islanders who make more than $1 million per year.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Vella-Wilkinson bill requires websites to comply with accessibility standards
Legislation (2024-H 7159) proposed by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) would require that state agencies’ websites be accessible to people with disabilities. Companion legislation (2024-S 2037) is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Linda L. Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. Morales introduces bill to fully fund state’s libraries

Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence) sponsored legislation (2024-H 7335) to fully fund the state’s contribution to public libraries in FY2025, covering a shortfall in the governor’s proposed budget.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sen. Acosta, Rep. Sanchez reintroduce bill providing free school meals

Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. Enrique George Sanchez (D-Dist. 9, Providence) have reintroduced legislation (2024-S 20462024-H 7337) to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students of public schools.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. Stewart proposes bill to increase notice for rent increases

Rep. Jennifer A. Stewart (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) sponsored legislation that would give renters more notice when their landlord plans to raise their rent. The bill (2024-H 7304) would require that landlords give tenants 90 days’ notice of any rent increase, or 120 days if the tenant is over age 62, up from 30 days and 60 days, respectively, under current law.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Cotter, Ujifusa bill would raise tax credit to help seniors, those with disabilities

Sen. Linda L. Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol) and Rep. Megan L. Cotter (D-Dist. 39, Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton) are sponsoring a bill raising the eligibility limit and the maximum credit for the “circuit breaker” tax credit, which benefits low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. Currently, the program is limited to households with annual incomes of $35,000 or less, and the credit is limited to $600. This legislation (2024-H 72082024-S 2063) would raise the income limit to $50,000 and raise the maximum credit to $850.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Coalition of legislators hold press conference on drunk driving legislation
Sens. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, West Greenwich), John P. Burke (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) and David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Lincoln) and Reps. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry) and Thomas E. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick) held a press conference at the State House to call attention to several bills that strengthen the penalties for drunk, impaired and reckless driving offenses.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  House Oversight Committee tours St. Mary’s Home for Children
Members of the House Oversight Committee took a tour of the St. Mary’s Home for Children this week. St. Mary’s Home for Children is a residential treatment center serving youth in state care. The tour comes in the wake of a report from the Office of the Child Advocate that details “significant safety concerns and abusive living conditions” at the facility.

§  Right from the Start meets with lawmakers to announce priorities
Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) joined officials from Right from the Start at a press conference as the education advocacy group announced its legislative priorities for 2024, which include more early intervention and child care support.

§  Legislative leaders welcome cast of ‘Ella McKay’ to State House
Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton, Little Compton) and other legislative leaders joined the Rhode Island Film and TV Office in the State Room to welcome the cast of ‘Ella McKay,” including Emma Mackey, Woody Harrelson and Jamie Lee Curtis. The production will take advantage of the state’s Film and TV tax credit, which has been approved annually by the General Assembly. The movie will begin filming soon at the State House and other locations throughout Rhode Island.   

 

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.