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

 

 

§  McEntee and DiMario’s outdoor dining bill signed into law

Legislation (2024-H 7064A, 2024-S 2028A) sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) that permanently allows outdoor dining at restaurants has been signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee. 

Click here to see news release

 

§ Bill to name Amica Pavilion media room after Bill Reynolds signed
The General Assembly passed legislation (2024-S 20342024-H 7221) introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) and Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick, East Greenwich) that would name the media work room in the Amica Mutual Pavilion in honor of Bill Reynolds, the beloved Providence Journal columnist who died in July 2023. Gov. Dan McKee signed the bill at a ceremony today in the media room.
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§ House OKs Rep. Speakman bill to boost ADU development

The House of Representatives approved legislation (2024-H 7062) sponsored by Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol) to boost housing production by helping Rhode Islanders to develop accessory dwelling units, sometimes known as in-law apartments or granny flats, on their property. The bill now goes to the Senate.
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§ House, Senate oversight committees hear update on Washington Bridge crisis
A joint meeting of the House Committee on Oversight and the Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight convened to address the ongoing crisis on the Washington Bridge, the causes of its failure, and plans for its future. Peter Alviti, director of the Department of Transportation, gave a presentation and update on the bridge, along with other officials.

 

§ Community groups call for passage of bail reform legislation
Advocates for justice reform rallied at the State House for passage of legislation sponsored by Rep. José Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence) and Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence) to reform a law that currently results in about 85% of those arrested for alleged probation violations being held without bail for weeks while awaiting a hearing. The legislators will be resubmitting an updated version of legislation they have sponsored (2023-H 55712023-S 0411) to establish a presumption of release of those accused of probation violations while they await a hearing, and allow a judge to require reasonable bail only if necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court.
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§ Rep. Cotter, Sen. DiPalma look to rescue land conservation funding
Citing their effectiveness and Rhode Islanders’ historically strong support of land conservation efforts, Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Megan L. Cotter (D-Dist. 39, Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton) have introduced legislation (2024-H 7550) to add $16 million for land protection programs to the $50 million environmental bond that Gov. Dan McKee has proposed for November’s ballot.
Click here to see news release.

 

§ Ackerman, Zurier bill would aid R.I. medical researchers, patients

Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Sen. Samuel D. Zurier (D-Dist. 3, Providence) have introduced legislation (2024-H 7301, 2024-S 2394) that will allow medical researchers in Rhode Island to participate in and gain access to vital national data and research. This would allow patients in Rhode Island, particularly those with cancer, access to the latest treatments and allow researchers to work on the cutting edge of their fields.

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§ Boylan, Tikoian introduce bill to help law enforcement solve gun crimes

Rep. Jennifer Boylan (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Sen. David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Lincoln, North Providence) have introduced legislation (2024-H 7216, 2024-S 2446) to aid law enforcement in solving gun-related crimes by taking advantage of a national ballistics analysis database.

Click here to see news release.

 

§ Legislative leaders talk economy with Chamber of Commerce
House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, North Smithfield, Burrillville, Glocester) and House Minority Leader Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry) joined the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Thursday at its annual legislative luncheon for a discussion on legislative matters, the state budget and the economy.

§ Ranked-choice voting demonstration results in sweet victory

In a field of five chocolates, Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Caramel won after four rounds of voting in a demonstration of ranked-choice voting staged by Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and Senate Majority Whip Valarie Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) on Valentine’s Day. Representative Kislak and Senator Lawson have introduced legislation (2024-H 7540, 2024-S 2425) to institute ranked-choice voting for presidential preference primaries, beginning with the 2028 presidential election.

Click here to see news release.                               

 

 

House Speaker Mike Johnson is set to make an appearance alongside Donald Trump today at Mar-a-Lago. The two are slated to hold a news focused on election integrity. The former president has repeatedly claimed the 2020 election was rigged against him. The event comes as Johnson faces threats from some conservative Republicans to oust him as speaker if he moves forward with Ukraine funding.       The lead prosecutor in O.J. Simpson's murder trial is reacting the NFL star's death. Marcia Clark told Entertainment Tonight, "I send my condolences to Mr. Simpson's family." Simpson passed away April 10th from cancer. He was famously acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.       Vice President Kamala Harris is headed to Arizona today after the state supreme court upheld a near-total ban on abortions that was put in place 160 years ago. She'll be in Tucson [[ Too-sahn ]] for an event focusing on abortion and the Biden administration's efforts to keep abortion legal. Harris was just in Phoenix last month to show opposition against attempts to limit or restrict abortion.       A new analysis estimates President Biden's new student debt relief plan to cost tax payers around 84-billion dollars. A Penn Wharton Budget Model looks at five parts of Biden's plan to total how much the initiatives would cost. The model shows that the biggest cost would be Biden's proposal to cancel up to 20-thousand dollars for borrowers with balances from unpaid interest.       A Tennessee bill that would criminalize providing transgender care to a minor is moving on to the state House for debate. The measure would criminalize adults who help minors receive gender-affirming care without parental consent would become a felony. The bill was passed by the Senate on Thursday and will be debated in the House which is expected to support the legislation.        A reminder for taxpayers when it comes to charitable deduction rules. The IRS says those who itemize must remember that donations must be to a qualified organization. Other rules include: the donation must have been during the proper tax year, there must be a record of it, and the total deduction cannot be more than 60-percent of your adjusted gross income.