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

 

 

§  House OKs McNamara bill to re-establish academy to assist parenting teens
The House of Representatives has approved legislation (2024-H 7560) introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would re-establish the Sheila C. “Skip” Nowell Academy, an institution that focuses on the diverse needs of pregnant and parenting teens, as a state school. The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2024-S 2807) has been introduced by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs Lauria bill to include climate change in economic planning

The Senate approved legislation (2024-S 2043A) sponsored by Sen. Pamela J. Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) to help ensure that climate change, rising seas and coastal resiliency are considered as the state makes its economic development plans. The measure now moves to the House, where similar legislation (2024-H 7246) has been introduced by Rep. Jennifer Smith Boylan (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  House OKs bill to ensure dense breast notifications following mammograms
The House of Representatives approved legislation (2024-H 7734A) sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence) to ensure that women with dense breast tissue receive the most up-to-date notification following their mammograms. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, South Kingstown) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-S 2609).
Click here to see news release

 

§  House OKs Shanley bill allowing DEM to drain overflowing septic systems
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (2024-H 7654A) introduced by Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick, East Greenwich) that would give the Department of Environmental Management the power to drain, remove or replace private septic systems that are in a state of overflow, then bill the owner for the service. The measure now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Matthew L. LaMountain (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) plans to introduce companion legislation.

 

§  House OKs bill prohibiting auto insurers from charging higher rates to widowed

The House approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) to prohibit auto insurers from charging policyholders more solely because they have been widowed. The legislation (2024-H 7606) prohibits auto insurers from treating widows or widowers any differently than married people in terms of classification or rates, beginning with policies issued after Jan. 1, 2025.  The bill now goes to the Senate, where Senate Majority Whip Valarie Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) introduced the legislation (2024-S 2269).

Click here to see news release

 

§  Gu, Cortvriend bill would replace CRMC with Dept. of Coastal Resources

Legislation (2024-S 2928A, 2024-H 7844) sponsored by Sen. Victoria Gu (D-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) and Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown) and championed by Attorney General Peter Neronha would replace the Coastal Resources Management Council with a new Department of Coastal Resources under the executive branch..

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Ujifusa, Tanzi bills would aid those with mental health, substance use disorders

Sen. Linda Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol) and Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) have introduced a bill (2024-S 26122024-H 7876) that would specify coverage standards for mental health and substance abuse use disorders to ensure insurers cover mental health care at an equivalent level to physical health care, and another (2024-S 23932024-H 7624) that would prevent insurers from requiring that patients obtain prior authorization before seeking in-network mental health or substance use disorder health care.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sen. Euer, Rep. Felix bill would extend minimum wage to domestic workers

The House Labor Committee heard testimony on legislation (2024-S 2021, 2024-H 7532) sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer (D-District 13, Newport, Jamestown) and Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) that would remove the exemption for domestic workers in state minimum wage law. Currently Rhode Island domestic workers are only guaranteed the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

 

§  Rep. Felix introduces slate of criminal justice reform bills

Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) has introduced a slate of criminal justice reform bills to make it easier for those released from prison to reintegrate into their community by addressing issues including solitary confinement, the sealing of dismissed charges, free phone calls for inmates and the elimination of cash bail for misdemeanor charges.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Small Business Committee hears from businesses affected by bridge closure

The House Small Business Committee heard from small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the closure of the westbound portion of the Washington Bridge.  The committee is chaired by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).  House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket) worked with Chairwoman McEntee and the other East Bay legislators to set up the meeting.

 

 

The busy summer travel season gets underway this Memorial Day weekend. The head of the TSA says this will be the busiest summer travel season on record, with over 18-million people expected to be screened from now to May 29th. A spokesperson for Triple-A says they're forecasting nearly 44-million travelers from now through Monday, which would exceed pre-pandemic levels.        A bipartisan border bill is failing to clear the Senate for a second time in months. Senators voted 43 to 50 to tank the bill this afternoon negotiated in the fall by Democratic and Republican senators. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put the bill on the floor for a vote after it was blocked in February by Republicans.        U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is pushing back against recent claims made by former President Trump against the Justice Department and FBI. In a Truth Social post earlier this week, Trump said President Biden's DOJ "authorized the FBI to use deadly force" during the 2022 raid of Mar-a-Lago. On Thursday, Garland said "that allegation is false and extremely dangerous."        Hundreds of Harvard graduates are protesting the university's commencement ceremony after some pro-Palestinian demonstrators weren't allowed to receive their degrees. The graduates walked out of commencement this morning, chanting "Let them walk" in reference to the 13 undergraduates who the Harvard Corporation voted to bar from graduation. The protesters marched to the Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church, where they staged a "Peoples' Commencement."        Supporters of research into long COVID are criticizing the Biden administration over its lack of enough funding in its NIH budget request. The Long COVID Campaign put out a press release calling on congressional leaders to set aside at least one-point-two million dollars for research. It says that despite long COVID's impact on the U.S. healthcare system and economy, the White House's budget request didn't prioritize research into the disease.        Police say the detective who arrested world number one golfer Scottie Scheffler made a mistake. Scheffler was charged with assault of a police officer as he was attempting to enter the PGA Championship in Kentucky last week. Today, Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said the officer erred in not turning on his body camera, but the investigation into Scheffler is ongoing and the charges remain for now.