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






§  House passes Maldonado bill securing right to counsel in municipal court
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (2017-H 5187aa) introduced by Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) that would require cities and towns to comply with certain procedures when prosecuting defendants, such as the right to counsel, and would amend the penalties imposed for ordinance violations. The bill now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2017-S 0071) has been introduced by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston).
Click here to see news release.




§  House OKs Serpa bill requiring reports of infants affected by substance abuse
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (2017-H 5819) introduced by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) that would require physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to report to DCYF when a newborn has been exposed to illegal substance abuse, experiences withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure, or has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2017-S 0672) has been introduced by Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick).
Click here to see news release.




§  House approves Edwards bill allowing children below 18 into voting booth
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (2017-H 5448) introduced by Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) that would allow children below the age of 18 to accompany adults into the voting booth. The legislation would amend the existing law, which currently allows adults to be accompanied by children below the age of 13.
Click here to see news release.




§  Williams bill that exempts natural hair braiders from license passes House


Rep. Anastasia P. Williams’ (D-Dist. 9, Providence) legislation (2017-H 5436) that would exempt natural hair braiders from the state’s requirement for hairdressers and cosmeticians to be licensed with the state passed the House of Representatives. 


Click here to see news release.




§  House OKs child-proof packaging for e-cig liquid, ban on use on school property


The House approved legislation (2017-H 5876A) filed by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin to require child-resistant packaging for e-liquid used in electronic nicotine-delivery systems such as e-cigarettes and to ban e-cigarette use on school grounds. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) is sponsoring similar legislation (2017-S 0402).
Click here to see news release.




§  Rep. Amore bill on care for medically fragile students passes House


Rep. Gregg Amore’s (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) legislation (2017-H 5327aa) that would establish standards of practice for school nurses who provide one-on-one care for medically fragile students was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2017-S 0152) has been introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick).


Click here to see news release.




§  House OKs Rep. Azzinaro bill to designate RI Nine Beirut Marines Day


Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro’s (D-Dist. 37, Westerly) bill (2017-H 6061aa) that designates Oct. 23 as a day to commemorate the nine Rhode Island marines killed in the 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon was passed by the House of Representatives.


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§  House OKs Canario bill to make left lanes on highways passing only


The House passed Rep. Dennis M. Canario’s (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) legislation (2017-H 5398) that would fine drivers for using the far-left lane on three-lane highways when not passing another vehicle. The legislation would fine drivers $85 if they are caught driving in the far-left lane without passing cars in the other lanes. 


Click here to see news release.




§  Rep. Keable seeks improvements for power plant siting process
Rep. Cale P. Keable (D-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) testified on bills he is sponsoring to expand the membership of the Energy Facility Siting Board (2017-H 6051) and bar the board from approving any application if any state or municipal agencies that have been asked to provide advisory opinions are unable to do so as a result of the applicant’s failure to provide necessary information (2017-H 5897). He was joined by numerous Burrillville citizens and other concerned community members who testified in support of the legislation, which he filed in response Burrillville’s experience with the proposed Invenergy power plant. Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Glocester, Burrillville, North Smithfield) is sponsoring the measures (2017-S 0769, 2017-S 0756) in the Senate.
Click here to see news release.


§  Sens. Calkin, Metts, Quezada call for public info on Providence gas rupture
Sen. Jeanine Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) are calling on the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management to release information to the public about the health and environmental impacts of the March 29 gas transmission rupture on Allens Avenue in Providence, which released 19 million cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 190,000 homes for a day.
Click here to see news release.










President Trump's personal attorney is pleading the Fifth. As expected, Michael Cohen filed a declaration in federal court in Los Angeles Wednesday. The filing states that he will assert his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying in a lawsuit by adult-film actress Stormy Daniels due to a pending criminal probe in New York. Daniels is suing to invalidate a "hush agreement" she signed in 2016 over an alleged affair she claims she had with Trump a decade earlier.       President Trump's pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs is reportedly in talks to withdraw his nomination. NBC News reports that White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson is growing frustrated with the nomination process, which has been filled with allegations of workplace misconduct. Jackson has denied the allegations, which include wrecking a government vehicle while intoxicated and improperly distributing medication.        Rudy Giuliani is talking with investigators in the Russia probe about a possible interview with President Trump. The "Washington Post" reports that Giuliani, who recently joined Trump's legal team, met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller [[ MULL-er ]] Tuesday. Mueller reportedly stressed the importance of sitting down with Trump as they look to wrap up their investigation. Giuliani didn't rule out an interview, but explained how the President and his advisers are opposed to the idea.       French President Emmanuel Macron [[ MAH-crohn ]] thinks President Trump will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Speaking to reporters in the nation's capital, Macron explained that he didn't have any inside information about Trump's decision. Trump has until next month to decide whether to stay in the Obama-era deal meant to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. However, he said the current deal shouldn't be abandoned without something new to replace it.        Ford Motor Company is going to get rid of its sedans. By 2020 nearly 90 percent of the automaker's footprint in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. A statement from Ford reads, in part, "Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America.        Subway is closing hundreds of sandwich shops across the country. The fast food chain expects to close about 500 stores in North America this year. However, Subway is also planning to open over a thousand locations around the world. CNN reports that the company believes that in the coming years it will have a smaller, but more profitable footprint in the U.S.