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 approves Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights reform

The House of Representatives passed the Law Enforcement Officers’ Due Process, Accountability and Transparency Act (2024-H 7263A, 2024-S 2096A), which will bring reforms to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. The legislation was introduced by Deputy Speaker Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence) and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). Both identical bills are scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday, May 14.

Click here to see news release

 

§  General Assembly OKs bill on Washington Bridge reporting

The General Assembly approved legislation (2024-S 2727A2024-H 7759A) introduced by Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) and House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would require regular monthly updates from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation on the state of the Washington Bridge. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Bills from housing package approved by House of Representatives
The House approved three bills included in Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) 2024 housing package. The first (2024-H 7951A), sponsored by Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), would clarify the circumstances under which a municipality can limit accepting and hearing applications related to the development of housing. The second (2024-H 7986Aaa), sponsored by Rep. José F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence), would encourage housing production by requiring towns to publish lists of abandoned properties. The third (2024-H 7978A), sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi, would allow for municipalities to use electronic permitting for building permits. The bills now move to the Senate.

Click here to see Craven release.
Click here to see Batista release.
Click here to see Shekarchi release.

 

§  Senate passes Euer bill to protect contraceptive coverage

The Senate passed a bill (2024 S-2088) sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) that would ensure contraception remains covered in Rhode Island, even if the coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act are overturned. The bill now heads to the House, where Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) has introduced companion legislation (2024-H 7255).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate passes bill to prevent auto insurers from charging higher rates to widows

The Senate passed a bill (2024-S 2269) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) to prohibit auto insurers from charging policyholders more solely because they have been widowed. It now moves to the House, which has already passed companion legislation (2024-H 7606) sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs bill to allow nursing home residents to use electronic surveillance

The Senate voted to approve Sen. Dawn Euer’s (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) bill (2024-S 2263) to allow nursing home residents to choose to have cameras installed in their rooms. The bill now heads to the House, where Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) has introduced companion legislation (2024-H 7969).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate passes Mack inclusive name change bill

The Senate approved legislation (2024-S 2667A) sponsored by Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) that would make the process of changing an individual’s name in municipal probate court more straightforward, while also updating the statute to make the language gender neutral and more inclusive. The legislation now heads to the House, where Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) has introduced the legislation (2024-H 8155).

Click here to see news release

 

§  Senate OKs Murray bill to extend winter moratorium on utility shut-offs
The Senate passed legislation (2024-S 2036) sponsored by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) to codify and extend the state’s annual utility termination moratorium two weeks to May 1 to protect those struggling with their utility bills from energy shut-offs during the coldest months. The legislation now goes to the House, where Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7017).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs solar industry consumer-protection bill
The Senate passed legislation (2024-S 2801Aaa) sponsored by Sen. Jacob Bissaillon (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to protect consumers and ensure a healthy solar industry by regulating businesses selling home solar systems. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7603). 
Click here to see news release.

 

                House OKs bill to join interstate physical therapy compact
                The House approved legislation (2024-H 7213) sponsored by Rep. Michelle E.                 McGaw (D-Dist. 71,  Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) to have Rhode Island join                 an interstate compact that allows physical therapists licensed in member states to                 practice in other member states. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where                 Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West                 Warwick) is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill (2024-S 2876).
                Click here to see news release.             

 

                                                         

                                   

The House is approving a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The resolution passed in a 216-207 vote. Republicans are going after Garland for refusing to turn over recordings of President Biden's interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur, who investigated Biden's handling of classified documents. GOP lawmakers say the audio of the interview is important to determine whether Hur's decision not to bring charges against Biden was warranted.        Southern Florida is under a Flash Flood Emergency as rain continues to pummel the state. Heavy rain and "life-threatening flooding" is hitting the Miami area and other parts, leaving flooded streets and stranded drivers. Over 260 flights at Miami International Airport and more than 190 flights at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have been cancelled.        The Federal Reserve is leaving interest rates unchanged and predicts it will cut borrowing costs just once before the end of the year. Fed chairman Jerome Powell told reporters today inflation has eased substantially but is still too high. He said the central bank is committed to bringing inflation down to its two-percent goal.        South Carolina Senator Tim Scott may be falling out of favor with former President Trump. The New York Post reports Scott is slipping in the race to be Trump's running mate and is "extremely unlikely" to be chosen for the role, according to one insider. Scott is among several candidates reportedly being vetted by the Trump campaign, including Senators Marco Rubio and J.D. Vance, as well as Representatives Byron Donalds and Elise Stefanik.        Boeing is still trying to deal with the fallout of incidents involving its planes this year. The airplane manufacture reported Tuesday that it received just four orders for new planes last month. It didn't receive any orders for its 737 Max plane.        Pixar's "Inside Out" sequel is looking to make a big debut at the box office. "Inside Out 2" is projected to bring in between 80-and-90-million dollars over Father's Day weekend. It could surpass the 82-point-five-million dollars earned by "Dune: Part Two" for the biggest opening weekend of the year so far.