Editor's Note:  Readers are reminded that the following stories were written by people who work for the General Assembly.....

 

 

Feb. 8, 2019

 

           

This 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 Oversight gives transportation vendor three weeks to fix problems
The House Committee on Oversight, chaired by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), met Thursday to review hundreds of complaints lodged against a new vendor that provides transportation to Medicaid beneficiaries, the elderly and handicapped. At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel gave all parties involved three weeks to correct the problems by the time the Oversight Committee meets again on Thursday, Feb. 28.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sen. McCaffrey, Rep. Bennett bill seeks to curtail use of plastic soda straws
Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) has introduced legislation to curtail the use of plastic straws in restaurants. The bill (2019-S 0202) would prohibit a food service establishment from providing a consumer with a single-use plastic straw, unless the consumer requests such a straw. Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced similar legislation (2019-H 5314) in the House of Representatives.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sen. Seveney, Rep. Canario bill adds substance abuse fines to DUI
Sen.  James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) and Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) have introduced legislation (2019-S 0238, 2019-H 5293) that would impose a $300 fine on any conviction of driving under the influence or a violation for refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer. The fines would be used to fund substance abuse programs.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. Shanley bill would change funding procedure for career/tech education
Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) has introduced legislation that would overhaul vocational funding, making the procedure fairer and more equitable both to host communities and those sending students out of district. The bill (2019-H 5266) would amend the law governing career and technical education programs to provide standards in curriculum, additional opportunities for students, and would provide certain tuition formulas and reimbursement rates.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. Casimiro bill would require gas, electric and cable credits for outages

Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) has reintroduced legislation (2019-H 5313) that would require utility and cable companies to provide bill credits to customers after service is interrupted for 168 hours within a 30-day period. The companies would be prohibited from recovering the cost of the bill credits by instituting a surcharge on the customer, including any rider, adjustment clause or recovery mechanism that is added to a customer’s bill.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sen. Goldin elections bills aimed at increasing access to voting, running for office
Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence) introduced a package of elections and campaign finance bills aimed at improving voter access, requiring disclosure of presidential candidates’ tax returns and making it easier for ordinary people to run for office.
Click here to see news release.

§  Sexual harassment bills introduced in House of Representatives
A package of bills aimed at preventing workplace sexual harassment and discrimination was introduced in the House by members of a legislative commission that studied the issue last year. The bills were sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), who led the commission, as well as Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Deputy Speaker Lima introduces bill to address panhandling problem

Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence) has introduced legislation (2019-H 5330) that would make it a traffic violation with substantial fines for any operator of a motor vehicle or its passengers to pass anything out of a motor vehicle while on any road or highway while still in the active lane of travel.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. Slater bill would prohibit firing employees who use medical marijuana

Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) has introduced legislation (2019-H 5290) that would prohibit employers from refusing to hire, discharging or otherwise discriminating against any individual on account of their medical use of marijuana.  It would also make drug testing of prospective employees subject to the protections of the bill.

 

§  Ruggiero bill would create business sustainability designation
Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) introduced legislation to encourage Rhode Island businesses to adopt stronger environmental standards on sustainability. The bill (2019-H 5145) creates a voluntary, flexible program that would allow businesses to earn a sustainability designation by creating their own set of benchmarks for operating sustainably, and publicly reporting annually on their efforts to adhere to them.
Click here to see news release.

 

 

 

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For an electronic version of this and all press releases published by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau, please visit our Web site at www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another weekend of severe weather is wreaking havoc in the Deep South. Five people are dead, including an 8-year-old Florida girl, because of the strong storm system moving east. Three people were killed in Mississippi and another in Georgia. There was also a tornado in Virginia. The storms are expected to continue through tonight.       It may be months before investigators know exactly what started the fire at Notre Dame [[ No-tra-Dahm ]] Cathedral. The latest theory is that the blaze started because of a "computer glitch." On Thursday, an electrical short-circuit was suspected. The building remains fragile, and that has hindered the investigation into how it started.        A Southern California couple is sentenced to 25-years to life in prison for torturing and abusing their children. David and Louise Turpin pled guilty to mistreating 12 of their 13 children. They were sentenced today after some of their children spoke in court about the abuse. The Turpins will be eligible for parole in 25 years.       Joe Biden is reportedly planning on kicking off his presidential campaign in the city where the nation's divide came to a head. The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Biden will announce his candidacy next week in Charlottesville, Virginia. That's where a Unite the Right rally was held in 2017 that ended with the death of a woman after a man drove his car through a group of protesters.       Russia is claiming that the Mueller report is exonerating them too. A spokesperson for the Kremlin said the Special Counsel's 22-month investigation does not offer any reasonable proof that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. It says there was no new information released this week. Mueller's report does claim Russia hacked into Democratic emails, downloaded copies and sent them to WikiLeaks.        Two of the stars from the hit musical film "Pitch Perfect" are splitting up. Skylar Astin, who played Jesse Swanson, and Anna Camp, who portrayed Aubrey Posen, have been married for two years. They issued a joint statement to People magazine today announced they are going in separate directions, but the split is being made mutually and amicably.