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

 

 

  • Senate OKs Picard bill seeking constitutional right to adequate education
    The Senate passed legislation (2023-S 0072) sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) to place a question on the next statewide ballot asking voters to amend the state constitution to guarantee “an equitable, adequate and meaningful education to each child.” Such a constitutional guarantee would ensure that systems that are failing children are addressed because the guarantee would be legally enforceable. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket) is sponsoring companion legislation (2023-H 5771).
    Click here to see news release.
     
  • House OKs McEntee bill extending outdoor dining at restaurants

The House of Representatives passed legislation (2023-H 5264A) introduced by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) that would extend the law that allows restaurants to continue outdoor dining. The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) has introduced similar legislation (2023-S 0300).

Click here to see news release

  • Senate approves bill to limit kindergarten-Grade 2 class sizes
    The Senate approved legislation (2023-S 0177) sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) to set a limit of 20 students for kindergarten through Grade 2 classes in public schools. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) is sponsoring companion legislation (2023-H 5085).

Click here to see news release.

 

  • Senate OKs bill naming CCRI Newport for Paiva Weed
    The Senate approved legislation (2023-S 0442) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to rename the Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus in honor of former Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, who was the Senate’s first female president and its first female majority leader. She was a champion for CCRI’s Newport campus, among many other things during a legislative career that spanned nearly 25 years. The bill goes to the House.
    Click here to see news release.

 

  • Rep. Alzate introduces bill to turn commercial buildings into housing

Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) has introduced legislation (2023-H 6090) that would make it easier to convert commercial structures such as hospitals or mills into housing. The bill would allow, as a permitted use, the adaptive reuse of commercial structures, such as mills, factories, hospitals, malls, churches and schools, into high density residential developments without the need to go before a municipal planning board for a zone change.

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  • Rep. Cruz introduces bill to eliminate rental application fees

Rep. Cherie L. Cruz (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket) has introduced legislation (2023-H 6087) that would eliminate housing rental application fees. ​The bill states that a landlord, lessor, sub-lessor, real estate broker, property management company, or designee shall not be allowed to require or demand any prospective tenant to pay a rental application fee. Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) has introduced similar legislation (2023-S 0311) in the Senate.

Click here to see news release

 

§  Rep. Felix and Sen. Acosta introduce bill to reform solitary confinement

Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. Leo Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) have introduced legislation (2023-S 0617) that would establish an oversight committee to monitor the use of solitary confinement, lay out clear guidelines for when solitary confinement could be used and restrict its use to punishment for violent offenses. The bill would also prohibit solitary confinement, except in emergencies, for inmates with developmental or psychiatric disabilities. No one could be kept in solitary confinement for more than 22 hours each day.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sen. Lawson bill would protect seniors on Medicare from discrimination

Sen. Valarie Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) has introduced legislation (2023-S 0583) that would prohibit insurers providing Medigap coverage from subjecting seniors to an underwriting process, denying them coverage or charging higher rates due to pre-existing conditions.

Click here to see news release.
 

§  Rep. Felix bill would promote transit-oriented development 

Rep. Leo Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) has introduced a bill (2023-H 6084) that would create a pilot program to fund projects that build dense, mixed-use development around transit centers such as train stations and bus hubs.
Click here to see news release.

 

Donald Trump and President Biden are getting ready for the first debate of the 2024 presidential election. Biden is hunkering down with top aides and advisers at Camp David holding mock debates and isn't expected to make any public appearances until the debate in Atlanta on Thursday. Trump has been holding rallies and meeting with senators and allies to go over policies likely to come up when the two political rivals face off.        The President's son wants a new trial after his gun conviction. Hunter Biden submitted his motion today. He previously submitted an appeal in a Delaware federal court last week, then quickly withdrew it without explanation. Hunter was found guilty for unlawfully purchasing a gun while addicted to drugs. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he's sentenced.       The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Tennessee's ban on gender-affirming care for minors. The challenge will be taken up by the high court during its next term, reviewing a decision by an appeals court that upheld the law. More than 20 states have restricted gender-affirming care for minors.       Forecasters say the Southern Plains and Southeast can expect sweltering temperatures this week. Some cities like Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas could hit 100-degrees, with the heat index possibly reaching 110 degrees in some areas. Some high temperature records could be broken today in places like Lincoln, Nebraska and Wichita, Kansas.        A record-breaking number of people are expected to travel for the Fourth of July this year. Triple-A predicts nearly 71 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday travel period, which runs June 29th through July 7th. That's up five-percent from last year.        Pop superstar Singer Justin Timberlake is speaking out about his drunk driving arrest as he resumes his world tour. The singer drew massive applause during a weekend show in Chicago when he told the crowd "it's been a tough week." He was arrested in Sag Harbor, Long Island last Tuesday after allegedly running a stop sign.