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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White House is putting together plans in case of a recession, including a possible payroll tax cut. Economists in the administration are also looking at other tax breaks to keep the economy moving. Tax breaks would have to be approved by Congress. One White House official denied the reports Monday and the President has rejected the idea that the country could be headed for recession.       Jeffrey Epstein signed a will shortly before his death, according to reports. The New York Post says the wealthy financier put his signature on it just two days before he took his own life in a federal jail in Manhattan. The will, dated August 8th, describes assets of nearly 580-million-dollars including 56-million in cash.        The nation's biggest bank says President Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports will cost U.S. families a thousand dollars per year. JPMorgan Chase released an analysis Monday that found the tariffs already in place are costing families 400 dollars a year. The bank says new tariffs scheduled to take effect on September 1st and December 15th will add another 600 dollars in annual costs to American households.        Jury deliberations are back to square one in the trial of a man accused of involuntary manslaughter in Northern California warehouse fire. An Alameda County judge kicked three women off the jury deliberating the fate of Derek Almena yesterday without explanation. The new jurors are from a group of alternate jurors. Prosecutors say Almena failed to secure the right permits for the Ghost Ship Warehouse which went up in flames in 2016. Three dozen people died in the fire.       NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he's thankful after he and his family survived a plane crash last week. In a statement, Earnhardt said he's blessed that everyone on board, including his wife, daughter, two pilots and even his dog, walked away from the plane. The private jet bounced off the runway in East Tennessee after a hard landing and burst into flames.        It looks like it's splitsville for Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes. Page Six reports the celebrity couple has broken up after six years together. Pictures emerged over the weekend showing Foxx with another woman partying in Los Angeles.