This Week at the General Assembly

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.rilin.state.ri.us/News/.


Senate passes bipartisan resolution urging Congress to avoid sequestration 

The Senate passed a bipartisan resolution sponsored by President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist.13, Newport, Jamestown) urging Congress to work together to avoid the effects of the federal sequester could have on the state. The resolution (2013-S 0435), cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) and Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (R-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown), also asks Congress to halt the immediate cuts facing Rhode Islanders and develop a balanced and responsible plan to manage the nation’s long-term debt. Click here to see news release. 

Committee hears legislation to ban certain synthetic drugs

The House Judiciary Committee heard legislation to ban the sale, manufacturing and use of certain synthetic drugs in Rhode Island. Introduced in the House by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence) and in the Senate by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston), the legislation (2013-H 53252013-S 0454) would ban synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones, available in some stores under names such as “K2,” “Spice,” “Monkey Weed” and “bath salts.” Click here to see news release.

House Judiciary Committee hears marijuana legalization bill

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on legislation (2013-H 5274) sponsored by its chairwoman, Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), to legalize marijuana possession in Rhode Island for adults age 21 and older, with regulations and taxes similar to those for alcohol. Click here to see news release.

Senators introduce legislative package to aid in college attainment

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and Sen. Juan M. Pichardo (D-Dist. 2, Providence)introduced legislation designed to potentially help thousands of Rhode Islanders obtain a postsecondary degree. Senator Gallo’s bill asks the Board of Education to coordinate and expand programs reviewing the public colleges’ records of former students and reach out to those students who were near completion at the time they left school. Senator Pichardo’s bill directs the Board of Education to promulgate a “reverse transfer” policy to help a category of students achieve an associate’s degree if they are struggling to complete four-year programs due to enrollment regulations. Senator McCaffrey’s bill asks the Board of Education to establish a “dual enrollment” policy for the state so that high school seniors may take some or all of their senior year classes at the Community College of Rhode Island, earning college credits simultaneously as they complete their senior year. Click here to see news release.

Miller submits landmark legislation on health care costs

Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, introduced the next phase of health care reform legislation in Rhode Island. The landmark bill (2013-S 0540) builds on the state’s previous and ongoing efforts to produce long-term health care savings for families and reduce costs for businesses. Reducing the cost of doing business in Rhode Island is a priority identified in the “Moving the Needle” report on increasing the state’s economic competitiveness, as well as improving its rankings in national economic competitiveness surveys. Click here to see news release.

Jobs Match program legislation introduced

Legislation to establish an easy-to-use, computer-based program to efficiently identify and address skills gaps among job seekers was introduced by Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown). The bill (2013-S 0403) is intended to facilitate local employers’ access to high quality local jobs seekers. The bill was a recommendation of the “Moving the Needle” report, a joint venture of the Senate and RIPEC on ways to improve the state’s business rankings. Click here to see news release.

Kelsey Smith Act introduced in both chambers

Legislation to enact the Kelsey Smith Act in Rhode Island has been introduced by Sen. James E. Doyle II (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) and Rep. Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket). The bills (2013-S 02842013-H 5456) provide law enforcement with a way to quickly obtain from telecommunications companies the location of a wireless device if a person has been determined by law enforcement to be at risk of death or serious physical harm due to being kidnapped or missing. Click here to see news release.

O’Brien bill calls for sales, property taxes on expensive sailing vessels

Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) has introduced legislation to ease the auto excise tax on Rhode Island motor vehicle owners, setting a $6,000 per vehicle excise tax exemption throughout the state. The bill (2013-H 5361) would also generate tax revenue for the state by setting a 1-percent sales tax and a 1-percent annual property tax on sailing vessels with a value in excess of $100,000. Click here to see news release.

Bill allows court to look at prior charges for sex offenders in bail decisions

Rep. James N. McLaughlin (D-Dist. 57, Cumberland, Central Falls) has once again introduced a bill (2013-H 5164) allowing the court to take into account an individual’s prior sex offense indictments and arrests when determining whether or not to hold him or her for similar sexual offenses without bail. Click here to see news release.

Calamari: RI’s ‘official’ state appetizer?

Rhode Island has the largest squid-fishing fleet on the East Coast and, with an annual take of 7 million pounds, accounts for about 54 percent of squid landings in the Northeast. Combining that with the fact that “Rhode Island-style calamari” is on the menu of restaurants around the country, Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation (2013-H 5654) to declare the Rhode Island-style dish the state’s “official” appetizer. Click here to see news release.

A Taxpayer March 03, 2013 at 01:23 PM
However good intentioned, if you follow the implications of Kelsey Smith Act to their logical end, law enforcement will have free reign to track your movements. Chip away. And I'm so glad to see the "Calamari" legislation. How did we ever get by without that gem? No mention of the San Bento bill to strip away voter rights by castrating the recount process?
Leave RI March 04, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Committee hears legislation to ban certain synthetic drugs..... If someone 1) purchases then 2) smokes something called "Monkey weed" they have more issues than Sports Illustrated.


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