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/.


In historic vote, House passes same-sex marriage bill

The House voted 51 to 19 in favor of legislation sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18,Cranston) to allow same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island. The bill (2013-H 5015 A) will now go to the Senate, where Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush is sponsoring similar legislation (2013-S 0038). Click here to see news release. 

Senate holds economic summit 

 The Senate held an economic summit, entitled “Improving Rhode Island’s Business Climate,” taking a deeper look into Rhode Island’s economic competitiveness and business rankings. The forum was divided into three portions: “Moving the Needle – State Rankings and Policy Recommendations,” “A Shared Agenda for Economic Competitiveness,” and “Business Reaction to ‘Moving the Needle.’” Click here to see news release.

School safety, emergency measures under review

School safety and preparedness and emergency response plans were the focus of both the Senate and House this week. The Senate Committee on Education, chaired by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), held an oversight hearing on the subject, receiving testimony from the state’s top school and safety officials. Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), chairman of the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee, held an informational discussion on the subject, also attended by school and law enforcement officials.

Gallo bill seeks to resolve school dance ‘discrimination’ issue

When the Cranston school superintendent canceled father-daughter and mother-son dances last year to comply with gender-discrimination laws, the School Committee called on lawmakers to address the issue. Legislation (2013-S 0012) sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) aims to resolve the issue by amending state law to permit schools to offer activities for students of one gender if comparable activities are offered for students of the other gender. Click here to see news release.

Rep. Shekarchi bill would repeal tax on pet care services

Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) has introduced legislation (2013-H 5117) to repeal the 7-percent sales tax that was imposed on pet-care services as a result of the state budget approved last year. The sales tax, which went into effect in October, applies to such pet care services as boarding, grooming, sitting and training. Click here to see news release.

Rep. Palumbo bill would bar pets on drivers’ laps

Calling it a matter of public safety for humans and their pets, Rep. Peter G. Palumbo (D-Dist. 16,Cranston) has introduced legislation (2013-H 5101) to prohibit drivers from operating motor vehicles in Rhode Island with a pet sitting in their lap. The bill calls for a fine of $85 for a first offense. Click here to see news release.

Majority Leader Ruggerio’s bill targets copper theft

With prices for various metals high and rising, copper remains an attractive target for thieves, with abandoned or foreclosed residences and unsecure construction sites easy prey. Legislation (2013-S 0079) sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence) creates a “Copper Theft Prevention Act” to require licensing of secondary metal recyclers for the purchase of certain types of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Click here to see news release.

Bill would move teacher layoff date from March to June

Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) have introduced legislation to move the layoff notification date for teachers from March 1 to June 1. The legislation (2013-S 0049,2013-H 5066) is aimed at preventing schools from having to issue as many unnecessary layoff notices to teachers by allowing them to wait until more information about the following year’s budget is available. Click here to see House release. Click here to see Senate release.

Bill would make military status bias an unlawful housing practice

Legislation (2013-H 5109) sponsored by Rep. Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) and heard this week by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs would make military status discrimination an unlawful housing practice in the state, barring property renters or sellers from inquiring about an individual’s military status. Click here to see news release.

Newberry calls for higher percentage of casino revenue

House Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry (R-District 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville) introduced legislation (2013-H 5156) to increase the amount of revenue the state receives fromTwin River’s table games from 18 to 20 percent. In 2012, the General Assembly passed the 2012 Revenue Protection Act which established a tax rate of 18 percent for table game receipts. Click here to see news release.


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