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.

 

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz at the White House today, a day after she called for an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. A White House official said Harris will reiterate that civilian casualties must be reduced. More than 30-thousand Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the war began October 7th with a Hamas attack on Israel.       The Supreme Court is expected to release at least one major decision. The ruling may be the case of former President Trump's eligibility for Colorado's presidential primary ballot. The opinion or opinion's will be posted online at 10 a.m. Eastern. This comes after the Colorado Republican Party asked the high court to act before Super Tuesday primaries this week.       Heavy snow is crippling California highways and creating life-threatening conditions around Lake Tahoe. One wind gust was clocked at 190 miles per hour. More than a hundred miles of Interstate-80 remained closed Sunday from the Nevada border. Many travelers were trapped in their vehicles for hours.       Chicago Police are investigating more than a dozen shootings in the city over the weekend. Police say a total of 15 shootings occurred between Friday night and Sunday morning. In one of the more chaotic scenes, a teenager was killed in a large gathering Saturday evening in Chicago's South Loop.       NASA and SpaceX are marking the successful launch of the Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour atop a Falcon 9 booster took off from launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center Sunday night. Unfavorable conditions prompted officials to scrub Saturday's scheduled launch attempt on Florida's Space Coast.       Iowa women's basketball superstar Caitlin Clark is now the NCAA all-time scoring leader. She scored her 18th point in Iowa's game against Ohio State on a free throw just before the end of the first half to break Pete Maravich's all-time NCAA scoring record on Sunday. She set the new record just weeks after breaking Kelsey Plum's all-time women's NCAA scoring record.