State House view from the southThis 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






§  House passes Maldonado bill securing right to counsel in municipal court
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (2017-H 5187aa) introduced by Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) that would require cities and towns to comply with certain procedures when prosecuting defendants, such as the right to counsel, and would amend the penalties imposed for ordinance violations. The bill now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2017-S 0071) has been introduced by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston).
Click here to see news release.




§  House OKs Serpa bill requiring reports of infants affected by substance abuse
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (2017-H 5819) introduced by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) that would require physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to report to DCYF when a newborn has been exposed to illegal substance abuse, experiences withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure, or has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2017-S 0672) has been introduced by Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick).
Click here to see news release.




§  House approves Edwards bill allowing children below 18 into voting booth
The House of Representatives has passed legislation (2017-H 5448) introduced by Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) that would allow children below the age of 18 to accompany adults into the voting booth. The legislation would amend the existing law, which currently allows adults to be accompanied by children below the age of 13.
Click here to see news release.




§  Williams bill that exempts natural hair braiders from license passes House


Rep. Anastasia P. Williams’ (D-Dist. 9, Providence) legislation (2017-H 5436) that would exempt natural hair braiders from the state’s requirement for hairdressers and cosmeticians to be licensed with the state passed the House of Representatives. 


Click here to see news release.




§  House OKs child-proof packaging for e-cig liquid, ban on use on school property


The House approved legislation (2017-H 5876A) filed by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin to require child-resistant packaging for e-liquid used in electronic nicotine-delivery systems such as e-cigarettes and to ban e-cigarette use on school grounds. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) is sponsoring similar legislation (2017-S 0402).
Click here to see news release.




§  Rep. Amore bill on care for medically fragile students passes House


Rep. Gregg Amore’s (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) legislation (2017-H 5327aa) that would establish standards of practice for school nurses who provide one-on-one care for medically fragile students was passed by the House of Representatives. The bill now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2017-S 0152) has been introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick).


Click here to see news release.




§  House OKs Rep. Azzinaro bill to designate RI Nine Beirut Marines Day


Rep. Samuel A. Azzinaro’s (D-Dist. 37, Westerly) bill (2017-H 6061aa) that designates Oct. 23 as a day to commemorate the nine Rhode Island marines killed in the 1983 terrorist attack in Beirut, Lebanon was passed by the House of Representatives.


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§  House OKs Canario bill to make left lanes on highways passing only


The House passed Rep. Dennis M. Canario’s (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) legislation (2017-H 5398) that would fine drivers for using the far-left lane on three-lane highways when not passing another vehicle. The legislation would fine drivers $85 if they are caught driving in the far-left lane without passing cars in the other lanes. 


Click here to see news release.




§  Rep. Keable seeks improvements for power plant siting process
Rep. Cale P. Keable (D-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) testified on bills he is sponsoring to expand the membership of the Energy Facility Siting Board (2017-H 6051) and bar the board from approving any application if any state or municipal agencies that have been asked to provide advisory opinions are unable to do so as a result of the applicant’s failure to provide necessary information (2017-H 5897). He was joined by numerous Burrillville citizens and other concerned community members who testified in support of the legislation, which he filed in response Burrillville’s experience with the proposed Invenergy power plant. Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Glocester, Burrillville, North Smithfield) is sponsoring the measures (2017-S 0769, 2017-S 0756) in the Senate.
Click here to see news release.


§  Sens. Calkin, Metts, Quezada call for public info on Providence gas rupture
Sen. Jeanine Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) are calling on the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management to release information to the public about the health and environmental impacts of the March 29 gas transmission rupture on Allens Avenue in Providence, which released 19 million cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 190,000 homes for a day.
Click here to see news release.










The FAA is ordering fan blade inspections on common airplane engines after one exploded and killed a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight Tuesday. The in-flight explosion blew out a window and killed a passenger who was pulled partway out of the airplane. The FAA announcement late yesterday comes nearly a year after the company that built the engine recommended additional inspections.        President Trump will be leaving West Palm Beach to visit Key West, Florida today. His two-hour visit will include a tour of Naval Air Station Key West-Truman Annex on Boca Chica Key. In addition, the President and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen [[ KIRST-jen ]]Nielsen will be briefed on the activities of an interagency drug task force.        Possible charges in the death of Prince could be filed today. Carver County, Minnesota Attorney Mark Metz will announce his decision soon on whether to charge anyone in the musician's death. The announcement comes two years after the music icon's body was found in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate. Prince died of a massive overdose of fentanyl in April of 2016.        A Celebration of Life for former First Lady Barbara Bush will take place in Houston this evening. The gathering begins tonight outside City Hall. The mayor's office says the event will feature comments and prayers from multiple faith leaders, the reading of a poem, and other tributes. She passed away at the age of 92.        There's a new Cuban president, and his name isn't Castro. Miguel Diaz-Canel was named president today, one day after a vote in the country's National Assembly. It's the first time in almost 60 years that a Castro isn't leading the country. Diaz-Canel was selected as the unopposed candidate to replace Raul Castro, brother of the late Fidel Castro.        Senator Bernie Sanders says Cardi B is right when it comes to social security. The "Bodak Yellow" rapper said in a "GQ" interview last week former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt was "the real 'Make America Great Again'" because he created Social Security. The Vermont Independent and former presidential candidate said on Twitter yesterday that he agrees with her, and that the federal insurance program needs to be strengthened in order to make America great.