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

 

§  Legislators approve spending portion of ARPA funds

The General Assembly approved and the governor immediately signed into law a plan (2021-H 6494A2021-S 1006A) for using $119 million of Rhode Island’s $1.13 billion American Rescue Plan Act State Fiscal Recovery Funds to help children, families, small businesses and the tourism industry, and boost affordable housing and broadband planning. Legislators added $6 million to further enhance support for child care needs, as well as safeguards and specifics, to the plan that was originally proposed by Gov. Dan McKee.
Click here to see news release.

§  General Assembly overrides veto of bill to register short-term rentals
The General Assembly voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation (2021-H 5505A2021-S 0501B) sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) and Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) to require every short-term rental property listed for rent in Rhode Island on the website of any third-party hosting platform to be registered with the Department of Business Regulation. The bill, which now becomes law, is meant to furnish basic information to ensure compliance with safety and tax regulations and owners’ contact information in case of an emergency.
Click here to see news release.

§  Speaker Shekarchi says affordable housing will top legislative priorities

Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) opened the 2022 session by announcing that affordable housing will continue to be his top legislative priority. He also indicated that a good deal of the chamber’s work will focus on the health and economic issues related to the pandemic, and that the House would begin a robust hearing process on the legalization of marijuana.

Click here to see news release.

§  President Ruggerio lays out legislative priorities for 2022
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) convened the Senate for its 2022 legislative session, laying out the agenda for the year including a goal of 100 percent renewable energy for Rhode Island by the end of the decade, universal access to pre-kindergarten within five years, tuition forgiveness for nurses and teachers, addressing climate change and water infrastructure, building a girls’ residential psychiatric treatment facility, and the legalization of marijuana.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate confirms several judges and magistrates
The Senate confirmed several new judges and magistrates who were appointed by the governor on the opening day of the 2022 legislative session.  The judicial appointments, which require the advice and consent of the Senate, were confirmed to posts within the Rhode Island Superior Court, the Rhode Island Family Court, the Rhode Island District Court and the Rhode Island Worker’s Compensation Court.  The Senate also approved two magistrate appointments to the Rhode Island Superior Court.

 

§  Legislation seeks to expand investment in Rhode Island school buildings
Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) and Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) joined General Treasurer Seth Magaziner in announcing that they will sponsor legislation seeking voter approval this year to expand the ongoing investment in school construction by $300 million, with incentives for energy efficiency or renewable energy use and the use of Rhode Island based and minority contractors.
Click here to see news release.

 

President Biden is invoking the Defense Production Act to ease a nationwide shortage caused by the closure of a plant in Michigan. The act will allow the federal government to make key formula ingredients priority and give manufacturers additional resources. The White House is also launching Operation Fly Formula to use federal planes to import formula from other countries.        The Dow Jones Industrial Average is seeing its worst loss since 2020. The Dow fell more than 11-hundred points today. The sell-off extended to the rest of the market as yesterday's buying spree was short-lived. At the close, the Dow fell by 11-hundred-64 points to 31-490.        The U.S. is providing Ukraine 215-million dollars in emergency food aid. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the move at a meeting on global food security at the United Nations. Blinken added that the U.S. is pledging 500-million dollars to spur U.S. fertilizer production. It all comes as Ukraine deals with the humanitarian crisis brought on by Russia's invasion.        The man behind the infamous Fyre [[ Fire ]] Festival is no longer in prison. TMZ reports that Billy McFarland is out of prison almost a year before his eight-year sentence is up. McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud after the 2017 Fyre Festival failed in the Bahamas.        It looks like two Minnesota kayakers discovered the skull of a man who lived thousands of years ago. The kayakers stumbled upon the human remains in a river last September. An analysis revealed that the skull belonged to a young man who was alive about eight-thousand years ago.