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 http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease

 

 

§  McEntee and DiMario’s outdoor dining bill signed into law

Legislation (2024-H 7064A, 2024-S 2028A) sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) that permanently allows outdoor dining at restaurants has been signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee. 

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§ Bill to name Amica Pavilion media room after Bill Reynolds signed
The General Assembly passed legislation (2024-S 20342024-H 7221) introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) and Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick, East Greenwich) that would name the media work room in the Amica Mutual Pavilion in honor of Bill Reynolds, the beloved Providence Journal columnist who died in July 2023. Gov. Dan McKee signed the bill at a ceremony today in the media room.
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§ House OKs Rep. Speakman bill to boost ADU development

The House of Representatives approved legislation (2024-H 7062) sponsored by Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol) to boost housing production by helping Rhode Islanders to develop accessory dwelling units, sometimes known as in-law apartments or granny flats, on their property. The bill now goes to the Senate.
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§ House, Senate oversight committees hear update on Washington Bridge crisis
A joint meeting of the House Committee on Oversight and the Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight convened to address the ongoing crisis on the Washington Bridge, the causes of its failure, and plans for its future. Peter Alviti, director of the Department of Transportation, gave a presentation and update on the bridge, along with other officials.

 

§ Community groups call for passage of bail reform legislation
Advocates for justice reform rallied at the State House for passage of legislation sponsored by Rep. José Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence) and Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence) to reform a law that currently results in about 85% of those arrested for alleged probation violations being held without bail for weeks while awaiting a hearing. The legislators will be resubmitting an updated version of legislation they have sponsored (2023-H 55712023-S 0411) to establish a presumption of release of those accused of probation violations while they await a hearing, and allow a judge to require reasonable bail only if necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court.
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§ Rep. Cotter, Sen. DiPalma look to rescue land conservation funding
Citing their effectiveness and Rhode Islanders’ historically strong support of land conservation efforts, Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Megan L. Cotter (D-Dist. 39, Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton) have introduced legislation (2024-H 7550) to add $16 million for land protection programs to the $50 million environmental bond that Gov. Dan McKee has proposed for November’s ballot.
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§ Ackerman, Zurier bill would aid R.I. medical researchers, patients

Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Sen. Samuel D. Zurier (D-Dist. 3, Providence) have introduced legislation (2024-H 7301, 2024-S 2394) that will allow medical researchers in Rhode Island to participate in and gain access to vital national data and research. This would allow patients in Rhode Island, particularly those with cancer, access to the latest treatments and allow researchers to work on the cutting edge of their fields.

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§ Boylan, Tikoian introduce bill to help law enforcement solve gun crimes

Rep. Jennifer Boylan (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) and Sen. David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Lincoln, North Providence) have introduced legislation (2024-H 7216, 2024-S 2446) to aid law enforcement in solving gun-related crimes by taking advantage of a national ballistics analysis database.

Click here to see news release.

 

§ Legislative leaders talk economy with Chamber of Commerce
House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, North Smithfield, Burrillville, Glocester) and House Minority Leader Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry) joined the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Thursday at its annual legislative luncheon for a discussion on legislative matters, the state budget and the economy.

§ Ranked-choice voting demonstration results in sweet victory

In a field of five chocolates, Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Caramel won after four rounds of voting in a demonstration of ranked-choice voting staged by Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and Senate Majority Whip Valarie Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) on Valentine’s Day. Representative Kislak and Senator Lawson have introduced legislation (2024-H 7540, 2024-S 2425) to institute ranked-choice voting for presidential preference primaries, beginning with the 2028 presidential election.

Click here to see news release.                               

 

 

Authorities say one person is dead after the driver of a stolen 18-wheeler has intentionally crashed into a Texas DPS office. DPS officials say at least 14 people were hurt after the truck crashed into the office in Brenham. DPS says the driver has been arrested and was angry he was denied a commercial driver's license yesterday.        President Biden is making his case for re-election to Black voters. The president addressed the National Action Network today, which works on racial justice and civil rights issues. Biden said that under his administration, Black unemployment has dropped to a record low, more Black Americans have health insurance, and the number of Black-owned businesses is rising.        The House is approving a bill to reauthorize a key federal surveillance program. The legislation renews Section 702 of FISA [[ fye-suh ]], which allows intelligence agencies to surveil foreigners abroad. Critics, however, say it allows for warrantless spying on Americans.        Gas prices keep rising. Triple-A says the average price for regular gas has gone up about 20 cents a gallon over the past month. The national average now sits at three-63. Experts cite refinery maintenance and growing unrest in the Middle East as potential reasons for the increase. They predict gas prices will get even higher as peak driving season starts and refineries switch to more expensive summer gasoline.       Eleanor Coppola is dead at the age of 87. On Friday, her family announced the Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker had passed away at her California home. She was best known for her documentary "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" which followed her husband, Francis Ford Coppola, and his making of the film "Apocalypse Now."        Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter has surrendered to authorities. Ippei Mizuhara [[ EE-pay mizu-HARA ]] is accused of stealing 16 million dollars from the Los Angeles Dodgers superstar to satisfy a sports gambling habit. Mizuhara is now in federal custody and is expected to make his first court appearance on bank fraud charges at 1 p.m. local time in downtown Los Angeles.