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.

 

Former President Trump claims Democrats are using the Texas school massacre to advance their political agenda. While addressing the NRA convention in Houston, he claimed President Biden said Republicans are "OK" with school shootings. He pressed for more cops at schools and more security measures at schools, including teachers with guns.        Texas Governor Greg Abbott says he was misled and livid about the police response to the Uvalde [[ yoo-VAHl-dee ]] school shooting massacre. Abbott told reporters information he was given by investigators yesterday was wrong. He added, "people deserve answers." Police admitted they waited for nearly an hour for reinforcements before breaching the classroom door where the gunman was holed up.        Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky [[ VLO-doe-meer ze-LEN-skee ]] wants the governments of Western nations to impose tougher sanctions on Moscow to end its war on Ukraine. In a late-night address Thursday Zelensky said the ongoing destruction and death could be stopped if what he called the powers that be "did not play around with Russia but really pressed to end the war." He complained about disagreements within the European Union on more sanctions against Russia.        The U.S. and Taiwan are reportedly planning economic talks despite warnings from China. Taiwanese officials told CNN the two countries could start talking "in a few weeks." The goal is to create more significant trade and better economic cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S.        Massachusetts General Hospital has begun vaccinating a limited number of workers for monkeypox. All of the vaccinated workers had direct contact with a man who was at the hospital for eight days this month and tested positive for monkeypox. This marks the first time the monkeypox vaccine has been used in the U.S. outside of clinical trials.        Top Gun: Maverick is having a record opening that will continue into Memorial Day weekend. The hit sequel is poised to earn over one-hundred-forty-two-million dollars over the holiday weekend, breaking the previous box office record held by Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End. It's predicted to be the biggest and best opening weekend for actor Tom Cruise, who will celebrate his 60th birthday in just over a month.