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

 

 

§  House passes Kazarian’s ‘Let RI Vote Act’

The House of Representatives passed the Let RI Vote Act, sponsored by House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence), to improve access and opportunities to vote in Rhode Island. The legislation (2022-H 7100A) expands voter access while ensuring the integrity of Rhode Island elections. The measure now moves to the Senate, which passed companion legislation (2022-S 2007A) introduced by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  House approves affordable housing bills

The House approved two bills included in Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s housing legislative package. One bill (2022-H 7943A) sponsored by Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski (D-Dist. 17, Cranston) would create a program for the repurposing of vacant and unused school and municipal buildings for affordable housing, and another (2022-H 7948A) sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) would create a weighted system for calculating each community’s percentage of affordable housing to assign credit based on how affordable each unit is, and to allow mobile homes to be counted. Both bills now go to the Senate.

Click here to see Baginski release.

Click here to see Potter release.

 

§  Senate OKs bills to expand, strengthen early childhood care, education system
The Senate approved a legislative package to expand and strengthen the state’s early childhood care and education system. The Rhode Island Prekindergarten Act (2022-S 2680A), introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), would add 1,700 new high-quality seats to the state prekindergarten program. A second bill (2022-S 2678A) introduced by Senator Gallo would create the Office of Early Childhood Development and Learning. The Child Care is Essential Act (2022-S 2681) introduced by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) would expand eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program. A bill (2022-S 2679A) introduced by Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) would create five Early Learning Hubs across Rhode Island. 
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate passes Felag bill to protect drinking water

The Senate passed legislation (2022-S 2298A) sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag, Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) that protects against toxic chemicals in drinking and other water sources. The legislation now heads to the House, where Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol) has introduced similar legislation (2022-H 7233).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  House passes Amore bill that extends ‘look back’ period on DUI offenses

The House has passed legislation (2022-H 7810) introduced by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) that would extend the “look back” period on repeat alcohol and drug-related vehicular offenses. The bill extends the period from five to 10 years. The measure now moves to the Senate, where Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) has introduced companion legislation (2022-S 2724).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  House, Senate OK bills requiring coverage for pediatric autoimmune disorders

The House and Senate passed legislation to require insurance coverage for the treatment of pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders. The House bill (2022-H 7503A) was sponsored by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) and the Senate bill (2022-S 2203A) was sponsored by Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence).  Each bill now moves to the other chamber for consideration.

Click here to see Amore release.

Click here to see Lawson release.

 

§  Senate OKs DiMario bill allowing interstate compact for psychological services
The Senate passed legislation (2022-S 2605) introduced by Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) that would authorize the governor to enter into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, an interstate agreement that would allow limited telepsychological practice to be conducted across state lines among member states. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2022-H 7501) has been introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate approves one-year moratorium on for-profit hospital conversions
The Senate passed legislation (2022-S 2610A) introduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that would impose a one-year moratorium on hospital ownership transactions involving for-profit corporations. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Assembly approves measure to control bird flu
The General Assembly approved legislation (2022-H 77852022-S 2751)  sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) and Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) to control potential outbreaks of bird flu and other animal diseases by allowing the Department of Environmental Management to establish quarantine areas around affected animals. The bill now goes to the governor’s desk.
Click here to see news release. 

§  Senate passes bill requiring insurers to cover biomarker testing for cancer
The Senate approved legislation (2022-S 2201) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) requiring health insurers, including state-issued Medicaid plans, to cover biomarker testing, a test of blood or other biological material to identify changes or abnormalities that may be associated with cancer, helping doctors pinpoint the most effective course of treatment for an individual patient. The bill now goes to the House, where House Deputy Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) is sponsoring companion legislation (2022-H 7587).

Click here to see news release. 

 

§  Amended cannabis legalization bill passes committees

Legislation to legalize, regulate and tax adult recreational cannabis use in Rhode Island cleared committee votes in both the House and the Senate. The legislation (2022-S 2430A2022-H 7593A), sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) and Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence), decriminalizes the sale and possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for those age 21 and up, with no more than 10 ounces stored at home. It would allow a total of 33 licensed retailers statewide, with legal sales starting Dec. 1, and establish a 10% cannabis tax and a 3% local tax on top of the 7% sales tax. Previous convictions for decriminalized acts would be automatically expunged. The legislation is scheduled to come before the full House and Senate Tuesday.

Click here to see news release.

 

Tensions are running high after an explosive meeting in the Texas town of Uvalde [[ yoo-VAHL-dee ]] where 19 students and two teachers were murdered in a massacre. Relatives of the victims lashed out at the city leaders, demanding accountability. Velma Duran lost her sister Irma, who was a teacher at Robb Elementary. She says victims' families have been stonewalled by the Uvalde District Attorney who's refusing to release information about the investigation.       Gas prices are down from their recent all-time high, but it'll still cost Americans a pretty penny to hit the road this holiday weekend. Triple A says the nationwide average price is four-84 a gallon. It was sitting at just three-12 a gallon this time last year.        Ukrainian President Zelensky says the U.S. decision to send more assistance to his country is historic. The Pentagon announced a new 820-million-dollar package of military supplies to be sent to the war-torn nation as it fights off the Russian invasion. Zelensky thanked President Biden for his "continued leadership and support" of Ukraine in its war against Russia.        The WHO says urgent action is needed after monkeypox cases tripled in two weeks in Europe. Over 90-percent of cases confirmed of the virus have been found in Europe as they've been reported in 31 European countries. Monkeypox is a viral disease that occurs mostly in central and western Africa.       Uber is releasing its latest safety report and the number of sexual assaults. According to company, it received just over 38-hundred reports of sexual assault and misconduct from 2019 through 2020. That's a 38 percent decrease from their prior report from 2017 through 2018.       "Minions: The Rise of Gru" is reeling in over ten-million-dollars in Thursday previews from domestic box offices. The latest entry in the "Despicable Me" franchise is expected to bring in between 65- and 75-million-dollars over the holiday weekend. That puts it on pace to be the lowest first week opening since the original film released in 2010.