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



§  House passes bill that would compensate the wrongly imprisoned
The House of Representatives passed legislation (2021-H 5470A) introduced by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) that would give compensation to innocent people who have spent time behind bars but were later released when new evidence shows they were not guilty. The measure now moves to the Senate where similar legislation (2021-S 0672) has been introduced by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
Click here to see news release.


§  Senate votes to prohibit ‘source of income’ housing discrimination
The Senate approved legislation  (2021-S 0561) sponsored by Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) to prohibit discrimination against tenants because of the source of their income. The bill is primarily aimed at preventing landlords from refusing to rent to Rhode Islanders who receive Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers. The bill now heads to the House, which on March 2 approved companion legislation (2021-H 5257aa) sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence).
Click here to see news release.


§  Senate OKs legislation that protects families with parents that have disabilities

The Senate has passed legislation (2021-S 0056) introduced by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) that precludes the disability of a parent from serving as a basis for denial or restriction in matters involving a child's welfare, foster care, family law, guardianship and adoption. Rep. Terri Cortvriend (Dist. 72, Portsmouth Middletown) has introduced the companion legislation (2021-H 5394) in the House of Representatives.

Click here to see news release.


§  Senate passes bill excluding chronic intractable pain from medication guidelines

The Senate has passed legislation (2021-S 0384A) introduced by Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) that would exclude chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management” for the purposes of prescribing opioid medication. The legislation acknowledges that every patient and their needs is different, especially those suffering from chronic pain.  The measure now moves to the House, which passed similar legislation (2021-H 5247) introduced by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) on March 9.

Click here to see news release


§  Senate OKs bill that protects children from being left alone in vehicles

The Senate has passed a bill (2021-S 0128) introduced by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis’ (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, West Greenwich, East Greenwich) that would protect minors left unattended in a motor vehicle. The legislation repeals the requirement that law enforcement issue only verbal warnings of the risks to persons leaving a child under the age of seven unattended in a motor vehicle. Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) has introduced the companion bill (2021-H 5184) in the House of Representatives.

Click here to see news release.


§  Senate passes bill requiring cultural competency training for state workers

The Senate approved legislation (2021-S 0428) introduced by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) that would require the Office of Diversity, Equity and Opportunity (ODEO) to provide all state and municipal employees annual training in cultural competency. Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) has introduced the companion legislation (2021-H 5752) in the House of Representatives.

Click here to see news release.


§  Rep. Batista, Sen. Acosta introduce police reform legislation
Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. José F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence) have introduced the Rishod K. Gore Justice in Policing Act of 2021 (2021-S 05972021-H 5993) to institute critical reforms including a statewide mandate for police body cameras, a requirement that police intervene in and report severe misconduct by fellow officers, and personal liability for police officers who engage in willful misconduct.
Click here to see news release.


§  Sen. Picard bill would have governor, lieutenant governor run as a ticket
With Rhode Island in the midst of transitions in the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s offices, Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) has once again introduced legislation (2021-S 0274) to ask voters whether they wish to amend the state constitution to elect the governor and lieutenant governor together as one ticket. The bill (2021-H 5742) has been introduced in the House by Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland).
Click here to see news release.


§  Rep. Handy, Sen. Murray legislation would raise RI Works assistance
Backed by a coalition of community, faith and antipoverty advocates, Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) have introduced legislation (2021-S 02262021-H 5683) to provide the first rate increase in 30 years, as well as other benefit improvements, for the Rhode Island Works Program, the state’s cash assistance and work-readiness program for low-income children and their families.
Click here to see news release.


§  McNamara bill would make school social services Medicaid eligible
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation (2021-H 5067) that would make services provided by school social workers and certified school psychologists eligible for federal Medicaid reimbursement.
Click here to see news release.




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President Biden says Congress has to step up and act on gun control. While speaking at the White House today, Biden said the gun epidemic "has to end now." He lamented that it seems like there is a mass shooting every day.        Attorney General Merrick Garland is rescinding limits on consent decrees the Trump administration put in place to keep the Department of Justice from seeking reforms on police departments. Garland's order returns the D-O-J to the policies in place before then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed restrictions. The consent decrees are court-ordered agreements used to resolve violations of law, or systemic misconduct by state or local law enforcement.        The Ann Arbor Police Chief is giving an update on the Briarwood Mall shooting in Michigan. Chief Michael Cox says the victim suffered gunshot wounds in his "arm area" and the injuries are non-life-threatening. Police don't know how many suspects there are as they continue to secure the mall.        Vaccine hesitancy by staff is a major concern at Pennsylvania's nursing homes. The State Department of Health says only 52-percent of staff has opted to get immunized for COVID-19. On the other hand, 80-percent of Pennsylvania's nursing home patients have been vaccinated.       Liberty University is suing its former president Jerry Falwell Junior for ten-million dollars. The suit alleges that Falwell withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty's board of trustees. Falwell apparently "led a scheme to cover up the illicit conduct" that damaged the Christian university and its reputation.        Actress Helen McCrory is dead at 52. McCrory is best known for her roles as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series and as Aunt Polly in the television series Peaky Blinders. Her husband, actor Damian Lewis, broke the news on his Twitter page.