June 8, 2018

Legislative Press Bureau at (401) 528-1743

                       

 

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

 

 

§  House Finance Committee poised to consider state budget bill
The House Finance Committee was slated to vote late Friday on the state’s $9.3 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. A vote by the entire House of Representatives is expected next week, followed by consideration by the Senate.

§  Governor signs legislation banning advertising of junk food in schools
A bill sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that forbids the advertising of unhealthy foods to children in schools has been signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo. The law (2018-S 2350A2018-H 7419A), which takes effect immediately, prohibits the advertising of unhealthy food and beverage products in schools, particularly those that may not be sold on the school campus during the school day, since they do not meet the minimum nutrition standards.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Mattiello, Gallo bill to improve safety in public schools becomes law
Gov. Gina Raimondo signed legislation introduced by Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) and Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) to examine the safety of Rhode Island’s schools and to ensure that school safety plans are adopted in each school department. The measure (2018-H 7694A2018-S 2639A) codifies the existence of the Rhode Island School Safety Committee into state law, and requires that school districts provide the committee with safety assessments every three years for review and recommendations.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Revenge porn and sextortion legislation signed into law by governor

Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) and Sen. Erin Lynch Prata’s (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) legislation (2018-H 7452A, 2018-S 2581A) that criminalizes revenge porn and sextortion was signed into law.  The statute applies to those who knew that the image was created under circumstances where a reasonable person would know or understand that the image is to remain private.  The legislation also creates criminal penalties for those who engage in “sextortion,” a cybercrime that occurs when offenders use personal images — often stolen or obtained by hacking — to force victims to engage in sending more sexually explicit photos or videos under threat the images will be made public.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs Archambault bill to curb surprise medical billing
The Senate passed legislation (2018-S 2077Aaa) introduced by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) that would change the way out-of-network health care professionals are paid after rendering services to patients who didn’t have the opportunity to select such health care services from in-network professionals, curbing surprise medical billing. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate passes bills to protect individual health insurance costs, quality
The Senate passed two measures sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) to protect consumers who purchase their health insurance in the individual market. The first bill (2018-S 2934), the Rhode Island Market Stability and Reinsurance Act, is meant to help stabilize health insurance rates and premiums in the individual market and to provide greater financial certainty to consumers. The other bill (2018-S 2931) would require short-term limited duration health insurance policies to comply with consumer protection standards that apply to all plans in the individual market. 
Click here to see news release.

 

§  House approves Kennedy bill on rights of life insurance policyholders
The House of Representatives passed legislation (2018-H 7124) introduced by Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) that would keep life insurance policyholders informed of their rights and alternatives when they decide to let a policy lapse. The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2018-S 2048) has been introduced by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs McCaffrey bill to allow fentanyl test strips to curb overdose deaths
The Senate passed legislation (2018-S 2896) introduced by Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) to codify the legality of fentanyl testing strips. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is the leading driver of overdose deaths in Rhode Island. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2018-H 8132) has been introduced by Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Kazarian bill to safeguard access to contraception in R.I. passes House

Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian’s (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) legislation (2018-H 7625A) that would require health insurance plans to provide coverage for a 12-month supply of birth control to all those who are insured was passed by the House of Representatives.  If passed by the Senate, health care providers would be able to prescribe birth control up to a full year at a time and health insurance providers would be unable to restrict reimbursement for dispensing a covered prescription contraceptive.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Sexual harassment bills introduced, heard in House
The House Labor Committee held a hearing on eight bills to address sexual harassment in the workplace introduced by members of the House commission studying sexual harassment laws, led by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).
Click here to see news release.

                       

                                   

 

 

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At least five-thousand Central American migrants seeking asylum from poverty, gang violence, and corruption in their home countries are now marching through Mexico. The Mexican government is trying to process asylum requests from members of the group that numbered around three-thousand when they left Honduras more than a week ago.        Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is warning President Trump not to pull out of a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty. Russia's Interfax News Agency reports Gorbachev said it would be a mistake for Trump to pull the U.S. out of the 1987 agreement signed with President Reagan to eliminate medium-range nuclear missiles. He warned that doing so could have unforeseen consequences.        The head of California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is pushing back on President Trump's criticism of the state's forest management. Trump said last week that California's forestry management is disgraceful and blamed it for giant wildfires in the state. CalFire Chief Ken Pimlott tells KPIX TV that the President's comments were uninformed and "couldn't be further from the truth."        Senator Bob Corker doesn't believe Saudi Arabia's explanation for the death of a journalist. On CNN's State of the Union, the Tennessee Republican said he believes there's more to the story than what's being let on. It's believed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi [[ ka-SHO-gi ]] was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this month.        The mayor of Oakland, California is ending a police department policy that required job applicants to reveal whether they had ever been sexually assaulted. Libby Schaaf gave the order after a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that questioned the policy's legality. She also ordered a review of the police department's hiring procedures, calling the requirement a barrier to women and minority applicants.       Hurricane Willa is now a Category 4 storm off the west coast of Mexico. The storm is headed directly toward the coast with 155 mile per hour sustained winds. Willa is predicted to cross Mexico and into Texas by the middle of the week, where heavy rain could pose a flooding risk.