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

 

§ Equality in Abortion Coverage Act becomes law
The General Assembly passed and Gov. Dan McKee signed into law the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (2023-S 00322023-H 5006) sponsored by Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown) and House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket). The law will provide insurance coverage for abortion care to individuals on Medicaid as well as state employees.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Assembly passes legislation reducing driving privilege card fees

The General Assembly passed legislation (2023-H 5780, 2023-S 0751) introduced by Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) and Sen. Robert Britto (D-Dist.18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that reduces the fee for an original driver privilege card. The legislation reduces the fee from $50 to $25 in order to bring the fee in line with the cost charged for renewing a driver’s license and would take effect on July 1.  The measure now moves to the governor’s desk.

Click here to see news release.

 

§ House OKs bills amending housing act, easing process of building ADUs
The House of Representatives passed two bills addressing the state’s housing crisis. The first (2023-H6081A), sponsored by Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), would amend the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act to modify and clarify the procedure for review of applications to build housing. The second (2023-H 6082Aaa), sponsored by Rep. June Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol), would provide homeowners the right to develop an accessory dwelling unit within the existing footprint of their structures or on any lot larger than 20,000 square feet. Both measures now move to the Senate for consideration

Click here to see Shekarchi release.

Click here to see Speakman release.

 

§  Senate OKs bill requiring insurance coverage for diagnosing, treating infertility

The Senate passed legislation (2023-S 0107) sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) that would mandate that all insurance contracts, plans or policies provide coverage for the expense of diagnosing and treating infertility, including preimplantation genetic diagnosis in conjunction with in vitro fertilization.  The bill now heads to the House, where Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) has introduced the legislation (2023-H 5351).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate passes bills requiring universal healthy free school meals

The Senate passed two bills sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) and Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) that would require universal healthy free school meals at the state’s public schools. Senator Cano’s bill (2023-S 0071) would require free meals to be provided for all elementary and secondary students attending public schools, to the extent state and federal funds are available.  Senator Acosta’s bill (2023-S 0071) would require free breakfast and lunch be provided for all students. Both bills now move to the House for consideration, where Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) has introduced a bill (2023-H 56396) similar to Senator Cano’s.

Click here to see news release

 

§ House OKs bill that would increase penalties for theft of catalytic converters
The House of Representatives passed legislation (2023-H 5841aa) introduced by Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick) that would increase the penalties for thefts of catalytic converters. It would mandate a bill of sale, eliminate cash payments and require the attorney general to suspend the license of any violator of the law. A conviction under this law would be a felony subject to fine and imprisonment.
Click here to see news release.

 

§ Legislation would prohibit incarceration of children under 14
Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown) and Rep. Rebecca M. Kislak, (D-Dist. 4, Providence) have introduced  legislation (2023-H 53592023-S 0344) that would prohibit Family Court from detaining or committing any juvenile under the age of 14 years to the training school for any offense, with exceptions for murder, first-degree sexual assault or an attempt to commit either.
Click here to see news release.

 

§ Morales bill would establish a statewide ‘Medicare for All’ healthcare system

Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence) has introduced legislation to establish a statewide universal, comprehensive single-payer health care program. The bill (2023-H 6339) would create a “Medicare-for-all” style single-payer program that would replace multiple “middlemen” insurers with a single coverage provider, the Rhode Island Comprehensive Health Insurance Program.

Click here to see news release.

 

§ Boylan introduces bill to study school lockdowns, safety drills

Rep. Jennifer Smith Boylan (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) has introduced a resolution (2023-H 6422) that would create a commission to study lockdowns, fire drills and the associated mental health supports for students. The commission would be made up of public safety officials, teachers, students, mental health professionals and legislators. It would be tasked with answering complex questions such as whether and when students should be encouraged to evacuate during lockdown events, whether advanced notice should be provided to students and/or parents prior to a lockdown drill and whether the frequency of drills should be changed.

Click here to see press release.

 

§ Lawson, Kazarian seek state funding for East Providence housing development

Sen. Valarie Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) and Rep. Katherine Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket) are sponsoring a joint resolution (2023-S 09852023-H 6297) to provide state funding for a proposed housing project in East Providence. The project, called the Taunton Avenue Collaborative, would provide 160 new apartments in a vibrant and diverse community for extremely low-income households, youth aging out of foster care and low- to moderate-income families. Residents would have access to a variety of supports from area nonprofits.

Click here to see news release.

 

The Supreme Court is getting rid of a Trump-era ban on "bump stocks." The court ruled Friday that the firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire more quickly can't be included in a 1934 law banning machine guns. The decision was 6-3 on ideological lines, striking down a regulation imposed during the Trump administration. Despite the ruling, bump stocks remain illegal in 18 states.       The Supreme Court is not yet ruling on Donald Trump's claims of presidential immunity. The court did not make a decision on the consequential case today, but may do so on June 20th when its next opinions are released. The case impacts some of Trump's pending cases, including his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump argues he is immune from prosecution because his actions fell under official conduct that should be protected, and was not a private act.       Floridians can expect even more rain today after days of severe weather and flooding. Non-stop rain has drenched parts of the southern half of the state for days now -- including Miami. Governor Ron DeSantis already declared a state of emergency. Thunderstorm activity in the region is expected to subside by the weekend, but forecasters say flash flooding and urban flooding will remain possible through Saturday.       Kate, Princess of Wales, says she is making "good progress" in her treatment for cancer. In a rare statement Friday, the British royal said she is still undergoing chemotherapy and that she has "a few more months" of treatment remaining. She also announced that she will be attending a military parade Saturday to mark King Charles the Third's birthday. This will be her first official public appearance since she revealed she has cancer.       Ukraine is rejecting Russia's demands to bring the war between the two countries to an end. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would end the war if Ukraine agreed to certain conditions. Those include Kyiv [[ KEEV ]] dropping its ambitions to join NATO, pulling out troops from four Ukrainian provinces claimed by Moscow. The proposal from Russia came just a day after the U.S. and Ukraine agreed to a new ten-year security agreement.       The USA cricket team is continuing to make history. The team has advanced to the next stage of the men's T20 Cricket World Cup after its match against Ireland was rained out in Florida Friday. The point earned by the USA due to the game being called off meant the team qualified for the Super Eight stage of the tournament. The USA will now be placed in a group of four of the final eight teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinal round.