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

 

 

§  Senate, House OK bill to provide regular reporting on the Washington Bridge

The Senate and House passed legislation (2024-S 2727A2024-H 7759A) introduced by Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) and House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket) to require regular monthly updates from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation on the state of the Washington Bridge. Each bill will now head to the opposite chamber for consideration.

Click here to see news release.

 

§ Bills from housing package approved by House of Representatives
The House approved three bills included in Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) 2024 housing package. One (2024-H 7983A) sponsored by Rep. Cherie Cruz (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket) clarifies the makeup and structure of the State Building Code Office and the role of the State Building Code Commissioner. Another (2024-H 7982), sponsored by Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Middletown, Portsmouth), amends provisions pertaining to wetland buffers and projects for development, redevelopment, construction or rehabilitation. The third (2024-H 7984A), sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett), allows municipalities to count mobile homes as affordable housing under certain conditions. The bills have been sent to the Senate.

Click here to see Cruz release.
Click here to see Cortvriend release.
Click here to see McEntee release.

§ Senate OKs Lauria bill to help sexual assault victims access fund
The Senate approved legislation (2024-S 2767A) sponsored by Sen. Pamela J. Lauria (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) to enable victims of sexual assault to submit a medical forensic exam in lieu of a police report to establish eligibility for funds from the Crime Victim Compensation Program. Current law requires a police report for eligibility, but 70% of sexual assaults go unreported. The legislation now goes to the House, where Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7449).
Click here to see news release.

§ Senate approves Bissaillon bill enabling more people to expunge misdemeanors
The Senate approved legislation (2024-S 2454) sponsored by Sen. Jacob Bissaillon (D-Dist. 1, Providence) removing a restriction that prevents those with a felony conviction from having up to five misdemeanors expunged from their record, as others can. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7053). 

Click here to see news release.

§  Senate passes Cano bill requiring coverage for diagnosing and treating infertility

The Senate approved legislation (2024-S 2396) sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) that mandates all insurance contracts, plans or policies provide coverage for the expense of diagnosing and treating infertility.  The measure now heads to the House, where Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) has introduced similar legislation (2024-H 7878).

Click here to see news release

 

§  House passes Baginski bill to prohibit synthetic media 90 days before elections

The House passed legislation (2024-H 7387A) sponsored by Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski (D-Dist. 17, Cranston) that would prohibit the dissemination of “synthetic media” for 90 days before an election. Synthetic media is defined as an image, an audio recording or a video recording of an individual’s appearance, speech or conduct that has been intentionally manipulated with digital technology to create a realistic but false image, audio or video.  The bill now heads to the Senate, where Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) has introduced the legislation (2024-S 2456).       

Click here to see news release

 

§ Senate passes LaMountain bill to protect employees’ freedom of speech
The Senate passed legislation (2024-S 2785) introduced by Sen. Matthew L. LaMountain (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) that would protect the rights of employees in the workplace relating to free speech, assembly and religion as well as attendance at employer-sponsored meetings regarding political or religious matters. The measure now moves to the House, where similar legislation (2024-H 7106) has been introduced by Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate approves Chairwoman Euer’s Healthcare Provider Shield Act

The Senate voted to approve Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer’s (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) Healthcare Provider Shield Act (2024-S 2262A) to protect medical providers who provide transgender and reproductive health care services in Rhode Island from civil or criminal suits from other states. The measure now moves to the House, where Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton) has introduced similar legislation (2024-H 7577).

Click here to see news release.

 

§ Edwards bill takes aim at ‘deepfake’ porn; would include AI digital images
Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton) is sponsoring legislation (2024-H 8129) that takes aim at “deepfake” porn by amending Rhode Island’s existing revenge pornography statute that was enacted in 2018. It would include visual images that are created or manipulated by digitization, or without the consent of the person, within the purview of the crime of unauthorized dissemination of indecent material.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Ackerman introduces consumer protection bill for solar industry

Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) introduced legislation (2024-H 7603) to protect consumers and ensure a healthy solar industry by regulating businesses selling home solar systems under the Department of Business Regulation. Similar legislation (2024-S 2801A) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jacob Bissaillon (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

Click here to see news release.

 

§ Newport legislators submit short-term rental bills
Rep. Lauren Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) and Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) have introduced legislation aimed at improving regulatory control over the short-term rental industry. Representative Carson is sponsoring legislation (2024-H 8182) to improve regulatory compliance and transparency and enabling local controls on the industry’s growth, and another bill (2024-H 8183) to make whole houses and condominiums subject to the hotel tax when rented short-term. She also introduced legislation (2024-H 8146) to extend a short-term rental study commission she leads, which issued an interim report this week. Senator Euer’s bill (2024-S 2020) would allow municipalities to charge a community impact fee of no more than 2% of the total charged to customers by short-term rental, for use on infrastructure, housing units and expenses incurred because of short-term rentals.
Click here to see Carson release.
Click here to see Euer release.

 

Closing arguments have ended in Donald Trump's criminal hush money case. The judge will give the New York jury his instructions tomorrow morning before they begin deliberations. Trump is charged with falsifying records before the 2016 election to hide payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He is the first American president to stand trial in a criminal case.        Over one-million people are without power in Texas. Heavy storms are pounding the state today, leading to a ground-stop at Houston's Airport. The system dropped baseball-sized hail on parts of North Texas, including Dallas. Dallas County has issued a disaster declaration. Meanwhile, at least 23 people are dead after severe weather slammed the nation's midsection, including Texas, over the Memorial Day weekend.       The U.S. military is working to repair a temporary pier used to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. Defense Department spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters today it will take about a week to fix the pier. The pier broke apart over the weekend due to rough seas and will be towed to Israel for repairs.        At least seven people are injured, with another two missing after an explosion in Youngstown, Ohio. The explosion took place at a downtown bank building. Officials in the area say they are concerned about the structural integrity of the building. The Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency said in a statement that natural gas was involved.       Emergency crews are responding to a military aircraft crash in New Mexico. Officials say the crash occurred near the Albuquerque International Sunport on Tuesday afternoon. The plane went down outside of the airfield on the south side of the airport. The pilot is reportedly conscious and has been taken to the hospital for treatment.        Music fans will finally get a chance to hear a fabled album from the Wu-Tang Clan. The world's only copy of the hip-hop group's 2015 album "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" will go on display at the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, Australia next month. Former Pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli bought the the album for two-million-dollars at a 2015 auction and it was later sold to an art collective in 2021.