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 approves Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights reform

The House of Representatives passed the Law Enforcement Officers’ Due Process, Accountability and Transparency Act (2024-H 7263A, 2024-S 2096A), which will bring reforms to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. The legislation was introduced by Deputy Speaker Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence) and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). Both identical bills are scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday, May 14.

Click here to see news release

 

§  General Assembly OKs bill on Washington Bridge reporting

The General Assembly approved 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) that would require regular monthly updates from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation on the state of the Washington Bridge. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

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. The first (2024-H 7951A), sponsored by Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), would clarify the circumstances under which a municipality can limit accepting and hearing applications related to the development of housing. The second (2024-H 7986Aaa), sponsored by Rep. José F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence), would encourage housing production by requiring towns to publish lists of abandoned properties. The third (2024-H 7978A), sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi, would allow for municipalities to use electronic permitting for building permits. The bills now move to the Senate.

Click here to see Craven release.
Click here to see Batista release.
Click here to see Shekarchi release.

 

§  Senate passes Euer bill to protect contraceptive coverage

The Senate passed a bill (2024 S-2088) sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) that would ensure contraception remains covered in Rhode Island, even if the coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act are overturned. The bill now heads to the House, where Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) has introduced companion legislation (2024-H 7255).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate passes bill to prevent auto insurers from charging higher rates to widows

The Senate passed a bill (2024-S 2269) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) to prohibit auto insurers from charging policyholders more solely because they have been widowed. It now moves to the House, which has already passed companion legislation (2024-H 7606) sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs bill to allow nursing home residents to use electronic surveillance

The Senate voted to approve Sen. Dawn Euer’s (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) bill (2024-S 2263) to allow nursing home residents to choose to have cameras installed in their rooms. The bill now heads to the House, where Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) has introduced companion legislation (2024-H 7969).

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate passes Mack inclusive name change bill

The Senate approved legislation (2024-S 2667A) sponsored by Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) that would make the process of changing an individual’s name in municipal probate court more straightforward, while also updating the statute to make the language gender neutral and more inclusive. The legislation now heads to the House, where Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) has introduced the legislation (2024-H 8155).

Click here to see news release

 

§  Senate OKs Murray bill to extend winter moratorium on utility shut-offs
The Senate passed legislation (2024-S 2036) sponsored by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) to codify and extend the state’s annual utility termination moratorium two weeks to May 1 to protect those struggling with their utility bills from energy shut-offs during the coldest months. The legislation now goes to the House, where Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7017).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs solar industry consumer-protection bill
The Senate passed legislation (2024-S 2801Aaa) sponsored by Sen. Jacob Bissaillon (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to protect consumers and ensure a healthy solar industry by regulating businesses selling home solar systems. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7603). 
Click here to see news release.

 

                House OKs bill to join interstate physical therapy compact
                The House approved legislation (2024-H 7213) sponsored by Rep. Michelle E.                 McGaw (D-Dist. 71,  Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton) to have Rhode Island join                 an interstate compact that allows physical therapists licensed in member states to                 practice in other member states. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where                 Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West                 Warwick) is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill (2024-S 2876).
                Click here to see news 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.