Editor's Note:  Though this is an official News Release of the Legislative Branch of Rhode Island State Government, readers are cautioned that only one side, the legislators' side, of the story is presented here.  Reader discretion is advised.

Feb. 9, 2018

Legislative Press Bureau at (401) 528-1743

 

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

 

 

§  State House view from the southSpeaker Mattiello bill would allow partial-fill option on opioid prescriptions
Addressing the opioid epidemic, Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would give patients the option of only partially filling their prescription for painkillers. The bill (2018-H 7416) would allow a pharmacist to dispense a partial fill of a Schedule II controlled substance at the request of either the patient or the prescriber.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. McNamara wants attendance review teams to combat school absenteeism
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would create attendance review teams in districts and schools where an absenteeism problem has been identified. The bill (2018-H 7040) would direct the state Department of Education to establish a chronic absenteeism prevention and intervention plan by Jan. 1, 2019.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. Solomon bill would allow for early voting in Rhode Island
Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick) has introduced legislation that would help voters avoid long waits at polling places on Election Day. The bill (2018-H 7501) would create a process for in-person early voting to be conducted at locations determined by local boards of canvassers and approved by the state Board of Elections.
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§  Legislators commit to fight for 2018 ‘Fair Shot Agenda’
Dozens of representatives committed at a State House event to advocate for the 2018 “Fair Shot Agenda,” a set of legislative solutions to address the growing gap between the wealthy and the middle class. The agenda includes a budget that protects people, investments in school facilities to make them safe and appropriate, pay equity, a $15 minimum wage and affordable long-term care and prescription drugs for seniors.
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§  ‘Talking bus’ bill heard in committee
The House Corporations Committee heard legislation (2018-H 7087) sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) to prohibit the operation of the safe turn alert system on “talking” RIPTA buses in residential neighborhoods. Almost as soon as the system went into use last year, Representative Carson says she began hearing from constituents about all the noise they make while operating, which can be as early as 6 a.m.
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§  Sen. Metts bill bans housing discrimination based on lawful source of income
Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) has introduced legislation (2018-S 2301) prohibiting landlords from discriminating against tenants or potential tenants on the basis of their lawful source of income. The bill is meant, in large part, to stop landlords from discriminating against those who receive Section 8 housing funds or other types of assistance. Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) has introduced the legislation (2018-H 7528) in the House.
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§  Rep. Shekarchi bill would increase Board of Elections transparency
House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) has introduced legislation (2018-H 7438) to increase the transparency of the state Board of Elections by making it subject to the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, which would require it to adhere to standards involving public notice and allowing public comment on any changes to its regulations. Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) has introduced the bill (2018-S 2088) in the Senate.

Click here to see news release.

§  Rep. Marshall bill extends good Samaritan law to underage drinking
Rep. Kenneth A. Marshall (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren) has introduced legislation (2018-H 7305) that extends protections under the Good Samaritan Overdose Protection Act to underage persons involved in reporting alcohol-related emergencies. Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) is sponsoring the legislation (2018-S 2024) in the Senate.
Click here to see news release.

 

·         Rep. Filippi calls for greater protection for victims of data breaches

House Minority Whip Blake A. Filippi (R-Dist. 36, New Shoreham, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly) has introduced legislation (2018-H 7387) requiring companies to notify Rhode Islanders of any security breaches related to their personal information. The bill would require that any company that experiences a security breach notify their customers immediately of the situation without unreasonable delay. Any company failing to do so would be in violation of Rhode Island’s unfair trade practices statute and may face fines up to $150,000 per data breach.

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·         House, Senate finance committees begin hearings on proposed FY 2019 budget

The House and Senate committees on finance began hearings on the proposed FY 2019 budget (2018-H 7200). Both committees heard staff presentations on the proposed budget, as well as hearings devoted to individual budget articles within the proposal. The committees will continue to hear testimony on the proposed budget for the next few months.                        

 

 

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President Trump's former lawyer and so-called fixer Michael Cohen will spend three years in prison. A federal judge in New York set the sentence today and ordered Cohen to report to federal prison on March 6th. Cohen pleaded guilty to tax fraud, banking fraud and violations of campaign finance laws.        Michal Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis says his client owned up to his mistakes and "fully cooperated" with the Special Counsel's investigation. Davis says that Cohen continues to tell the truth about Donald Trump's misconduct over the years. Once the Russia probe is over, Davis says he looks forward to assisting Cohen tell everything he knows about Trump publicly.        French authorities have identified the gunman responsible for the deadly Christmas market shooting as Islamic extremist named "Cherif C." Three people were killed and dozens were injured after he opened fire in Strasbourg on Tuesday. Several reports say he yelled "God is Great" in Arabic while he was shooting.        New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is apologizing to the mother who was seen on video being forcibly separated from her baby at a Brooklyn food assistance program. Jazmine Headley apparently got into a dispute with a worker at the program last Friday and sat on the floor after not being assisted for hours. Two peace officers involved in the incident have been placed on modified duty.        The cost of cleaning up and rebuilding after three major California wildfires is setting records. State, local and federal officials say it will cost around three-billion dollars to clean up after the deadly Woolsey, Hill and Camp fires that charred hundreds of thousands of acres across the state. Authorities also say they expect insurance companies to be hit with about 10 billion dollars in claims.        McDonald's is announcing plans to rid its beef from antibiotics. The Chicago-based restaurant chain says it's working with ten of its top beef sourcing markets to measure and understand the usage of those antibiotics which are said to be important to human health. McDonald's believes antibiotics are important, but adds a problem lies when they're given to animals because it can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and drug-resistant infections in humans that consume the animals.