May 11, 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

 

 

§  Senate OKs bill to create Aging and Disability Resource Center

The Senate approved legislation (2018-S 2551) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to create the Aging and Disability Resource Center within the Department of Human Services’ Division of Elderly Affairs to help connect Rhode Islanders with helpful resources for long-term care. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) is sponsoring companion legislation (2018-H 7172).

Click here to see news release.

 

§   Senate passes legislation to help St. Joseph pension plan members
The Senate approved legislation (2018-S 2112) sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) to better position the members of the insolvent  St. Joseph’s Health Services pension plan to reach fair, equitable settlements with multiple defendants, which is a possible outcome of the case. The bill now goes to the House, where House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) has introduced companion legislation (2018-H 8166).
Click here to see Senate news release.
Click here to see House news release.

§  Sen. Da Ponte bill that protects pensions during hospital sales passed Senate

Sen. Daniel Da Ponte’s (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) legislation (2018-S 2467aa) that would require the general treasurer to conduct a review of any defined pension plans involved in the sale and acquisition of any hospital that are not covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 was passed by the Senate. The legislation was in response to the collapse of the St. Joseph Health Services pension fund.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate OKs micro-zone act sponsored by Satchell
The Senate approved legislation (2018-S 2068) sponsored by Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) to create “micro-zones” in exceptionally distressed areas and encourage revitalization in those zones through a combination of expedited permitting and tax and fee waivers. Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland) is sponsoring the legislation (2018-H 7553) in the House.
Click here to see news release.

§  Bill would allow for lifesaving fentanyl test strips to prevent overdose deaths
Advocates spoke out in support of a bill (2018-H 8132) introduced by Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) to solidify the legality of fentanyl test strips that identify the presence of the opioid in illicit drugs and are a cost-effective means to prevent overdose.
Click here to see news release.

§  House oversight hears update on UHIP progress
The House Committee on Oversight, which is chaired by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), heard an update on progress of the trouble-ridden Unified Health Infrastructure Project. Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane reported progress in cutting the backlog of food stamp applications, but several representatives of nursing homes reported that the loss or delay of Medicaid applications continues to be a problem.

 

§  Rep. Costantino bill would require unpaid tax notification for car registrations
Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Smithfield, Johnston) has introduced legislation (2018-H 8117) that would force the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles to continue a longstanding policy of sending motorists notice to renew their registrations even though they owe back taxes. The legislation would require the DMV to provide the normal notice by mail when a vehicle registration is due for renewal whether or not there are taxes owed.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Lawmakers join with governor, State Police to highlight new hands-free law
Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) and Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), who sponsored last year’s law (2017-S 0175A2017-H 5182) prohibiting drivers from using hand-held wireless communication devices while driving, joined with Gov. Gina Raimondo, the Department of Transportation and the State Police at AAA Northeast’s Providence headquarters to remind the public that the law goes into effect on June 1. Beginning that day, violators will be subject to a fine of no more than $100. That fine can be suspended for a first-time violator who provides proof of acquisition of a hands-free accessory subsequent to the violation and prior to the imposition of the fine.

§  Rep. Amore questions compassion center finances

Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) has written to the top regulator of the state’s medical marijuana program seeking information on the finances of the three compassion centers in Rhode Island after testimony was delivered to the House Committee on Finance relating to the governor’s budget proposal (Article 17) to expand the number of compassion centers in Rhode Island from three to 15 facilities. Specifically, Representative Amore wants to understand how a nonprofit entity would be able to give the state an additional $5 million, the amount of money expected to be generated if the expansion is implemented, so that the number of compassion centers remain at the current number of three.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Revenue Estimating Conference ends with budget surplus

The Revenue Estimating Conference ended its spring session this week with the announcement of a $132 million budget surplus. The conference meets twice yearly in the spring and the fall.  The conference consists of the state budget officer, the Senate fiscal advisor, and the House fiscal advisor, where they must reach a consensus on what the state general revenues and caseload expenses are estimated to be for the current fiscal year and the budget year. The General Assembly and the state budget office use these projections to prepare the budget.

                       

                                   

 

 

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For an electronic version of this and all press releases published by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau, please visit our Web site at www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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President Trump says on Twitter he was forced to pull out of his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In a letter to Kim, Trump cited "tremendous anger and open hostility" in recent statements from the North. The withdrawal comes after a North Korean official called Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for comparing North Korea to Libya.        Florida Senator Marco Rubio is agreeing with the President's decision to pull out of the summit with Kim Jong Un. Rubio tweeted shortly after the announcement saying it's "100 percent the right decision." He added a mock congratulations to Kim, saying, "You just played yourself." But New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez criticized the Trump administration for not doing more "deep preparation" before agreeing to a summit."       Actor Morgan Freeman is reportedly being accused of sexual harassment. CNN reports that eight women have come forward about Freeman's inappropriate behavior while working on his movies. A former production assistant tells the network that Freeman repeatedly asked her to lift up her skirt and made comments about her figure in 2015 during filming of "Going In Style." She adds that co-star Alan Arkin saw it happening and told Freeman to stop.        The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there will be a near or above normal hurricane season this year in the Atlantic Basin. In its forecast released today, the NOAA says ten to 16 named storms are expected, five to nine of which are going to be hurricanes, and one to four that will become Category Three or higher hurricanes. The Atlantic Basin comprises the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.        Publix Super Markets says it regrets that some of its political contributions have led to "an unintentional customer divide." The Florida-based chain issued a statement following Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor David Hogg's announcement of what he calls a "die-in" to take place at two stores in Parkland tomorrow. The event is a protest of Publix's reported half-million-dollar contribution to the campaign for governor of Republican and gun-rights advocate Adam Putnam.        Elon Musk is calling out the mainstream media. The head honcho of SpaceX and Tesla went on a Twitter rant Wednesday, calling the media "holier-than-thou." He went on to say that big media has lost its credibility, blamed it for the election of President Trump and said journalists are obsessed with getting website clicks. Musk says he's creating a website that will keep the media in check.