Like any state that’s been around for 350 years, Rhode Island has amassed a lot of legislation — and House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) thinks it’s time to take a hard look at some of the old laws and rid of the ones that tend to hinder rather than help our state.

To separate the wheat from the chaff, Edwards has introduced legislation that would create a Joint Committee of the Repealer to suggest the repeal of laws that are outdated or not business friendly.

“We need to sits down, reads through some of these older statutes and makes recommendations to repeal not just the rules that have no relevance in 2017, but those that hinder business in our state,” Representative Edwards said. “Jobs and economy are our watchwords. To support business, we need to toss the arbitrary statutes and cumbersome regulations that choke our economy and confuse our constituents.”

Representative Edwards’ legislation (2017-H 5216) would create the Joint Committee of the Repealer, which would effectively compile suggestions for repeal of statutes and regulations that are archaic and out of date.

Like many states, Rhode Island has its share of laws that may have made sense during the decade they were enacted but whose purpose has long been forgotten, such as:

  • 46-11-1 Taking of seaweed by inhabitants of Barrington. 

This law allows the inhabitants of Barrington to cart off up to two loads of seaweed from the beach each day. 

  • 11-22-11 Testing speed of horse. 

This law provides a $20 fine for anyone who races or tests the speed of a horse on a public highway. 

  • 11-22-4 Windmills in proximity to highway. 

This law prohibits the building of windmills within 25 rods of any traveled street or road. (A “rod” is a unit of measurement equal to 5½ yards).

  • 11-12-1 Engaging in duel. 

This law provides a seven-year prison sentence for those who voluntarily engage in a duel with any dangerous weapon. 

  • 41-6-3 Professional games permissible by license. 

This law requires a permit for professional sports games that are played on Sunday, except for hockey and “ice polo.”

  • 11-11-5 Profanity. 

This law provides a $5 fine for swearing.

The committee would consist of six members, three from the House and three from the Senate. Following a review of the suggestions, the committee would then make its recommendations to the General Assembly of laws to repeal or to the governor of executive orders to repeal.

The committee would meet in the off-session part of the year and submit recommendations for consideration by both chambers at the start of the new year.

The bill, which is cosponsored by Representatives Brian C. Newberry (R-Dist. 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville), Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton), Cale P. Keable (D-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester) and Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Foster, Glocester, Coventry), is being considered by the House Judiciary Committee.