Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this week.

  • Sen. Miller bill would use Medicaid funds for housing to improve health

Modeled after an innovative bill introduced this year in Hawaii, legislation (2017-S 0745) sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) would launch a pilot program to test the use of Medicaid funds to treat chronic homelessness.
Click here to see news release.

  • Rep. Walsh bill would raise tipped wage, link it to standard minimum wage

Rep. Moira Walsh (D-Dist. 3, Providence) is sponsoring legislation (2017-H 5315) to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers by 50 cents a year until it reaches a level that is at least two-thirds of the standard minimum wage, then ensure that it increases proportionately along with the standard minimum wage.

Click here to see news release.


  • Minority Whip Filippi introduces constitutional reforms
    House Minority Whip Blake Filippi (R-Dist. 36, New Shoreham, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly) introduced three constitutional amendments. House resolution (2017-H 5401) would empower the people of Rhode Island to take the government to court over unlawful spending. House resolution (2017-H 5541) would require all substantive executive branch regulations to be approved by the General Assembly before going into effect. House resolution (2017-H 5513) would create a system of instant run-off elections for all general officers and members of the General Assembly. This will ensure that candidates are elected with a majority vote, rather than plurality vote.
    Click here to see news release.
  • Rep. Ucci, Rep. Winfield target taxes on car and truck owners
    Rep. Stephen R. Ucci (D-Dist. 42, Johnston, Cranston) and Rep. Thomas Winfield (D-Dist. 53, Smithfield, Glocester) have introduced bills taking aim at automobile taxes that they believe are unjust. The bills would require cities and towns to use the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) trade-in value for motor vehicles for purposes of the excise tax (2017-H 5250); treat pickup trucks the same as other passenger vehicles for the purposes of reducing sales tax liability by the trade-in value (2017-H 5328); and prohibit the collection of sales tax on any portion of a lease payment that is charged to pay for excise taxes. Companion legislation (2017-S 0254, 2017-S 0121) to the pickup truck bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. James E. Doyle II (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) and Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, West Greenwich, East Greenwich).
  • RI to use MCAS test for students after comprehensive study

Last legislative session, Rep. Gregg Amore’s (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) bill (2016-H 8308A) that authorized a comprehensive study on a unified approach to statewide education passed the General Assembly.  As a result of the study, Rhode Island will now administer the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test to Rhode Island students in the third through eighth grades.

Click here to see news release.


  • Sen. Nesselbush, Rep. Craven introduce workers’ co-op legislation

Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) introduced legislation (2017-S 0676, 2017-H 6001) to create a statutory vehicle for the creation and functioning of workers’ cooperatives.  Workers’ cooperatives are corporations that are owned and democratically governed by their members.

Click here to see news release.