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.
- 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.
- 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.