Rhode Island General Assembly: Highlights of the Week (April 1 – 5)

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In a busy week for Rhode Island’s General Assembly, several significant bills were passed and initiatives introduced, ranging from education to environmental protection and healthcare. Here are the highlights from the week’s proceedings:

Re-Establishment of Sheila C. “Skip” Nowell Academy: The House of Representatives approved legislation presented by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara to re-establish the Sheila C. “Skip” Nowell Academy, catering to the needs of pregnant and parenting teens. The measure, now advancing to the Senate, aims to address the diverse challenges faced by this demographic.

Inclusion of Climate Change in Economic Planning: The Senate endorsed legislation proposed by Sen. Pamela J. Lauria to incorporate climate change considerations into economic development plans. The bill underscores the importance of addressing environmental concerns while charting the state’s economic future.

Ensuring Dense Breast Notifications: The House passed legislation introduced by Rep. Rebecca Kislak to ensure women with dense breast tissue receive updated notifications following mammograms. This measure prioritizes women’s health and aims to improve breast cancer detection and treatment.

Empowering DEM to Address Overflowing Septic Systems: Rep. Evan P. Shanley’s bill granting the Department of Environmental Management authority to manage overflowing septic systems passed the House. The legislation enables proactive measures to safeguard public health and the environment.

Prohibition of Discriminatory Insurance Practices: Rep. Arthur Handy’s bill prohibiting auto insurers from charging higher rates to widowed individuals gained House approval. This legislation aims to prevent discriminatory practices and promote fairness in insurance premiums.

Replacement of CRMC with Department of Coastal Resources: Sen. Victoria Gu and Rep. Terri Cortvriend introduced legislation to replace the Coastal Resources Management Council with a new Department of Coastal Resources. The initiative seeks to streamline coastal management efforts under the executive branch.

Expansion of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Coverage: Sen. Linda Ujifusa and Rep. Teresa Tanzi presented bills to enhance coverage standards for mental health and substance abuse disorders. These measures aim to ensure equitable access to essential healthcare services.

Extension of Minimum Wage to Domestic Workers: Legislation sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Leonela Felix seeks to extend minimum wage protections to domestic workers, addressing longstanding disparities in labor rights.

Criminal Justice Reform Initiatives: Rep. Leonela Felix introduced a series of bills focused on criminal justice reform, aiming to facilitate successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals into society.

Committee Hearings on Small Business Impact: The House Small Business Committee, chaired by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, held discussions with small businesses affected by the closure of the westbound portion of the Washington Bridge. The hearing facilitated dialogue on mitigating economic challenges faced by local enterprises.




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