Rhode Island General Assembly: Highlights of the Week (March 18-22)

This week in the Rhode Island General Assembly saw significant legislative strides aimed at enhancing safety, healthcare, and environmental protection across the state. Here’s a roundup of the key developments:

Senate Approves Safe Storage of Firearms Bill
The Senate greenlit legislation sponsored by Sen. Pamela J. Lauria, requiring the safe storage of firearms when not in use. The bill mandates firearms to be stored in locked containers or equipped with tamper-resistant locks, ensuring their inoperability. The measure now awaits consideration in the House of Representatives, where Rep. Justine A. Caldwell is championing a companion bill.

Extended Parental and Family Leave Passes Senate
Legislation to extend parental or family leave from 13 to 24 weeks within any two calendar years, sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano, gained Senate approval. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further review, where Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo has introduced a similar proposal.

Support for Local Wineries Advances in Senate
The Senate endorsed a bill proposed by Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson, enabling wineries to sell limited quantities of glasses and bottles per customer per day. The bill’s journey continues in the House of Representatives, with Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian sponsoring analogous legislation.

Efforts to Enhance RI Works Program
Legislators Rep. Arthur Handy and Sen. Melissa A. Murray have introduced a bill aiming to amplify benefits for families in the RI Works program, tying them to the federal poverty limit to ensure their adequacy amidst economic changes.

Tax Credit Proposed for Family Caregivers
Sen. Linda L. Ujifusa and Rep. Susan R. Donovan introduced legislation offering tax credits to family caregivers, providing financial relief for eligible Rhode Islanders caring for elderly or disabled relatives.

Initiative to Eliminate Charges for Senior Citizens
Legislation proposed by Sen. Matthew L. LaMountain and Rep. Brandon T. Voas seeks to prohibit fees for paper invoices imposed on senior citizens, emphasizing protection for older demographics.

Expansion of Medicare Income Eligibility Proposed
Sen. Sandra Cano and Rep. Karen Alzate introduced legislation to broaden income eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program, aiming to extend crucial healthcare access to lower-income seniors and disabled residents.

Ban on Microplastics Proposed
Sen. Sandra Cano and Rep. Jennifer Boylan unveiled legislation to ban microplastics from Rhode Island and implement a monitoring and reduction plan overseen by the Department of Environmental Management.

Committee Hearing on Asthma Inhaler Cost Caps
Rep. David Morales’s bill to cap the cost of prescription asthma inhalers for the insured at $25 per month was discussed in the House Committee on Health and Human Services.

Legislation to Prohibit ‘Forever Chemicals’ Introduced
Sen. Meghan Kallman and Rep. Terri Cortvriend are sponsoring legislation to ban Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals,” from products sold or manufactured in Rhode Island due to their adverse health effects.




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