Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this year.
- The General Assembly approved a $9.97 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year that largely avoids new taxes while strengthening education, continuing the car-tax phase-out and maintaining municipal aid, while also closing a $200 million budget gap.
- Lawmakers passed a bill to allow mobile sports wagering through the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton.
- The legislature established a process for creating Special Economic Development Districtson large state-owned properties and designated the former Route 195 land in Providence as one.
- The General Assembly passed the Reproductive Privacy Act, codifying the decisions of Roe v. Wade.
- Lawmakers amended the state’s civil statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse.
- Lawmakers passed a bill that would consider general discharges that were given to veteransbased solely on their sexual orientation to have all the benefits of an honorable discharge.
- The Assembly passed legislation that brings a comprehensive reform to curriculum, fast tracks the principal certification process and provides for greater school-based management at the school level.
- The budget increased aid to education by $33.4 million, added $2.9 million to increase pre-kindergarten seats and increased funding for English language learning by $2.3 million.
- The General Assembly created a separate Board of Trustees for the University of Rhode Island.
- The state budget includes language eliminating the “tampon tax” in Rhode Island.
- Legislators passed a law to protect student loan borrowers and establish oversight of student loan servicers operating in Rhode Island.
- The Assembly approved a law to require religious organizations to provide pension fund updates.
- The state budget includes language for the creation of a state Opioid Stewardship Fund.
- Lawmakers limited first-time opioid prescriptions and expanded the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act.
- The legislature approved a bill to post opioid warning signs at all pharmacies in Rhode Island.
- The budget included a Shared Responsibility Payment penalty for individuals who do not have health insurance, with exceptions.
- The General Assembly approved legislation aimed at providing stronger oversight for hospitals being acquired by nonprofit entities.
- The budget expanded the number of medical marijuana compassion center licenses from three to nine.
- Lawmakers passed legislation expanding domestic violence protective orders to help more children.
- The General Assembly approved legislation to increase school safety by creating threat assessment teams in schools.
- The Assembly passed several bills addressing Alzheimer’s disease and elder abuse.
- Lawmakers passed a bill making it easier for homeowners to build onto their houses to provide space for relatives.
- The General Assembly passed a bill to establish a formal process recognizing “supported decision making,” a structure of support for disabled or aging individuals.
- The budget incorporates legislation to help the many Rhode Island small business ownerswho will be hit by higher federal taxes under new federal tax laws.
- The General Assembly passed legislation to provide a process for collecting sales tax fromout-of-state sellers — removing the unfair advantage online retailers have in competing against Rhode Island businesses.
- Lawmakers passed legislation to increase the amount of beer sold directly to customers by breweries.
- The budget includes up to $200 million in GARVEE bonds to fund the reconstruction of the viaduct that carries Route 95 north though downtown Providence.
- The General Assembly passed the Rhode Island Utility Fair Share Roadway Repair Act, which requires public utilities to repave and repair roadways that have been altered or excavated by the public utility.
- The General Assembly passed legislation cracking down on bridge toll violators.
- Lawmakers passed legislation requiring all pet shops to provide records to the Department of Environmental Management including breeder information, health certification, license and inspection information for each dog or cat offered for sale.
- The legislature passed a bill that prevents owners from misrepresenting a pet as a service animal in order to gain access to rights or privileges reserved for disabled individuals with service animals.
- The General Assembly approved a law that adds pets to domestic violence protective orders.