Weekly Roundup: Key Developments in Rhode Island’s General Assembly (February 12-16)

This week at the Rhode Island General Assembly was marked by a series of significant events and legislative milestones, showcasing the diverse range of issues addressed by lawmakers. Here are the key highlights:

  1. Outdoor Dining Bill Signed Into Law
    Legislation (2024-H 7064A, 2024-S 2028A) sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee and Sen. Alana M. DiMario, permitting outdoor dining at restaurants permanently, was signed into law by Governor Dan McKee.
  2. Amica Pavilion Media Room Named After Bill Reynolds
    The media workroom in the Amica Mutual Pavilion will now bear the name of the late Bill Reynolds, the revered Providence Journal columnist. This decision follows the passage of legislation (2024-S 2034, 2024-H 7221) introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi and Rep. Evan P. Shanley. Governor Dan McKee signed the bill during a ceremony held in the media room.
  3. House Approves Bill to Boost ADU Development
    Legislation (2024-H 7062) sponsored by Rep. June S. Speakman to stimulate housing production by facilitating the development of accessory dwelling units received approval from the House of Representatives. The bill now moves to the Senate.
  4. Washington Bridge Crisis Update
    Joint meetings of the House Committee on Oversight and the Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics, and Oversight were convened to address the ongoing crisis on the Washington Bridge. Officials, including Peter Alviti, director of the Department of Transportation, provided insights into the causes of its failure and plans for the future.
  5. Advocacy for Bail Reform Legislation
    Community groups gathered at the State House, calling for the passage of legislation sponsored by Rep. José Batista and Sen. Meghan E. Kallman. The proposed reforms aim to address issues surrounding bail for those arrested for probation violations. An updated version of the legislation is set to be resubmitted.
  6. Land Conservation Funding Rescue Attempt
    Legislation (2024-H 7550) introduced by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma and Rep. Megan L. Cotter seeks to add $16 million for land protection programs to the $50 million environmental bond proposed by Governor Dan McKee for November’s ballot.
  7. Aid for R.I. Medical Researchers and Patients
    Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman and Sen. Samuel D. Zurier introduced legislation (2024-H 7301, 2024-S 2394) to allow Rhode Island medical researchers access to national data and research, benefiting patients, especially those with cancer.
  8. Legislation to Assist Law Enforcement in Solving Gun Crimes
    Rep. Jennifer Boylan and Sen. David P. Tikoian presented legislation (2024-H 7216, 2024-S 2446) aimed at aiding law enforcement in solving gun-related crimes through the use of a national ballistics analysis database.
  9. Legislative Leaders Discuss Economy with Chamber of Commerce
    Key legislative leaders engaged in a discussion on legislative matters, the state budget, and the economy at the annual legislative luncheon hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson, House Majority Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski, Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz, and House Minority Leader Michael W. Chippendale participated in the event.
  10. Ranked-Choice Voting Demonstration
    Rep. Rebecca Kislak and Senate Majority Whip Valarie Lawson orchestrated a demonstration of ranked-choice voting on Valentine’s Day. Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Caramel emerged victorious after four rounds of voting among five chocolates. Legislation (2024-H 7540, 2024-S 2425) has been introduced to institute ranked-choice voting for presidential preference primaries starting in the 2028 election.




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