Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the Rhode Island General Assembly this week.
Senate Advances Police Bill of Rights Reform; Hull Introduces Similar Measure in House
In a significant move, the Rhode Island Senate has approved legislation (2024-S-2096) proposed by President Dominick J. Ruggerio to reform the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. The bill, now moving to the House of Representatives, addresses critical issues in police accountability. Deputy Speaker Raymond A. Hull has introduced a similar measure (2024-H 7263) in the House.
Senate Passes Quezada’s Legislation on Traffic Stop Racial Data Collection
Senator Ana B. Quezada’s legislation (2024-S 2137) requiring the statewide collection and analysis of racial data from police traffic stops has been approved by the Senate. The bill, now headed to the House of Representatives, aims to promote transparency and address concerns related to racial profiling. Representative Edith H. Ajello has introduced a similar House bill (2024-H 7099).
Shanley Proposes Statewide Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan
Representative Evan P. Shanley has introduced the Rhode Island Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program Act (2024-H 7121) to establish a voluntary retirement savings plan for Rhode Islanders. This initiative, mirrored by Senator Meghan E. Kallman in the Senate (2024-S 2045), aims to provide accessible and low-cost retirement options.
McNamara’s Effort to Combat School Absenteeism Due to Asthma
Legislation (2024-H 7195) introduced by Representative Joseph M. McNamara seeks to address asthma-related school absenteeism. The proposed one-year pilot program, set for the 2024-2025 school year, focuses on outreach and tracking at selected public high schools and middle schools.
Vella-Wilkinson Advocates for Military Spouses with New Bill
Representative Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson has introduced legislation (2024-H 7184) to create the position of military spouse liaison in the Office of Veterans Services. The liaison would be responsible for outreach and advocacy on behalf of military spouses in the state.
Bill to Boost Accessory Dwelling Unit Development Gains Momentum
Chairwoman of the House Commission on Housing Affordability, Representative June S. Speakman, has reintroduced legislation (2024-H 7062) to boost housing production by facilitating the development of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The bill, supported by Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, addresses Rhode Island’s housing crisis.
Right to Repair Bills Sponsored by Kislak and Shallcross Smith
Representatives Rebecca Kislak and Mary Ann Shallcross Smith have introduced bills defending Rhode Islanders’ right to repair their belongings. Kislak’s Digital Electronics Right to Repair Act (2024-H 7095) and Shallcross Smith’s Agricultural Equipment Right to Repair Act (2024-H 7229) advocate for access to manuals, parts, and tools necessary for repair.
Cotter’s Effort to Boost DEM Forestry Staff
Representative Megan Cotter has introduced legislation (2024-H 7258) to secure funding for 10 additional full-time equivalent positions at the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) for forestry. The bill addresses a significant reduction in DEM forestry staff since 1990.
Oversight Committee Examines St. Mary’s Home for Children
The House Committee on Oversight, chaired by Representative Patricia Serpa, convened to review a report detailing incidents at St. Mary’s Home for Children in North Providence. The review follows a report from the Office of the Child Advocate highlighting safety concerns and abusive conditions at the residential treatment center.
SNAP Pilot Program to Encourage Healthy Eating
Senate Majority Whip Valarie Lawson and Senator Jonathon Acosta attended the launch of the Eat Well, Be Well Pilot Rewards Program, a statewide initiative rewarding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients for purchasing fruits and vegetables. Sponsored by Senator Lawson, the program provides additional benefits of up to $25 per month.
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