RI State House

Weekly Roundup: Key Developments in Rhode Island’s General Assembly (May 13-May 17)

This week, the Rhode Island General Assembly saw significant legislative activity. Here are the key highlights:

Felony Charges for Repeat Domestic Violence Offenders
The House of Representatives passed a bill (2024-H 7744) introduced by Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) that would classify a third domestic violence violation as a felony. The measure now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) has introduced similar legislation (2024-S 2932).

Zoning for Mixed-Use and Multifamily Housing
Legislation (2024-H 7981Aaa) introduced by Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) passed the House. This bill aims to increase housing supply by requiring municipalities to allow duplexes, mixed-use development, and multifamily housing in specific areas. It is part of a larger housing package announced by Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi. The measure now awaits Senate consideration.

Protecting Seniors from Paper Invoice Fees
The Senate approved a bill (2024-S 2278A) introduced by Sen. Matthew L. LaMountain, making it illegal to charge seniors for paper invoices. Violating this provision would be a deceptive trade practice subject to a $500 fine. The bill now heads to the House, where Rep. Brandon T. Voas (D-Dist. 57, Cumberland, Central Falls) has introduced similar legislation (2024-H 7940).

Allowing Breweries to Sell Kegs Directly to Public
The Senate passed a bill (2024-S 2695) sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), permitting breweries to sell one one-sixth barrel keg of their malt beverages per day to consumers. The legislation now moves to the House, where Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) has introduced a companion bill (2024-H 7842).

Waiving Court Fees for Crime Victims
The House passed a bill (2024-H 7800) by Rep. Alex D. Marszalkowski (D-Dist. 52, Cumberland) to exempt crime victims from certain court fees when seeking restitution. This legislation now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) is sponsoring a similar bill (2024-S 2115A).

Constitutional Guarantee of Equitable Education
The Senate approved a bill (2024-S 2147) sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, ensuring every child receives an equitable, adequate, and meaningful education. The legislation now heads to the House, where Rep. Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7396).

Preserving Public Rights of Way
Legislation (2024-H 7645A) sponsored by Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown) passed the House. This bill allows municipalities to preserve public access paths and trails through “qualified abandonment.” The bill now moves to the Senate, with Sen. Victoria Gu (D-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) sponsoring similar legislation (2024-S 2641).

Universal Pre-K and Class Size Limits
The Senate approved two bills sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick). One bill aims to establish universal pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds and expand child care access for younger children (2024-S 2843). The other sets a 20-student limit for K-2 class sizes (2024-S 2148). These bills now head to the House, with Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) sponsoring the pre-K bill (2024-H 7497).

Renewable Energy Projects without Rate Increases
The Senate passed the “Renewable Ready” bill (2024-S 2293) sponsored by Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham), ensuring renewable energy projects do not increase electric rates or require clearing forests. The bill now goes to the House, where Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol) has introduced companion legislation (2024-H 7616).

Consumer Protection for Solar Industry
The House approved a bill (2024-H 7603A) sponsored by Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), regulating businesses selling home solar systems to protect consumers. The bill moves to the Senate, which has already passed companion legislation (2024-S 2801Aaa) introduced by Sen. Jacob Bissaillon (D-Dist. 1, Providence).




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