RI State House

Weekly Roundup: Key Developments in Rhode Island’s General Assembly (May 20-May 24)

The Rhode Island General Assembly approved various bills, this week including a ban on raising auto insurance rates for widows and legislation under the HEALTH initiative. Other highlights include bills on deepfake content, teacher certifications, cannabis advertising, kidney treatment coverage, consumer protection, name change processes, and creating an Olmstead plan commission.

Assembly Approves Bill Banning Auto Insurers from Raising Widows’ Rates

The General Assembly has approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Valarie J. Lawson (D-East Providence) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) to prohibit auto insurers from charging higher rates solely because policyholders have been widowed. The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk.

Senate Passes Bills as Part of HEALTH Legislative Package

This week, the Senate passed several bills under the HEALTH (Holistic Enhancement and Access Legislation for Total Health) initiative. The first bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Cumberland, Lincoln), addresses low reimbursement rates to primary care providers. The second, by Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham), makes Rhode Island a founding state in the interstate licensure compact for social workers. Another bill by Sen. Matthew L. LaMountain (D-Warwick, Cranston) adopts an existing compact for counselors. Lastly, a bill by Sen. DiMario creates a drug affordability commission to manage drug prices. The bills now move to the House for consideration.

House OKs Knight Bill Prohibiting Deepfake Sexual Exploitation

The House approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Jason Knight (D-Barrington, Warren) to update the state’s “revenge porn” law, prohibiting the dissemination of “deepfake” content that uses artificial intelligence to impose a person’s likeness onto sexually explicit material. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Senate Approves Miller Health Care Bills

The Senate approved three health care bills sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Cranston, Providence). The bills mandate that insurers cover behavioral health treatment without prior authorization, protect nursing home solvency by requiring state approval before operators withdraw equity or transfer assets, and develop a plan to create a new state Department of Hospitals. The bills now go to the House for consideration.

Senate Passes Acosta Bill to Extend Teacher Certifications

The Senate approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Central Falls, Cranston) to extend teacher certifications to address the significant teacher shortage in Rhode Island. The bill directs the Department of Education to revise regulations to create multiple pathways for obtaining teacher and administrator certification. The bill now heads to the House.

House Passes Slater Bill Allowing Cannabis Cultivators to Advertise

The House passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Providence) that would allow cannabis cultivators to advertise their services within the state. This follows a previous law introduced by Rep. Slater that allowed recreational cannabis dispensaries to advertise their products. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Senate OKs Cano Bill to Cover Kidney Treatment for Rhode Island Residents

The Senate approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket) to cover treatment for Rhode Islanders with end-stage kidney disease, regardless of their immigration status. This includes undocumented residents and non-citizens who qualify for Medicaid but have been in the U.S. for less than five years. The bill now heads to the House.

Senate Approves Euer Bill to Ban Unfair Sales Practices in Automatic Renewals

The Senate passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Newport, Jamestown) to protect consumers from unfair practices in auto-renewing subscriptions. The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

House Passes Craven Inclusive Name Change Bill

The House approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-North Kingstown) to simplify the process of changing an individual’s name in municipal probate court, updating the statute to be gender-neutral and more inclusive. The bill now heads to the Senate, which has already approved companion legislation sponsored by Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Providence).

Senate Passes DiPalma Bill to Create an Olmstead Plan Commission

The Senate approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) to create an Olmstead plan commission, which will establish a renewable five-year “Integration for All” plan for people vulnerable to unnecessary institutionalization. The bill now heads to the House.




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