Legislative News – Jan. 15: Expungement open house; Illegal possession of guns; Martin Luther King Jr. Commission’s annual celebration

Rhode Island State House

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The latest news from the Rhode Island General Assembly;

Euer encourages participation in expungement open house

STATE HOUSE – Sen. Dawn Euer is encouraging her constituents to attend a local event she helped arrange with Attorney General Peter R. Neronha to assist those who may qualify to have criminal records expunged.

The Expungement Open House, scheduled Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community College of Rhode Island Newport Campus, 1 John H. Chafee Blvd., will offer participants the opportunity to start the process of having their criminal record legally expunged.

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The event will be a one-stop shop to help attendees evaluate their eligibility for expungement, fill out the expungement forms, and identify where to file those forms. Notary services will be available at no charge. The event is free and open to the public.

“So many Rhode Islanders unnecessarily serve lifelong punishments after completing their sentences for offenses that occurred long ago. No one benefits from those people being denied jobs, housing and opportunities for the rest of their lives. Expungement is a legal remedy that allows people who’ve served their time and rehabilitated to take their rightful place as contributing members of our society,” said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown). “It’s my hope that everyone in the Aquidneck Island area who wonders whether they might be eligible to have their record expunged will come to this free open house to learn more and start the process. If you qualify for expungement, it can open doors that lead to a better life for you and your family.”

Senator Euer said she is grateful to Attorney General Neronha for his active support in helping Rhode Islanders learn about and take advantage of expungement. The Office of the Attorney General held its first Expungement Open House in Providence on Dec. 3, attracting more than 60 participants.

Three House bills introduced to protect public from those who possess guns illegally

STATE HOUSE — Following through on plans announced on the opening day of session, House leaders and members have introduced legislation designed to protect the public from people who are not law-abiding citizens and who possess guns illegally.     

The package of bills, which was introduced on Tuesday, would amend background check laws, ban 3D printed guns and ghost guns, and implement a statewide computer records management system.

“While I strongly support Second Amendment rights, we need to get guns out of the hands of those with mental illness, as well as those who don’t follow the laws,” said Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston), reiterating remarks he made on the opening day of session. “This package of bills does a good job of balancing gun rights with our obligation to keep the public safe from those who are mentally ill and those who choose not to abide by the law.  These bills will work in conjunction with the Red Flag Law we enacted in 2018.”

The first bill (2020-H 7101), sponsored by Speaker Mattiello, would implement a statewide public safety computer aided dispatch records management system to integrate all of Rhode Island’s police departments, including the State Police. It will allow easy communication and the sharing of information among each of the state’s law enforcement agencies.  The bill has the support of the State Police and the Rhode Island Chiefs of Police Association.

The second bill (2020-H 7102) is an update of legislation filed by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick). It would prohibit the manufacturing, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, or transfer of any ghost gun or firearm that is undetectable by metal detectors commonly used at airports and public buildings, including 3D printed firearms.

“While I am a strong proponent of people’s right to bear arms, these devices simply lack the safety, reliability and accountability of conventional firearms and have become a menace to society,” said Representative Serpa.

The third bill (2020-H 7103), introduced by Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence), would require gun sellers to forward firearm applications to the police department of the city or town where the buyer resides, or the State Police.

The bill comes in the wake of an incident last month where a resident of Westerly purchased a gun from a firearms dealer in Richmond and used it to kill the manager of an affordable housing complex.

Although Richmond Police conducted background checks, they were not aware that the buyer had a history with Westerly Police, including threats to buy a gun to kill himself and his estranged wife, which led to a stay at Butler Hospital.

“This is a simple matter of improving communication between law enforcement agencies,” said Representative McKiernan. “Local police departments are much more likely to have information regarding the mental health of a potential gun buyer. If there are concerns for the safety of the purchaser or others, then the police in the gun buyer’s community can take steps to keep the other agencies notified and potentially avert another tragedy.”

All three bills have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Martin Luther King Jr. Commission’s annual celebration, recognition program to be held on Jan. 20

STATE HOUSE – The Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission will be holding its annual celebration of the life, and death, of the great civil rights leader on Monday, January 20, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, 475 Cranston Street, Providence

The official holiday commemoration, to which the public is invited, will include remarks by commission members, state and religious leaders, several musical presentations, and a number of awards will be presented.   

State Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence), who chairs the MLK State Holiday Commission that annually organizes and hosts the celebration, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Rev. Carl H. Balark Jr., pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, will deliver the invocation.

Gov. Gina Raimondo will bring official greetings from the state.  Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse will also deliver remarks.  There will also be musical presentations by the Ebenezer Baptist Church Choir and RPM Voices of Rhode Island.

The annual MLK Day celebration is one of several major events conducted under the auspices of the State Holiday Commission, which was formed by the General Assembly to commemorate the day and also to promote educational efforts throughout the year.

MLK Commission members include Representative Hull, Chairman; former Rep. Maxine B. Shavers, Vice Chair; Jo Eva Gaines, Treasurer; Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D-Dist. 12, Providence); Senator Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence); Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence); Randall Rosenbaum; Reverend Balark; Rose De Castillo; Onna Moniz John; Ella Balark; Doris de los Santos; Ann Clanton; Dr. Marion Orr; Michael Browner Jr.; Dr. Rev. Donnie Anderson; Micholas Credle, and Dr. Nicole Lyons.




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