Under The Dome: Representative Lauren Carson


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With the start of the legislative session, I reached out to the area’s legislative delegation to survey what legislation is important to each of them, the challenges ahead, and their perspective on the upcoming legislative session. 

Initially, I expected to wrap the answers into a single story. But the responses were so extensive and informative that I decided it would be more beneficial running these separately. Over the next several days to few weeks, these will appear as a feature: “Under the Dome.” 

Rep. Lauren H. Carson, D-District 75 (Newport)

laurenhcarson@gmail.com

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What legislation do you hope to introduce in the 2020 legislative session? Please give a brief description, and why it’s one of your priorities.

Re-introducing from 2019:

  • School food waste and recycling management H5669
  • Training of Municipal planning and zoning boards H5729
  • Certification of Laboratory technicians H5367
  • Property tax relief for residential and commercial properties in the flood zone when approved adaptions are made (enabling legislation) H5030
  • The creations a special motor vehicle registration plate for The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation, Inc. H5035 owners of real property to execute a deed that names one or more beneficiaries who will obtain title to the property at the owner’s death without the necessity of probate (by request from Newport City Council) H5487

New legislative initiatives: (list in formation)

  • Management and oversight of historic cemeteries
  • Increased parental oversight and accountability in implementation of special education IEPs
  • Increased 2020 Green economy bond investments in climate resilience

What legislation did you introduce in the last legislative session and what was the outcome? (see above priorities from 2019).

What did you feel were the legislature’s greatest accomplishments in 2019?

As Chair of the House Study Commission I advocated and got included in the 2020 budget the re-distribution of the hotel tax collected on third party hosting platforms, creating a uniform distribution formula. H5950

The new formula:

This act would change how the hotel tax, including that imposed on hosting platform rentals, is distributed according to this uniform formula:

Twenty-five percent to the host city or town; forty-five percent to the appropriate regional tourism district; five percent to the Greater Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitors’ Bureau; and Twenty-five percent to the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. This act took effect on July 1, 2019.

What did you feel were the legislature’s greatest accomplishments in 2019?

  • The 2020 budget
  • Passage of Choice for Women
  • Statute of limitation for childhood sex abuse claims extended to 35 years

What were your greatest disappointments in the 2019 legislative session?

Probably more work needed to be done to avoid any future gas crisis with increased oversight and accountability over utilities considering the 2019 Newport gas crisis.  I believe more discussion of this is on the 2020 agenda.

Additionally, no significant environmental legislation was passed – and the lack of consensus on a uniform statewide ban the bag bill was a big disappointment to many around the state. 

What do you see as the state’s greatest challenges in 2020?

  • The IGT/Twin river debate
  • Maintaining a balanced budget
  • Re-building our educational system: bricks and mortar funding 
  • Creating a competitive educational system with increased parental participation and accountability
  • The re-evaluation of the school funding formula
  • Increasing the minimum wage
  • Increasing efforts towards gun safety
  • Accurate census count and redistricting
  • Planning for climate resilience

What do you see as the region’s greatest challenges in 2020?

  • The re-alignment of the Newport Bridge ramps and associated

planning and zoning initiatives 

  • Agreement on funding and building new schools

No doubt the most challenging event in 2019 was the gas crisis.

Were you satisfied with the outcome of investigations by the state, feds, and National Grid, including the time it took to complete and release these reports?

I am satisfied with the work of the DPUC on the evaluation of the gas crisis. More work needs to be done this year (see above)

Is there anything you feel is important for constituents to know at the start of this legislative session?

 I will continue to hold constituent meetings in 2020.  I am currently setting the calendar for those meetings.  If anyone or any organization has a specific idea for a meeting, a speaker or a topic to be examined in a public meeting, I encourage them to contact me at laurenhcarson@gmail.com.  Keeping the public dialogue active on issues of importance is always a top priority for me.  


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