Rhode Island State House

The Legislative Press Bureau at the Rhode Island General Assembly shares these highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this week, April 4 – 8.

Senate passes legislation on plastic, reusable bags

The Senate passed legislation (2022-S 2446) introduced by Senate President
Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that would reduce
the use of plastic bags by retail establishments by offering recyclable bag options and
providing penalties for violations. The measure now moves to the House, where
similar legislation (2022-H 7065) has been introduced by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee
(D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett). The Senate also passed legislation
(2022-S 2048) introduced by Sen. Walter S. Felag, Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol,
Tiverton) that would repeal the sales tax on reusable retail bags. The measure now
moves to the House, where similar legislation (2022-H 7240) has been introduced by
Rep. June Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol).
Click here to see Ruggerio release.
Click here to see Felag release.

House OKs McNamara bill to end ban on speech therapy for children over 9

The House of Representatives passed legislation (2022-H 7273) introduced by Rep.
Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would end the practice of
terminating speech language pathology in schools solely because the child has
attained 9 years of age or greater. The measure now moves to the Senate, where
similar legislation (2022-S 2570) has been introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (DDist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick).
Click here to see news release

Senate OKs McCaffrey bill to redefine felonies and misdemeanors

The Senate passed legislation (2022-S 2367) sponsored by Senate Majority Leader
2 – 2 – Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) that would revise the state’s definitions
of felonies, misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors — the latest step in an ongoing
effort to reform the state’s criminal justice system through a “justice reinvestment”
approach. The measure now moves to the House, where similar legislation (2022-H
) has been introduced by Rep. Leonela “Leo” Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket).
Click here to see news release.

Senate passes Cano’s Early Educator Investment Act

The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket)
that would make critical investments in supporting, training and retaining early
educators. The Early Educator Investment Act (2022-S 2235) directs the state’s
Children’s Cabinet to set a target wage scale for early educators and identify
strategies for increasing compensation. The bill is part of the Senate’s legislative
package designed to expand and strengthen the state’s early childhood care and
education system. Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) has
sponsored the legislation (2022-H 7283) in the House of Representatives.
Click here to see news release.

House approves bill to protect elections cybersecurity

The House approved legislation (2022-H 7732) sponsored by House Innovation,
Internet and Technology Committee Chairwoman Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74,
Jamestown, Middletown) in conjunction with Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea to
authorize the secretary of state and the Board of Elections to conduct a cybersecurity
assessment of Rhode Island’s elections system and create systems to protect future
elections from cyberattack. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Senate Judiciary
Committee Chairwoman Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East
Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2022-S 2809).
Click here to see news release.

Senate passes Cano bill that increases parental or family leave

The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket)
that increases the amount of parental or family leave available to an employee from
13 weeks to 24 weeks in any two calendar years. The bill (2022-S 2243) applies to
every employee who has been employed by the same employer for 12 consecutive
months. Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) has introduced the bill
(2022-H 7717) in the House of Representatives.
Click here to see news release.

Rep. Solomon introduces legislation to curb theft of catalytic converters

Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick) has introduced legislation designed
to help curb the theft of catalytic converters. The bill (2022-H 7751) would require
the purchaser of a catalytic converter to obtain a copy of the registration for the
vehicle from which it was removed and provide a copy to law enforcement.
Click here to see news release.

Rep. Vella-Wilkinson bill would make state websites more accessible to disabled

Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) has introduced legislation
that would improve the accessibility to state websites for those with disabilities. The
bill (2022-H 8066) would require all newly established public access websites to be
3 – 3 -in compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Existing
state websites would be required to comply no later than July 1, 2027, and
municipalities would be strongly encouraged to adopt consistent standards.
Click here to see news release.

Bill would hold private colleges, universities financially accountable to host cities

Surrounded by fellow Providence elected officials and a coalition of community
members and student-led organizations at a State House event, Rep. David Morales
(D-Dist. 7, Providence) and Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) called for
passage of legislation enabling municipalities to tax properties owned by private
colleges and universities (2022-H 7956, 2022-S 2600) and allowing host communities
to impose up to a 2% tax on their endowments, to be used only for the host’s public
school district (2022-H 7813).
Click here to see news release

RI Legislative Black and Latino Caucus unveils legislative priorities

The Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus unveiled its 2022 legislative
priority list. The caucus is chaired by Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket).
Among the bills highlighted was legislation (2022-H 7938, 2022-S 2379) sponsored
by Rep. José F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence) and Sen. Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) that specifies and restricts the use of excessive
physical force by peace officers and creates a civil action for constitutional rights
Click here to see news release.