Rhode Island State House

Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the Rhode Island General Assembly this week.

This recap was put together by the Rhode Island General Assembly Legislative Press Bureau. For more information on any of these items visit www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease

Assembly approves 2023 state budget bill

The General Assembly approved a $13.6 billion state budget for the 2023 fiscal year
that provides targeted taxpayer relief and directs spending of the remainder of the
state’s American Rescue Act Plan (ARPA) funds to strengthening existing
commitments. The bill includes raises for many health and service providers,
eliminates the automobile excise tax a year earlier than scheduled, provides economic
relief for families with children, retirees, veterans and the disabled and businesses and
invests ARPA funds in housing, infrastructure, the blue economy and more. The
budget bill (2022-H 7123Aaa) now goes to the governor, who plans to sign it
Monday.Click here to see news release.

Gun safety measures signed into law

Gov. Daniel McKee has signed bills to ban large-capacity gun magazines (2022-H
6614A, 2022-S 2653), limit sales of guns and ammunition to adults over 21 years old
(2022-H 7457aa, 2022-S 2637A), and penalize the open carrying of loaded rifles and
shotguns in public (2022-S 2825, 2022-H 7358A). The large-capacity magazines law
is sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32,
Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) and Rep. Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East
Greenwich, West Greenwich), the purchase age law by Senate Majority Whip
Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34,
South Kingstown, Narragansett), and the open carry law by Senate Majority Leader
Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and Rep. Leonela “Leo” Felix (D-Dist.
61, Pawtucket).

Click here to see large-capacity magazines release

Click here to see purchase age news release.
Click here to see open carry news release.

Assembly approves bills to help address housing crisis.

The General Assembly approved a package of 10 bills to address the state’s housing
crisis. The legislation was backed by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23,
Warwick) and Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol), chairwoman of
the Special Legislative Commission to Study the Rhode Island Low and Moderate
Income Housing Act. The bills aim to streamline development, provide more
complete and timely information about housing, and help municipalities meet their
affordable housing goals.
Click here to see news release.

Assembly approves bill to grant driving privileges to undocumented residents

The General Assembly approved legislation (2022-S 2006Aaa, 2022-H 7939A)
sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) and
Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket) that allows the Division of Motor
Vehicles to issue driving privileges to undocumented residents in the state.
Applicants must present proof of paying income taxes, two primary proof of identity
documents and proof of insurance. Neither the permit nor card would be usable for
federal or state identification or voting purposes. The legislation now heads to the
governor’s office for consideration.
Click here to see news release.

Assembly OKs bill to streamline applications for senior SNAP beneficiaries

The General Assembly passed legislation (2022-S 2317, 2022-H 7068) introduced by
Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) and Rep.
Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) that would make it easier for
senior citizens to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by
requiring the Department of Human Services to develop a plan to streamline the
application, certification and recertification process. The measure now moves to the
governor’s office.
Click here to see news release

Assembly approves bill seeking major offshore wind energy development

Rhode Island will open the door to significantly more renewable energy for the state
under legislation passed by the General Assembly seeking the development of 600 to
1,000 megawatts of new offshore wind capacity. The legislation (2022-S
2583A, 2022-H 7971A), sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport,
Jamestown) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) at the request of Gov.
Daniel McKee, will require Rhode Island’s primary electric distributer to issue a
market-competitive procurement for between 600 and 1,000 MW of newly-developed
offshore wind capacity no later than Oct. 15.
Click here to see news release.

Assembly OKs bill to strengthen hospital merger review

The General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader
Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and House Speaker K. Joseph
Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) to strengthen the hospital merger review process in
3 – 3 – Rhode Island. The legislation (2022-S 2349, 2022-H 8343), which now goes to the
governor, would prohibit an expedited review when the combined hospitals after a
merger would account for 20 percent or more of the hospitals in the state. It would
also expand factors that must be taken into consideration.
Click here to see news release.

Assembly bans toxic chemicals from food packaging, sets water standards

The General Assembly took steps to reduce Rhode Islanders’ exposure to toxic perand polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), toxic substances that are ubiquitous in
consumer products for their oil-repelling properties. Lawmakers approved legislation
(2022-S 2298A, 2022-H 7233A) sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag, Jr.(D-Dist. 10,
Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) and Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol)
that would provide for the Department of Health to take action to establish maximum
contaminate levels for PFAS in drinking water and set interim standards. They also
approved legislation (2022-H 7438A, 2022-S 2044A) sponsored by Rep. Terri
Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown) and Sen. James A. Seveney (DDist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) prohibiting PFAS from food packaging
beginning in 2024. The bill now goes to the governor.
Click here to see news release.

Assembly approves Plastic Waste Reduction Act

The General Assembly approved Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4,
North Providence, Providence) and Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s (D-Dist. 33, South
Kingstown, Narragansett) Plastic Waste Reduction Act (2022-S 2446, 2022-H
7065A), which is designed to reduce the use of plastic checkout bags by retail
establishments by offering recyclable bag options and providing penalties for
violations. Under the legislation, retail sales establishments would be prohibited from
making available any single-use plastic checkout bag or any paper checkout bag that
is not a recyclable paper bag or a paper carryout bag at restaurants. The legislation
now heads to the governor’s office for consideration.
Click here to see news release.

General Assembly passes child endangerment bill

The General Assembly passed legislation (2022-H 7807, 2022-S 2808) introduced by
Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Sen.
Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) that
would establish felony penalties for guardians convicted of child endangerment. The
bill would establish criminal penalties for a wanton or reckless act or omission of a
parent, guardian or any other person who has custody or control of a child, where
those acts or omissions result in substantial risk of serious bodily injury to the child or
sexual abuse of a child in their care. The legislation now heads to the governor’s
office for consideration.
Click here to see news release.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.