Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this week. For more information on any of these items visit rilegislature.gov.

2024 budget bill introduced in House

The House of Representatives received Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s proposed state
budget (2023-H 5200) for the 2024 fiscal year. The $13.75 billion plan includes tax
cuts and funding increases for public and higher education, health care, housing and
environmental programs. The House and Senate Finance committees will begin
holding hearings on the proposal in the coming weeks

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Governor delivers State of the State address to General Assembly

Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence)
and Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) welcomed
Gov. Daniel J. McKee to the House chamber to hear his first State of the State
address as the elected governor of Rhode Island Tuesday night before a joint session
of the House and Senate. The governor outlined his priorities for his first full term,
including cutting taxes, improving education and expanding affordable housing.

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Leader de la Cruz delivers Republican response to State of the State

Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, North Smithfield, Burrillville,
Glocester) delivered the Republican response to Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s State of the
State speech Tuesday night. Senator de la Cruz found agreement with the governor on
the issues facing our state but offered her own solutions including larger tax cuts,
greater oversight and expanding charter schools.

Rep. Caldwell introduces universal free school lunch bill

Rep. Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) has introduced
legislation to make school lunch free for all public school students in Rhode Island.
The legislation (2023-H 5141) is aimed at ensuring that all students are well-fed so
they can focus on learning at school, and to eliminate distinctions among children
based on family income

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Rep. McGaw introduces bill to prohibit new high-heat waste processing facilities

Backed by 40 cosponsors, Rep. Michelle E. McGaw (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth,
Tiverton, Little Compton) has introduced legislation to prohibit any type of new highheat waste processing facilities in Rhode Island. The legislation (2023-H 5142) is a
response to efforts in Rhode Island and nationwide by the plastics industry to
reclassify high-heat processing of plastic waste as manufacturing instead of waste
management to exempt it from environmental protection laws and change the
narrative about its products’ environmental impacts.

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Rep. Edwards bill would allow car inspections at R.I. stations only
Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) has introduced legislation
(2023-H 5034) that would provide that only facilities located within Rhode Island be
eligible for permits to operate as official inspection stations for the inspection of
vehicles.

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School psychological services would be Medicaid-eligible under McNamara bill

Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced
legislation (2023-H 5010) that would direct that services provided by school social
workers and certified school psychologists would be included as health care-related
services eligible for federal Medicaid reimbursement.

Rep. O’Brien introduces bill allowing retired teachers to help more in schools

Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) introduced legislation
(2023-H 5040) that would permit retired teachers to substitute teach in a school for up
to 120 days in a school year, without any loss, forfeiture or reduction in retirement
benefits. Currently, retired teachers are only allowed to substitute teach up to 90 days
without jeopardizing their retirement benefits

Rep. Morales introduces bill expanding Medicaid for seniors

Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence) has introduced legislation increasing the
income eligibility threshold for seniors to be eligible for Medicaid. The bill aims to
help seniors pay for medical costs that Medicare does not cover such as prescriptions,
dental care and vision by raising the eligibility cutoff to 138% of the federal poverty
line (FPL). Rhode Islanders 65 or older currently lose Medicaid eligibility if they earn
more than 100% FPL ($13,590 for an individual, $18,310 for a family of two).

Martin Luther King Jr. Commission’s annual celebration held in Providence

The Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission, chaired by Rep. Raymond A.
Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence), held its annual celebration of the life
of the great civil rights leader at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Providence. The
official holiday commemoration included remarks by commission members, state and
religious leaders, several musical presentations, and a number of awards were
presented.


Ryan Belmore is the Owner and 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...