Rhode Island’s General Assembly has been busy this week, with legislators introducing several bills on issues ranging from housing to firearm safety. Here are some of the highlights:
House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi announced a 14-bill package of legislation to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis. The bills aim to increase housing production and build upon housing packages that Speaker Shekarchi shepherded into law in each of the last two years’ sessions.
The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on several pieces of legislation that would protect renters. One bill, introduced by Rep. Jennifer Stewart, would prohibit landlords from increasing the rent for a residential property more than once annually. Another bill, sponsored by Representative Stewart, would require that landlords give tenants notice of a rent increase at least 120 days prior to the effective date of the increase. A third bill, introduced by Rep. David Morales, would prohibit rental application fees.
Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Leonela Felix have introduced legislation that would extend current foreclosure protections for homeowners. The program, first launched in 2013, gives homeowners the opportunity to enter mediation before the lender forecloses on their home.
The House Committee on Health and Human Services heard testimony on legislation introduced by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson that would allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense birth control.
House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski have introduced legislation that would require all public schools, grades K-12, to have at least one full-time certified school social worker for every 250 students.
Sen. Elaine Morgan has introduced legislation to completely eliminate the tax on Social Security income in Rhode Island, and Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee has introduced similar legislation in the House.
Rep. Brandon Potter and Sen. Meghan Kallman are sponsoring legislation to decriminalize psilocybin, the naturally occurring hallucinogen found in so-called magic mushrooms. The bill would also, pending FDA approval, allow its use in treatment for chronic mental illness such as depression or PTSD.
Rep. Teresa Tanzi has introduced a bill that would provide free breakfast and lunch to all public school students in the state.
Rep. Jennifer Boylan has introduced four bills to promote firearm safety. One bill would require individuals purchasing a rifle or shotgun to pass a safety test or have a hunting license. Another would require rifles and shotguns to be sold with trigger locks. A third bill would limit the number of firearms an individual could purchase in a month to one, with exceptions for law enforcement and others. A fourth bill would require officials to submit information about all firearms recovered at crime scenes to both the state crime laboratory and the federal tracing system to better track gun crime.
Rep. Terri Cortvriend has introduced the Higher Education Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities Act, which would enable students age 18 to 22 with intellectual disabilities to attend classes at state institutions of higher education and participate in campus activities in accordance with their Individualized Education Programs.
Rep. Edith H. Ajello has introduced legislation that would reinstate statewide collection and analysis of data about the races of drivers stopped and searched by police. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ana B. Quezada.
For more information on any of this legislation, click here.