This week at the Rhode Island General Assembly, several bills were passed or introduced that could have significant impacts on the state. One of the most notable bills was introduced by Senator Roger A. Picard and seeks to amend the state constitution to guarantee “an equitable, adequate and meaningful education to each child.” If passed, this would legally enforce the guarantee of education, ensuring that systems failing children are addressed.
Another bill that passed in the House of Representatives was introduced by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee and seeks to extend the law allowing restaurants to continue outdoor dining. The bill now heads to the Senate, where similar legislation has been introduced by Sen. Alana M. DiMario.
In addition, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo that sets a limit of 20 students for kindergarten through Grade 2 classes in public schools. Rep. Robert E. Craven is sponsoring companion legislation in the House.
Other bills introduced this week include a bill by Rep. Karen Alzate that seeks to make it easier to convert commercial structures into housing and a bill by Rep. Cherie L. Cruz that seeks to eliminate housing rental application fees.
Finally, Sen. Jonathon Acosta and Rep. Leo Felix have introduced legislation that seeks to reform solitary confinement in the state. The bill would establish an oversight committee to monitor the use of solitary confinement, lay out clear guidelines for when it could be used, and restrict its use to punishment for violent offenses. The bill would also prohibit solitary confinement for inmates with developmental or psychiatric disabilities and restrict its use to 22 hours a day.
The bills now head to their respective chambers for further discussion and potential passage.