The Rhode Island General Assembly has been busy this week, with several important pieces of legislation being introduced and passed.
One of the most significant bills was the legislation to temporarily lift the limit on retired educators serving as substitutes. Sponsored by Sen. Bridget Valverde and Rep. William W. O’Brien, the law will help address the current shortage of educators in Rhode Island schools. The law removes the limit on the number of days that retired teachers, administrators, and staff members can return to work as substitute employees during the school year.
Another notable piece of legislation was introduced by Sen. Jonathon Acosta and Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo, which aims to address the statewide teacher shortage. The bill creates postsecondary tuition assistance for teaching fields, with a focus on science and math teachers for grades seven through twelve.
Rep. José F. Batista introduced a bill to reform the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, which would empower police chiefs to enforce discipline for misconduct within their departments in a timely manner. The bill would also protect the public from having to provide back pay to officers who are acquitted of criminal charges but ultimately fired for misconduct.
Sen. Hanna M. Gallo and Rep. Arthur Handy spoke at a press conference in support of legislation that would require the decarbonization of all public K-12 school buildings by 2035 using strong labor and equity standards. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Handy and Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson.
Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. introduced two bills related to the theft of catalytic converters. The first bill would mandate a bill of sale, eliminate cash payments, and require the attorney general to suspend the license of any violator of the law. The second bill would establish an interstate compact that would regulate the purchase and sale of catalytic converters.
Sen. Alana DiMario, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture, proposed a new state program called Renewable Ready, which would prepare certain sites for renewable energy development. The program would include eligible locations such as rooftops of large buildings, properties adjacent to major roads, and brownfield sites.
Rep. Jennifer Boylan introduced legislation that would require most new construction to include solar panels. Rep. Jon D. Brien introduced a bill that would create an annual sales tax holiday, known as “Christmas in July in RI.”
Sen. Linda Ujifusa introduced two bills to help protect Rhode Island patients and taxpayers from the harmful activities of pharmacy benefit managers. Sen. Victoria Gu and Rep. Julie Casimiro are pushing new legislation to educate consumers about gift card scams.
These are just some of the many important pieces of legislation being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly this week. For more information on any of these items, visit the Legislative Press Bureau’s website at http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease.