Coming up in Committee: Thirty-One Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, June 1 (Today) – June 4

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1. S0876/H6181: Legislative implementation of the pension “settlement” created outside of the legislature. (S Finance; Mon, Jun 1 & H Finance; Wed, Jun 3)

2. Late-entry budget article: Tolling of mid and large size commercial vehicle on Rhode Island highways budget article. (H Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

3. S0952: Sets a 20-year schedule of property tax exemptions in the I195 redevelopment district. (S Finance; Thu, Jun 4)

4. S0384: Bans “any candidate for state or local office who has outstanding campaign finance reports or fines due the board of elections” from running for office “until all such reports are filed and/or all fines are paid”. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 2) Likely unconstitutional, on the grounds that qualifications for office are established at the constitutional level and cannot be altered by statute.

5. S0458: Removes a fiscal stability act budget commission’s authority over a school superintendent and over basic educational matters . (S Education; Tue, Jun 2) According to knowledgeable sources, likely related to protecting a school superintendent favored by the Mayor of Woonsocket but not in favor with the city’s budget commission.

6. S0108: Phases in a maximum tax-levy increase for Coventry fire districts, stabilizing at a value of 4.25% in 2020. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

7. H5018/S0047: Prohibits EBT cards from being used at liquor stores, casinos or other gambling facilities, retail establishments which provide adult-oriented entertainment, adult bookstores or adult paraphernalia stores, firearms dealers, tattoo parlors or manicuring shops, jewelry stores or cruise ships. (H Judiciary: Tue, Jun 2 & S Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

8. H5160/S0087: Requires that the town/city council and school committee of every municipality to be served by a proposed mayoral academy give explicit approval, before an academy can be opened. (H Health Education and Welfare; Wed, Jun 3 & S Education; Wed, Jun 3)

9. S0161: “Volunteer fire departments responding to emergencies on or along Route 95 in Rhode Island shall be reimbursed from the Rhode Island general fund”. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

10. S0082: Rules for how much an electric distribution company can charge “an interconnecting renewable energy customer for any system modifications to its electric power system specifically necessary for and directly related to its interconnection” and how much of the cost can be spread to other customers, all under the oversight of the Public Utilities Commission. (S Commerce; Tue, Jun 2)

11. S0051: Creates a position of “Inspector General” for Rhode Island, ”with the purpose of preventing and detecting fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement in the expenditure of public funds”, to be selected by a majority vote of the Governor, Attorney General and General Treasurer. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

12. S0459: “All secondary public schools including middle schools, or any other secondary schools managed and controlled by the state shall offer as a part of the curriculum, courses in musical performing arts, including, but not limited to, band, chorus, orchestra and other performance ensembles, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression”. (S Education; Wed, Jun 3)

13. S0895: Regulations for the use of prescription drug “step-therapy protocols” including a process for obtaining exemptions. A step-therapy protocol is defined in the bill as a “specific sequence in which prescription drugs for a specified medical condition and medically appropriate for a particular patient are to be prescribed and paid for by a health plan”. (S Health and Human Services; Tue, Jun 2) One of the odder features of this bill is that it moves towards giving guidelines established by a private trade-association automatic status as government regulations, which may be a problematic short-circuiting of the administrative rulemaking process.

14. H5429: “Condominium dispute” resolution bill requiring that an arbitration procedure be spelled out in condominium agreements/by-laws (and that doesn’t involve the department of business regulation, as the previous version did). (H Corporations; Tue, Jun 2)

15. S0811: Requires that the commissioners of post-secondary education and of elementary and secondary education be appointed by the governor (instead of by the Board of Education) and approved by the Senate. (S Education; Tue, Jun 2)

16. H6150: Encourages hospitals to have patients designate at least one caregiver “no later than twenty-four hours following the patient’s entry into a hospital”, who is to be consulted on such matters as discharge plans and after-care needs. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Jun 3) The preamble of the bill discusses “a surging population of older adults and others living with chronic conditions and who have significant needs for long-term services and supports”, but the active part of the bill seems to apply to anyone who is hospitalized.

17. A raft of marijuana bills; the legalization bill (S0510), extensive new regulations for marijuana cultivation, medical or otherwise (S0791), exempting “the manufacture of marijuana using a solvent extraction process that includes the use of a compressed, flammable gas as a solvent” from medical marijuana protections (S0924), adding “electronic marijuana-delivery systems” to tobacco regulation laws (S0441) and the usual annual tinkering with the state’s medical marijuana law (S0508) (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 2)

18. S0481: Encourages hospitals to have patients designate at least one caregiver “no later than twenty-four hours following the patient’s entry into a hospital”. (S Health & Human Services; Tue, Jun 2)

19. S0774: Requires children 14 years or older and under the age of 16 to complete a “training program on worker rights” before receiving the “work permit” from their school committee that allows them to hold a job. (S Labor; Wed, Jun 3) Also, did you know that RI still has a section of the law titled “Employment of Women and Children”?

20. S0092 and H5702: Two versions of substantial new laws on the relationship between health insurers and pharmacy providers. (S Health and Human Services; Tue, Jun 2 & H Corporations; Tue, Jun 2)

21. S0107: Sales tax exemption on “fuel oil, propane, and natural gas used by commercial establishments”. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

22. H5189/S0255: Makes powdered alcohol illegal. (H Judiciary; Tue, Jun 2 & S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 2)

23. S0274: Mainly, sets up a legal process for recovering wages not paid by an employer… (S Labor; Wed, Jun 3) …but may also quietly expand the definition of “employee” in the law, to include contractors (that’s been an issue that’s come up more directly in past years).

24. H5491: Creation of a two-tiered licensing system for auto body shops. (H Corporations; Tue, Jun 2)

25. S0325: Requires hospitals to publish “the total payroll including fringe benefits, and any other remuneration of the top five highest compensated employees, identified by position description and specialty” (added to a section of the law where they are already publishing information of their most commonly used procedures and their prices). (S Health & Human Services; Tue, Jun 2)

26. S0544: State income tax exemption for “the expenses paid during the taxable year, not compensated for by insurance or otherwise, for medical and dental care” in accordance with the provisions in Federal law. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

27. S0367: “The advertising of any food or beverage that may not be sold on the school campus during the school day or of any corporate brand, unless every food and beverage product manufactured, sold, or distributed under the corporate brand name can be served or sold on the school campus during the school day”. (S Education; Wed, Jun 3)

28. S0786: According to the official description, “this act transfers jurisdiction over health insurance regulation from the director of business regulation to the office of health insurance commissioner”. (S Health and Human Services; Tue, Apr 28)

29. H6239: Allows mutual aid agreements between campus and municipal police departments. (H Judiciary: Tue, Jun 2) The funny thing about this “mutual” aid legislation is that it goes into some detail about campus police coming under the command authority of a municipal department, but not the reverse situation, which doesn’t sound very mutual.

30. S0515: Process changes related to expungement of criminal records. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 2)

31. S0471: Exempts alcoholic beverages sold by “farmer-winery licensees” and distilleries from the sales tax. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 2)

Ranking Indeterminate: H5978: An “electric supplier consumer bill of rights”. (H Corporations; Tue, Jun 2)

S0893: Exempts the Pascoag utility district from having to offer “retail access from nonregulated power producers to all customers”. (S Commerce; Tue, Jun 2)

S0455: New regulations regarding distance-learning college programs and the authority of the Board of Education to regulate them. (?) (S Education; Tue, Jun 2)

S0134: A rewrite of the law on identity theft protection. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 2)

Inobvious Priorities: S0477 >> Requires a “certified food safety manager” to be on the premises of any food-establishment that “prepare[s] potentially hazardous foods”; S0333 >> $500 fine if leaves from a tree on your property land on your neighbor’s property; S0714 >> All liquids for use in an electronic nicotine-delivery system must be sold in child-resistant packaging

Local Impact: Middletown 2, Providence 2, West Warwick.



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