Coming up in Committee: Twenty-Two Sets of Bills Scheduled to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, June 24 (Monday) – June 26

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1. Three items from the “gun safety package”: {H5286/S0455} banning possession of firearms that have had their serial numbers removed; {H5991/S0860} making possession of a stolen firearm illegal, and increasing the penalty for using a firearm while committing a crime of violence; and {H5992/S0862} creating a “Behavioral Health and Firearms Safety Task Force”, i.e. a study commission. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun 24 & S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 25)

2. H5205/S0041: Extends the current requirement that persons convicted of sexual and violent offenses provide DNA to be logged in a database, to a requirement that persons arrested for “murder, manslaughter, first degree arson, kidnapping with intent to extort, robbery, larceny from the person, first degree sexual assault, second degree sexual assault, first and second degree child molestation, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to rob, assault with intent to commit first degree sexual assault, burglary, and entering a dwelling house with intent to commit murder, robbery, sexual assault, or larceny” or convicted of any felony do so. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun 24)

3. S0992: Special exemption for the Providence Redevelopment Agency, requiring that its permits for “new buildings for commercial or industrial uses contemplated by its redevelopment plan” be automatically granted. Especially notable about this bill, instead of granting the exemption by name to the Providence Redevelopment Agency, it is awarded to a “redevelopment agency of any city or town with more than one hundred thousand (100,000) residents”. (H Municipal Government; Mon, Jun 24)

4. H5079 raises the minimum wage to eight dollars per hour beginning on January 1, 2014, then automatically increases it according to inflation each year after that, with an additional provision that the RI minimum wage must always be $0.15 greater than the Federal minimum wage, while S0256 raises the minimum wage to eight dollars per hour beginning on January 1, 2014 without any other increase provisions. The second bill has already been amended once already. (H Labor; Mon, Jun 24)

5. H6262: “State police, local police departments, and registry of motor vehicle enforcement personnel, upon observation of foreign registered vehicle present within the state for thirty (30) days or more shall identify the owner of the vehicle and, if a Rhode Island resident, provide a notice containing a copy of this section to the owner, and to the tax assessor in the city or town in which the vehicle is located”. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun 24) Advocates for illegal immigrants and dealers of imported cars, don’t panic right away; I’m pretty sure “foreign” in this context means from out-of-state.

6. S0459: Allows health care providers to disclose certain information in cases “of identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person”, certain cases when a patient is “suspected to be a victim of a crime” or “a victim of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence”, and several other instances. H5561 is a more limited bill along the same lines. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun 24)

7. H5762: Requires state aid to be withheld from school districts, state schools and charter schools that refuse to participate in the mandated uniform system of accounting, while S0510 would require a board of education hearing before aid could be withheld. (H House Health, Education and Welfare; Tue, Jun 25)

8. H5083: Subjects Bryant University to local property taxes. (H Finance; Wed, Jun 26)

9. H5438: “The division of motor vehicles shall contract with a third party to establish and maintain an Uninsured Motorist Identification Database”. (H Corporations; Tue, Jun 25) No mention of automatic license plate readers in this one.

10. H5038: Adds to campaign finance laws a requirement that “candidates, each state and municipal committee of a political party, and each political action committee” report their individual expenditures in excess of $100. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 25)

11. H5675/S0546: Adds license suspension to the penalties for texting while driving. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 25)

12. S0501: Joins Rhode Island to the “International Emergency Management Assistance Compact”. (H Veterans’ Affairs; Mon, Jun 24)

13. H5856/S0576: Directs the state Board of Education to create a policy for awarding academic credit for military training experience and coursework at public colleges and universities, and for preferential registration for combat veterans. (H Veterans’ Affairs; Mon, Jun 24) S0638 is similar, directing the board of education to adopt policies so that “state public higher education institutions in the state shall honor the military training, experience, correspondence courses and occupations of an individual who has served in the military or armed forces of the United States”.

14. Also, S0629/H5712: Directs state examining and licensing boards to come up with processes for expediting licensure of Armed forces members, their spouses, and anyone certified or licensed in another state. (S Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs; Wed, Jun 26)

15. H5263: Last call for auto insurers versus body shops; this bill makes an unfair claims practice of “designating a motor vehicle a total loss if the cost to rebuild or reconstruct the motor vehicle to its pre-accident condition in less than seventy-five percent (75%) of the “fair market value” of the motor vehicle immediately preceding the time it was damaged”. (H Corporations; Tue, Jun 25)

16. H5607/H5453: Last call for new insurance industry legislation in Rhode Island; this set of bills includes some of that “model legislation”, this time from the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, that no one seems to be all that concerned about anymore. (S Commerce; Tue, Jun 25)

17. S0416/H5335: Requires an attempt at mortgage conciliation between mortgagor and mortgagee, facilitated by a government-approved independent counseling agency, before an owner-occupied property can be foreclosed upon. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 25)

18. S0984: Gives the Director of the Department of Revenue the power to appoint a post-state intervention financial helper for a municipality, while transferring the cost of the financial helper from the municipality to the state. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 25)

19. H5944/S0840: Allows antitrust lawsuits by persons or public bodies “who have not dealt directly” with the party being sued. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun 24)

20. S0380/H5067: A number of changes intended to improve the monitoring of fire-department compliance with NFPA 1500: Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program. (H Municipal Government; Mon, Jun 24)

21. S0555/H5519: Tightening of regulations on precious metal dealers, including a requirement that a licensed dealer have an address in an area zoned for business, and that a $50 fee per branch be paid on an annual basis. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 25)

22. H5661/S0624: Exempts drivers of “authorized emergency vehicles” from having to wear a seatbelt. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun 24) I know this isn’t a huge one in the grand scheme of things, but it is worth pondering what it means when the government feels it needs to immediately start exempting itself from laws it applies to everyone else.

Inobvious Priorities: S0261 >> Disposal of mattresses. S0648 >> Creates a state board of message therapy examiners and a process for licensing of massage therapists. H5084 >> Allows establishments holding a “Class C” liquor license to stay open an extra hour on Fridays, Saturdays and days before holidays for an additional license payment of $200. Rent seeking by the government, at its most unadulterated.

Local Impact: Coventry 2, Cranston, East Greenwich, Glocester 2 3, “An Island” 2, Middletown 2, Newport, North Providence, Providence 2, Richmond 2, Smithfield, Warwick, Woonsocket.



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