Late Additions to the Week’s General Assembly Committee Calendars


A number of major bills in the policy areas of education, state “planning”, and illegal immigration were added to this week’s General Assembly committee calendars at the start of the week…


Today, May 20, education

S0607: From the official description: “This act would provide parents of K-12 students in Rhode Island with an opportunity to enroll their child in an educational program of their choosing, either via open enrollment in a traditional public school in their own district or any other public school district, or by receiving a scholarship, with designated public monies to follow the student to a participating private school or private curriculum program selected by the parent”. Scholarships can be up to $6000 and are income adjusted. (S Education; Wed, May 20)


Tomorrow, May 21, state planning

H5643: Prohibits local comprehensive plans (which local zoning ordinances must comply with) from including a number of specific affordable housing programs written into the law. H6040 is similar, and also removes federal review of state planning elements. (H Finance; Thu, May 21)

H5644/H6041/H6042: Allows cities and towns to decline to “comply with any provision” related to local planning laws or with “the state guide plan relating to affordable housing programs” by filing a notice with the chief state planner. (H Finance; Thu, May 21)

H6043: Repeals the requirement in Rhode Island law that local plans (which local zoning ordinances must comply with) comply with the state guide plan.

H5713: “The state guide plan shall require approval of the general assembly in order for said plan to take effect”. (H Finance; Thu, May 21)

H5774: A seemingly mild eminent domain “reform” (at best) that mostly reiterates that the state has to follow already existing eminent domain process when a taking a property (details here), though possibly adding some leeway for taking property on the basis of “eradication of blight”. (H Finance; Thu, May 21)


Tomorrow, May 21, illegal immigration

S0434: Mandates that the Division of Motor Vehicles issue a special drivers’ license “to a person who is unable to submit satisfactory proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law if he or she meets all other qualifications for licensure and provides satisfactory proof to the division of his or her identity and Rhode Island residency”, with the express condition that “a social security number is not required to issue a license and/or temporary license pursuant to this subsection”. These are special drivers’ licenses because they “shall bear the following notice on the back of the card: ‘This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits'”.  (S Judiciary; Thu, May 21)

S0391: “The division of motor vehicles is authorized to issue driving privilege licenses and driving privilege permits to any applicant who meets the licensure requirements of this chapter but is unable to establish legal presence in the United States”. The bill then lists an extensive set of documents, two of which must be provided to establish eligibility for a “driving privilege license”. (S Judiciary; Thu, May 21) If “undocumented immigrants” are expected to have documents before they get their driving privilege license, then add said license as an additional document to the documents they already have, does it make sense at any time to refer to a status of “undocumented”?

S0259: Prohibits landlords from inquiring about “the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant, prospective tenant, occupant, or prospective occupant of residential rental property”. (S Judiciary; Thu, May 21)