Coming up in Committee: Ten Sets of Bills Being Heard by RI Senate Committees, Today, June 19

1. H7096/S2738: Teachers who receive a “highly effective” evaluation “shall, subsequent to such evaluation, be evaluated not more than once every four years thereafter”; teachers who receive an “effective” evaluation “shall, subsequent to such evaluation, be evaluated not more than once every three (3) years thereafter”. (S Education; Thu, Jun 19) Amongst other problems with this bill, it seems that a single evaluation of effective or better could limit a teacher to a 3 or 4 year evaluation cycle for the remainder of their career in the Rhode Island public school system.

2A. S2332: The Central Falls bankruptcy settlement initially cut a number of pensions to 55% of their original amount, though the state authorized “transition” funds, to set a floor of 75% for five years. This bill extends that floor so that for 2016, “no retiree shall receive less than” 75.6% of their pre-bankruptcy pension amount, and raises the floor over time so that it is 100% of the pre-bankruptcy amount in 20 years. Unlike a similar bill that was submitted to the House, this bill does not expressly make the state responsible for the pension. (S Finance; Thu, Jun 19) So where will the money for the difference between the 55% and the rising floor come from? The bill doesn’t say.

2B. S3115: In city that has emerged from receivership after having gone all the way through Chapter 9 bankruptcy, state law currently states that for a period of 5 years, they city shall maintain a “town a department of administration and finance which shall be responsible for the overall budgetary and financial administration of the city or town”, managed by an officer chosen by the mayor from a list of “three (3) names submitted by the division of municipal finance”. Certain department heads/city officials are then selected by and report to this officer. This bill would change the law, so that the director of information technology and director of human resources no longer is under the state nominated officer. (S Finance; Thu, Jun 19) Submitted by Central Falls Senator Elizabeth Crowley on Monday.

3. S3056: Makes authorization of casino gaming Newport Grand contingent upon the approval of the constitutional amendment that requires any changes in location of existing gaming facilities to be approved by local voters. (S Finance; Thu, Jun 19) It is not clear what the holdup on this bill is. The deal of a casino referendum for Newport, in return for the stipulation that a single location must be locked-in seemed pretty straightforward, but apparently it’s not.

4. H2624: Creates a felony crime of online impersonation. (S Judiciary; Thu, Jun 19)

5. S2036: Moves the amount of time served to be eligible for parole from 20 to 30 years in cases of life sentences for 1st or 2nd degree murder, and from 10 to 20 years in cases of life sentences for other crimes. Also, convicts serving consecutive sentences would be required to serve their minimums consecutively. S2029 would require 50% of any non-life sentence for 1st or 2nd degree murder to be served, before a convict would be eligible for parole. (S Judiciary; Thu, Jun 19) By the numbers, this means that life is potentially a more lenient punishment than a sentence of greater than 60 years. How important this is depends on actual sentencing guidelines and practices.

6. H7124: Establishes a social media privacy policy for students and employees (S Judiciary; Thu, Jun 19)

7. S2998: This bill looks awfully lot like the corporate income tax reduction (from 9% to 7%) in return for combined reporting that was passed as part of the state budget (Article 12). (S Finance; Thu, Jun 19) Could this be a placeholder for some other change to the tax code, or maybe a study commission of some kind?

8. S2726: Anyone have an idea about what changing the definition of an employee from someone “employed” by an employer, to someone “suffered or permitted to work” by an employer will do? (S Labor; Thu, Jun 19)

9. S2810: Decriminalizes a second-violation for driving without a license. (S Judiciary; Thu, Jun 19)

10. S2398: The calamari bill. (S Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs; Thu, Jun 19)

Local Impact: Providence, Woonsocket.

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