Coming up in Committee: Thirty-Four Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, Today, June 16

1. H8326/S2824: Sort of restores the jurisdiction of the Ethics commission over state legislators, but allows a trial in the regular courts for “any person against whom the commission finds a violation of the code of ethics” (in all cases, not just legislators). (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

2. S3103: “In the general election to be held on November 4, 2014, in order to avoid a multiple page statewide ballot, given the number of public questions to be submitted to the electors at such general election, the secretary of state may prepare the ballot in such manner that the statewide public questions involving the issuance of bonds or other evidence of indebtedness, or other long-term financial obligation shall appear on the ballot with only a caption and the amount of financial obligation to be incurred, but without the clear and concise statement of each question, as otherwise required”. (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

3. H8006: The annual extension of eligibility of anyone already named by the judicial nominating commission for appointment to a judgeship for another year. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

4. H7194 sets the minimum wage at $9 per hour for 2015, $10 per hour for 2016 and automatically adjusts it upward for inflation after that; S2249 provides a one-time raise in the minimum wage to $9 per-hour. (H Labor; Mon, Jun, 16)

5. S2853: Eliminates the the tax on ride-sharing services (such as Uber) by exempting rides that are “prearranged, and for which the rate is disclosed to the passenger in advance through a software application” from the public motor-vehicle tax. (S Commerce; Mon, Jun, 16)

6. H7941: Prohibits direct cash welfare assistance provided on electronic benefit transfer cards from being used for “the purchase of alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets or tobacco products”, and prohibits individuals and store owners from accepting payments. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

7. S2976: The Comprehensive Community-Police Relationship Act of 2014 which, among other things, outlaws stop-and-frisk procedures, requires specific, detailed information to be logged about motor vehicle or pedestrian stops, requires many motor vehicle stops to be directly recorded, and extends warrant requirements to searches involving juveniles. (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

8. S2982: “The superior court shall have jurisdiction to review any decisions, appeals or other proceedings initiated pursuant to any municipal ordinance providing for the revocation or reduction of the pension of any municipal employee upon conviction of a crime, or for other circumstances constituting dishonorable service as defined within said ordinances”. (S Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

9. S2012: “All children attending secondary public schools, or any other secondary schools managed and controlled by the state, shall have available in those schools instruction in musical performance education. Secondary schools will presumptively meet this requirement by offering band and/or chorus to its students”. (S Education; Mon, Jun, 16)

10. H8265/S3038: Proposed constitutional amendment, to be submitted to the voters in November, specifying that the location of gambling facility previously approved by local voters cannot be changed without a further referendum. H8294 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. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

11. S3013: “Twin River may extend interest-free, unsecured credit to its patrons for the sole purpose of such patrons making wagers at table games and/or video lottery terminals at the Twin River facility”; the bill also establishes rules for such extensions of credit. (S Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

12. S2222: Requires hospitals to compile and report average charges for their twenty-five most common inpatient and outpatient procedures, and “upon the request of any person without health coverage or an insurance deductible of five thousand dollars ($5,000) or higher, a hospital shall provide that person with a written estimate of the amount the hospital will require the person to pay for the health care services”. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Mon, Jun, 16)

13. H8291: Waives a municipality’s responsibility to reimburse the state for receivership costs, if the municipality is in compliance with a judicially-approved bankruptcy plan. (H Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

14. H8140: Allows “a health care facility licensed as an organized ambulatory care facility” to operate at multiple locations without having to seek an individual license for each site. (H Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

15. H8292/S2298: Subjects for-profit hospitals to local property taxes. (H Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

16. The Senate Finance Committee will consider the state budget in a session scheduled for a full hour on Monday, June 16.

17. H8324: Exempts West Warwick from state laws allowing it “to establish and maintain a high performing public school program” through charter schools, for a period of five years. (H Municipal Government; Mon, Jun, 16)

18. H7991: A complex energy bill that allows National Grid (under the guise of “the public utility company that provides electric distribution as defined in § 39-1-202(12) and public utilities that distribute natural gas as defined by § 39-1-2(20)”) to enter into various long-term hydroelectric, wind, and incremental gas pipeline contracts and to participate in multistate, regional “sharing of cost” programs which may include “tariff or cost recovery mechanisms”. (H Corporations; Mon, Jun, 16)

19. S2476: Eliminates the six-month limit on “adult education in an intensive work readiness program” counting towards the work requirement for welfare assistance. (S Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

20. H7904 and S2952: Two bills creating various forms of “climate change advisory councils”, including one already passed by the Senate that is responsible for developing “a plan that includes strategies, programs and measurable goals to meet targets for greenhouse gas emissions of…80% below 1990 levels by 2050″. (already passed by the Senate) (H Environment and Natural Resources; Mon, Jun, 16)

21. H8312: “The CRMC shall impose a lease fee of one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) for each year of commercial operation for any renewable energy projects with a project cost exceeding five million dollars ($5,000,000); provided, however, that in lieu of such leasing fee the developer of a renewable energy project may elect to support the Rhode Island fishing community as determined by the fisherman’s advisory board established pursuant to the Rhode Island ocean special area management plan”. (H Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

22. S3088: Creates two (2) distinct grant programs within the RI Commerce Corporation, one “to address emergent needs relating to mission sustainment, encroachment reduction or prevention, and base retention”, and one “to assist defense-dependent municipalities to develop and implement alternative economic diversification strategies that repurpose surplus defense facilities and properties”. (S Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

23. H7304: 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. (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

24. H8151: Allows public retirees “to serve as a municipal employee without any forfeiture of or reduction of any retirement benefits and allowances that he or she is receiving”, in any city or town under a fiscal overseer, budget commission or receiver, “provided that said member shall be appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the highest elected chief executive officer”. (S Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

25. H8325/S2598: Makes the “knockout-game” into a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and/or a $1500 fine. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

26. H8133/S2178: Allows local ordinances setting minimum manning for parking lots. (H Municipal Government; Mon, Jun, 16)

27. H8003: “Any person or entity who shall purchase any revolving loan or credit card debt or obligation from any creditor after such debt is in default, shall not be entitled to recover from the obligor of said debt more than three (3) times the total amount of the original debt, including, but not limited to, interest, attorney’s fees or any other penalty charge or fee which may be due in connection with said debt”. (H Corporations; Mon, Jun, 16)

28. S2722: Adds creation of a “substantial economic burden” to the list of possible causes that prevent a zoning-ordinance stay from taking effect. (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

29. S2359: Study commision on “hospital admission practices and procedures and the effects of such practices and procedures on the care and wellbeing of patients who present behavioral healthcare conditions on an emergency basis”; mentioned here because it’s an amended version of a previously listed bill that would have added a section on “mental, emotional, or substance abuse disorders” into the law controlling utilization review procedures (H7936 is before the committee in its original form). (H Health, Education and Welfare; Mon, Jun, 16)

30. H7694: “No employer shall discharge or take any other disciplinary action against any employee by reason of failure of that employee to report for work at the commencement of his or her regular working hours where the failure is due to his or her responding to an emergency in his or her capacity as a volunteer member of a fire department or ambulance department”. (H Labor; Mon, Jun, 16)

31. H7927/S2539: Allows military classroom and workplace training to count towards apprentice and journeyman licensing requirements for electricians, blasters, plumbers and irrigators, hoisting engineers and mechanical tradespeople. (H Labor; Mon, Jun, 16)

32. S2862: Requires various appropriations to charter schools to be reported as specific line-items in local school district budgets. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Mon, Jun, 16)

33. S2871/H8018: Exempts the Comprehensive Community Action Program from real and personal property taxes. (S Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

34. S2567: Bans people prohibited from possessing firearms from possessing blasting explosives or fireworks. (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

Significant, But Required to Happen in One Form or Another: S2537: Creates a preparatory commission “to assemble information on constitutional questions for the electors”, as per Section 2 article XIV of the state constitution. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

Ranking Indeterminate: H7997: New regulations on “third-party loan servicers” (S Commerce; Mon, Jun, 16)

H7120: Creates a department of agriculture within the department of environment management (without a cabinet-level or other high ranking administrator of agriculture). (H Finance; Mon, Jun, 16)

H7684: “No person may encroach or cause another person to encroach on open space land or on any land for which the state, a political subdivision of the state or a non-profit land conservation organization holds a conservation easement interest, without permission of the owner of such open space land or holder of such conservation easement or without other legal authorization”. (H Judiciary; Mon, Jun, 16)

Inobvious Priorities: H8015/S2899 >> Allows Providence arson investigators to carry firearms statewide; S2357 >> Creates a new state board for licensing music therapists.

Local Impact: Bristol 2, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland 2, Lincoln 2, Middletown 2, Newport 2, North Providence 2, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Warren 2, Woonsocket.

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