Coming up in Committee: Thirty-One Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, June 10 – June 11 (But No Thursday Senate Calendars Have Been Posted Yet)

1A. H7248: “The [Economic Development Corporation or its successor], the state and any subdivisions of the state shall not make payment on the moral obligation bonds related to 38 Studios”. (H Finance; Tue, Jun 10) I disagree with this bill in one way: there’s no reason to exempt the EDC from debt that they legally incurred.

1B. H7295: creates a commission “consisting of nine (9) citizens of the state for the purpose of conducting an inquiry into the creation and administration of loan guarantee programs funded or managed by the state of Rhode Island, its municipalities, or quasi-public agencies thereof; and the failure of entities of government which might have prevented the loss of taxpayer dollars related thereto” not just to investigate 38 Studios, but also the recreational building authority, the CAPCO steel company, the role state officials may have played in the administration of the various loan guarantee programs, and transactions at the economic development corporation which may have resulted from improper and/or insider influence and/or information. (H Finance; Tue, Jun 10) It’s never too late to give the public reliable, factual knowledge about how well (or not) its government is working.

2. S2774: Provides for information related to mental-health related involuntarily commitments to be added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) database used for conducting firearms purchase background checks. The records sent to database will be from cases where there has been a demonstration of “clear and convincing evidence that the subject of the hearing is in need of care and treatment in a facility, and…continued unsupervised presence in the community would, by reason of mental disability, create a likelihood of serious harm”. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

3. S3080: The annual blanket-extension of eligibility for appointment to a judgeship for another year. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

4A. 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; Tue, Jun 10)

4B. 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; Tue, Jun 10)

4C. S3014: Adds “the real property of any person having debts secured by casino-issued lines of credit” to the list of property “exempt from attachment on any warrant of distress or on any other writ”. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

5. On Tuesday, June 10 the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its confirmation hearing on Richard Licht’s appointment to the Superior Court as an Associate Justice.

6. H7255: “All public school systems in the state shall require that a student shall have a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least seventy (70) out of one hundred (100) points for all years the student attend public high school, in order to graduate from high school”. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Jun 11)

7A. H8292: Subjects for-profit hospitals to local property taxes… (H Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

7B. S2556 …, on the other hand, exempts for-profit hospitals from sales and use taxes. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

8. S2101: 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; Tue, Jun 10)

9. S2822: Anti-patent trolling bill. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

10. H7382: Makes it illegal to disseminate indecent material that was created “with or without that other person’s knowledge and consent under circumstances in which that other person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy and, thereafter, without the consent of the person or all persons depicted in the visual image”. (H Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

11. 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; Tue, Jun 10) Sources familiar with Rhode Island energy issues tell me that the regime being set up by this bill needs to be monitored closely; it could very easily to higher energy costs for Rhode Islanders without any obvious benefit in return.

12. On the same day (June 5) a gasoline tax indexed-to-inflation was introduced as an amended budget article, H8280/S3083, creating a study commission “to devise and implement a replacement for the motor vehicle fuel tax and make recommendations on the feasibility of replacing said tax”, was also introduced. (H Finance; Tue, Jun 10 & S Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs; Wed, Jun 11)

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; Tue, Jun 10) This is another bill introduced to the GA just last week.  Also, S2198 would require a city or town under the guidance of a state-mandated “fiscal overseer” to reimburse the overseer “only if the city or town has a fund balance which is equal to or greater than twenty percent (20%) of the city or town’s unfunded liability”. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

14. S2417: Constitutional amendment, to be submitted to the voters, to have the governor and lieutenant governor run together. Also, S2937 implements procedures for holding a joint governor/lieutenant governor elections, should the amendment be passed (H Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

15. S2231/H8296: Allows an ignition interlock system requirement as part of the possible sentence for many first DUI convictions, and makes it mandatory for most second or subsequent DUI convictions as well as for certain first convictions, e.g. if a person’s blood alcohol content is greater than 0.15. (H Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

16. S2219: Mandates state use of “data verification and provider screening technology solutions” and “state-of-the-art predictive modeling and analytics technologies in in a position within the healthcare claim workflow” to reduce Medicaid, RIte Care and RIte Share fraud and waste. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

17. H7309/S2240: “The state police and local police departments, upon observation of a 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; Tue, Jun 10)

18. H8288: Brings agreements by multiple “cities and town councils, school committees, water and fire districts” to jointly “obtain or effect” insurance under Rhode Island insurance law, when they were previously exempt from it. (H Corporations; Tue, Jun 10)

19. S2337: Sets the car-tax exemption for distressed communities to $6,000 per vehicle (but without expressly mentioning a change in the state reimbursement to complement the exemption). (S Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

20. H8172: 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” (H Finance; Tue, Jun 10) This bill also adds the phrase “as well as non-conservation lands” to the property-obtaining powers associated with one of the programs. Which tracts of land is somebody with friends at the GA eyeing?

21A. S2949: “Examine[s] implementation of up to two model sites over a one-year period” to help “re-imagine the approach to career and technical education statewide in Rhode Island”. (S Education; Wed, Jun 11) Looking north to Massachusetts provides strong evidence that creating a better vocational education system in RI is not a problem of designing a never-before-seen approach; it is a problem of finding the political will to replace the existing system with something known to work.

21B. In the same vein as 21A, H8204 establishes “a Rhode Island career and technical board of trustees to be known as the Rhode Island board of trustees on career and technical education”, and H8263 adds “an employer community member of the state workforce investment board” to the state board of education. (H Health Education and Welfare; Wed, Jun 11)

22. H7612: Simplifies the civil forfeiture chapter of the law on trafficking of persons and involuntary servitude”; also extends the felony defined in this section to any form of forced labor (H Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

23. H7632: Limits local inclusionary zoning ordinances to the status of being “a voluntary option for the applicant as part of the proposed development”, and gives municipalities the option of allowing builders to pay “a fee-in-lieu of the construction or provision of affordable housing” instead. (H Municipal Government; Tue, Jun 10)

24. H8255: Repeals the entire section of the law on “itinerant vendors”. (H Small Business; Wed, Jun 11)

25. S2659: Requires 1) just cause, 2) specific circumstances related to the sale of a rental property, or 3) lack of objection from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in cases of housing insured by the Federal Housing Administration, in order to evict a tenant. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

26. S2575: “Any board or commission vested with governing powers over a mobile or manufactured home community shall establish and/or adhere to fair and impartial guidelines and bylaws for conducting elections”. (S Commerce; Tue, Jun 10)

27. H7762: Substantial increase in the penalties for trying to avoid tax-law when selling cigarettes. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

28. S2887: Requires parents of drivers license applicants who are under the age of 18 to take a course on drivers’ education curriculum and licensing, but at least mandates that the course must be free. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

29. S2331: Splits all beach parking fees (not just the daily ones) between the state and the municipality where the beach is located, on an 86/14 basis. (S Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

30. H8139/S2682: Permits “manicuring, esthetics, barbering and/or hairdressing and cosmetic therapy” to be provided “outside a licensed shop as part of a special occasion event, such as a wedding or prom, so long as those services are limited to hair styling and makeup, and the health and sanitation standards expected of licensees in licensed shops are followed”. (H Corporations; Tue, Jun 10)

31. H7731: Adds “deputy sheriffs within the department of public safety, capitol police, and DEM police” to the “retirement on service allowance” section of the law for correctional officers. (H Finance; Tue, Jun 10)

The Governor is Supposed to Do This, if the Legislature Doesn’t: H8061: Creates a preparatory commission, to study the issues that might be relevant to a constitutional convention (but, ultimately, the convention can consider whatever it wants to). (S Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs; Wed, Jun 11)

Ranking Indeterminate: H8293: Changes to mortgage foreclosure mediation processes. (H Judiciary; Tue, Jun 10)

Inobvious Priorities: H7446 >> The calamari bill; H7676 >> Allows retailers to sell non-simple “reading magnifying glasses, toy glasses, goggles consisting of plano white or plano colored lenses or ordinary colored glasses” without a prescription (in addition to the simple ones they are already allowed sell); S2292 >> Special license plates for Olympic winners; S3012 >> 6am booze on weekends at gambling establishments; S2858 >> “Authorizes” the office of regulatory reform to “develop online maps, flow charts, and other visualizations” of regulatory and permitting processes “to increase their navigability and efficiency”. But should a government agency really need “authorization” to make their processes understandable?

Local Impact: Bristol 2 3, Coventry 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, Cranston 2 3, Exeter, Narragansett , North Providence 2 3 4, North Smithfield 2 3, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Scituate, Smithfield 2 3, South Kingstown 2, Tiverton 2, Warren 2, Warwick 2.

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