Last week at the General Assembly

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House, Senate pass bills from education reform legislation package

The Senate and House of Representatives approved bills that are part of a package of education reform legislation that was unveiled earlier this year. The first bill (2019-S 0863Aaa, 2019-H 5008A), sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) would require the commissioner of education to align statewide academic standards with curriculum and the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System. The second (2019-S 0869, 2019-H 6085) sponsored by Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a fast-track program to certify new principals. In addition, the Senate passed a third bill (2019-S 0864A) sponsored by Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) that would cause the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to become a professional support partner with local education agencies regarding effective ways to evaluate student improvement and proficiency. That measure now moves to the House, where similar legislation (2019-H 6111) has been introduced by Rep. Daniel P. McKiernan (D-Dist. 7, Providence).

Senate passes Conley bill to increase earned income tax credit

The Senate passed legislation (2019-S 0272) introduced by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket) that would increase Rhode Island’s earned income tax credit from 15 percent to 20 percent for the tax years 2020 and beyond. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2019-H 5245) has been introduced by Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence).

House OKs Vella-Wilkinson bill allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control

The House of Representatives passed legislation (2019-H 5549) introduced by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) that would allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptive patches and self-administered oral hormonal contraceptives, provided that the pharmacist has completed a training program approved by the state Board of Pharmacy. The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Senate OKs ‘Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport’ renaming

The Senate passed legislation (2019-S 0855) introduced by Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) that would rename the state airport “Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport.” The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2019-H 6149) has been introduced by Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence).

Senate OKs Ruggerio bill to streamline development on large tracts of state land

The Senate passed legislation (2019-S-803Aaa) sponsored by President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that takes a new approach to economic development on large tracts of state land. Spurred by delays and impediments imposed upon the Hope Point Tower proposal for the I-195 Redevelopment District, the bill intends to create a more streamlined process for approvals on these state-owned parcels moving forward.

House OKs Edwards bill expanding support after overdose hospital visits

The House of Representatives passed legislation (2019-H 5383) introduced by House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) that would expand the Alexander C. Perry and Brandon Goldner Act on hospital discharge planning. The change will improve support for those hospitalized for drug overdoses and mental health emergencies by increasing the likelihood that their families or others wishing to assist them with treatment are aware of their hospitalization. The measure now moves to the Senate, which passed similar legislation (2019-S 0139A) introduced by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).

Senate approves McCaffrey bill to curtail use of plastic straws in restaurants

The Senate passed legislation (2019-S 0202A) introduced by Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) that would prohibit a food service establishment from providing a consumer with a single-use plastic straw, unless the straw is from a self-service dispenser or the consumer requests such a straw. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2019-H 5314) has been introduced by Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston).

Senate passes Coyne’s bills on Alzheimer’s care, elder abuse

The Senate has approved four bills sponsored Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) to better support Rhode Islanders affected by Alzheimer’s disease and to protect against elder abuse. One bill (2019-S 0223, 2019-H 5178), which is also sponsored in the House by Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), would establish a program within the Department of Health dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease. Another bill (2019-S 0302A, 2019-H 5141), which is also sponsored in the House by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), allows the spouses or partners of patients residing in Alzheimer’s or dementia special care units or programs to live with them. The Senate also passed her bill (2019-S 0603A, 2019-H 5573), which is sponsored in the House by Rep. David E. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), expanding a law that requires people to report elder abuse and neglect and her bill (2019-S 0845A, 2019-H 6114) requiring those who serve as guardians for other adults to pass nationwide background checks, which is sponsored in the House by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick).

Reproductive Privacy Act approved by Senate Committee

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the Reproductive Privacy Act (2019-H 5125B), sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence). The bill, which codifies the protections set forth by the Roe v. Wade decision, now heads to the full Senate and must also return to the House for approval of amendments before it can go to the governor.

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