2016-01-14 / Opinion

General Assembly Highlights

For more information visit http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/News/

The General Assembly convenes 2016 session

The Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives opened their respective chambers Tuesday, Jan. 5 kicking off the 2016 legislative session. President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) said, “Our single greatest priority is the economy. And we will continue to work with the governor, Speaker Mattiello and our colleagues in the House to position Rhode Island for economic prosperity.” Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) laid out the goals of the session, saying “This year we will continue the theme of improving Rhode Island’s economic climate and making us more competitive with our neighboring states.”

. Sales tax holiday

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) has introduced a bill to establish a one-time sales tax holiday in August 2016. Similar to tax holidays in other states, the measure is intended to stimulate the economy by generating revenue for local businesses.

. Regulating massage parlors

Legislation has been filed to explicitly authorize cities and towns to license and regulate massage parlors. This enabling legislation will close loopholes in municipalities regarding the operation of “body-works spas” that frequently operate as underground brothels. It will allow city enforcement of local ordinances and protect cities and towns against future lawsuits resulting from closing such establishments.

. Tax credits

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner provided the House Oversight Committee a presentation on the evolution of tax credit programs in Rhode Island as part of the committee’s hearings into the matters leading up to the state’s investment in Curt Schilling’s now-bankrupt video game company, 38 Studios.

. Bill taps DOT to clear snow

Legislation has been reintroduced putting the Department of Transportation in charge of clearing snow from sidewalks on state-controlled highway overpasses and pedestrian bridges with significant traffic.

. Children in unattended cars

Legislation was introduced that would make it an offense to leave a child under the age of seven unattended in a motor vehicle. The bill would provide a punishment of a fine of up to $1,000 and possible license suspension of up to three years.

. Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act

Both chambers are working to reinstate the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act, which expired last year.

. Antipoverty vigil

President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed was among those who spoke at a Statehouse interfaith vigil in support of efforts to end poverty in Rhode Island.

. SBA summit

Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel Da Ponte spoke at the U.S. Small Business Administration and Center for Women & Enterprise’s 9th annual Small Business Economic Summit at Bryant University. More than 240 small business owners and advocates participated in the summit.

Local General Assembly officials: Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton); President of the Senate, M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown); Rep. Marvin Abney

(D-Dist. 73, Middletown, Newport); Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown)

Rep. Lauren Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Rep. Daniel Patrick Reilly (R-Dist. 72, Middletown, Portsmouth)

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