2016-02-11 / Around Town

General Assembly Highlights

. State of the State budget address

Gov. Gina M. Raimondo gave the State of the State address as well as her $9 billion 2017 budget proposal, which includes $30 million in unemployment system savings for businesses, funding for school districts most affected by students attending charter schools, $39 million in Medicaid savings, and an increase in the minimum wage from $9.60 to $10.10.

. Solar panel initiatives

Legislation had been introduced that would establish a revolving fund to provide low interest loans and grants to support the installation of solar energy panels. The act would also establish a tax credit for companies involved in solar energy production.

. Home invasions

Legislation was introduced to impose stricter penalties on people who commit home invasions. Current law makes little differentiation between invading an occupied home and breaking into an empty one. The bill ensures that all home-invasion crimes are punished more severely than regular break-ins and provides even stronger penalties if a victim is assaulted during the ordeal.

. Easing student debt

Legislation was introduced that would empower the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) to issue bonds to allow the refinancing and consolidation of existing eligible loans. The bill would also authorize RISLA to purchase and invest in its own bonds and notes.

. CCRI Jobs Skills Training Center

Plans are underway for a new CCRI Jobs Skills Training Center in downtown Westerly. Permits for the project have been obtained and construction will commence soon on the site near the Westerly train station. The center will be dedicated to enrolling and training high-skill, high-wage workers in electrical, maritime pipefitting, maritime sheet metal, and carpentry.

. Solitary confinement reform

Legislation was introduced that would reform the use of solitary confinement in the Rhode Island prison system, saying the practice causes psychological damage and often exacerbates the very problems it is intended to address. The bill sets limits on the length an inmate can be held in solitary confinement; bans its use on inmates who are 21 or younger, 55 or older or have a physical, mental or developmental disability; and sets parameters for humane treatment of those in solitary confinement.

. Regulation of fantasy sports

On the eve of Super Bowl weekend and the same day that the Attorney General declared them legal, Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) introduced legislation to allow the Department of Business Regulation to license online daily fantasy sports involving the exchange of money.

. Rocky Point license plate legislation

As the Rocky Point Foundation continues to preserve and protect the natural and historic heritage and environment of the land formerly occupied by the Rocky Point amusement park in Warwick, legislation was reintroduced to create a special Rocky Point license plate.

. Chamber of Commerce event

President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) and other legislative leaders addressed reducing regulatory burdens for businesses, the RhodeWorks bridge and road repair plan, redevelopment of the land formerly occupied by Route 195 in Providence and more at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce annual legislative luncheon.

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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