Newport This Week

General Assembly Highlights

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n Google funds for drug treatment, re-entry programs
A resolution has been introduced
calling on the attorney general’s
office to commit a portion of the
$230 million in Google settlement
funds to drug treatment programs
and re-entry programs for exoffenders. The settlement funds,
which resulted from an investigation involving Google and the sale
of goods by Canadian pharmacies
to American consumers, are to be
used for expenses related to law
enforcement, although up to 15
percent can be distributed to support community-based programs.

n Bill to curb addiction and
A bill has been submitted requiring health insurers to provide
prescription coverage for certain
listed drugs used to treat opioid substance abuse disorders. It
would also require hospitals, hospital clinics, urgent care centers
and emergency room diversion
facilities to amend their discharge
plans and transition processes to
address patients with opioid and
other substance abuse disorders.

n School housing aid report
The Senate Task Force on School
Housing Aid has adopted its final
report, which is a culmination of

findings and recommendations on how the state should proceed after the school housing aid moratorium ends on June 30. The task force’s recommendations offer a bold plan, including the creation of a quasi-public agency to manage the school housing aid program, a statewide facility assessment, and shifting the major project reimbursement program from bonding grants to a pay-asyou build model to avoid costly interest. The report suggests the quasi-public agency and new school construction programs be funded through one percentage point of the state’s seven-percent sales tax, beginning in Fiscal Year 2016. The plan also outlines several additional funding options and suggestions for school districts regarding overcrowded buildings, facilities maintenance and alternative education resources.

n State aid for education
Testimony was heard for an act
that would specifically accelerate
the amounts paid to local education agencies that receive more
education aid than they were receiving as of the effective date of
the school funding formula, but
keeps the 10-year transition in
place for those districts receiving
less education aid.

n Cleaning products in schools
As a means to prevent suffering
and lost school days among the
many children with asthma, legislation has been proposed to set
guidelines that encourage the use
of healthier cleaning products in

n Inspector general bill
Legislation is being considered to
establish the Office of the Inspector General as an independent
way to promote good government and reduce waste, fraud,
mismanagement and corruption.
The bill gives the Office of Inspector General subpoena and investigative powers to allow for the
prosecution of potential wrongdoers in real time, before the statute of limitations runs out.

n Revenue hearing
The Revenue and Caseload Estimating Conference is to be held
April 28 -May 9. Twice yearly, in
May and September, the conference principals (the state budget
officer, the Senate fiscal adviser,
and the House fiscal adviser) must
reach a consensus on what the
state general revenues and caseload expenses are estimated to be
for the current fiscal year and the
next year. The General Assembly
and the budget office use those
projections to prepare the budget.

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