Last Week at the General Assembly

Rhode Island legislators approved same-sex marriage and heard bills on expanded background checks for gun purchases last week.


Senate approves same-sex marriage bill

In a 26-12 vote, the Senate approved legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island, effective Aug. 1. The bills (2013-S 0038A, 2013-H 5015B), sponsored by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston), still have to clear an additional House vote before they can be sent to the governor. That vote is tentatively expected Thursday, following a Judiciary Committee vote on Tuesday. Barrington Sen. David Bates voted in favor of the legislation.

Click here to see news release.

Senate Judiciary holds hearings on gun bills

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard seven of the nine bills introduced as part of the General Assembly’s legislative gun package. The list of legislation ranges from a bill, sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), requiring national criminal background checks of anyone requesting a license or permit to carry a pistol or revolver, to a bill, sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), imposing restrictions on the manufacture, transfer and possession of certain semiautomatic assault weapons.

Edwards hosts rally to stop tolls on Sakonnet River Bridge

With Sakonnet River Bridge toll rates in place for July, Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) organized a rally on the front steps of the State House to drum up support for a bill that would quell the concerns of Aquidneck Island residents and business owners, many of whom are furious about the impact the tolls will have on the area. The legislation (2013-H 5137, 2013-S 0020), sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Walter S. Felag (D – Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), would repeal Article 20 of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget and prevent the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) from giving control of the Sakonnet River and Jamestown Verrazzano bridges to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA). The House Finance Committee also held a hearing on the House bill and recommended to hold it for further study.

Click here to see news release.

House leaders unveil economic development package

At a news conference led by House Speaker Gordon D. Fox (D-Dist. 4, Providence), House leaders presented a package of 18 bills developed to improve the coordination and quality of Rhode Island’s economic development efforts and help business succeed in their efforts to grow here. The legislation aims to ensure the state’s economic development efforts are guided by a well-developed plan that will successfully be implemented, coordinate the state’s commerce-related activities into a single entity, increase accountability, and encourage business growth through incentives and the removal of barriers to businesses’ success.

Click here to see news release.

House approves bills to make RI schools safer

The House approved three bills, developed by the General Assembly and the governor’s office, intended to improve safety in Rhode Island’s schools by requiring a comprehensive assessment of safety plans, annual certification of those plans, and a specific number of fire and lockdown drills. Passed by the House were two bills (2013-H 5941 and 2013-H 5940) introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) and one (2013-H 5152A) sponsored by Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth). Two companion Senate bills (2013-S 0800 and 2013-S 0801) have been introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) and a third (2013-S 0014Aaa) was introduced by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton), which passed the Senate.

Click here to see news release.

Senate approves ‘Kelsey Smith Act’

Legislation to help police more quickly locate individuals who are missing or believed abducted has been approved by the Senate. Sponsored by Sen. James E. Doyle II (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), the bill (2013-S 0284aa), the “Kelsey Smith Act,” will require telecommunications carriers to immediately provide an individual’s communication device location if requested by police in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or serious physical harm. An identical House bill (2013-H 5456) has been introduced by Rep. Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket).

Click here to see news release.

For more information on any of these reports, visit http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/News/


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