Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly last week. For more information on any of these items, visit http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/News/.
2012 legislative session begins
The General Assembly began its 2012 session. Both House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed praised members of their chambers for the passage of pension reform legislation in a special session in the fall and urged hard work on economic development legislation and other important issues this year.
Work begins to address auto tax valuation process
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick) hosted a meeting of Warwick area legislators and community officials, seeking input on legislation to bring fairness and accuracy to the valuation of motor vehicles and the assessment of excise taxes. Representative McNamara plans to introduce a bill that will set auto assessments based on the true value of a vehicle.
Legislation introduced to restore funding for developmentally disabled
Several bills were introduced during the opening week of the General Assembly that call for the restoration of $12 million in funding for services and programs for developmentally disabled residents. The funds were cut in the current budget to help address what was a projected $200 million deficit. Sponsors of the bills already introduced say the cuts are severely reducing services and programs for the disabled.
Bills filed to allow budget commissions to request education aid advance
House Finance Committee Chairman Helio Melo (D-Dist. 64, East Providence) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence, Pawtucket) introduced legislation (2012-H 7005, 2012-S 2016) to allow state-appointed budget commissions to request an advance payment of a municipalitys state education aid. The legislation was requested by the budget commission appointed to handle the fiscal problems in East Providence.
Silva, Crowley speak out against Central Falls on-street parking ban
Rep. Agostinho F. Silva (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) and Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Cumberland) pushed for a delay in the implementation of a public on-street parking ban after residents came out in droves against the measure. The appointed City Council will hold a public hearing on the parking ban so residents can voice their opinions.
House, Senate Finance Committees meet for first budget update of new year
Both the House and Senate Finance Committees will be receiving their first budget update of the new year. The House Finance Committee will receive a briefing from the House fiscal staff on Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. in Room 35 in the basement of the State House. The Senate Finance Committee will gather the following day, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. in Room 313.
Bills submitted to allow veteran designation on drivers license
Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate directing the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue Rhode Island drivers licenses that bear a designation acknowledging veteran status for any honorably discharged service members who apply for one. The House bill was introduced by Rep. Peter Martin (D-Dist. 75, Newport); the Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton).
Marcello bill sets time limit on auditors hired by municipalities
Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston) has introduced legislation (2012-H 7045) to require cities and towns to change outside auditors or auditing firms every three years. His intent is to ensure that a municipalities fiscal books are viewed with a fresh eye after a few years and to avoid any appearance of favoritism.