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 www.rilin.state.ri.us/News.
Senate unveils ‘Moving the Needle’ legislative package
President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere (D-Dist. 38, Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown) and other senators unveiled a legislative package designed to improve Rhode Island’s business climate and its position on national business-friendliness surveys. The legislation was developed from the recommendations of a joint report by the Senate and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council called “Moving the Needle.”
Senate passes Raptakis murder/parole bill
The Senate has approved legislation that will require individuals convicted of first- or second-degree murder and who have not been sentenced to life in prison to serve at least 50 percent of a sentence prior to being eligible for parole. The bill (2013-S 0361), introduced by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), now goes to the House, where an identical bill (2013-H 5145) has been introduced by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick).
Silva historic tax credit bill increases accountability, useful economic data
Rep. Agostinho F. Silva (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) is sponsoring a bill (2013-H 5637) on behalf of Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee that will establish reporting requirements for each taxpayer seeking tax credits for rehabilitating certified historic structures. Tax agreements and annual reports regarding tax credits would also be available to the public under provisions of the bill. Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) sponsored the companion legislation (2013-S 0733) as part of the Senate’s “Moving The Needle” bill package to improve Rhode Island’s economy.
Edwards, Metts renew fight to protect tenants’ rights in foreclosure cases
In a resurging effort to keep more people off the streets and protect tenants’ basic rights in the foreclosure process, Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) held a press conference to talk about their legislation (2013-H 5103, 2013-S 5103), which clearly defines “just cause” needed for foreclosing property owners to evict tenants. The legislation also lays out a fair and distinct notification process, which serves to protect tenants from unjust treatment and abrupt evictions.
Ackerman, Miller introduce AG Iran divestiture bills
Citing the Iranian regime policies to pursue nuclear weapons capability and state-sponsored terrorism worldwide, Rep. Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) filed legislation (2013-H 5620, 2013-S 0521) on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin that require the state to divest any and all state pension funds from companies that directly or indirectly do business with Iran. The legislation also prohibits the state to enter into any contracts with companies doing business with Iran.
Bill bars property owners from requiring tenants to de-bark, de-claw pets
The Senate approved legislation that will prohibit property owners from requiring de-vocalization (de-barking) and de-clawing of dogs and cats as a condition of occupancy. The legislation (2013-S 0177) was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). An identical House bill (2013-H 5426) has been introduced by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick).
Senate, House bills aim to help disabled veteran business owners
Bills have been introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives that would waive corporate filing fees and the business corporation tax for those corporations whose majority owners are veterans suffering from a service-related disability. The Senate bill (2013-S 0633) was sponsored by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 23, Cranston) and the House bill (2013-H 5843) was submitted by House Majority Whip Stephen R. Ucci (D-Dist. 42, Johnston, Cranston).
Sheehan bill calls for Office of Inspector General in Rhode Island
Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) has introduced legislation (2013-S 0612) to establish an Office of Inspector General in Rhode Island, an independent administrative agency with the purpose of preventing and detecting fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement in the expenditure of public funds. A similar House bill (2013-H 5363) has been introduced by Rep. Larry Valencia (D-Dist. 39, Hopkinton, Exeter, Richmond).