This week at the 

General Assembly

 

STATE HOUSE — Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this week. For more information on any of these items visit http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease

 

 

§  Senate OKs Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act
The Senate approved the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act (2021-S 0002) sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) to protect the health care of Rhode Islanders by setting standards for nursing home care. The bill, which is intended to address an ongoing crisis in nursing home staffing exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, now goes to the House, where Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) is sponsoring a companion bill (2021-H 5012).
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. McNamara bill would ban animal importation for canned hunting
The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources heard legislation (2021-H 5058) introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) that would ban the practice of importing non-native animals into the state for the purpose of canned hunting. Canned hunting is a hunt that occurs in a confined area where the animal cannot escape, increasing the hunter’s chances of success.
Click here to see news release.

 

·         Rep. O’Brien reintroduces bill to repeal social gaming ban

Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) has reintroduced his legislation (2021-H 5399) that would allow social gaming in private residences, public taverns and private clubs.  Representative O’Brien’s bill would legalize activities such as Super Bowl “squares” and NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket “pools” as long as there is a social relationship between participants and no person other than the participants receives anything of value.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Speaker of the House names new committee chairs
Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) appointed several new committee chairs, including Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), Conduct Committee; Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), Corporations Committee; Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Education Committee; Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), Health and Human Services Committee; Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), Innovation, Internet and Technology Committee; Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6 Providence, North Providence), Municipal Government and Housing Committee; Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Small Business Committee; Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Special Legislation Committee; and Rep. Evan Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick), State Government and Elections Committee.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Representatives Edwards, Fellela named to newly created leadership positions
Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) was named to the newly created position of Majority Floor Manager, where he will help to manage House floor sessions. Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) was named Senior Deputy Majority Leader, where she will run the newly created first-term Legislator Mentorship Program that will connect incoming legislators with more experienced members.
Click here to see Edwards release.

Click here to see Fellela release.

 

·         Governor gives farewell State of the State address

Gov. Gina M. Raimondo held her sixth State of the State address on Wednesday. Due to COVID-19 prevention measures, the address was held in the House chamber with only the governor’s family, two staffers, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) in attendance.  The address was broadcast virtually throughout the state. Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, North Smithfield Burrillville, Glocester,) gave the Republican response to the address.

 

§  Rhode Island leaders voice support for Question 2

A coalition of community partners from throughout Rhode Island, including legislative leaders and environmental and labor organizations, kicked off a campaign in support of the 2021 Beach, Clean Water, and Green Bond. The $74 million bond will appear as Question 2 on the ballot for Rhode Island’s March 2 special election and gives voters the opportunity to approve major investments in clean water, state beaches and parks, outdoor recreation, farmland and forested land, and community resilience to climate change.

Click here to see news release.

§  Sen. Valverde, Rep. Caldwell oppose medical waste burning proposal
Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) are strongly opposing a proposal to build a medical waste treatment plant on the East Greenwich-West Warwick border. MedRecycler-RI Inc. is seeking approval to construct a facility that plans to accept 70 tons of medical waste daily from across New England and burn it at extreme temperatures through a process called “pyrolysis,” which turns the waste into energy and oil and tar byproducts.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Henry Kinch Jr. named Executive Director of JCLS
Henry Kinch Jr. has been chosen as the executive director of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services, which is responsible for the overall financial and administrative functions of the General Assembly.
Click here to see news release.

 

An outside panel of experts is recommending Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine be approved by the FDA for emergency use. It is a traditional vaccine that only requires a single dose instead of two and does not need ultra-cold storage. It proved to be 85-percent effective in clinical trials at protecting people from severe sickness and is also cheaper and easier to manufacture.       President Biden and the First Lady are assessing the damage in Texas from last week's devastating cold snap. The Bidens visited a large food bank in Houston and stopped by an emergency operations center. Biden heard from local officials about massive power outages and serious problems with water supplies due to broken pipes.       Florida Senator Rick Scott is telling attendees at today's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida to stand up to Democrats. Scott said both impeachments of President Trump were nothing more than political vendettas and political theater. He gingerly acknowledged former President Trump isn't perfect and said he's not either.       A full classified briefing on the U.S. air strike in Syria will be given to lawmakers next week. President Biden ordered the attack on Iran-backed militia in the eastern part of the country following a series of rocket attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. The airstrike targeted facilities in Syria that are used by at least two Iranian-backed groups.        Canada is authorizing AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine for use in adults. Health Canada approved two versions of the British-and-Swedish drugmaker's vaccine, one it worked on with Oxford University and the second made in India. It is the third vaccine approved for use in Canada, joining the ones made by Pfizer and Moderna.        Lady Gaga says her "heart is sick" after her dog walker was shot Wednesday night in Los Angeles and two of her dogs were stolen. The singer is opening up on social media and said she's praying her family will be whole again with an act of kindness. Gaga is offering up half-a-million-dollars for her dogs safe return, or if someone bought them unknowingly, the reward is the same.