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



§  House passes bill that would compensate the wrongly imprisoned
The House of Representatives passed legislation (2021-H 5470A) introduced by Rep. Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) that would give compensation to innocent people who have spent time behind bars but were later released when new evidence shows they were not guilty. The measure now moves to the Senate where similar legislation (2021-S 0672) has been introduced by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
Click here to see news release.


§  Senate votes to prohibit ‘source of income’ housing discrimination
The Senate approved legislation  (2021-S 0561) sponsored by Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) to prohibit discrimination against tenants because of the source of their income. The bill is primarily aimed at preventing landlords from refusing to rent to Rhode Islanders who receive Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers. The bill now heads to the House, which on March 2 approved companion legislation (2021-H 5257aa) sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence).
Click here to see news release.


§  Senate OKs legislation that protects families with parents that have disabilities

The Senate has passed legislation (2021-S 0056) introduced by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) that precludes the disability of a parent from serving as a basis for denial or restriction in matters involving a child's welfare, foster care, family law, guardianship and adoption. Rep. Terri Cortvriend (Dist. 72, Portsmouth Middletown) has introduced the companion legislation (2021-H 5394) in the House of Representatives.

Click here to see news release.


§  Senate passes bill excluding chronic intractable pain from medication guidelines

The Senate has passed legislation (2021-S 0384A) introduced by Sen. Valarie J. Lawson (D-Dist. 14, East Providence) that would exclude chronic intractable pain from the definition of “acute pain management” for the purposes of prescribing opioid medication. The legislation acknowledges that every patient and their needs is different, especially those suffering from chronic pain.  The measure now moves to the House, which passed similar legislation (2021-H 5247) introduced by Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) on March 9.

Click here to see news release


§  Senate OKs bill that protects children from being left alone in vehicles

The Senate has passed a bill (2021-S 0128) introduced by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis’ (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, West Greenwich, East Greenwich) that would protect minors left unattended in a motor vehicle. The legislation repeals the requirement that law enforcement issue only verbal warnings of the risks to persons leaving a child under the age of seven unattended in a motor vehicle. Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) has introduced the companion bill (2021-H 5184) in the House of Representatives.

Click here to see news release.


§  Senate passes bill requiring cultural competency training for state workers

The Senate approved legislation (2021-S 0428) introduced by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) that would require the Office of Diversity, Equity and Opportunity (ODEO) to provide all state and municipal employees annual training in cultural competency. Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) has introduced the companion legislation (2021-H 5752) in the House of Representatives.

Click here to see news release.


§  Rep. Batista, Sen. Acosta introduce police reform legislation
Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. José F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence) have introduced the Rishod K. Gore Justice in Policing Act of 2021 (2021-S 05972021-H 5993) to institute critical reforms including a statewide mandate for police body cameras, a requirement that police intervene in and report severe misconduct by fellow officers, and personal liability for police officers who engage in willful misconduct.
Click here to see news release.


§  Sen. Picard bill would have governor, lieutenant governor run as a ticket
With Rhode Island in the midst of transitions in the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s offices, Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) has once again introduced legislation (2021-S 0274) to ask voters whether they wish to amend the state constitution to elect the governor and lieutenant governor together as one ticket. The bill (2021-H 5742) has been introduced in the House by Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland).
Click here to see news release.


§  Rep. Handy, Sen. Murray legislation would raise RI Works assistance
Backed by a coalition of community, faith and antipoverty advocates, Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) have introduced legislation (2021-S 02262021-H 5683) to provide the first rate increase in 30 years, as well as other benefit improvements, for the Rhode Island Works Program, the state’s cash assistance and work-readiness program for low-income children and their families.
Click here to see news release.


§  McNamara bill would make school social services Medicaid eligible
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation (2021-H 5067) that would make services provided by school social workers and certified school psychologists eligible for federal Medicaid reimbursement.
Click here to see news release.




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The Hennepin County medical examiner in Minnesota is ruling Daunte Wright's death a homicide after being shot in the chest. The Black man was shot by a Brooklyn Center police officer Sunday during a traffic stop. Police Chief Tim Gannon showed body camera video of the shooting and believes the officer mistakenly pulled out her gun instead of a taser.       George Floyd's brother is taking the stand in the murder trial of ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin [[ SHO-vin]]. Philonise Floyd talked about growing up with his brother and broke down when he was shown early childhood photos of the Floyd family. Philonise said everyone in the neighborhood loved George.        The Capitol Police officer who was killed in the line of duty on April 2nd will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda tomorrow. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin paid tribute to Officer William "Billy" Evans during the opening of the Senate today following a two-week recess. The 41-year-old Evans was killed when a man rammed him and another officer with his car at a Capitol security checkpoint.       Uber says ride-share bookings increased by nine-percent last month, the highest level since the pandemic began a year ago. Uber Eats recorded 52-billion-dollars in sales for March, more than double from the previous year. Uber says consumer demand for rides continues to increase as more Americans get vaccinated for COVID-19.       The classic quiz show "College Bowl" is getting a reboot. On the show, college students from universities across the U.S. battle it out, answering questions spanning a variety of subjects. Football great Peyton Manning will host with assistance from his brother Cooper Manning.