Senate approves Gallo bills boosting education, labor


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved two bills concerning education and labor sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo.

One of the bills would require the state’s public higher education institutions to establish ways of awarding academic credit for students’ participation in apprenticeship programs.

The legislation (2022-S 2287A) would require the schools to develop policies by Jan. 1 that describe how and when they will award credit toward a bachelor’s degree for apprenticeship. The Board of Education would form a workgroup that would review those policies, which could then be put into effect in time for the 2023-2024 academic year.

“Just as colleges award credit for internships, they should recognize the educational value of the on-the-job training gained through apprenticeships. Apprenticeship is very intensive and has strict standards that ensure apprentices gain real skills and knowledge that apply directly to careers. Providing credit for that learning experience is fair, and it will encourage more students to complete their education and reap the lifelong benefits of a college degree,” said Senator Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick).

The second bill (2022-S 2840A) would provide a bonus in the reimbursement rate to districts for school construction projects that use in-state architectural firms. In order for a construction project to qualify for the 5% reimbursement rate bonus, at least 51% of its architectural services and 100% of its educational design services would need to come from a Rhode Island-based architectural firm. The change would apply to construction projects approved after Aug. 1, and construction would need to begin by Dec. 30, 2025, and be complete by Dec. 30, 2030.

“As a state, we have made a serious commitment to school construction in the next several years through the bonds that voters have approved. That means we’ll be spending many millions of dollars, and we absolutely should leverage that spending to support good local jobs. Encouraging the use of our local architects is a great way to ensure that we are maximizing the economic benefits of school construction,” said Senator Gallo.

Both bills now go to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) is sponsoring companion legislation (2022-H 7609) to the school construction bill.