This Year at the General Assembly


STATE HOUSE — Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this year. For more information on any of these items visit



§  The General Assembly approved more than a dozen pieces of housing legislation backed by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi to help address the housing crisis. Many of the bills are aimed at speeding housing production by streamlining and removing roadblocks in permitting processes.

§  Lawmakers included an additional $39 million, on top of $250 in federal funds already allocated, to support housing development. That includes $27 million from State Fiscal Recovery funds for a new program that allows the Secretary of Housing to target projects, including $4 million for transit-oriented development and $4.3 million to be transferred to the Infrastructure Bank to support infrastructure necessary for housing development, such as road and utility connections.

§  The legislature approved $45 million from State Fiscal Recovery funds to increase facility capacity for individuals experiencing homelessness, three times the current level.



§  The General Assembly voted to outlaw housing rental application fees.

§  The General Assembly passed four bills to reduce childhood lead poisoning by ensuring landlords comply with lead-safety laws.

§  Lawmakers provided for the sealing of court files in residential eviction proceedings upon the filing of a motion and the meeting of certain requirements.



§  The budget includes a $50,000 exemption for all businesses subject to the tangible tax, viewed as an administrative burden for small businesses and for the municipalities that collect it — eliminating the tax completely for 75% of Rhode Island businesses. The state will reimburse municipalities for the lost revenue.

§  The General Assembly voted to tax property owned by nonprofit institutions that is leased or occupied by for-profit persons and entities.

§  The budget increases the earned income tax credit from the current 15% to 16% of the federal credit.



§  The budget includes a $45 million investment into the life sciences sector. Funds would be used for the development of much-needed wet lab incubator spaces and support grants, loans, business development and incubation services to grow this sector.

§  The General Assembly approved iGaming at Twin River, which enables Rhode Islanders 21 and over to access existing table games remotely, via a computer or a mobile app. 

§  The General Assembly allowed the state’s recreational cannabis dispensaries to advertise their products.



§  Lawmakers passed legislation to enact many of the consumer-protection elements of the federal Affordable Care Act into state law, providing Rhode Islanders with permanent protections, even if the federal law is ever weakened or repealed.

§  The Assembly passed the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, which will provide insurance coverage for abortion care to individuals on Medicaid as well as state employees.

§  The legislature amended the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to create a lead water supply replacement program for both public and private service lines, with a requirement that all affected lines are replaced within 10 years.

§  The legislature required hospitals to adopt protocols for identifying and treating sepsis.



§  The General Assembly passed legislation to authorize pharmacists to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptives, provided that the pharmacist has completed a training program approved by the state Board of Pharmacy.

§  The legislature requires health insurers in Rhode Island to cover the full cost of life-saving epinephrine injectors.

§  The Assembly limited the out-of-pocket expenses of specialty prescription drugs to $150 per 30-day supply. Protections will kick in once the patient reaches their deductible.

§  The General Assembly passed legislation to make HIV-prevention medications free and accessible to qualifying patients.


§  The General Assembly passed a comprehensive plan for the future of solar development in Rhode Island by reforming the state’s net metering and renewable energy growth programs to expand solar development while protecting forests, creating well-paying jobs and stabilizing costs for ratepayers.

§  The legislature clarified shoreline access by establishing that the public area of the shoreline is 10 feet landward of the recognizable high tide line.

§  Lawmakers banned restaurants from using polystyrene foam, commonly called Styrofoam, for food packaging or preparation.



§  The budget reforms the school funding formula by modifying poverty measures and allocates $20 million above the governor’s request, including $6.7 million more going to multi-language learners and $5.2 million more to special education.

§  The General Assembly appropriated $7 million for early childhood programs. This includes $3 million for Head Start and Early Head start seats and $4 million for a pilot program to expand eligibility for child care, at no cost, to certain child care workers.

§  The budget allocates $4 million to the governor’s Learn 365 RI program for after school learning.



§  The legislature created the Hope Scholarship Pilot Program, expanded the Wavemaker Fellowship student loan forgiveness program to include teachers, and provided $5 million in one-time funding for the Fresh Start Scholarship for adult students.

§  The budget funds the proposed Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies at Rhode Island College.

§  For URI, the budget includes $65.8 million to renovate athletic complexes, $72.9 million for asset protection projects and $20 million for water filtration.



§  The General Assembly passed a bill to toughen penalties for wage theft, the most prevalent and costly form of theft in the United States.

§  Lawmakers ensured workers have the right to report alleged incidents of sexual harassment, discrimination or illegal activity by prohibiting employers from requiring certain nondisclosure agreements.

§  The General Assembly gave its approval to legislation to extend changes to unemployment regulations to put Rhode Islanders back to work.



§  The General Assembly passed a bill to protect domestic violence victims from abusive litigation filed by abusers.

§  The budget will fully fund a new cold case unit in the attorney general’s office.

§  Lawmakers voted to require police training to recognize and respond appropriately in situations involving individuals with cognitive or communication-related disabilities.



§  The Assembly approved legislation to better align projects so that roadways across Rhode Island aren’t dug up multiple times by requiring utilities to coordinate with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to develop a comprehensive plan that aligns planned state and utility projects.

§  The General Assembly approved legislation to require that new and expanded parking lots built with any public funding include a certain percentage of electric vehicle charging stations.

§  The budget includes $20 million from State Fiscal Recovery funds for a matching grant program that will help cities and towns fund local road, bridge and sidewalk repairs. It also leverages $87.8 million in state funding to unlock additional federal road and bridge funding.



§  The budget set aside $55 million in a supplemental rainy day fund to better position Rhode Island to weather economic downturns.

§  The General Assembly voted to permit 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election as long as they are registered to vote and will be 18 by the time of the general election.

§  The General Assembly approved legislation rescheduling next year’s presidential primary to April 2 to avoid a conflict with Passover.



§  The budget allocates $15.3 million to nursing homes, with 80% of that allocated to wages to improve staffing and retain caregivers.

§  Lawmakers approved a bill extending property tax benefits to National Guard veterans.

§  The budget distributes retired public employees’ cost-of-living adjustments annually instead of in larger lump sums once every four years.


§  The budget increases funding for the Rhode Island Food Bank by $3 million to help address food insecurity.

§  Rhode Island established “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” as a state holiday that will be held annually on June 19, beginning in 2024.

§  Lawmakers passed a bill to streamline the adoption process for children born through assisted reproduction, to help families who pursue adoption to better protect the rights of the parent who is not biologically related to the child.