STATE HOUSE — Here are the highlights from news and events
that took place in the General Assembly in 2018. For more information on any of
these items visit http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease
PUBLIC SAFETY/ JUSTICE
The General Assembly passed two laws to prevent gun
violence and mass shootings: “red flag” legislation that allows
courts to disarm individuals who are believed by law enforcement to represent a
violent threat to themselves or others, and a ban on bump stocks and other
rapid-fire gun modifications.
Legislators passed “Kristen’s Law,”
which will allow judges to sentence drug dealers who sell fatal doses of
illicit drugs to up to life in prison.
legislature amended the authorization for municipalities to
use speed cameras
in school zones. The new law mandates more signage and would change the initial
violation ticket cost from $95 to $50 for each offense. It would also be
expunged after three years.
The budget passed by the General Assembly provided $54.7
million to fully fund the second year of the phase-out of
the excise tax on automobiles.
Lawmakers voted to help members of the insolvent St. Joseph’s
Health Services pension plan reach settlements in their multiple
Lawmakers added five years to the life of an expiring law
that keeps families in their homes and avoids foreclosure through mediation.
The General Assembly passed enabling legislation to allow
public support for a new baseball
stadium in downtown Pawtucket. The stadium would be the future home
of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The General Assembly passed legislation to alter the
boundaries of a parcel within the I-195
Redevelopment District. The change is necessary in order for a
potential construction project to move forward.
The 2019 budget
passed by lawmakers provides $11 million in job training funds through Real
Jobs Rhode Island, and continues funding for other economic development
programs, including the Rebuild Rhode Island construction tax credit and the
Wavemaker Fellowship program.?
several budget cuts to health and human service programs, including
the $18 million proposed cut to programs that serve the intellectually or
developmentally disabled and a $15.7 million cut to Medicaid disproportionate
care. They also eliminated $9.9 million in new copays for Medicaid enrollees.
The General Assembly approved legislation to ensure that mastectomies
are covered by insurance in Rhode Island.
Lawmakers add electronic
smoking, vaping to workplace smoking ban.
Legislators empowered patients to curb the
possibility of opioid addiction by allowing for partial-fill
prescriptions, creating a non-opioid directive form, funding the creation of a
behavioral healthcare link for crises, allowing EMTs and other emergency
responders to provide Narcan to addicts or their friends or family members, and
to develop standards for co-prescribing Narcan along with opioids. ?
The state budget included the voluntary
extension of services up to age 21 for those who are in foster care
on their 18th birthday.
The legislature passed a law to examine the safety of
Rhode Island’s schools and to ensure that school safety plans are
adopted in each school department.
the use of tanning beds by minors.?
The budget includes a $250 million
bond referendum to rebuild schools across the state.
Lawmakers agreed to provide $6 million in additional funding
for the Rhode Island Promise program that allows residents two free
years at Community College of Rhode Island.
Legislators added $21.9 million
in education aid, bringing it to $976.3 million this year.?
The General Assembly established the “independent
provider” model of at-home care, which allows consumers to hire and
manage caregivers of their choice while the state takes on certain
responsibilities, such as setting caregivers’ wages, qualification standards
The state budget bill establishes an $800,000 community
senior services grant program to provide grants for senior centers
The state budget also established the Rhode Island
Aging and Disability Resource Center to assist individuals in
crafting long-term care plans for themselves and family members.?
The legislature tightened the penalties for
animal abuse crimes, including forbidding perpetrators from living
with animals for five years for misdemeanors, 15 years for felonies. It
increases the penalty for repeat convictions for animal cruelty to a maximum of
six years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000.
animal protection laws to prevent animals, including hunting dogs,
from being outside in extreme temperatures without permission of an animal control
The General Assembly outlawed
battery cages for egg-laying hens, effective in 2026.?
The legislature included a $47.3 million bond referendum in
the budget for green
economy and clean water initiatives.
The General Assembly restructured
the Coastal Resources Management Council to reflect separation of
powers and better enable it to perform its duties.
A legislative commission was approved to study the
possibility of a recycling
program for multi-family properties and condo complexes.