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

 

§  Legislators approve spending portion of ARPA funds

The General Assembly approved and the governor immediately signed into law a plan (2021-H 6494A2021-S 1006A) for using $119 million of Rhode Island’s $1.13 billion American Rescue Plan Act State Fiscal Recovery Funds to help children, families, small businesses and the tourism industry, and boost affordable housing and broadband planning. Legislators added $6 million to further enhance support for child care needs, as well as safeguards and specifics, to the plan that was originally proposed by Gov. Dan McKee.
Click here to see news release.

§  General Assembly overrides veto of bill to register short-term rentals
The General Assembly voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation (2021-H 5505A2021-S 0501B) sponsored by Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) and Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) to require every short-term rental property listed for rent in Rhode Island on the website of any third-party hosting platform to be registered with the Department of Business Regulation. The bill, which now becomes law, is meant to furnish basic information to ensure compliance with safety and tax regulations and owners’ contact information in case of an emergency.
Click here to see news release.

§  Speaker Shekarchi says affordable housing will top legislative priorities

Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) opened the 2022 session by announcing that affordable housing will continue to be his top legislative priority. He also indicated that a good deal of the chamber’s work will focus on the health and economic issues related to the pandemic, and that the House would begin a robust hearing process on the legalization of marijuana.

Click here to see news release.

§  President Ruggerio lays out legislative priorities for 2022
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) convened the Senate for its 2022 legislative session, laying out the agenda for the year including a goal of 100 percent renewable energy for Rhode Island by the end of the decade, universal access to pre-kindergarten within five years, tuition forgiveness for nurses and teachers, addressing climate change and water infrastructure, building a girls’ residential psychiatric treatment facility, and the legalization of marijuana.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Senate confirms several judges and magistrates
The Senate confirmed several new judges and magistrates who were appointed by the governor on the opening day of the 2022 legislative session.  The judicial appointments, which require the advice and consent of the Senate, were confirmed to posts within the Rhode Island Superior Court, the Rhode Island Family Court, the Rhode Island District Court and the Rhode Island Worker’s Compensation Court.  The Senate also approved two magistrate appointments to the Rhode Island Superior Court.

 

§  Legislation seeks to expand investment in Rhode Island school buildings
Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) and Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) joined General Treasurer Seth Magaziner in announcing that they will sponsor legislation seeking voter approval this year to expand the ongoing investment in school construction by $300 million, with incentives for energy efficiency or renewable energy use and the use of Rhode Island based and minority contractors.
Click here to see news release.

 

The Buffalo, New York Police Commissioner says there is no mistake Saturday's deadly mass shooting was a "vicious hate crime." Thirteen people were shot and ten killed when a gunman opened fire at the Tops grocery store. Buffalo Police Chief Joseph Gramaglia said investigators are looking at the online history of the suspect. Police say the 18-year-old white male suspect identified as Payton Gendron is charged with first-degree murder is on suicide watch.        President Biden's job approval rating is dipping. A new NBC News survey found just 39 percent of Americans approved of Biden's job as president while 56 percent said they disapproved. Just 33 percent of Americans said they approved of the president's handling of the economy as inflation continues to soar, while 23 percent approved of Biden's handling of the cost of living.        The head of NATO says Ukraine can win the war against Russia. Secretary General Jens [[ yens ]] Stoltenberg told NATO members Sunday that Russia's invasion, launched in February, is not going as planned. He noted the Russians had failed to take Kyiv and now they're puling back from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.        The "highest levels" of the Biden administration are working on the baby formula shortage. That's according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg [[ BOOT-edge-edge ]]. Appearing on CBS' Face the Nation, Buttigieg defended actions taken by the administration despite criticism from Republicans. He said the government is working with suppliers to surge production and help ease shortages.       Court is back in session today in Virginia in the Johnny Depp - Amber Heard defamation trial. Before taking a more than weeklong pause, Heard took the stand, testifying in her own defense and again accusing her former husband of being abusive. The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star is suing Heard for 50-million dollars for an op-ed she wrote in the Washington Post in December 2018. The actress is counter-suing.        NBA star Stephen Curry is officially a college graduate. Thirteen years after entering the NBA, Curry over the weekend received a bachelors degree in sociology from Davidson College in North Carolina. He shared photos on his social media calling the achievement "a dream come true." Curry played for Davidson from 2006-to-2009 before getting drafted to the NBA.