Here are highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly last week.
Mobile sports wagering becomes law
Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation (2019-S 0037A, 2019-H 5241) introduced by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, D-North Providence, and Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello, D-Cranston, that will allow mobile sports wagering through the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton.
The legislation will enable the creation of an app that consumers could use to access the sports gaming offerings at Twin River from anyplace in Rhode Island.
Online sales tax approved
The General Assembly passed legislation (2019-S 0251A, 2019-H 5278A) introduced by Sen. William J. Conley Jr., D-East Providence, Rep. Marvin L. Abney, D-Newport, that would provide a process for collecting sales tax from out-of-state sellers. The measure now moves to the governor’s office.
House passes bills recommended by sexual harassment commission
The House passed legislation (2019-H 5341) sponsored by Rep. Evan P. Shanley, D-Warwick, to extend the timeframe within which a person can file a complaint about an unlawful employment practice with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, as well as legislation (2019-H 5340) sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, D-South Kingstown, to exclude the period of investigation of a discrimination case by the Human Rights Commission from counting toward the legal statute of limitations in Superior Court.
Both bills were recommended by a commission chaired by Rep. Teresa Tanzi, D-Wakefield, that studied sexual harassment and discrimination laws last year.
House OKs bill for engineers to maintain designer’s licenses
The House passed legislation (2019-H 5365) introduced by House Majority Whip John G. Edwards, of Portsmouth, that would provide that professional engineers who are registered and authorized to practice by the Rhode Island State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers meet the qualifications for a designer’s license.
The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2019-S 0398) has been introduced by Sen. Roger A. Picard, D-Woonsocket.
Protections proposed for student loans
Sen. Dawn Euer, D-Newport, and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, D-Warwick, are introducing legislation backed by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Attorney General Peter F. Neronha to protect student loan borrowers and establish oversight of student loan servicers operating in Rhode Island.
Bills would enact much of ACA at state level
The same week the Trump administration urged a federal appeals court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act, Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller, of Cranston, and McNamara, House Health, Education and Welfare Committee chairman, introduced legislation (2019-S 0738, 2019-H 5916) to protect Rhode Islanders by enacting many of its provisions at the state level.
Bill would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control
The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare heard testimony on legislation (2019-H 5549) introduced by Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson, D-Warwick, that would allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense birth control, provided that the pharmacist has completed a training program approved by the state board of pharmacy.
Resolution condemns desecration of Hebrew cemetery
The House unanimously approved a resolution condemning the recent desecration of a Hebrew cemetery in Fall River. The House resolution (2019-H 5927) was sponsored by the three Jewish members of the House, Rep. Jason Knight, D-Barrington, Rep. Rebecca Kislak, D-Providence, and Rep. Mia Ackerman, D-Cumberland.
Bill would ban intentional release of balloons
Rep. Susan Donovan, D-Bristol, has introduced a bill (2019-H 5865) to protect the environment and wildlife by banning the intentional release of balloons into the air. Deflated balloons kill or hurt animals that mistake them for food and their strings can entangle them.
Committee hears bill to let terminally ill end their lives with prescribed drugs
The House Health, Education and Welfare Committee heard legislation (2019-H 5555) sponsored by Rep. Edith H. Ajello, D-Providence, to provide a legal mechanism whereby a terminally ill patient may choose to end their life using drugs prescribed by a physician. Sen. Gayle L. Goldin, D-Providence is sponsoring the legislation (2019-S 0157) in the Senate.