PROVIDENCE — Here are highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly last week. For more information on any of these items visit http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease
Teams would seek to prevent school violence
The House approved legislation sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, D-Cranston, to increase school safety by creating threat assessment teams in schools to serve as the “boots on the ground” in identifying potentially threatening behavior. Under the bill (2019-H 5538), which will now go to the Senate, school districts would also adopt policies for assessment and intervention, including procedures for referrals to community services or health care providers for evaluation.
Resolution calls for sepsis protocols
The House approved a resolution (2019-H 5539) sponsored by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick, calling for the Department of Health to develop protocols to help detect and treat sepsis, a fast-moving and potentially fatal complication that occurs when a person’s body has an extreme response to an infection.
Posting opioid warnings at pharmacies
The House approved legislation (2019-H 5184) sponsored by Rep. Justine A. Caldwell, D-East Greenwich, to require signs at pharmacies warning customers about the dangers associated with opioids, similar to those required where tobacco products are sold. The bill will now go to the Senate, where Sen. Bridget G. Valverde, D-North Kingstown, is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-S 0291).
Information on co-ops for threatened workers
The House approved legislation (2019-H 5769aa) sponsored by House Deputy Majority Whip Christopher R. Blazejewski, D-Providence, to notify workers of their opportunity to organize a cooperative and make a bid to buy out their company in the event of a mass layoff or plant closing. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Sandra Cano, D-Pawtucket, is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-S 0253).
Misrepresenting pets as service animals
The House of Representatives passed legislation (2019-H 5299aa) sponsored by Rep. Bernard A. Hawkins, D-Smithfield, that would prohibit the misrepresentation of pets as service animals in order to acquire any rights or privileges afforded to disabled. According to the legislation, if a person is found to have misrepresented a pet as a service animal, the person would be guilty of a civil violation, punishable with up to 30 hours of community service for an organization that serves people with disabilities. The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2019-S 0308) has been introduced by Sen. Roger A. Picard, D-Woonsocket.
§ House OKs Marszalkowski bill that amends law to encourage food donation
The House has passed a bill proposed by Rep. Alex D. Marszalkowski, D-Cumberland (2019-H 5322aa), that would establish comprehensive immunity provisions for individuals donating food to food banks. The purpose is to provide incentives and protections to implement and increase food recovery and donations in Rhode Island. The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2019-S 0027) has been introduced by Sen. Frank S. Lombardi, (D-Cranston).
Requiring coverage of non-opioid pain treatments
The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare heard testimony on legislation (2019-H 5120) sponsored by Rep. Michael Morin, D-Woonsocket, that would require health insurance contract plans or policies to provide coverage for certain licensed practices including physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and Asian medicine. Similar legislation (2019-S 0068) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger A. Picard, D-Woonsocket.
Protecting families with parents who have disabilities
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard legislation (2019-S 0702) introduced by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma, D-Middletown, that would preclude the disability of a parent from serving as a basis for denial or restriction in matters involving a child’s welfare, foster care, family law, guardianship and adoption. The purpose of the legislation is to protect the best interests of children who have parents with disabilities by establishing procedural safeguards that require adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Rep. Terri Cortvriend, D-Portsmouth, is the sponsor of the companion legislation (2019-H 5562) in the House.
Moving adult education programs to labor department
A Senate commission that studied the issue has issued its final report and determined that adult learners in Rhode Island would be better served by moving the administration of adult education programs from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to the Governor’s Workforce Board within the Department of Labor and Training. The commission was led by Sen. Harold M. Metts, D-Providence.
Supporting Alzheimer’s care
Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne, D-Barrington, has introduced three bills aimed at better supporting Rhode Islanders affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The bills establish a state program dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease and an Alzheimer’s advisory council (2019-S 0223); allow the spouses or partners of patients residing in an Alzheimer’s or dementia special care unit to live with them (2019-S 0302); and support a new five-year update to the state plan for Alzheimer’s disease (2019-S 0310). Companion bills (2019-H 5178, 2019-H 5141, 2019-H 5569) have been filed in the House by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick, Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, D-Warwick; and Rep. Mia A. Ackerman, (D-Cumberland.