Metro

Spotlight on the Statehouse: Feb. 20, 2014

By
Metro Editor
Thursday, February 20, 2014

General Assembly activities were cancelled last Thursday due to a snowstorm. Rhode Island legislators also have this week off for the Assembly’s mid-winter recess and will reconvene Tuesday. Several bills proposing marijuana regulation, early voting procedures and the establishment of an official state appetizer were introduced just before the recess.

 

Marijuana measure

Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston and Providence, and Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence, announced Feb. 12 that they will introduce a bill calling for the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.

The introduction of the bill marks the fourth consecutive year marijuana legalization legislation has been proposed to the General Assembly, the Providence Journal reported.

“Most Rhode Island voters agree it is time to end marijuana prohibition and start treating the product like alcohol,” Ajello said, according to a General Assembly press release.

If enacted, the legislation would permit adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of the substance with a wholesale tax of up to $50 per ounce, according to the press release. The bill also stipulates that no more than ten stores would be authorized to sell marijuana, the Providence Journal reported.

 

Early bird gets the ballot

A bill proposed Feb. 12 by Sen. Erin Lynch, D-Warwick and Cranston, would allow Rhode Islanders to cast their votes in the weeks preceding all state elections, except for special elections.

“Early voting encourages citizens to cast their ballot, because they have more opportunity to do so,” Lynch said, according to a General Assembly press release.

The legislation would permit Rhode Islanders to vote in-person at approved locations for approximately three weeks before general elections and two weeks before primary elections, according to the release.

If the legislation is enacted, Rhode Island will join 32 states that already have early voting measures, according to the release.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary for consideration.

 

R.I. — the squid state?

Twin bills introduced Feb. 12 by Sen. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown and New Shoreham, and Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick and Cranston, would name “Rhode Island-style calamari” as the official state appetizer.

The Rhode Island squid-fishing industry catches roughly half of all squid caught along the East Coast, and the style of calamari preparation common in Rhode Island restaurants has been replicated throughout the country, according to a General Assembly press release.

“It is the juxtaposition of those two things — that squid is the state’s most valuable commercial fishery and that a cuisine distinctive to Rhode Island is served and enjoyed around the country — that make this special to our state, something to call our own,”  Sosnowski said, according to the release.

This is the second year a bill calling for the naming of calamari as the state’s official appetizer has been introduced in the House.