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Spotlight on the Statehouse: March 21, 2013

By
City & State Editor
Thursday, March 21, 2013

Immigration

Sen. Juan Pichardo, D-Providence, and Rep. Grace Diaz, D-Providence, introduced legislation Wednesday that would make permanent a policy allowing undocumented immigrants who live in Rhode Island and attend state colleges to pay in-state rather than out-of-state tuition.

The state’s Board of Governors for Higher Education instituted the policy in 2011, and “59 undocumented immigrants enrolled at one of the three public institutions for higher education for the fall 2012 semester,” Diaz said in a press release.

Pichardo and Diaz argue legislation is necessary to guarantee the policy’s survival. “It’s a lot more difficult to get rid of a law” compared to a policy, Diaz said. “The people who are on the Board and who are in office now won’t be here forever.”

“Our undocumented students should not be punished for something that is out of their control,” Pichardo said. “President Obama’s declaration last year and ongoing discussion of immigration reform this year has finally created the best environment for legislators to focus on this issue and pass this legislation.”

The legislators said there is economic value in allowing undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition. The state’s three public institutions of higher education received about $93,000 from undocumented immigrants in fall 2012 — “revenue that could have been lacking had the undocumented students been unable to attend school due to high tuition costs,” according to a state press release.

 

Father-daughter

In response to Cranston Elementary controversially banning social events last year if they were targeted for one sex, state legislators introduced a bill that would allow schools “to provide activities for students of one sex provided that reasonably comparable activities are provided for students of the other sex,” according to a state press release.

Cranston Elementary implemented the ban last year, after the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter to the school board on behalf of a single mother, who felt a father-daughter dance was discriminatory, The Herald previously reported.

The bill came before the Senate Education Committee yesterday.

 

Health care

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee is holding hearings today on several new health care proposals introduced by the committee’s chairman Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, Providence.

The first bill would work to reduce costs by encouraging the “development of alternatives to traditional fee-for-service health care delivery and health plans, such as global payments, cost sharing, bundled payments, tiered plans, patient-centered medical homes and affordable care organizations.”

Another bill “would expand the powers and duties of the health insurance commissioner to help steer the health care payment system away from the current fee-for-service payment method and toward payment.”

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