Spotlight on the Statehouse: Feb. 6, 2014

Metro Editor
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Though activities were canceled for both houses Feb. 5 due to the snowstorm, the General Assembly started off the first week of the month by introducing legislation to support youth job programs, craft new drug regulations, increase services for the elderly and arrange a settlement for the 38 Studios loan.


Student Support

Sen. Juan Pichardo, D-Providence, submitted legislation to expand the work program to include opportunities for high school students seeking paid and unpaid internships in the state. This expansion is part of the “Rhode to Work” program. The bRIdge website currently only offers internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. The website is designed to give students work experience to prepare them for future employment opportunities and is run through the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority.


Made in America? 

Sen. Dominick Ruggerio, D-Providence and North Providence, introduced a bill Jan. 30 to require drug labels to list where the product was made and provide greater information to promote product safety for consumers, according to a press release from the General Assembly.  The bill aligns with U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines that encourage “country of origin” labeling for all drug ingredients to prevent contamination or fraud from pharmaceutical companies overseas. A 2011 FDA report found only 20 percent of the active ingredients for drugs sold to American consumers were manufactured in the United States.


Serving Seniors 

Rep. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick, introduced a bill to increase funding for local community centers for the elderly, according to a General Assembly press release. The proposed funding assistance would help support heath and fitness programs, community outreach and transportation assistance, according to the bill. The proposal would add an additional $400,000 in funding for either local government-run programs or non-profit groups providing these services to communities without municipal funding.


38 Studios 

The House Judiciary Committee considered a bill Feb. 4 on the 38 Studios loan designed to facilitate a settlement between the bankrupt video-game company and the state, according to a press release from the General Assembly. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence, would only apply to the lawsuit against 38 Studios and would help the state collect its $75 million loan from the company, in addition to protecting the video-game company from future civil action suits. A companion version of the bill has already passed the Senate.

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