Spotlight on the Statehouse: Feb. 27, 2014

Metro Editor
Thursday, February 27, 2014

Committees in the General Assembly reviewed several pieces of legislation this week, including budget proposals, a request to obtain evidence in the 38 Studios lawsuit and a bill to improve bus transportation for Providence students.

Budget brief

The Senate Committee on Finance met Feb. 25 to review components of Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ’75 P’14 P’17 proposed 2015 budget. The committee reviewed proposals on long-term care reimbursement from the federal government and reimbursement rates for hospitals and nursing facilities, according to a General Assembly press release. The committee will meet again Feb. 27 to cover portions of the budget relating to off-shore tax-safe locations and new taxes on e-cigarettes and state employee income.


Releasing records

Sen. James Sheehan, D-Narragansett and North Kingstown, chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Oversight, requested that copies of all materials pertaining to the state’s lawsuit against bankrupt videogame company 38 Studios be delivered to the committee, according to a General Assembly press release. This includes depositions, evidence from previous and ongoing investigations and any other material evidence. Sheehan wrote a letter to Thomas Carlotto, an attorney for the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, requesting the documents “to help complete the public record” and “to help policymakers avoid a recurrence of such a failed deal in the future,” according to the press release.


Schools to study slavery, struggle and society 

Rep. Joseph Almeida, D-Providence, introduced legislation to develop a “comprehensive African-American history curriculum” for Rhode Island elementary, middle and high school students, according to a General Assembly press release. The bill proposes the curriculum be developed by the future 1696 Historical Commission — named to recognize the significance of the year the first enslaved Africans were brought to Rhode Island. The proposed 15-member commission would include Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, Department of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, members of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission and members of the public. The curriculum would cover African heritage, pre-slavery politics in Africa and life for enslaved Africans in America in order to increase students’ knowledge about the history of slavery in Rhode Island.


Bus bill

Rep. John Lombardi, D-Providence, introduced a bill to the House that would require school committees to provide public transportation for any student who lives two miles or farther from school, according to a General Assembly press release. The bill is being held in the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare for further study. Lombardi was among elected officials who participated in a walk organized by the Providence Student Union in solidarity with students who have to walk three miles to get to school on time. Only students who live more than three miles away from their respective schools are eligible for a bus pass currently, making Providence’s limit one of the highest in the country.

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