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Spotlight on the Statehouse: April 11, 2013

Domestic violence 

Under legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Michael Marcello, D-Cranston, state courts would be permitted to order certain convicted domestic violence perpetrators “to wear an electronic monitoring device,” according to a General Assembly press release.

Marcello’s legislation would reinforce the current policy of issuing “protective orders.”

“Some individuals, especially in the cases of domestic violence, continue to be harassed and bothered and even abused by the individual against whom the protective or no contact order has been issued by the court,” Marcello said in the release. “The court should have the discretion to take further steps if there is reason to believe that merely issuing an order is not going to achieve its intended purpose.”

If an offender is found to be “tampering with, damaging or destroying ”the monitoring device, he or she will face five years in prison, according to the release.

Benefit corporations 

In the House, Rep. Teresa Tanzi, D-South Kingstown and Narragansett, introduced legislation to institute legal protection for “for-profit” corporations that maintain “social and environmental missions,” according to a General Assembly press release. The bill offers the opportunity for corporations to clarify whether they are “for-benefit” — meaning they engage in some altruistic mission in addition to their business goals — and consider factors other than profit when making decisions.

“This is a great way we can give entrepreneurs more options and attract socially-responsible or environmentally-driven businesses to the state,” Tanzi said in the release.

Tanzi’s bill would require corporations to rally shareholder support to formally “convert into benefit corporation status.” With this status, a company commits to a transformation of their mission. According to the release, these types of corporations would have the responsibility to uphold both of their missions and shareholders would have the duty to remove any leader “devoting too much effort or expense on something that does not result in higher profits,” according to the release.

Similar laws already exist in 12 states across the country, including neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

Freshman caucus 

Rep. John Lombardi, D-Providence, called for development of a “freshman caucus” in the House in response to the new crop of 16 representatives in the General Assembly — 21 percent of the body’s composition.

The group would aim to preserve the stamina and creativity of new legislators while educating them on policy and structures, according to a General Assembly press release.

“A caucus of this type can help build camaraderie among the group that can live on long after these individuals stop being freshman legislators, even if they do not always agree on every issue,” Lombardi said in the release.



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