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Spotlight on the Statehouse: April 10, 2014

This week in the General Assembly, the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings to review Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ’75 P’14 P’17 appointees to the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. Elementary school students will join legislators tomorrow in the Statehouse rotunda for the third annual Child Care Awareness Day hosted by the Permanent Legislative Commission on Child Care.


Mammogram Measure

A bill requiring health care providers to offer patients undergoing mammograms basic information about their breast density was approved by the Senate Tuesday.

There is significant evidence that high breast density increases the risk of developing breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The legislation stipulates that patients with particularly dense tissue will receive a notice stating, “The presence of dense tissue can make it more difficult to detect cancers” and that they “may benefit from supplementary screening tests,” according to a General Assembly press release.

The “Dense Breast Notification and Education Act” is currently under review in the House, and if approved, will go into effect Oct. 1.


How low can the sales tax go?

Two bills calling for a reduction of Rhode Island’s sales tax, which currently stands at 7 percent, were introduced in both chambers Tuesday by Rep. Jan Malik, D-Barrington and Warren, and Sen. Walter Felag, D-Warren, Bristol, Tiverton.

“We may want to pretend that a 7 percent sales tax is not hurting us as a state, but there is no denying that Rhode Islanders are driving to Massachusetts and Connecticut to save money,” Malik said, according to a General Assembly press release.

One of the bills calls for a 4 percentange point reduction of the sales tax, which would bring the figure down to 3 percent for all purchases. The other calls for a drop to only 6 percent and includes no changes to the current tax level for the purchase of meals and drinks, hotels, telecommunication services and cars but eliminates all tax on other purchases, including liquor and wine.

“While we are not wedded to one proposal, we believe that either piece of legislation, if adopted, will have an enormous positive impact toward kicking our economy back into gear,” Malik said in the release.

Malik and Felag said they believe the loss in state revenue from a lower sales tax will be easily offset by increased economic activity after the passage of either bill, according to the release.


Bruins on the Boulevard 

Legislation approved by the Senate Tuesday creates a specialty Rhode Island license plate bearing the Boston Bruins logo.

The $40 payment required for the license plate will be split evenly between the state and the Boston Bruins Foundation, which supports athletic, academic, health and outreach organizations, according to a General Assembly press release. The $10 renewal charge will also go toward supporting the foundation.

“Rhode Islanders are passionate about rooting for their teams, and they’re nearly as passionate about their license plates,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, according to the release. “At the same time, fans who order these plates will support organizations that do great work in their communities.”

The bill will be sent to the House for further consideration.


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