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Spotlight on the Statehouse: February 5, 2015

New Year, new session, new ideas

With the General Assembly session in full swing, representatives are submitting new bills every day. It is the third or fourth time that some bills — such as one proposal to offer tax credits on student loan payments — are being introduced for consideration.

Diverse in nature, the bills include Sen. Frank Lombardi’s, D-Cranston, proposal to eliminate a $60 fee on the renewal of vanity license plates and Rep. Joseph McNamara’s, D-Warwick and Cranston, call for the passage of a “Right to Try” law that would allow terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs. Rep. David Bennett, D-Warwick and Cranston, has proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 in January 2016 — a $1 increase over the state’s $9 minimum wage implemented last month.

Raimondo strengthens U. connection to I-195 Commission

Following last week’s resignation of Colin Kane from the post of chair of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, Raimondo selected six nominees — including Huidekoper — to replace all but one of the commission’s current members, multiple news outlets reported.

“We’re focused on expanding opportunity and creating jobs for Rhode Island families, and the 195 land can be a key lever to attract businesses and boost economic growth,” Raimondo said in a statement, adding that she is grateful for the work of the commission’s previous members.

Gist to leave Ocean State, return home

After serving as Rhode Island’s education commissioner for the last six years, Gist will leave her post to become superintendent of public schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after allowing for a transitional period. The district’s four-month search concluded with the selection of Gist, who was the only nominee for the job in Tulsa after the other finalist withdrew from consideration Jan. 29.

While Gist’s tenure coincided with falling high school dropout rates and higher graduation rates in Rhode Island, some perceive her as an aggressive proponent of high-stakes testing, the Tulsa World reported Feb. 3. Nearly two dozen teachers walked out of the school board’s meeting just before they voted to nominate Gist as the next superintendent.



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