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Metro Roundup, Feb. 22

R.I. government considers trans rights policy proposal

Ken Wagner, the commissioner of Rhode Island, held a hearing earlier this month to gauge public support for a measure that would require all Rhode Island schools to provide protections for transgender students, the Providence Journal previously reported.

In accordance with Rhode Island state law, Wagner’s proposals would ask local school districts to implement policies “addressing the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming students to a safe, supportive and non-discriminatory school environment.”

The hearing inspired debate among Rhode Island constituents who spoke at the event. Because the proposal includes provisions to protect students’ privacy and confidentiality, individuals “expressed the fear that educators might steer children and teens toward medical treatment without notifying their parents,” the Providence Journal previously reported.

The recent hearing follows the Trump administration’s decision to rescind federal guidelines protecting transgender students. Specifically, the administration revoked Obama-era guidance that used Title IX to protect the rights of transgender youth “to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities,” according to NPR.

 A June 2017 study conducted by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union found that 60 percent of Rhode Island schools “have policies in place to protect the rights of transgender students.”

 The ACLU has been a vocal supporter of the proposal. The proposal also drew support from “educators, clinicians and advocates for transgender people,” the Providence Journal previously reported.

Cicilline to reintroduce assault weapon ban in Congress

U.S. Congressman David Cicilline ’83, D-R.I. plans to reintroduce legislation banning assault weapons next week, the Associated Press previously reported.

 The bill — which Cicilline describes in a letter currently circulating through Congress — would “prohibit the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of semi-automatic weapons and ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds,” The Associated Press previously reported.

Past versions of similar legislation have failed to pass Congress.

Cicilline’s planned legislation will build on a previous assault weapon ban that expired in 2004. His proposal would not affect “hunting rifles and weapons used by military members and law enforcement,” the Associated Press previously reported.

R.I. Gov. Raimondo faces ethics complaint from R.I. GOP

Brandon Bell, the chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, filed an ethics complaint against Gov. Gina Raimondo after she struck a “fundraising deal with a local Democratic group which was headed at the time by a state employee,” the Associated Press previously reported.

Raimondo partnered with the Providence Democratic City Committee to raise money for her re-election bid in the upcoming gubernatorial election. However, the committee was chaired by Patrick Ward, who was hired by Raimondo’s administration in June to work in the state’s Department of Human Services.

Bell argues that this partnership is an unethical financial transaction as Ward was previously Raimondo’s subordinate.

“Hiring a local party leader as a state employee and then entering into a secret fundraising agreement with this subordinate goes too far and crosses an ethical line,” according to a press release from Bell.

The partnership has also received criticism as candidates can receive up to $10,000 in donations from individuals through committees as opposed to $1,000 through state parties.


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