Here's my ongoing look at legislators who have decided to leave the General Assembly -- and the candidates trying to make their way into the 113-seat legislature. (You can email me tips and news releases at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org). As it stands, the General Assembly consists of 101 Democrats, 11 Republicans, and 1 independent. (UPDATE: A lot of stuff happening Wednesday, but I'll continue updating this list as time permits today and perhaps tomorrow).
Several veteran-related bills made it through the General Assembly and are on their way to the governor’s desk. One of those bills gives disabled veterans waivers for classes at state colleges and universities.
Another bill lets honorably discharged veterans and National Guard reservists transfer skills they’ve learned during their service to fulfill requirements for trade apprenticeships.
Lawmakers also passed a resolution urging employers to give veterans who work for them time off on Veteran’s Day.
Thanks to legislation that passed the General Assembly, banks in Rhode Island will not be able to evict renters in properties they’ve foreclosed on. That is, unless there’s just cause or until the property has been bought by a new owner. Rhode Island Coalition for the homeless head Jim Ryczek said the new law will protect people who might otherwise have nowhere to go.
“When the economy tanked in 2007-2008, the shelter system saw more than a 300 percent rise in the number of people coming in and naming eviction as one of the issues that caused them to be homeless.”
In a marathon session that stretched for almost 12 hours before ending shortly after 4 am, the General Assembly closed its 2014 session by approving a plan that could turn Newport Grand into a casino, imposing a three-year moratorium on the use of high-stakes tests as a graduation requirement, and setting the stage for Governor Lincoln Chafee to sign a bill making calamari Rhode Island's official state appetizer.
The General Assembly is expected to wrap up the session today, with two key education issues still under discussion.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has indicated he may bring a vote on a move to stop the use of standardized testing as a requirement for high school graduation. The measure was considered dead in the water under former House Speaker Gordon Fox, but Mattiello says he is concerned about the impact of the testing requirement on students with special needs. One compromise could involve suspending the testing rule for students with special needs.
State Republican Chairman Mark Smiley joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the GOP gubernatorial primary between Allan Fung and Ken Block; the budget signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee; the outlook for electing more Republicans to the General Assembly; and the latest developments on 38 Studios.
The terms for a possible Newport casino was among the issues still awaiting General Assembly action on what is expected to be the last day of its session Friday. The House ended its session Thursday night to allow more time for closed-door negotiations between legislative leaders.
There won't be a Rhode Island Democratic Party in this year's hard-fought primary between Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, and Clay Pell.
In a note to Democratic state reps yesterday, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello writes, "In preparation for the Rhode Island Democratic Party's Endorsement Meeting on Sunday night, I wanted to inform you that the three major candidates for Governor have agreed to a 'no endorsement' from the party."