May 2, 2012

Coming up in Committee: Nine More Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, May 2 - May 3

Carroll Andrew Morse

Local Impact: Central Falls/Cumberland 2, Cumberland, Newport, Warwick.

9. H7197: "The general assembly shall not authorize, award or allow legislative grants. For the purposes of this chapter legislative grants are hereby defined as monetary award to nongovernmental, or nonquasi-governmental entities" (H Finance; Thu, May 3).

8. S2473: Makes explicit that municipal fiscal stabilization procedures relating to budget commissions do not "impair any protection and/or indemnification of elected officials provided in any city or town charter, or restrict the protections afforded by the constitution of the United States, the constitution of the state of Rhode Island, or the United States Supreme Court", then specifically noting something called "the Noerr-Pennington Doctrine" (S Finance; Wed, May 2).

7. H7996: Establishes conditions that must be met, which go beyond the IRS regulations currently in use, for someone to be considered a contractor and not an employee (H Labor; Wed, May 2).

6. H7478: Mandates that portable electronics insurance can only be sold by someone with a license to sell such insurance (H Corporations; Wed, May 2). It's worth noting that the second sponsor of this bill is William San Bento of Pawtucket, whose official House bio includes mentions "Insurance Agent/Business Owner" under employment, and "Professional Insurance Agents; Independent Agents Association..." under general background.

5B. H7811: A maintenance of effort provision for the annual taxpayer contribution to the state pension system, until the system is 80% funded (H Finance; Wed, May 2).

5A. H7131: Establishes "a special escrow pension lawsuit satisfaction fund which shall be used to pay any financial court judgments rendered against the state as a result of successful pension law challenges. All state fiscal year end budget surplus revenues shall be deposited in this fund" (H Finance; Wed, May 2).

4. S2764: The official description says this bill "eliminates the two-tiered time limit", i.e. creates a single time-limit, for direct welfare cash-assistance. Among other changes, a time limit of 24 months for people participating in "The Rhode Island Works Program" is replaced with a time limit of 48 months (S Health and Human Services; Wed, May 2).

3. S2361: Detailed procedures for dealing with and possibly altering a patient's "medical order for life sustaining treatment" (MOLST). A MOLST is defined as a "request regarding resuscitative measures that directs a health care provider regarding resuscitative and life sustaining measures" (S Health and Human Services; Wed, May 2). The question around this bill continues to be whether it is intended to make it easier or harder to end life-sustaining treatment for a patient who cannot make decisions for him or herself, relative to existing law.

2. S2870: Authorization of the East Bay Energy Consortium (S Environment and Agriculture; Wed, May 2). Justin covered the first hearing on this bill for the Ocean State Current (starts at 7:27), where some interesting detail, including why the consortium is seeking eminent domain power (so that it can sell bonds that it will finance with charges on National Grid Ratepayers) was deliberated.

1. 3 bills relating to civil unions and same-sex marriage. H7845 would permit same-sex marriage in Rhode Island; H7752 would allow same-sex couples married in other jurisdictions to divorce in RI (even if same-sex marriage isn't approved) and H7753 restricts the conscience protections in Rhode Island's current civil-unions laws to organizations "whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion" (H Judiciary; Wed, May 2).