June 10, 2012

Coming up in Committee, Special Sunday Edition: Sixteen Sets of Bills Scheduled to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, June 11 - June 12 (That's Monday and Tuesday), Part 2

Carroll Andrew Morse

8. H7173/S2052: A statutory "bill of rights" for homeless individuals (H Judiciary; Tue, Jun 12). The section guaranteeing a "right to fair, decent and affordable housing in the community of his or her choosing, and access to safe and proximate shelter until such housing can be attained", noted previously in these updates, has been removed from the amended version of the bill. This is a definite improvement given that this "right" was unenforceable if taken literally, and laws as much as possible should be written to be understood literally.

7. H7842/S2684: Establishes a "conciliation conference" procedure that must be followed by mortagagee, before "any owner-occupied, one-to-four unit residential property" can be foreclosed upon (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 12).

6. S2572: A major rewrite of the law concerning sexual offender registration and notification, in order to comply with Federal law, introduced at the request of the Attorney General (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun 11).

5. S2880: Introduces four criteria that must be present to establish criminal intent in cases where the law does not specify "the criminal intent required to establish an element of the offense". The four elements are 1) a conscious object to engage in conduct of the nature constituting the element; 2) a conscious object to cause such a result required by the element; 3) an awareness of the existence of any attendant circumstances required by the element or with the belief or hope that such circumstances exist; and 4) either specific intent to violate the law or knowledge that the conduct is unlawful (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun 11). Question for Anchor Rising's legal-eagle commenters: Doesn't criteria #4 introduce a big loophole into the law, and run counter to centuries of common law holding that ignorance of the law is not a defense?

4. S2569/H7859: An attempt to bring independent electioneering expenditures under a campaign-finance regime. Not just corporations, but also individuals (though not 501c(3)s) who want to independently spend more than $1,000 in a calendar year supporting/opposing a candidate for office or a position in a referendum would have to register with the Board of Elections, and any "written, typed, or other printed" electioneering communications would be required to carry a "paid for by" message (S Judiciary; Mon, Jun 11).

3. H8213/S3001: Regulation of casino tables games (assuming the passage of a constitutional amendment allowing them (H Finance; Mon, Jun 11 & S Finance; Mon, Jun 11 & S Finance; Tue, Jun 12). The same bill being scheduled for hearings in the Senate on back-to-back days is not a typo. It's actually on both calendars.

2. H7413: "No state assessment conducted pursuant to this chapter, and no other standardized testing program or assessment, shall be used to determine a student’s eligibility to graduate from high school" (H Health, Education and Welfare; Mon, Jun 11). Addendum: There's an amended version of S2274 posted on the General Assembly website, where the blanket prohibition on standardized testing as a graduation requirement has been replaced by several alternative pathways for students who don't pass a standardized test.

1. S2870: The East Bay Energy Consortium and its mysterious financial machinations (S Environment & Agriculture; Mon, Jun 11).