This week at the

General Assembly

 

STATE HOUSE — Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this week. For more information on any of these items visit http://www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease

 

 

§  Ruggerio introduces ‘Harold M. Metts School Safety Act’
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) has introduced legislation (2021-S 0073) to prohibit the possession of firearms on school grounds. Named in honor of its longtime champion in the Senate, The Harold M. Metts School Safety Act of 2021 would allow only peace officers, retired law enforcement officers, and persons under contract to provide school security to carry a firearm on school grounds. Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence) will introduce similar legislation in the House.
Click here to see news release.

§  Senate Finance Committee meets to hear pandemic response funding updates
The Senate Finance Committee met virtually to hear updates on federal funding for pandemic response. The committee heard from the Department of Administration on funding updates regarding the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; December 2020 stimulus changes to CARES funding and deadlines; and additional federal aid passed in December and new budget options available to the state.

 

§  Rep. McNamara introduces resolution asking AG to investigate water authority
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) and other members of the Kent County House delegation introduced a resolution (2021-H 5030) urging the attorney general to investigate the billing procedures of the Kent County Water Authority. Beginning in October 2020, several water authority customers began receiving bills that were far in excess of what they usually pay. In one incident, customers received a bill that was 455 percent higher than usual, with no explanation provided for the increase.
Click here to see news release.

 

§  Rep. O’Brien resolution calls for an end to COVID-19 restaurant time closures

Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) will be introducing a resolution calling for the end to COVID-19 mandated restaurant closing times.  Currently, restaurants and other social businesses are required to close by 10 p.m. during the week and 10:30 p.m. on the weekends. Small business owners have called the closing times arbitrary and devastating to their small businesses.

Click here to see news release.

 

§  Martin Luther King Commission’s annual celebration broadcast on Capitol TV

The Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission’s annual celebration of the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was held virtually and broadcast on Capitol Television featuring pre-taped segments from Rhode Island dignitaries explaining what the legacy of Dr. King means to them. The commission and celebration are chaired by Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence).

Click here to watch video.

 

An outside panel of experts is recommending Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine be approved by the FDA for emergency use. It is a traditional vaccine that only requires a single dose instead of two and does not need ultra-cold storage. It proved to be 85-percent effective in clinical trials at protecting people from severe sickness and is also cheaper and easier to manufacture.       President Biden and the First Lady are assessing the damage in Texas from last week's devastating cold snap. The Bidens visited a large food bank in Houston and stopped by an emergency operations center. Biden heard from local officials about massive power outages and serious problems with water supplies due to broken pipes.       Florida Senator Rick Scott is telling attendees at today's Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida to stand up to Democrats. Scott said both impeachments of President Trump were nothing more than political vendettas and political theater. He gingerly acknowledged former President Trump isn't perfect and said he's not either.       A full classified briefing on the U.S. air strike in Syria will be given to lawmakers next week. President Biden ordered the attack on Iran-backed militia in the eastern part of the country following a series of rocket attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. The airstrike targeted facilities in Syria that are used by at least two Iranian-backed groups.        Canada is authorizing AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine for use in adults. Health Canada approved two versions of the British-and-Swedish drugmaker's vaccine, one it worked on with Oxford University and the second made in India. It is the third vaccine approved for use in Canada, joining the ones made by Pfizer and Moderna.        Lady Gaga says her "heart is sick" after her dog walker was shot Wednesday night in Los Angeles and two of her dogs were stolen. The singer is opening up on social media and said she's praying her family will be whole again with an act of kindness. Gaga is offering up half-a-million-dollars for her dogs safe return, or if someone bought them unknowingly, the reward is the same.