Eleven Bills Scheduled to be Heard by RI General Assembly Committees, March 29 – March 31

New plan. Better plan. Instead of trying to post something on all of the bills that have been submitted during a week, the week after they have been submitted (which, to be honest, was an interesting experience but was starting to make my eyeballs bleed from too much staring at the computer), I will post a list of the most interesting and impactful bills, in the week before they are scheduled for their committee hearings. Consider these posts an open thread for trying out and/or pondering arguments that might be heard in committee for or against upcoming legislation.
All the usual disclaimers about the choice of which bills are important being solely at the discretion of the author of the post apply. I’m not going to try and strike any a-priori balance between the House and the Senate, so if there are more bills from one chamber than the other, it’s because, in my opinion, one chamber is hearing more interesting stuff that week.

11. S0348: Statements of apology or sympathy by medical providers would be inadmissiable as evidence in lawsuits. (Senate Judiciary, March 29)
10. H5941: “Safe school act” that redefines bullying and defines cyberbullying in Rhode Island law. (House Health, Education and Welfare, March 30)
9. Bud Art. 39: Creates a “Municipal Accountability, Stability, and Transparency Fund” that provides state aid to cities and towns if they meet certain fiscal requirements. (House Finance, March 30)
8. H5646: Creates a legislative commission to study the public funding of elections. (House Judiciary, March 29)
7. H5091: Magistrates would be appointed by the Governor from a list of candidates drafted by a judicial nominating commission, instead of by high-ranking judges. (House Judiciary, March 30)
6. Bud Art. 13: Increases the employee contribution for teachers and state employees from 8.75% to 11.75%. (House Finance, March 31)
5. S0087/H5797: The Senate bill would begin to institute the Obamacare “exchange” in Rhode Island. (Senate Health and Human Services, March 30). The House bill “urges Governor Lincoln Chafee to refrain from implementing all aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with the exception of provisions on health care exchanges until such time as the United States Supreme Court has rendered its opinion on the constitutionality of the provisions mandated by this statute. (House Health, Education and Welfare, March 30)
4. H5374: From the official description: “This act would provide that if during any fiscal year the state reimbursement to cities and towns and school districts is insufficient to cover the costs of state mandates as reported by the department of revenue, those affected cities, towns and school districts may cease implementation of state mandates at their discretion up to fifty percent (50%) of the value of the reimbursement shortfall”. (House Municipal Government, March 31)
3. H5513/H5127: “No person holding a position in state government which requires confirmation by or the advice and consent of the senate shall engage in lobbying or permitted to register as a lobbyist” (House Judiciary, March 30) and no one “employed by the department of administration in a decision-making position or capacity or influence over legislation with the executive branch” can become a lobbyist “until such time as a new governor shall be elected”. (House Judiciary, March 30)
2. H5410: Proposed Constitutional amendment extending Ethics Commission jurisdiction to legislators. (House Judiciary, March 30)
1. H5961: Binding arbitration for teachers. (House Labor, March 29)

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