Coming up in Committee: Fourteen Sets of Bills Scheduled to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, March 6 – March 8, Part 1
With many bills of significant impact being heard by General Assembly committees this week, the weekly review will be split into two sections. Here is part 1:
Local impact: Little Compton 2, Portsmouth, Smithfield 2
14. S2489: Changes election rules from requiring that “substantially not more than nineteen hundred voters shall be served by the same polling place”, to requiring that “voting districts” shall be limited to 4,000 voters (in the absence of special approvals) (S Judiciary; Tue, Mar 6).
13. S2336: An extension of parts of campaign finance regulation to local financial town meetings & referendums (S Judiciary; Tue, Mar 6).
12. S2434: As per the official description: “This act would repeal the requirement that utility customers contribute to a fund to pay utility bills for those whose bills are unpaid” (S Corporations; Tue, Mar 6).
11. H7181: Repeals the current prohibition on classified state employees running for elected state office (H Judiciary; Tue, Mar 6).
10. Two bond issues: the section of Bud Art. 5 placing $21,500,000 for “Transportation” on the 2012 general election ballot for voter approval, and the section of Bud Art 7 “reallocating bond proceeds” to the New Sakonnet Bridge and the Washington Bridge (H Finance; Thu, Mar 8).
9. H7533: On its surface, an obvious statement of what should already be required under existing contract law: “A health care entity or health plan shall be required to pay for health care services ordered by a health care provider if: (1) The services are a covered benefit under the insured’s health benefit plan; and (2) The services are medically necessary”. However, I am fairly certain that this bill relates to the unintended consequences that Federal ERISA law has had on medical insurance, and will either allow the state of Rhode Island to regulate employee health benefits in a way that ERISA has closed off, or it will be preempted by ERISA and have no impact at all (H Corporations; Wed, Mar 7).
8. H7393: Immediate driver’s license suspension, for anyone charged with driving under the influence (H Judiciary; Wed, Mar 7). Aren’t there serious constitutional problems here, with handing out a penalty before the courts have resolved a case?
7. Price controls on healthcare insurance policies (H7530) and prescription drugs (H7573) (H Corporations; Wed, Mar 7).
6. S2333: Requires the state legislature to disregard the choice for President made by Rhode Island voters, and assign Presidential electors to the winner of the popular vote as determined by other states instead (S Judiciary; Tue, Mar 6).
5. H7256: “The Comprehensive Racial Profiling Act of 2012”, including such provisions as requiring police officers to contact “a dispatcher or supervising officer” (where practicable) before conducting a “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause” search, barring police officers from requesting identification during a traffic stop (a clear sanctuary for illegal immigrants provision), and charging the Department of Transportation with studying racial data on traffic stops by all PDs in Rhode Island (H Judiciary; Wed, Mar 7).
4. S2569: An attempt to bring independent electioneering expenditures under a campaign-finance regime. Anyone — including individuals, not just corporations — who wants to independently spend more than $250 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 (H Judiciary; Tue, Mar 6).