Coming up in Committee: Seventeen Sets of Bills Scheduled to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, April 10 – April 12, Part 2

7. S2302: Constitutional amendment providing for 1) four-year terms for state Senators and 2) an 8-year term limit on both Senators and Representatives (S Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs; Wed, Apr 11). As currently written, the amendment would have voters choose an entire Senate class every fourth year starting in 2014. I would humbly suggest rewriting the bill to follow the method used for the Federal Senate, and have half of the seats up for election every two years.
6. Several proposals to change item-specific sales taxes: a $1.28 per gallon “sugar-sweetened beverage tax upon every sugar-sweetened beverage, syrup, powder or other base product sold within the state of Rhode Island” (H7342), a reduction in the gasoline tax from $0.32 to $0.27 per gallon (H7638) and a reduction in the cigarette tax from 173 to 123 mills per cigarette which the official description says is a reduction of $1.00 per pack (H7639) (H Finance; Tue, Apr 10).
5. H7129: Repeal of the $500 minimum franchise tax on most Rhode Island corporations and the $500 minimum corporate income tax on most Rhode Island C-Corps and LLCs, which are two separate taxes under Rhode Island law (though payment of one can be credited towards the other) (H Finance; Tue, Apr 10).
4. H7863: Changes public school teacher tenure qualification from having been a party to “three annual contracts within five successive school years” to receiving “three consecutive ratings of effective or higher under the district evaluation system” (H Labor; Tue, Apr 10).
3B. S2294: Prohibits law enforcement officers from inquiring into the immigration status of a complainant or a witness. Also, S2330 prohibits landlords from inquiring into the immigration status of tenants and prospective tenants (S Judiciary; Tue, Apr 10).
3A. S2216: Requires all employers in Rhode Island (employing 3 or more persons) to participate in E-verify by 2014 (S Judiciary; Tue, Apr 10).
2. A series of bills regarding abortion, including civil penalties for forcing someone to have an abortion (H7009), a provision allowing “a physician or certified counselor” to authorize an abortion for a minor in cases where parents have not given consent (H7754), a requirement that a woman seeking an abortion be provided with an ultrasound of the unborn child (H7205), several bills imposing criminal penalties for harming an unborn child during an unlawful assault on another (H7006, H7010, H7091), a general ban on government interference with a woman’s decisions to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability or at any time where the life or health of the mother is involved (H7041) and a ban on using abortion for sex-selection (H7114) (H Judiciary; Wed, Apr 11).
1. All seven items comprising Governor Chafee’s municipal reform package: S2823 relating to school district accounting compliance; S2824 limiting allowed retirement benefits according to “the actuarial value of benefits afforded under the municipal employees retirement system”; S2825 allowing suspensions of benefit adjustments for pension plans in critical status; S2826 relating to distressed community relief ; S2827 changing the dates for payment of state education aid; S2828 modifying disability pensions in cases where the beneficiary receives other income and S2829 exempting payments made to compensate for past deficits from school district maintenance of effort calculations (S Finance; Thu, Apr 12). Additional detail on the municipal reform bills is available here.

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