Legislative Highlights and Update from State House

It’s been a busy few months at the State House!

Here are some of the legislative highlights – including my OP ED on the Governor’s budget which you can read here.

Reproductive Rights

The Reproductive Privacy Act passed in the House (44- 30) after a long 4- hour, respectful debate. This is so personal on both sides of the issue.  I voted to preserve in state law the federal law and Constitutional right that a woman has to make her reproductive health decisions. It is a decision between her and her family and doctor. The government does not belong in the bedroom or the medical office.  

Online Gambling

If you remember, the legislature moved quickly last session to legalize sports betting. Just in time for people to bet on the Patriots in the Super Bowl (the state lost $2.3 million in payouts because everyone bet on the Pats to win and they beat the point spread). 

This week, the House approved Online Gambling (H5241 SubA). This enables Twin River to set up an APP for people to wager on their phone. A person has to go into the casino to set up the account with an ID. Bets can ONLY be placed in RI (and with IP addresses and geo-fencing it’s easy to determine if someone is in the state).

As I said on the House floor, ‘this is worrisome because it makes gambling so easy. However, gambling is here in RI and we cannot legislate common sense.’ My concern is a joint account.  How does the spouse escape liability from someone else’s gambling debts?  

So, I plan to writing consumer protection and gambling addiction legislation; similar to the consumer protection law that I sponsored in 2014.  It says that a casino cannot attach a lien on someone’s home for casino debt. Prior to that, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun were using real property as collateral for a line of credit at the casino.  Spouses had no idea there was a line on the property until they tried to refinance or sell.   
Very positive reaction to two of my bills hears in Committee in the last weeks.

H5447 – BIODIESEL HEATING OIL ACT – would add more biodiesel to heating fuel. Currently, there’s 5% mix and this would gradually increase every 3 years until it reaches a 20 percent blend in 2027. Massachusetts already has a 10% biodiesel blend. The reason for the blend is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is supported by RI Oil Heat institute which represents the home heating oil distributers; they want to be part of the solution. Biodiesel is actually cleaner than natural gas at a 17% blend. 

H5145 – TRANSPARENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY STANDARDS FOR RHODE ISLAND BUSINESSES ACT is enabling legislation that reflects RI’s initiative to support sustainable businesses practices. Social responsibility and sustainability are not just buzzwords, but business practices for long-term growth, profit, and attracting new employees and customers. I’ve been working with the Rhode Island Manufacturers and environmental groups for ten months putting this together.  The company’s board would develop standards and metrics – from replacing inefficient lighting, sealing air leaks, to using safer, less toxic cleaning products – and making this public through the Secretary of State’s office.  Rhode Island would be the 3rd state in the country to have a Sustainability and Transparency Act (Delaware and Massachusetts are the other two). 

I Welcome Your Feedback.

I really appreciate hearing from you on so many of these issues.

Please feel free contact me with your thoughts or suggestions:


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