Rep. Williams Introduces Bill Exempting Natural Hair Braiders from Needing Licenses
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
“There are many natural hair braiders in the state who are struggling with the overburdening regulations and licensing fees in order to make a living from their craft. Without the presence of possibly toxic chemicals in the braiding process, there is no need to take more money out of the pockets of these hardworking women and men who work with hair in a natural and safe way,” said Williams.
According to the legislation, natural hair braiding is a service of twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding hair by hand or with mechanical devices.
"For centuries, natural hair bradding has been a common practice for African and African American women. Hair bradding skills and techniques come naturally. Natural hair bradding is an art form, limited only by the braider’s creativity and does not require any kind of formal training. Forcing natural hair braiders to meet the same licensing requirements as cosmetologists is a clear injustice,” said Williams.
Natural hair braiding includes the use of natural or synthetic hair extensions, natural or synthetic hair and fibers, decorative beads, and other hair accessories; minor trimming of natural hair or hair extensions incidental to twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding hair; the use of topical agents such as conditioners, gels, moisturizers, oils, pomades, and shampoos in conjunction with hair braiding; the making of wigs from natural hair, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and hair extensions; and mechanical devices mean clips, combs, crochet hooks, curlers, curling irons, hairpins, rollers, scissors, blunt-tipped needles, thread, and hair binders.
It does not include the application of dyes, reactive chemicals, or other preparations to alter the color of the hair or to straighten, curl, or alter the structure of the hair; or the use of chemical hair joining agents such as synthetic tape, keratin bonds, or fusion bonds.
Related Slideshow: RI’s 7 Hottest Political Battles
The Providence Teachers Union -- and others -- are keeping the pressure on Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza to halt charter school Achievement First’s expansion, while its supporters are pressing for increased opportunities for families who want them at the school.
An event planned Valentine's Day was intended to have traditional public school supporters bring Valentines to Elorza’s office, asking him to “have a heart” — and dedicate city resources to existing schools (however, it appears the inclement weather and conditions of the city’s streets and sidewalks prompted PTU president Maribeth Calabro to cancel the event on Sunday evening.)
City Council President Luis Aponte has expressed his concerns about the expansion of Achievement First, as has Councilman Sam Zurier, who in January wrote after the administration released a five-year budget that projected annual funding gaps in the tens of millions of dollars, following December's decision by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education to approve the expansion of the Achievement First mayoral academy, which is projected to have a negative financial impact of almost $100 million over the next ten years. "In this way, the Mayor's decision as a member of the Achievement First Board to approve the expansion to benefit 1,000 or 2,000 Providence children will harm the 20,000 Providence children who do not attend the school," wrote Zurier.
Meanwhile at the state level, legislation proposed by Representative Jeremiah O’Grady (D-Lincoln) would require the state auditor general to analyze the fiscal impact of any new charter school or new charter expansion and submit those findings to the General Assembly and the Council for Elementary and Secondary Education.
Burrillville Power Plant
The battle over Invenergy’s application for the “Clear River Energy Center” fossil-fuel power plant in Burrillville continues, with the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) scheduled to rule on motions to dismiss the proposal on Thursday, February 16.
As GoLocal reported last summer,
The proposal for Invenergy was first introduced in 2015 with the support of Governor Gina Raimondo; the environmental website EcoRI stated [that] it believes Raimondo would veto any local-control measures that make their way through the General Assembly.
“I think it's important to remember that Democrats in Rhode Island aren't like Democrats in other states. People like Raimondo often oppose the national Party's core priorities,” said Sam Bell, State Chair for the Progressive Democrats of America. “So it is unsurprising to see [Raimondo] supporting the fossil fuel industry.”
Earlier in February, Invenergy failed to sell power to the regional grid at auction, after selling energy equal to one of the plant’s two operating systems at auction a year ago. The development comes as 28 municipalities — including Providence — have passed resolutions opposed to the $1 billion tracked gas and diesel oil burning plant, including Pawtucket, who indicated it will not see water to Invenergy — after Johnston, which gets its water from Providence, said it would.
38 Studios Documents
In October, GoLocalProv sued Governor Gina Raimondo and the head of the State Police for the release of their notes from the 38 Studios criminal investigation, following the conclusion of the criminal trial.
Now, the effort to obtain the documents appears to be moving forward after the conclusion of civil litigation, as GoLocal reported over the weekend:
The 38 Studios debacle took yet another twist on Friday. Governor Gina Raimondo, who was facing a court hearing in Superior Court on February 23 in regard to the lawsuit filed by GoLocalProv, announced that she was instructing the State Police to release the 38 Studios State Police interviews that were conducted as part of the failed criminal investigation.
The Governor’s latest announcement is yet another position for Raimondo regarding the 38 Studios documents.
In January, her attorneys filed a motion asking that the Governor be dropped from GoLocal’s suit as she is not the custodian of the documents.
The question now, of course, will be what information is contained (or not) in the interview notes, as Rhode Islanders are still searching for answers nearly five years after the video game company folded - leaving tax payers on the hook.
Look to see what unfolds now — and if Rhode Islanders are satisfied.
Progressives vs. Trump Administration
The pressure has been placed on the Rhode Island delegation from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as soon as Republican Donald Trump was elected President — and shows no signs of abating.
From State House rallies and letter-writing campaigns, to an event at the end of January at Nathan Bishop Middle School in Providence where Senator Sheldon Whitehouse came under fire for his vote for Trump CIA pick Mike Pompeo, to Sunday’s event at East Providence High School which saw at least a thousand Rhode Islanders turn out in the snow to voice their concerns to the delegation, there are now nearly weekly events to coalesce grassroots activism.
"This is one of our best chances to hold our delegation accountable on resisting Trump's dangerous, anti-American agenda," said Bill Deware with the RI Progressive Democrats of America. "We're tracking our Senators' positions on Trump's appointees here, and they are still undecided on a bunch of awful nominees. This is one of our best chances to get them on the record committing to vote no. Let's do it!"
As with other events, an oftentimes angry crowd confronted the delegation, including Whitehouse falling in the hot seat again on Trump’s pick of Dan Coates for Director of Intelligence -- because Whitehouse said he had not made a decision.
On February 7, Rhode Island lawmakers joined Regulate RI for a news conference to discuss a new poll, which they said found 59% of Rhode Island voters are now in favor — with 36% — opposed — to the legalization of marijuana.
According to Regulate RI, “additional local polls found strong majority support in Providence, Warwick, Cranston, Newport, North Kingstown, and Burrilleville/Glocester."
House Speaker Nick Mattiello, however, was non-committal when discussing the prospect of legalization in 2017, following last fall’s election.
I don’t know. I have traditionally been opposed to marijuana legalization for recreational use — and I start out from the policy position, "What value does it add to the state?" Having said that, there are strong advocates and strong opponents in the House, there are strongly advocates and strong opponents in society at large. I expect a bill to be introduced. I think the most important part is the public testimony and input and I look forward to that, so I don’t know what the ultimate conclusion of that hearing process the ultimate judgment will be.
I’ve been speaking with folks from Colorado — I potentially may consider a trip there, the came here already. I forgot what the specific percentages were, of the revenues that come in from marijuana legalization, but a large percentage ends up going to treatment, let’s say 40%, and a large percentage — maybe 30% — goes to prevention programs.
Amtrak's RI Plans
After federal railroad regulators unveiled a plan in December to upgrade Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to address outdated bridges and tunnels — and speed up New England travel by creating a straighter 40-mile bypass route for high-speed trains from, Connecticut to Rhode Island -- opposition to the plan emerged almost as soon as it was announced.
Governor Gina Raimondo has said she opposes the federal plans for the bypass route, after a bipartisan group of 17 state legislators penned a letter in January they stood in opposition to the federal plan. An Associated Press article in January reported that Senator Jack Reed said that he asked the Federal Railroad Administration for an extension for people to voice opinions, and that he received a letter from the agency confirming an extension, but the letter doesn't say when the new deadline will be. "Reed's office says the new deadline is expected to be sometime in March."
“The response to the NEC Future EIS has been far too positive on the idea of spending vast sums on high speed rail and far too negative on the plan itself, ignoring the extent of accommodation Amtrak has already expended and lacking a sense of commitment to address speed and safety goals while balancing parochial interests,” wrote Brian Bishop with taxpayer advocacy group OSTPA at the end of January.
Line Item Veto
Moderate Party founder and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block is spearheading an effort to push through a line-item veto bill in 2017, with an online petition for supporters to sign — and send emails to elected officials — and a running tab, according to Block, of who’s on the record in support, opposed, refused to comment — and still unknown.
“WHY LINE-ITEM VETO IS NECESSARY” writes Block, stating, “Because Rhode Island has such a lopsided legislature, there is no real check and balance on the state budgeting process; budget submitted and approved by the House is usually rubber stamped by the also lopsided Senate and then sent to the Governor, who can only approve or reject the budget in its entirety – or let the budget pass without a Governor's signature; and special and narrow interests know that if they can get their project as a line-item into the budget that their work is done."
Like marijuana legalization, Speaker Mattiello took a cautious approach to the issue when discussing the 2017 session with GoLocal after the election.
"The framers of our Constitution originally wanted to put a checks on the Governor. The Governor of the state walks around with one or two troopers by their side at any given point, you can’t generally speak to them — that’s not an indictment, that’s just the reality. I’m in the community each and every day talking to folks, getting the pulse of folks — you have different elected positions that serve different interests," said Mattiello. "Originally, we didn’t want to give so much power in the Governor, you wanted to withhold it in the people — and right now people are being told they’re should take the power away from themselves and give it back to the Executive Branch."
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