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Bake Sales, Licenses for Illegals, and the Car Tax: This Week At The State House

Saturday, January 17, 2015


With bills ranging from allowing bake sales at polling places to driver's licenses for illegal aliens, check out what's been happening up on Smith Hill this week...

Senate leaders seek immediate implementation of GED fee waivers

Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed

President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) have written to state education officials calling for immediate implementation of a law they championed last year to remove financial barriers to earning a high school equivalency credential. At $120 per person for the full test, cost is likely a factor that may be preventing students from taking the General Educational Development (GED) exam.

Shekarchi re-introduces hiring incentive legislation

Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) has again introduced legislation, “The Rhode Island New Qualified Jobs Incentive Act” (2015-H 5116) to make tax incentives available to companies that hire new, qualified full-time employees. Large firms that make 50 or more new hires would be eligible for a tax incentive off their net income tax rate, and smaller firms (typically partnerships or family businesses) that make 10 or more new hires would be eligible for an incentive off their personal income tax. Qualified jobs would be those paying at least 250 percent of the minimum wage, for a minimum 30-hour week.

Bill would offer tax credit for student loan payments

Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) and Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln) are sponsoring legislation (2015-H 5086) to allow college graduates to claim a tax credit for payments on their student loans as a means of keeping talented, educated people in Rhode Island and encouraging innovators to make the state their home.

Ciccone bill would grant driving privilege licenses to immigrants

Senator Frank Ciccone

In an effort to keep the roads safer by requiring undocumented immigrants to be trained, tested and insured while driving, Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) has introduced legislation (2015-S 0053) that would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driving privilege licenses to applicants unable to establish a lawful presence in the United States.

Panel to begin studying charter school funding fairness

A new special legislative commission began studying Rhode Island’s school funding formula to determine whether its methods for funding the education of students in charter schools unfairly burdens local school districts. The 12-member commission, led by Rep. Jeremiah T. O’Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket), is charged with studying the funding formula to determine whether the per-pupil share of local school funding that school districts must remit to charter schools accepting their students is calculated in a way that shifts funding from costs that do not move with the student.

Fellela bill would make it a felony to threaten schools via computer

Rep. Deborah Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) has submitted a bill (2015-H 5068) that would prohibit the use of a computer, phone, smart phone, tablet, fax machine, social media or any like device to make any statements or threats concerning the endangerment of students at any public or private day care facility, preschool, school, college or university in the state.

Walaska bill would amend auto tax valuation method

Sen. William A. Walaska (D-Dist. 30, Warwick) has introduced legislation (2015-S 0023) aimed at easing the automobile excise tax levied in cities and towns. The bill calls for vehicles to be assessed based on the average trade-in price of the vehicle, rather than the clean retail value that is currently used, and would extend from 30 to 45 days the amount of time an auto owner has to appeal a tax bill. Similar legislation regarding vehicle valuations (2015-H 5112) has been introduced in the House by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).

Sen. Lombardi bill would OK polling place bake sales

Senator Frank Lombardi

Responding to the situation that arose at Cranston polling places last November – when the Elections Board barred PTO bake sales at the polls as a violation of state law – Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) has introduced legislation (2015-S 0058) to permit bake sales to be held at voting locations “as long as conduct does not interfere with the orderly conduct of the scheduled election.”

Hull bill calls for labeling of genetically modified products

Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence) has introduced legislation (2015-H 5078) to add a definition to state law relative to genetically engineered products. The bill calls for rules for labeling products, whether packaged food or a raw agricultural commodity, that contain genetically engineered ingredients (also referred to as GMOs, for genetically modified organisms). Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Sen. William A. Walaska (D-Dist. 30, Warwick).

Rep. Lombardi wants voters to consider longer terms, term limits for legislators

Rep. John J. Lombardi (D-Dist. 8, Providence) has introduced legislation (2015-H 5031) that would place before voters at the 2016 general election a proposal to amend the state constitution to lengthen state legislator terms from two years to four years and to limit legislator service to three consecutive terms (12 years).


Related Slideshow: Rhode Island’s Most and Least Popular Politicians

The statewide poll conducted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University in October 2013 is the latest public opinion survey by the Ivy League institution.  

See how elected officials fared in Brown polls in years past BELOW.  

Prev Next

Mayor Angel Taveras


October 2013: 63.9%

October 2012: 65.6%

December 2011: 51.7%

Prev Next

Treasurer Gina Raimondo


October 2013: 54.2%

October 2012: 58.7%

December 2011: 52%

Prev Next

Senator Jack Reed


October 2013: 51.6%

October 2012: 58.5%

December 2011: 46.4%

July 2010: 55.6%

December 2009: 56.3%

September 2008: 68%

September 2007: 61%

September 2006: 70%

September 2005: 65%

June 2004: 63%

September 2003: 62%

Prev Next

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse


October 2013: 39.4%

October 2012: 45.4%

December 2011: 33.6%

July 2010: 42.8%

December 2009: 43.7%

September 2008: 46.2%

September 2007: 41%

Prev Next

Rep. Jim Langevin


October 2013: 38.7%

October 2012: 41%

December 2011: 41.9%

July 2010: 54.6%

December 2009: 46%

September 2008: 51.2%

September 2007: 55%

September 2006: 56%

September 2005: 62%

June 2004: 56%

September 2003: 56%

Prev Next

AG Peter Kilmartin



October 2013: 35.6%

October 2012: 35.8%

December 2011: 34.5%

July 2010: 20.2%

Prev Next

Sec. of State Mollis


October 2013: 35.6%

October 2012: 28.6%

December 2011: 25.6%

July 2010: 32.6%

December 2009: 22.6%

September 2008: 24.1%

September 2007: 23%

Prev Next

Lt. Governor Roberts


October 2013: 32.9%

October 2012: 37.5%

December 2011: 32.8%

July 2010: 33.5%

December 2009: 22.4%

September 2008: 24%

September 2007: 37%

Prev Next

Rep. David Cicilline


October 2013: 26.6%

October 2012: 29.7%

December 2011: 24.3%

*July 2010: 40.3%

*December 2009: 40.8%

*September 2008: 46%

*September 2007: 64%

*September 2006: 58%

*September 2005: 60%

*June 2004: 61%

*September 2003: 67%

* As Mayor of Providence

Prev Next

Sen. President Paiva-Weed

October 2013: 23.5%

October 2012: 26.2%

December 2011: 24.1%

July 2010: 21.4%

December 2009: 19%


Prev Next

Governor Lincoln Chafee

October 2013: 23%

October 2012: 28.5%

December 2011: 27.4%

*September 2006: 51%

*September 2005: 54%

*June 2004: 56%

*September 2003: 50%

* As U.S. Senator

Prev Next

Speaker Fox


October 2013: 20.5%

October 2012: 18.3%

December 2011: 25.9%

July 2010: 20.2%


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