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									                       Feb. 20, 2009
                       Legislative Press Bureau at 222-2457

     This week at the General Assembly

       STATE HOUSE – Here are the highlights from news and events
that took place in the General Assembly this week. For more information
on any of these items visit

    § Lynch bill would allow same-sex couples to divorce in Rhode
      In response to a ruling by the Rhode Island Supreme Court that the state’s Family
      Court does not have the authority to dissolve same-sex marriages, Sen. Erin P. Lynch
      (D-Dist. 31, Warwick) has introduced legislation (2009-S 0271) to allow for divorce
      in the state as long as the marriage is recognized by any other state.
      Click here to see news release.

    § House Finance Committee to review stimulus package
      The House Finance Committee has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday for a report
      from its staff on what is included for Rhode Island in the recently passed federal
      stimulus package.

    § House, Senate resolutions aim to OK sports betting in Rhode Island
      Resolutions have been introduced in the House and Senate calling on the federal
      government to allow sports betting in Rhode Island. The House bill (2009-H 5262)
      was introduced by Rep. William San Bento Jr. (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket, North
      Providence) and the Senate bill (2009-S 0168) was sponsored by Sen. John J. Tassoni
      Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Smithfield).

    § Fogarty proposes spreading smoking ban to Twin River and Newport Grand
      Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Glocester, Burrillville, North Smithfield) has filed
      legislation (2009-S 0126) to eliminate an exemption in the state’s workplace smoking
      ban for Twin River and Newport Grand, saying the employees at the two gaming
      facilities deserve the same protections as all other Rhode Island workers.
      Click here to see news release.

§ McNamara bill proposes ‘Bachelor’s Degree in Three’ program
  Legislation sponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick,
  Cranston) and supported by the state education office and URI and RIC officials will
  create the “Bachelor’s Degree in Three” program. The bill (2009-H 5286) will allow
  students to apply their high school advanced placement courses toward college credit,
  shaving a year off their college education.

§ Rice bill would dissolve the Board of Governors for Higher Education
  Rep. Amy G. Rice (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown, Newport) has introduced a
  bill (2009-H 5037) that would dissolve the Board of Governors for Higher Education
  effective January 1, 2010, and refer all duties to the General Assembly. The measure
  is aimed at saving the state millions of dollars and allowing the colleges and
  universities to become more autonomous in their day-to-day operations.
  Click here to see news release.

§ Blais introduces small-business fairness act
  Sen. Leo R. Blais (R-Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster, Scituate) has introduced the Small
  Business Regulatory Fairness in Administrative Procedures Act (2009-S0290), which
  is designed to reduce the regulatory burden on small business.

§ Gemma wants to eliminate ‘judges for hire’ law
  Rep. Al Gemma (D-Dist. 20, Warwick) has sponsored legislation (2009-H 5288) to
  repeal a state law that allows parties in a civil suit to hire a retired judge to hear their
  dispute in private. The law was enacted in 1984 and, though never used, its
  implementation is being considered by the R.I. Supreme Court at the request of a
  recently-retired judge.

§ Hearing held on Woonsocket schools dress code
  The Senate Education Committee held a hearing on a bill (2009-S 0020) sponsored by
  Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) and Sen. Marc A. Cote
  (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) to authorize the Woonsocket School
  Committee to adopt a dress code.
  Click here to see news release.

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