Providence Local News

 

RI Legislative Season Wrapping Up

RI Legislative Season Wrapping Up

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Rhode Island entered a new fiscal year without a state budget as lawmakers seek to end their 2013 session this week.
 
As of Tuesday morning Gov. Lincoln Chafee had not signed an $8.2 billion budget that lawmakers passed last week.
 
One hang-up is a provision temporarily blocking the Bridge and Turnpike Authority's power to set tolls on the Sakonnet and Newport bridges. Transportation officials say that could undermine bridge maintenance and financing. A Chafee spokeswoman says he is concerned about how the state will pay to maintain its bridges.
 
A spokesman for House Speaker Gordon Fox says proposals to either rescind or modify the toll provision are ``under discussion.''
 
Chafee has until Wednesday to act on the budget.
 
 Lawmakers are also finalizing legislation to restructure the state's economic development agency.

 
The General Assembly plans to adjourn for the year late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning after voting on a flurry of bills.
 
Big votes are expected on proposals to restructure the state's Economic Development Corp., which has faced criticism following the failure of its investment in former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's video game company, 38 Studios.
 
Lawmakers began their session in January.

The House and Senate both voted Monday night to create the new specialty plate. Half of the plate's $40 price would go toward faith-based efforts to prevent abortion and encourage adoption.
 
A final vote is needed to send the proposal to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an abortion-rights supporter
 
Abortion-rights supporters in both chambers argued that the issue of abortion was ill suited for a license plate, and that the state shouldn't inject itself into the debate.
 
But supporters argued that those opposed to the plates have the option of not purchasing one.
 
Twenty-nine states offer similar plates.
 
Rhode Island already offers plates supporting environmental conservation, breast cancer research, food banks and charitable activities of the Red Sox and Patriots.Inmates who behave in prison could earn ``good conduct'' certificates to help them get jobs and housing when they're released under legislation passed by Rhode Island's General Assembly.
 
Another proposal is designed to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society while assuring potential employers or landlords that they don't pose a threat.
 
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Harold Metts and Rep. Scott Slater, both Providence Democrats. The measure passed a final vote Monday and now heads to Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
 
Individuals convicted of violent felonies would be ineligible for the certificates, as would anyone convicted of more than one felony.
Seat Belt Law Now Permanent
Also yesterday, Chafee signed legislation renewing the state's seat belt laws - but with lesser penalties for those who don't buckle up.
 
The law allows police to pull over and ticket drivers for not wearing a seat belt, even if they had not committed another violation first. The law was initially passed two years ago and had been set to expire at the end of June.
Before voting to extend the law the General Assembly reduced the fines for not buckling up from $85 to $40.
 
Prior to the law police could only issue tickets for failing to buckle up if a motorist had been pulled over for another violation first.
 
Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced that he signed the bill into law on Monday.
Photo- Shutterstock, Dave Newman


 

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