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



§  Speaker of the House appoints new committee chairs
Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) has appointed new committee chairs for the 2023-24 legislative term. Rep. Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence) will chair the Committee on Labor. Rep. Susan Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) will chair the Committee on Health and Human Services. Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket) will chair the Committee on Municipal Government and Housing. Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) will chair the Committee on Special Legislation. Rep. Jacquelyn M. Baginski (D-Dist. 17, Cranston) will chair the Committee on Innovation, Internet and Technology.


§  Rep. Hull named House Deputy Speaker

Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence) was appointed by Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) to the role of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Representative Hull will be the first African American individual to serve as Rhode Island’s Deputy Speaker.

Click here to see news release.


§  Assault weapons ban introduced
Legislation sponsored by Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) would prohibit the sale or possession of assault weapons in Rhode Island. The legislation (2023-H 5300) would define assault weapons and prohibit them from being manufactured, sold, transferred or possessed in the state, with exceptions for current owners who comply with new requirements to either register them with police or render the weapon inoperable.

Click here to see news release.

§  Ajello introduces Lila Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act

Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence) has introduced legislation aimed at allowing terminally ill Rhode Islanders to end their suffering on their own terms. The Lila Manfield Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act (2023-H 5210) would guarantee a terminal patient’s right to choose to hasten the end of their lives under certain conditions, and legally protect health care providers who provide a prescription to them. Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence) has introduced the bill (2023-S 0126) in the Senate.
Click here to see news release.

§  Carson introduces bill prohibiting, penalizing contaminated construction fill
After a contractor used hazardous materials on the Route 6/10 connector redevelopment project in Providence, Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) has introduced legislation (2023-H 5107) specifically making it a felony to use hazardous waste as fill.
Click here to see news release.


§  McNamara’s Hope Scholarship would open doors to higher education
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced the Rhode Island Hope Scholarship Pilot Program Act (2023-H 5009) in an effort to increase the number of students enrolling in and obtaining degrees in a timely fashion from Rhode Island College and to promote more graduates in high-need fields and the trades. Similar legislation (2023-S 0077) has been introduced in the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln).
Click here to see news release.


§  Senate Minority Caucus submits legislation to reduce state sales tax to 5%
Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, North Smithfield, Burrillville, Glocester) has introduced legislation (2023-S 0076) cosponsored by the entire Senate Minority Caucus to reduce Rhode Island’s sales tax from 7 to 5%.
Click here to see news release.


§  Rep. Bennett bills would cap physical therapy copays, support surgeons

Rep. David Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation (2023 H-5012) that would cap copays for physical therapy appointments. Representative Bennett, a registered nurse, says patients who cannot afford physical therapy end up reinjuring themselves. He has also introduced a bill (2023 H-5014) that would allow for the state to certify surgical first assistants to help surgeons struggling with short staffing.

Click here to see media release.

§  Rhode Island Black and Latino Caucus gets a new name

Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) have announced the formation of the Rhode Island Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus, formerly known as the Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus. Potential name changes and a new set of bylaws were submitted and voted on by the caucus members at a recent meeting.

Click here to see news release.


§  Caucus celebrates Black History Month

The Rhode Island Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus held its annual Black History Month celebration Wednesday in the Bell Room of the State House. The event was a celebration of Black culture, natural hair, and the contributions of Black Rhode Islanders to the state’s history, culture and commerce. Attending the event were more than 20 Black-owned businesses.
Click here to see media release.                                                       


Arkansas is bearing the brunt of a tornado outbreak in the Midwest. There are reports of dozens of injuries and widespread damage after a tornado ripped through Little Rock, Arkansas this afternoon. Then, another tornado touched down to the west in the city of Wynne where the police chief reports "total destruction" and is asking for help from other agencies.        Former president Trump has raised over four-million-dollars since his indictment in Manhattan. On Thursday, it was announced Trump will face over 20 charges for alleged hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Over the next 24-hours, Trump's campaign began sending out fundraising emails and also asked for donations on his Truth Social platform.        Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office is firing back at Congressional Republicans regarding the indictment of former President Trump. The House Judiciary Committee has been demanding Bragg testify about the investigation that led to a grand jury indicting Trump. The Daily News got a hold of the letter sent from Bragg's office to the Republican led committee accusing the committee of not respecting the process and calls their examination of the facts improper and dangerous.        The White House is condemning Russia for detaining a U.S. reporter. Russian state news agency TASS says reporter Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal is being detained in Moscow, where he appeared in court with a state-appointed defense attorney and was ordered held in custody until May 29th. Russian authorities are accusing the 31-year-old reporter of espionage.        The first funeral is being held for one of the six victims killed in Monday's mass shooting at a Nashville school. Nine-year-old Evelyn Dieckhaus was laid to rest on Friday afternoon surrounded by family and friends. Senior pastor Clay Stauffer described Evelyn as a "beacon of light and hope, love and joy to those around her."        A juror in Gwyneth Paltrow's ski crash trial is opening up about how the jury came to the decision the actress was innocent. Samantha Imrie told ABC News the verdict had nothing to do with the fact that Paltrow is a celebrity. She said she took into account that she was an actress, but "didn't feel that she had a reason to lie under oath."