State Legislative Updates

2024 Republican State of the State Response

House Minority Leader Mike Chippendale delivered this response to the Governor's State of the State Address on January 16, 2024.

Some of the 2024 Bills We Support

House Bill 7675 

The sunset bill for the Rhode Island meal and beverage tax, sponsored by Representative Brian Rea (District 53, Glocester/Smithfield), implements incremental decreases to the tax rate until it is eliminated, giving municipalities time to adjust to the reduction in revenues. The bill authorizes an annual 0.25% reduction of the local meals and beverage tax effective January 1, 2025; ending January 1, 2029. The impact inflation is having on full service meal prices, compounded with the state’s meal and beverage tax, may be a disincentive to patrons from dining out—this on top of the recent transportation hurdles Rhode Islanders are facing with the Washington Bridge closure. These circumstances are hurting businesses as well as local economies. 

House Bill 7622

In an effort to help bolster timely access to medical professionals in Rhode Island, Representative David J Place submitted the Community Based Healthcare Act with the goal of attracting federal funding and creating new programs designed to increase graduate medical education placements in our healthcare facilities. “Leader Michael Chippendale clearly stated in the Republican State of the State Address, ‘the RI Healthcare system is collapsing - we are hemorrhaging practitioners of every discipline from surgeons and specialists down to entry level support positions,’” said Representative Place. “A driving factor of this crisis is the availability of primary care providers. The Community Based Healthcare Investment Act is designed to reinvigorate a program used in the past to train and retain primary care providers, such as Medical Doctors and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, serving our community healthcare centers. A major element we intend to fix from the old program, is in providing the healthcare centers with a greater voice in recruiting and training doctors for their residency programs, with the goal of increasing the likelihood of retaining those doctors in those centers.”

House Bill 7392

This act would create a new additional post-election risk-limiting audit of voted mail ballots, focusing on voter signature verification. This act would take effect upon passage.

Rep. Newberry Submits Legislation to Reform the Access to Public Records Act (APRA) 

In response to inconsistent and less than timely responses for public information from the State of Rhode Island, House Representative Brian C. Newberry submitted legislation to update and reform the Access to Public Records Act (APRA). The legislation will:

- Centralize all APRA records request handling and management, compliance, training, and agency education, for agencies which report to the Governor and all quasi-public agencies, within the Department of Administration;

- Encourage DOA to make all reasonable efforts to post records which would be public under APRA in an online, searchable database and/or website, to prevent those records from having to be requested in the first place;

- Require all records that are not emails, text messages, police reports, or police body worn camera footage, to be provided at no cost to the records requester, unless DOA determines a cost is required to fulfill the request; the requester can appeal the cost estimate to the Attorney General's office, and this shall follow the appeal procedures currently laid out in the APRA law. There will be a presumption that any request cost in excess of $500 shall be deemed excessive unless the agency can demonstrate an actual cost of that amount;

- Notwithstanding the foregoing, all records are to be provided electronically, to the extent possible, and at no cost, other than the cost of labor, unless the requester specifically requests paper copies of records. Further, DOA shall make all efforts to use the resources available to it in existing budgetary authority, including public information officers and other communications personnel at state agencies, to fulfill records requests at no additional labor cost to requesters;

- DOA will provide a uniform set of fees to be applied across all state agencies and quasi-public agencies for fulfilling APRA requests.

“Rhode Island’s APRA law is old and fundamentally flawed in that it places the burden of compliance on any public entity regardless of its size and capabilities, said Representative Newberry. “Hawaii decided to consolidate APRA request assistance, training, education and compliance into one state agency to improve public access, while reducing duplications and inefficiencies. We look to emulate that model and bring Rhode Island into the 21st century by creating a searchable information portal for all state government documents that apply to APRA, standardizing and eliminating fees, and abolishing inefficient practices.”

House Minority Leader Chippendale Calls for Measured Reforms to the 2021 Act on Climate

Leader Michael Chippendale submitted legislation to revisit the 2021 Act on Climate. The ambitious targets set are turning out to be not only unreachable but also excessively costly for our state's ratepayers. The minor adjustments proposed in this bill still honor these objectives, but introduce practical measures to shield Rhode Islanders from the devastating financial impacts we’re already seeing.