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                         Legislative Alert 
 
Keep the Pressure On.
Repeal of the Master Lever has passed the House, with a unanimous vote of those in attendance.  However, it remains stuck in “hold for further study” on the Senate side. Please join the rest of RI to persuade Senate President Paiva Weed that this is the year of the Master Lever! Send the Senate leadership an email insisting that they bring the bill up for a vote.  
 
Coming up this week.
Well, not a lot going on in committees this week, but a full vote will be taken on some of the legislation we are watching.
 
The Senate will be taking up a full vote on the Sakonnet Bridge Toll/infrastructure funding bill (S 2335 Sub A ) this Wednesday, May 14. They will also vote on a bill (S 2059) that would dilute the effectiveness of the Education Commissioner’s reform efforts by delaying the use of standardized testing as a graduation requirement.
 
Some Good News & Some Bad News.
Last week, the full Senate passed the Committee of the Repealer bill (S2281)   and the RI Regulatory Reform Act (S 2858 ). These bills would benefit RI’s small businesses by determining those regulations that are strangling the drivers of the economy. 
 
Another interesting note is that while the Senate passed resolutions to convene a Constitutional Convention, the bills have been held for further study in the House.
 
Senator Crowley seems to think that RI taxpayers are an ATM for Central Falls retirees.Two budgets ago, in the 2012 session, your General Assembly voted to provide a partial bailout of the Central Falls, locally administered, municipal employees pension fund, to the tune of $2.6 million.  Apparently, it wasn’t enough for RI taxpayers to partially subsidize the bankrupt city’s local plan (so retirees could receive 75% of their pension rather than the 55% the bankruptcy court agreed to).  Senator Crowley’s bill, S 2332, will be heard this week. The bill generously provides more pension benefits for Central Falls retirees and transfers them to a state plan.  Unlike the House bill (H 7776) that boldly proclaimed that the state would be liable for the pension plan, this bill claims that the city will be liable for the annual pension payment.  How will Central Falls, still a few years away from the completion of the bankruptcy plan, have the funds to pay the annual contribution while increasing the pensions?  Local officials are required to certify to the court and the state that they are abiding by the receiver’s financial plan, so how will that work?  Who do you think will end up subsidizing that move?
 
            Legislative Hearings   5/13/14 - 5/15/14
 
TUE, MAY 13
 
House Finance                           Chairman Gallison   
Room 35, Rise (upon completion of the House Democratic Caucus)
 
Presentation:  RI’s Moral Obligation on the 38 Studios Bonds.  
 
Senate Finance                           Chairman DaPonte    
Room 211, 3:00 pm
 
S 2074  Increase estate tax exemption to $2 million.
Sponsors: O’Neill, DaPonte, Felag, Algiere and DiPalma
 
S 2345  Allows in state tuition to illegal aliens.
Sponsors: Pichardo, Goldin, Crowley, Goodwin and Metts
 
S 2694  Prohibits the issuance of moral obligation bonds in excess of $50,000 without voter approval.
Sponsors: Hodgson, O’Neill, Algiere, Bates and Ottiano
 
WED, MAY 14
 
House Finance                    Chairman Gallison  
Room 35, Rise (4:30)
 
H 8051  Authorizes the issuance of $30 million for cultural arts.
Sponsors: Slater, Diaz, Abney, Ruggiero and Blazejewski
 
THU, MAY 15
 
Senate Finance                     Chairman DaPonte  
Room 211, 3:00 pm
 
S 2332  Transfers the City of Central Falls municipal employee pension fund to the state pension system.  Amends the settlement agreement, agreed to by the bankruptcy court.  Although it transfers available assets, the plan is currently underfunded.  In the event the city can not make the annual payment, the state may withhold state aid, in which case, Central Falls is likely to go bankrupt again.   
Sponsors: Crowley, Metts and Pichardo
 

 

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