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Legislative Alert
 
 
Not to Beat a Dead Horse, but...
OSTPA writes a bimonthly article for GoLocalProv.com. Last Thursday’s article  spoke to the pressing need to restore faith in RI’s government by passing two important good government bills this session, particularly in light of the scandalous developments with 38Studios and the far reaching tentacles of the cronyism that is now openly on display. Both the Master Lever bill and the Ethics reform bill are resting comfortably on the back burner. Please take a minute to read the interactive article and take action regarding these long awaited and much needed bills that would help restore our faith in our elected leaders.
 
More of the Usual.
Last week we alerted you to the hearing for Senator Crowley’s bill (S 2332) that would change the terms of Central Falls’ bankruptcy settlement by increasing the base pension amounts, add COLA’s and move the Central Falls retirees to the state pension system, along with its unfunded liability.This bill stipulated that the City of Central Falls would be liable for funding the plan. Amusing since the city can barely afford to pay its current bills never mind the larger bill for increased pension benefits. The mystifying part of the bill is that the city must certify that it is working according to the bankruptcy plan so how will they be able to do that once they change the pension plan.  
 
In a late twist, a companion bill (H 7776), that was not scheduled for a hearing until after the release of our Alert last week, was heard at 2:00 in the afternoon on Thursday (and incidentally, not held for further study, but continued).  The incredulous part of this bill is that the last section proclaims that the STATE will be liable for funding the city’s pension plan. Representatives Silva, Corvese, GuthrieMcLaughlin and Casey believe that state taxpayers should pay for their own cities pension plans along with the mismanaged plan of the City of Central Falls! If you think otherwise, consider writing them and letting them know. At a minimum, please let Chairman Gallison know your thoughts on funding other city’s pensions, because if this precedent is set, watch out. You may be funding the pension plans for Providence, West Warwick, Woonsocket and many others.
 
Your Senate has Drawn a Line in the Sand on Education Reform.
As you have no doubt heard, the full Senate dealt our state’s children a blow by passing legislation (S 2059 Sub A) that would delay the graduation requirement to be PARTIALLY proficient in subject areas tested by the NECAPS.  Senators Cote, DiPalma, Hodgson, Nesselbush and O’Neill were the only ones voting to uphold the standard for graduating our seniors with a meaningful diploma, as put forth in the Education Commissioner’s plan for Race to the Top. Thank you to these senators who understand that we must hold our school system accountable. The bill has been sent to the House, where Speaker Mattiello has already come out against it.  Please be sure to let House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman McNamara, a Pawtucket school department Director, know that you oppose the delay of this graduation requirement and that you believe that standards will provide our kids with the best chance for their future. 
 
The Big One.
This week (Wed, May 21) the full Senate is scheduled to vote on the Sakonnet Bridge/Transportation Infrastructure bill (S 2335 Sub A). This bill will remove the toll from the Sakonnet Bridge which unfairly penalized residents in the East Bay in an attempt to require them to fund the entire state’s infrastructure repair and maintenance. Additionally, the bill provides, through various mechanisms, a vision for funding of much needed repairs and maintenance for RI’s roads and bridges. Watch and wait – there is much going on behind the scenes to reach agreement with the House of Representatives.
 
On a Side Note.
Although it was not a legislative issue, we think that RI taxpayers should take note of just how ingrained overregulation is in this state.
 
The free market, as is its nature, produced an innovative way to deliver medical care more efficiently and at a lower cost for some patients. CVS developed its MinuteClinics as an alternative to emergency room visits, doctor visits and even walk in clinics. They utilize nurse practitioners and physician assistants. This concept also addresses the growing shortage of doctors resulting from Obamacare.  
 
Whether you agree with the concept or not, RI’s own Health Director, Dr. Fine, finally approved plans for CVS to open MinuteClinics in RI.  Of course, there is a catch. There will be more regulations and costs associated with the MinuteClinics. Dr. Fine requires CVS to provide uncompensated care and, under certain circumstances, pay money toward a physician loan repayment program. Like all businesses with good ideas in RI, the government wants you to give a little more.
 
As one commenter on the Drug Store News.com website states “If you can’t find a competitor within a 5 mile radius and refer your customers to them, you get to pay $25,000 to help the state recruit new competitors. If other businesses have customers who can’t pay their bills, you agree to take them.”  Not a great business model.  
 
Considering that the Affordable Care Act did not address affordability and the State of RI has gotten itself into a pickle with expanded Medicaid to the tune of an additional $52 million needed in the next budget, wouldn’t it be nice to allow an innovative idea to just be an innovative idea and reduce the cost of healthcare? 
 
Legislative Hearings   5/20/14 -5/22/14
 
TUE, MAY 12 
House Judiciary
Room 101, Rise (4:30)
 
H 8060 and H 8061 Constitutional Convention resolution.  Previously heard earlier in the month.  Up for consideration.
 

 

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