Spotlight on the State House: Vol. I

Perhaps you’ve heard of them.

Rhode Island’s state legislature, better  known as the General Assembly, is always making news for debating budgets,  proposing new state programs and giving the rest of us a lesson in Christmastime semantics.

As they start their 2011 session this spring, we’re bringing you a weekly round-up of the interesting, quirky and just plain astounding things under consideration by everyone’s favorite part-time legislature.

Last week, Rep. Donald Lally Jr. proposed a bill permanently changing the day of Halloween to the last Saturday of October, regardless of whether it falls on the 31st.  According to the Jan. 29 Providence Journal, Lally “says he’s not sure if it’s a good idea,” but proposed the bill because a constituent approached him about it. One Brown student found the real story here, pointing out that the bill means “there won’t be that extra night to party.”

Sen. John Tassoni Jr. — who’s also been hard at work defending Rhode Island’s school children from cyberbullying — has proposed creating an artificial reef program to foster biodiversity in The Ocean State’s waters. The artificial reefs would be made of “scuttled ships, remains of demolished drawbridges or other materials,” and the state would put $5 million towards the program.

Rep. Jon Brien introduced legislation to put a referendum on the ballot asking voters to decide on a constitutional amendment stipulating that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the State of Rhode Island.” Brien’s efforts come as a bill to legalize same-sex marriage is gaining momentum in the General Assembly.  The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Brown’s Rep. Edith Ajello, will hold a hearing on the issue next Wednesday.

But leave it to adverse weather conditions to hold back state legislators this week. The midweek snowpocalyspe hit the General Assembly hard — all hearings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were cancelled.

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