Between breaks as they celebrate Dominican Republic Independence Day, Rhode Island legislators have been busy.
Rep. Grace Diaz has introduced a bill that would expand Rhode Island’s racial profiling laws. The legislation would target law-enforcement policies in an effort to prevent profiling — it would standardize requirements for traffic stops, have police to account in writing for grounds of “reasonable suspicion” before conducting a search, and bar the questioning of car passengers without grounds for suspicion. Three teenagers gave accounts of their experiences with racial profiling, one of whom — Brian Capcap, a 17-year-old from Cranston — was grabbed by the police and arrested for no ascertainable reason. As they put him in the cruiser, Capcap said he overheard one of the policemen say, “Damn Asians.”
Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy has introduced the “Used Cooking Oil Recycling Act,” which would have the Department of Environmental Management facilitate the collection, treatment, and recycling of used cooking oil for any commercial venue selling cooking oil. The bill would require these venues to have a receptacle for grease generated by their customers, and this grease would be transported to refineries and turned into biodiesel. Kennedy got the idea from students at Westerly Middle School who took up a similar project this month.
The Special Senate Commission to Study Cost Containment, Efficiency and Transparency in the Delivery of Quality Patient Care and Access by Hospitals will meet Monday to discuss — shocker — the transparency of hospital rates. The commission aims to standardize the rate policy and make it more efficient to keep the rising costs of health care in check.
Death by plow no more — Rep. Robert D. Phillips has introduced a bill that would call for flashing lights on all snowplows and other snow removal equipment. Though snowfall is winding down (we hope!) for this year, this bill will aid residents in future years, he said. “Sometimes it was impossible to get out of the path of a plow because you just couldn’t see it coming,” he explained.