Spotlight on the State House: Vol. V

From approving Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s appointments to the state’s board of top education officials to addressing the dangers of wood-fired heaters, the General Assembly was back to work in full force this week.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing yesterday on a flurry of bills that deal with alcohol, motor vehicle violations, and drunk driving. A bill to eliminate underage nights at nightclubs that serve alcohol will have few fans among Brown students. But good news for bikers — legislation proposed by Rep. Joseph McNamara will require drivers to drive at least three feet away from bicyclists.

With the state Department of Health set to announce which three compassion center applicants will get to open marijuana dispensaries March 8, state legislators have introduced bills that would allow only these compassion centers to sell marijuana and would empower the state police to conduct random, unannounced searches of the compassion centers. Under current state law, caregivers can also provide medical marijuana. The bill’s sponsors said in a press release that they aim “to ensure a higher level of professionalism” in marijuana cultivation.
Be sure to wear a seat belt the next time you take that Zipcar out for a spin. A bill sponsored by Rep. Anastasia Williams would make failing to wear a seat belt a primary offense. Currently, officers can only fault drivers for not wearing seat belts if they are pulled over for a more serious offense like driving above the speed limit.
And Wednesday, state legislators took up the pressing issue of “the current status and trends of the Rhode Island fishing industry.” Items on the Special Senate Task Force on Fisheries include investigating the distribution of local seafood and finding ways to increase the availability of Rhode Island seafood to the state’s consumers. Sad you missed the hearing? You can always say you attended on Facebook.

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