Watch Us Occupy Providence

Tonight, three Herald editors will sleep in a tent in Burnside Park, reporting on Occupy Providence. We’ll be talking with Occupiers, visitors, Brown students and maybe the weather gods, if Providence decides to do what it does best.

Check us out, starting at 9 p.m.

Spotlight on the State House: Vol. XI

No, tomorrow’s not just the Royal Wedding — the House and Senate will approve resolutions today to declare April 29 “World Wish Day” in Rhode Island. But that’s not all the General Assembly has been up to…

State Rep. Christopher Blazejewski introduced a bill that would help the state become a “national leader” in social ventures — privately-funded companies looking to serve a public good. “Rhode Island is well-positioned to become the Silicon Valley of the social venture movement,” Blazejewski said.

Sen. John Tassoni Jr. is sponsoring a bill to prohibit cell phone usage by students in schools except in the case of emergencies. The bill would also establish penalties for students violating the bill, including relinquishing their phone for the remainder of the school year for a fourth offense (what!). Old people may continue to use their phones in whatever fashion they like.

Sen. Rhoda Perry is sponsoring a bill called “The Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act” that would specify protocol for use of handcuffs and shackles for prisoners in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. The bill will be considered by the Senate Committee on Judiciary today. We tried to say something funny about this bill, but pregnancy jokes are really, really bad.

Happy weekend!

Spotlight on the State House: Vol. X

As fun as Spring Week has been for us, the General Assembly has been slogging along.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary is meeting today to hear the “Safe Schools Act,” a bill developed by a special Senate commission that has been studying the issues of cyberbullying, cyberthreats, bullying and sexting. The bill calls for a unified statewide policy against cyberbullying, as well as a set protocol for investigating and responding to such incidents. We wonder how exactly the committee went about its study of sexting?

The Senate Committee on Housing & Municipal Government is hearing a bill today on the development of the land freed up by the relocation of I-195. The legislation’s aim is to make sure the land will be used to support “the growth of a knowledge-based economy, due to its proximity to universities, hospitals and medical schools.”   Continue Reading

Spotlight on the State House: Vol. VIII

It may be (almost) Spring Break for us, but the General Assembly is still hard at work.

Sen. Juan Pichardo introduced two bills this week that aim to increase public safety and reduce what he called the growing problem of gang violence in Rhode Island. The bills would create an Office of Gang and Youth Violence, as well as address neighborhood conditions that “allow gangs to thrive and expand,” and offer programs to adult gang members that would allow a “way out” of gang life.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings Wednesday on bills concerning voter ID and criminal background checks. Among the bills was one sponsored by Rep. Doreen Costa that would require all voters in Rhode Island elections to present identification at the polls. Another, sponsored by Rep. Elaine Coderre, would prohibit those convicted of animal cruelty from owning or living with animals. But what about kids who LOOK like animals?

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee held hearings Wednesday on bills that would ban indoor tanning for anyone under 18 — without a medical prescription — and require health screenings for newborns. The underage tanning bill, sponsored by Sen. Rhoda Perry, would also mandate that the Department of Health issue safety standards for all tanning facilities. Better get it while you still can!

Happy break!

Spotlight on the State House: Vol. VI

Despite Mayor Angel Taveras’ characterization of Providence’s fiscal situation as a “Category-5 hurricane” this week, the General Assembly has kept on truckin’.

The House Committee on Labor met yesterday to hear testimony on a bill that would push back notification requirements for dismissals, suspensions or layoffs from March 1 to June 1. The March 1 notification requirement was largely responsible for the mayor’s firings of all of Providence’s 1,926 teachers this month.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to meet today to review several same-sex marriage bills. Among the bills are Sen. Rhoda Perry’s proposal that “gender-specific language” be removed from general laws regarding marriage eligibility, as well as Sen. Frank Ciccone III’s proposal to put a question on the ballot asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman but allow recognition of civil unions between two members of the same sex. Given that 50 percent of Rhode Islanders said they support legislation in favor of same sex marriage according to a poll last month — as opposed to 41 percent who said they oppose it — these bills may be a little behind the times. Continue Reading

Spotlight on the State House: Vol. IV

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.” Continue Reading