The Rhode Island House of Representatives has voted to pass legislation that would take guns away from people on domestic restraining orders.
The House voted 55-12 to pass the bill Monday after a lengthy debate. It now moves to the state Senate, with just days before both legislative chambers are preparing to adjourn for the year.
Most Democrats voted in favor. Republicans were opposed.
Anyone on a domestic protective order issued by a court after July 1 would have to surrender guns and wouldn't be able to get them back while the order is in effect.
The legislation would also impose a 6-year gun ban for anyone convicted of certain misdemeanors including simple assault, cyberstalking and disorderly conduct when it involves force or threatened use of a weapon.
Gov. Gina Raimondo says she supports new legislation by Pawtucket's mayor that outlines how to finance a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium.
The governor said Monday that under Mayor Donald Grebien's revised bill, the state ultimately pays nothing for the new ballpark. She urged the General Assembly to give it a "full debate and vetting."
Grebien had previously pushed a bill that calls for the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency to borrow $71 million to build the ballpark. The plan asked the state to pay off $23 million. The team would pay $33 million and the city would pay $15 million.
Pawtucket officials say the bill is expected to explain that the state will not backstop bonds that will raise money for the city's and team's portions.
Several health profession groups have come out in opposition of a Rhode Island bill that would allow law enforcement access to an electronic database of prescription painkillers.
The Senate is scheduled to vote today on the amended bill removing the requirement that law enforcement officials have to obtain a search warrant to access the statewide database.
The database allows health officials to track prescribing patterns for various opioids, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, stimulants and sedatives.
The Rhode Island Medical Society and other groups say the bill compromises patient confidentiality and the database is "a tool for health care, not law enforcement."
The attorney general's office says the bill would allow law enforcement access to information for criminal investigations into "pill mills and drug diversion."
Proposals to guarantee paid sick leave, disarm domestic abusers and ban the use of hand-held phones while driving are among dozens of bills being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly as it enters its final week.
The state Senate is scheduled to vote on a $9.2 billion budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Saturday. The state House of Representatives approved the tax-and-spending plan last week after an hourslong debate.
But even after the Senate OKs the budget and sends it to the desk of Gov. Gina Raimondo, both legislative chambers have many more bills to vote on before they adjourn for the year.
The House, which usually meets from Tuesday through Thursday, will start its final marathon week of deliberations today.
Church employees or volunteers whose work involves routine contact with children could be required to submit to a national criminal background check, if asked, under legislation approved by the General Assembly.
Both legislative chambers approved the legislation and sent it Thursday to the desk of Gov. Gina Raimondo, who could sign or veto it.
It's sponsored by Barrington Democrats, Sen. Cynthia Coyne and Rep. Jason Knight. They say it could help churches and other religious institutions protect children from people with a history of abuse or other dangerous crimes.
It was introduced as a result of the 2015 arrest of a religious educator at Temple Habonim in Barrington in a child pornography sweep.
It would be up to the religious organization to decide whether to ask for a check.
A Rhode Island town has agreed to pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a third-grader who said police interrogated her for hours over a false report.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island sued the town of Tiverton in 2015 after the 8-year-old was taken off a school bus and questioned without her parents because another girl falsely reported she had chemicals in her backpack.
The ACLU said Tuesday the town also agreed to new protocol requiring schools to notify the parents and for parents to be present when police question elementary-age children.
Lawyer Amato DeLuca says the protocol will provide children and their families protections against unreasonable and unwarranted searches and seizures.
The town's attorney, Marc DeSisto, says there was no admission of liability.
Rhode Island lawmakers are again considering a proposal that would outlaw the use of cellphones while driving.
The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the proposed ban Tuesday, moving it to a vote in the full House.
The legislation would prohibit drivers from talking on hand-held devices except in emergencies. Violators would be subject to a $100 fine.
Rhode Island already prohibits texting while driving, but doesn't ban holding the phone to talk. Using a hand-held phone while driving is now banned in several states, including Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.
The Senate passed similar legislation in April and in previous years, but it has repeatedly stalled in the House.
The bill's main proponent, South Kingstown Democratic Sen. Susan Sosnowski, has been introducing it for a decade.
Republican leaders in Rhode Island are asking state education officials to investigate an aide whose family members were given free tuition.
State GOP Chairman Brandon Bell says former state Rep. Frank Montanaro, who now serves as a top aide to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, benefited from free tuition from Rhode Island College while he was on leave.
Montanaro worked at Rhode Island College for 27 years. However, his family members received free tuition the past three years while he was working full time for the General Assembly.
Bell has requested an Audit Report to determine if the tuition waivers were improperly granted.
Montanaro says he was entitled to free tuition under his union contract.
The acting Commissioner of Postsecondary Education Brenda Dann-Messier says the office is reviewing the case.
A proposal to guarantee paid sick days for Rhode Island's private sector workers is moving forward in the state General Assembly as worker advocates seek a compromise with business groups.
The Senate Labor Committee is scheduled to consider a compromise measure today.
It's not known if the panel will move the bill on to a vote in the full Senate. A companion bill is pending in the state House of Representatives.
Lawmakers have been negotiating over a scaled-back proposal.
The original legislation would have required employers to provide workers up to seven paid sick days to care for their own health or a family member's health. That could be dropped to five days, matching what's offered in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Also being debated is an exemption for small business owners.
A proposal to take guns away from domestic abusers and people under domestic restraining orders is moving forward in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today to vote on whether to pass the legislation on to the full House.
The legislation would require people convicted of a crime of domestic violence, including misdemeanors, and anyone subject to a domestic abuse protective order to surrender any firearms they have and prohibit them from acquiring more.
Domestic violence prevention advocates have said momentum has been building for passage of the bill this month after several years of debate. Tweaks have been made to address lawmakers' concerns.
Guns rights groups have opposed the bill.
A similar measure is pending in the state Senate.
The company hired by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to run the Providence-to-Newport ferry says it will remain out of service after sustaining damage in a crash.
SeaStreak says all departures have been canceled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The company says it hopes to resume service by Friday.
The ferry was damaged during a trip from Newport to Providence Saturday night. Officials say the ferry hit a buoy while trying to avoid another boat.
A company spokesman says none of the 18 people aboard the ferry at the time were injured.
The ferry has been sent to New York for repairs before returning to Providence.
The ferry had just started its seasonal service last Friday.
Rhode Island is asking self-driving car companies to consider the smallest state as a testing ground.
The state Department of Transportation has put out a request seeking ideas from developers of autonomous and internet-connected vehicles. State officials held an informational meeting Monday.
Transportation officials say they're still in the early stages of scoping out how Rhode Island could adopt cutting-edge transportation systems and prepare its workforce for changes in how people will get around.
The state is encouraging companies and academic researchers to come up with ideas. Officials have proposed several possible locations, including highway shoulder lanes, downtowns, a college campus and the Quonset seaport.
Self-driving car experimentation is already picking up in neighboring Massachusetts, where three companies have permission to test their vehicles in Boston's Seaport District.
Gas prices are down again in Rhode Island, dropping by one penny since last week.
AAA Northeast said Monday that gas prices are averaging $2.29 per gallon. That's equal to the national average.
Last year at this time, the average price of a gallon of regular in Rhode Island was at the same price.
AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.19 and as high as $2.40 per gallon.
AAA says gas prices dropped in all but four states over the past week. High oil production rates in the U.S. and lower demand could lead to gas prices continuing to fall through the end of June.
North Smithfield Police say a groom was arrested at his wedding reception for assaulting restaurant employees.
Court records showed Frank Redding pleaded no contest Monday to charges of simple assault and vandalism. He initially faced an additional charge of disorderly conduct, but that was dismissed.
Police say an argument with Redding's family members escalated to include restaurant staff on Saturday in North Smithfield. Police say Redding was approached by a staff member because he'd been drinking alcohol that wasn't sold by the facility.
Police say Redding chased the staff member back into the restaurant while threatening to kill him. They say he also assaulted other employees.
Under the plea agreement, Redding received a year of probation and a one-year suspended sentence, with six months to serve.
Work to repair the driving surface of Rhode Island's Mount Hope Bridge is almost done.
The state Turnpike and Bridge Authority says concrete repair work to the bridge deck began in mid-March and is scheduled to be complete by Friday.
The agency says work on the bridge, which connects Bristol to Aquidneck Island, will be finished in time for Bristol's oldest-in-the-nation Fourth of July celebration.
There will be no more construction-related lane closures on the bridge, starting by June 29 and continuing through Sept. 10.
A Rhode Island state senator has apologized for yelling at a man who was testifying at a legislative hearing.
Sen. Stephen Archambault , a Smithfield Democrat, says he "overreacted" during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.
The angry exchange happened during testimony by Terry Gorman, executive director of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement. Gorman was speaking against legislation that would have granted special driver's licenses to immigrants living in the country illegally.
Gorman paused to ask why Archambault and other senators on the committee appeared to be laughing during Gorman's testimony. Archambault retorted that what he was saying to fellow senators was "my business."
Officials say a beached humpback whale was found on the shore and declared dead at a state park in Rhode Island.
The Newport Daily News reports that the whale was discovered at Beavertail State Park in Jamestown on Friday.
Dale Wolbrink, a spokesman for the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, told the newspaper Saturday that rescuers arrived Friday afternoon and the whale was pronounced dead.
Wolbrink says the male whale is 9.7 meters in length.
He says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will determine the best course of action to deal with the whale. The animal will stay in the place where it was discovered.
A stretch of lawn outside the Rhode Island State House could be opened to real estate development as part of a plan being considered by state transportation officials.
The state Department of Transportation says it's in the early stages of looking for developers who could build a new bus-train hub near the Providence railroad station.
A spokesman for the agency says a request for qualifications could be sent out later this month. In addition to a transit hub, the public-private project could also include a commercial or residential high-rise building. One of the possible sites is on the eastern edge of the State House grounds.
Rhode Island state legislators have left their most important decisions of the year for the last two weeks of June.
The state House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Thursday on a $9.2 billion budget that includes tax relief for car owners, a pilot program for tuition-free community college and cuts to government spending.
If approved by the House, it must then be considered by the state Senate before it can move to the desk of Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo. The upcoming fiscal year begins July 1.
Along with the budget, hundreds of other bills are still awaiting a vote in one chamber or both.
Several remain in negotiations, such as legislation to disarm domestic abusers and a proposal to require private employers to guarantee paid sick days.
Rhode Island is offering grants to help communities control stormwater and improve water quality.
The state Department of Environmental Management says applicants have until July 28 to apply for the 2017 Bay and Watershed Restoration Grant.
Officials say there's $3 million in matching grants available for projects that would improve stormwater management and abate stormwater pollution. Three million is available for projects that include the restoration of floodplains and stream banks and dam removals, among other things.
DEM says $400,000 is being offered for projects addressing indirect sources of pollution and improve water quality/aquatic habitat.
The funding is made possible through the 2014 Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities Bond, the 2016 Green Economy Bond and the federal Clean Water Act Section 319 program.
The company hired by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to run the Providence-to-Newport ferry says it will be out of service for several days after a crash.
SeaStreak says in an announcement on its website that the ferry will be out of service for Monday and Tuesday.
The company says the ferry was damaged during a trip from Narragansett to Providence Saturday night. The ferry hit a buoy while trying to avoid another boat.
A company spokesman says none of the 18 people aboard the ferry at the time were injured.
He says the ferry will head to New York, where it will be repaired before returning to Providence.
Launching last year, the ferry service grew to be so popular that officials extended its service and added trips.
A proposed truck-toll project in Rhode Island will cost more than first reported because officials didn't include construction costs.
The state Department of Transportation announced Wednesday it has finalized a $68.9 million contract with Austrian company Kapsch Traffic Com IVHS Inc., to build, operate and maintain the state's planned truck toll network.
The state originally put the toll network at $25 million over the span of 10 years. Officials say that figure includes maintenance costs, but excludes design and construction costs.
Republican House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan says the financial analysis the state presented was misleading because it didn't include construction costs.
Several hundred workers at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike after their employer switched them to a more costly health care plan.
The union that represents the workers says they voted 327-5 on Wednesday to give the company until early Friday to come up with a deal. If not, the workers will walk out.
After notifying union members about a month earlier, Twin River changed health coverage to a different plan offered by the same company in January without collective bargaining. The workers union says the move violates federal fair labor practices.
Union officials have said members are paying higher deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs.
A spokeswoman says Twin River has been aware of the possible strike action and is prepared.
A Rhode Island act of rebellion that was one of the precursors to the American Revolution is being turned into a virtual reality game.
Friday marks the 245th anniversary of the Gaspee Affair, when a group of colonists set fire to a British ship in Narragansett Bay on June 9, 1772.
A group of Brown University students is now working to adapt the history of the burning of the Gaspee into a virtual reality educational experience for students in middle and high schools.
Rhode Island's Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse discussed the project on Tuesday during an annual speech he gives on the Senate floor commemorating the 1772 event.
Rhode Island residents also are scheduled to mark the occasion during this weekend's annual Gaspee Days celebration and parade in Warwick.
A Rhode Island Senate Committee has passed a bill demanding the release of all records related to the investigation of the state's failed $75 million deal with ex-Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's now-bankrupt video game company.
Senators unanimously passed the legislation Wednesday night. It now heads to the senate floor for a full vote.
Gov. Gina Raimondo has argued for the records to be released, saying the public has a right to know what went wrong.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says he is greatly concerned about setting a precedent in releasing sensitive court records.
State police released about 500 pages of internal emails while senators cast their vote. The emails span from 2013 to 2016 and include updates on the case and potential leads.
Advocates for the homeless have pleaded not guilty to citations they received for panhandling in protest of an ordinance in Cranston banning such activity.
They were given a trial date for July in Cranston Municipal Court Tuesday.
The advocates panhandled and distributed fliers at a busy intersection in March.
The city council passed the ordinance earlier this year. Officials described it as a safety measure.
It prohibits people from asking for money while standing in certain places, including on medians near multiple-lane roads or on roads where the speed limit is higher than 25 mph.
Mayor Allan Fung has stood by it.
The American Civil Liberties Union successfully challenged Cranston's previous panhandling ban in court and plans to sue over the new ban.
The ACLU and advocates say it's unconstitutional.
Attacking a pizza deliverer could become a felony in Rhode Island under a proposed state law.
The Rhode Island Senate voted 32-1 Tuesday to pass a bill that would make assaulting a delivery person a crime subject to up to three years in prison and $3,000 in fines.
Those are stiffer penalties than an assault charge carries.
Punishment would be more severe- five to 20 years in prison -if a weapon is used that seriously injures the delivery person.
Sen. Paul Jabour, a Providence Democrat, says he knows a young man who was stabbed while delivering pizza last year. Jabour says the stronger penalties could deter future crimes.
The Providence City Council requested the legislation after a string of robberies. The bill now moves to the House.
A proposal to cut Rhode Island's car taxes is getting support from city mayors.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced his support Tuesday for Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's plan to phase out municipal car taxes by reimbursing cities and towns for the lost revenue.
Elorza and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, both Democrats, testified Tuesday in favor of Mattiello's bill at its first public hearing in the House Finance Committee.
Mattiello's plan would cost the state $26 million in its first year, and $221 million to fully eliminate the taxes by 2023.
Elorza says it would provide immediate relief for city car owners, especially low-income families.
He says a provision exempting cars that are at least 15 years old would take 34,000 vehicles off Providence's car tax rolls.
A new study finds that drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island due to fentanyl are on the rise.
The Brown University study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy finds that about half of the drug overdose deaths in the state from 2014 to 2016 were attributed to fentanyl.
A handful of other states have reported similar increases in deaths related to fentanyl, the same opioid that killed the musician Prince. It can be 50 to 100 times as potent as morphine.
Researcher Brandon Marshall says health officials would be doing much better in addressing the overdose crisis if it weren't for fentanyl. He says it's alarming to see that the proportion of deaths related to fentanyl rose over 50 percent in 2016.
Rhode Island lawmakers have introduced a bill limiting the ability of a town to restrict activities such as weddings or concerts on farmlands.
The Right to Farm Act was introduced by Democrat Deputy Majority Leader Gregory Costantino.
A group of Little Compton residents traveled to a House Municipal Government Committee hearing May 10 to protest the legislation.
Jim Tumber, who lives near Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard, says outdoor events infringe on the community's quality of life and his own ability to enjoy peace and quiet.
Costantino says a substitute compromise bill is in the works, and he hopes to bring it to the House floor.
A spokesman for the speaker and majority leader says they are letting the process play out.
The state is asking for the public's help in tracking the state's wild turkey population.
The state Department of Environmental Management is providing a form on its website , which can be submitted when anyone sees a wild turkey hen or young turkeys, known as poults.
It's evaluating the state's wild turkey population, which is estimated at about 3,000.
DEM says information gathered from the public is helpful in determining the number of poults that survive after common causes of mortality, such as predators, weather and road kill, are taken into account.
It receives hundreds of brood reports annually. Reports can also be made by calling DEM.
A wild turkey restoration project ran from 1980 to 1996.
Birds were released in Exeter, Burrillville, Little Compton, West Greenwich, Foster, Scituate and Tiverton.
Rhode Island state legislators are considering protections for broadband privacy.
Legislation pending in the state's General Assembly is designed to protect residents from disclosure of personally identifiable online information by commercial websites or internet service providers.
Rep. Evan Shanley, a Warwick Democrat who sponsored the bill, says it's a response to the repeal earlier this year of Obama administration rules that would have imposed tight restrictions on what broadband companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast could do with their customers' personal data.
Several states have started writing their own legislation to protect broadband privacy after Republicans in Congress voted to repeal regulations that would have required internet providers to obtain their customers' consent about data use.
Shanley's bill was held for further study after its first hearing in April.
A proposal to speed up the process for Rhode Island developers to get big building projects approved is moving through the state legislature but raising concerns from some towns.
The state House of Representatives voted last week to pass the legislation, moving it to the Senate.
The bill's sponsor, Democratic House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi, says it'll cut the time it takes for developers to get certifications and decision-making for major land development or subdivisions.
Affordable housing developers and building trade groups support it. Town planners say it wouldn't give them enough time to review big projects.
It would cut from 60 to 25 days the time a municipality can take to certify a preliminary plan; and from 120 to 90 days to approve or deny a completed application.
A Rhode Island town council is set to consider a proposal for a 46,000 panel solar farm - the largest solar energy project proposed in the region.
The Hopkinton Town Council is considering a proposal today for the 18-megawatt solar farm on a 60-acre panel in Ashaway.
The applicant, Rhode Island Solar Renewable Energy LLC, is requesting a petition to amend the town's land use map and to change the residential zone of the property to special manufacturing.
Members of the town's Planning Board heard the proposal May 3, but they were unable to reach a consensus on a recommendation to the council.
Planning Board member Amy Williams says she could not recommend a project that would require the clearing of 63 acres of forest.
Gov. Gina Raimondo is vowing to continue taking steps to address climate change despite President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal.
Raimondo said Thursday that she's deeply disappointed with Trump's action. She said the Paris Agreement is about more than just climate change. She said it's also about "opportunity, stewardship and America's standing as a global leader."
Raimondo said that Trump's decision won't deter Rhode Island from pushing forward on steps needed to address climate change.
She said the state has set a goal to secure 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy resources and double the number of renewable energy jobs by 2020. She said she'll continue to work with "partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives."
Aerial dancers were leaping off the side of a 10-story office building as part of an opening ceremony for the signature culture festival of Rhode Island's capital city.
This year's PVD Fest began Thursday afternoon and continues through Sunday in Providence.
Four dancers from Oakland, California-based Bandaloop were harnessed with ropes hanging from the top of an office tower near Providence City Hall. They return for performances on Friday and Saturday nights.
This marks the third year of Providence's free celebration, which includes music and dance, art installations and food. The festival's downtown portion culminates Saturday with a parade, dance party and nighttime musical performances around Kennedy Plaza. A full schedule is available at www.pvdfest.com .
The festival continues Sunday with an art event in the city's West End.
Officials in Westerly say say 20 high school students, all aged 17 or 18, were cited for underage alcohol possession during an ongoing beach drinking enforcement effort.
Westerly Police Capt. Shawn Lacey says many of the students cited were at the beach before prom, which is common for this time of the year.
Lacey says 12 people were cited Tuesday morning at Misquamicut (miss-quahm'-ah-cut) State Beach, and 8 were cited later that afternoon along East Beach.
State law states alcohol possession for those between 18 and 21 carries a minimum penalty of a $200 contribution to charity, 20 hours of community service and a 60-day loss of their license.
Police say beach enforcement is funded through a state grant by the Westerly Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force.
New England's largest - and one of its last - coal-fired power plants is shutting down permanently.
The owner of the Brayton Point Power Station says it will cease operating Wednesday.
The plant has generated electricity since the 1960s along Mount Hope Bay in Somerset, Massachusetts, near the Rhode Island border. It's been cited by federal regulators as one of the region's heaviest polluters.
A decision to close it was made in 2013.
Houston-based plant owner Dynegy says it's worked to help 170 workers find other jobs. A smaller crew is staying on for the decommissioning process.
New England's electric grid operator says the low price of natural gas has led coal plants to retire. Smaller coal plants still operate in New Hampshire and Connecticut. Connecticut's is expected to close by 2021.
Norwegian Air Shuttle has announced new flights out of Rhode Island's main airport.
The low-cost carrier said Wednesday it's adding nonstop flights to Martinique and the Guadeloupe Islands from T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.
Norwegian Air officials say the service will start in October, beginning at $79 one-way.
The carrier said this year it's opening a flight crew base at the airport, located just south of Providence.
The Rhode Island Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would require more transparency from the commission that oversees what gets built on land freed up when Interstate 195 was moved.
The bill passed Wednesday was introduced by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. It would require the I-195 Commission to hold more of its meetings in public. Meetings that aren't open would have to be audio-recorded.
Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat, sponsored legislation that created the commission in 2011. But he has said he's been disappointed by the secrecy of some of its decision-making. Among his concerns has been the commission's handling of a proposed residential skyscraper complex.
The relocation of a portion of I-195 opened up land for development just south of downtown Providence.
Several hundred workers at the Twin River Casino and Event Center in Rhode Island are threatening to go on strike after their employer switched them to a more costly health care plan.
Twin River changed health coverage to a different plan offered by the same company in January without collective bargaining. The workers union says the move violates federal fair labor practices.
Jenna Karlin, vice president of the union, says union members are paying higher deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs. The premium for family coverage rose to about $12,000 a year, and union members say some deductibles increased more than a hundred percent.
A Twin River spokeswoman says the casino does not comment publicly on contract negotiations.
The Rhode Island Senate has filed a bill to release all records related to the investigation of a failed video game venture after state police discovered a "box of documents."
Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio says he believes the new information might be "critical" to the issue.
Gov. Gina Raimondo has long petitioned for records related to the criminal investigation into the state's $75 million deal with 38 Studios, the video game company started by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. Schilling's company moved to the state in 2010 and later went bankrupt.
Raimondo's spokesperson says the governor "is very disappointed" the recently-found documents were not released.
A state police spokesperson says the additional documents will be released as soon as possible.
A plan to eliminate Rhode Island's unpopular car taxes has been introduced in the state legislature.
Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello on Tuesday announced his plan for a six-year phase-out of car taxes, which are levied by cities and towns.
Mattiello says it will cost the state about $221 million to fully eliminate the taxes by 2024.
He says the first $26 million cut would happen in the next fiscal year that begins in July by reducing the percent of a car's retail value that can be taxed from 100 to 95 percent.
Mattiello pledged during a hard-fought re-election last year to eliminate car taxes. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed a more modest cut.
The first public hearing is scheduled for next week.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that would bar licensed health care providers from using so-called gay conversion therapy to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity.
The House voted 69-0 to pass the bill Tuesday, with six legislators not voting. It now moves to the state Senate.
Nevada and Connecticut this month became the latest of eight states to ban the practice.
Rhode Island's proposal would prohibit psychologists, social workers and other licensed health care professionals from using practices that treat homosexuality as an illness and try to cure it in children under 18 years old.
Violations could be subject to disciplinary action or revocation of licenses by the state department of health.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives has voted in favor of allowing parrots, parakeets and similar birds onto state-owned campgrounds.
The House voted 72-1 to pass the bill Tuesday. It now moves to the state Senate.
The legislation is part of a yearslong fight over letting a 23-year-old cockatoo named Tootsie onto Rhode Island campsites.
An earlier proposal was vetoed by then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, in 2012. A second attempt stalled in the legislature in 2015.
Democratic state Rep. Evan Shanley said earlier this year he found a compromise after meeting with the state veterinarian and environmental officials and removing language that would have also allowed gerbils, turtles and goldfish.
Court documents show federal authorities are seeking to seize $195,000 of possible drug money found in two suitcases in the woods in Rhode Island.
A Drug Enforcement Administration agent said in court papers seeking forfeiture filed last week that boys playing in the woods in Barrington found the first suitcase in October and told a parent who took it to the police station.
Documents say the boys led police to where they found the first suitcase and officers located the second one.
The agent says there's cause to believe that the money "is the proceeds" of drug sales or was intended to buy drugs.
Documents say federal authorities want the money based on laws that allow the civil forfeiture of money "involved in or used to facilitate drug trafficking.
Police say a Rhode Island man is facing charges after he allegedly stole several rent payments left by tenants at a local inn.
Officers were called to the Elm Tree Inn after staff complained of someone breaking into the office.
Officers using surveillance camera footage have identified 41-year-old David Hazard as the suspect.
Hazard told police he was trying to get his own rent money, however video showed several other tenants making deposits. Police say at least $310 should have been in the safe, but it was found empty.
Police say Hazard was taken into custody and is facing charges for burglary, larceny and criminal mischief.
Court records show Hazard has previously pleaded not guilty to two other larceny-related charges this year.
The cost of a gallon of gasoline in Rhode Island has risen 3 cents in the past week, but remains lower than the national average.
AAA Northeast said Tuesday that self-serve, regular is now selling for an average of $2.34 per gallon, which is 3 cents lower than the national average and a penny higher than the Rhode Island price from a year ago.
AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.17 and as high as $2.45 per gallon.
The increase in the cost of gas was driven in part by higher demand for car trips over the Memorial Day weekend.
Gov. Gina Raimondo has established a board to advise her on homeland security and cybersecurity issues.
The governor signed an executive order creating Rhode Island's first Homeland Security Advisory Board Thursday.
The seven-member board will work with the state's cybersecurity officer, law enforcement and other stakeholders to monitor the state's progress on implementing recommendations from the Cybersecurity Commission.
The order dissolves that commission, which last met in December 2015.
Raimondo established the commission in 2015 to figure out how to better protect the state from cyber threats while growing its industry and economy. It recommended strategically integrating cybersecurity into the state's homeland security mission.
The advisory board is charged with issuing a report evaluating the status of Rhode Island's cybersecurity plan by December.
Its membership hasn't been finalized.
Pawtucket's mayor says he plans to continue pushing for a bill that would help finance a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium.
Mayor Don Grebien said Friday that he will keep advocating "in the best interest of Pawtucket" for the legislation.
The Democrat has been pushing a bill that calls for the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency to borrow $71 million to build the ballpark. The plan asks the state to pay off $23 million. The team would pay $33 million and the city would pay $15 million.
Plans for the new stadium reached a dead end last Tuesday when Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, a Democrat, said it's too late in the legislative session to review the proposal.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said Thursday she can't support the bill.
A legislative committee studying Rhode Island's tourism promotion efforts is recommending that the state consider changing its tourism management and oversight.
In a report issued Friday, the panel advised the state to "reevaluate" the formula used for the distribution of Rhode Island's Hotel and Lodging Tax to fund tourism marketing and branding. It asked the state to consider a "new distribution formula" to reflect a "21st century tourism investment model."
The panel, set to expire this year, proposed continuing to work through the end of 2018.
The state Commerce Corporation in February approved spending $4.3 million on this year's tourism and business attraction efforts after a 2016 tourism campaign brought international embarrassment over its "Cooler and Warmer" slogan and a promotional video that featured a scene from Iceland.
Gov. Gina Raimondo's strategy of using tax credits to spur Rhode Island's economic development could create nearly 1,500 new jobs promised by 17 companies that have signed deals with the state.
Her efforts include some clear wins, such as new high-tech branch offices for General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and Virgin Pulse. But some state legislators are wondering if it's time to scale back the incentives to meet other budget priorities.
The state Commerce Corporation has approved $30.7 million in the job-creation agreements since early 2016. The most recent was approved last week.
Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says "you can't keep giving those incentives out forever." Republican House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan says subsidies would be better spent attracting a "whale" company rather than smaller 100-person branch offices.
Some medical marijuana proponents in Rhode Island are seeking to expand the number of dispensaries in the state.
State law currently allows for up to three dispensaries. A proposal that would double that number has been discussed at hearings held by state House and Senate committees but it's unclear whether it will be addressed this session.
State Sen. Stephen Archambault, a Smithfield Democrat and supporter of the bill, says people will be able to get medical marijuana from the dispensaries, called compassion centers, "more easily and at a decreased cost" if the bill passes.
Existing dispensaries have argued that more competition could kill their operations.
Rhode Island last year enacted reforms aimed at improving oversight of its decade-old medical marijuana system.
A plan to cut Rhode Island's unpopular car taxes is being introduced in the state legislature.
Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is scheduled to introduce the bill Tuesday.
Mattiello pledged during a hard-fought re-election last year to eliminate car taxes, which are levied by cities and towns. He wants a six-year phase-out of the taxes, which could cost about $215 million. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed a more modest cut.
Mattiello spokesman Larry Berman says the first public hearing on the bill could happen in early June.
It's unclear why Mattiello has waited until the legislative session's final weeks for the proposal's public vetting.
Lawmakers convened in January. They're expected to adjourn in June after approving a new state budget for the fiscal year that begins in July.
A former Playboy executive has hosted a political fundraiser attended by Rhode Island's governor.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo traveled to Chicago on a 1-day trip Tuesday to attend the fundraiser.
Raimondo campaign spokeswoman Kate Ramstad on Wednesday confirmed that the event was at the home of Democratic fundraiser and former Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, who is the daughter of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
Raimondo has said she plans to run for re-election as governor in 2018.
It's not the first time Raimondo has gone to Chicago for a fundraiser. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Democratic congressman who was also a White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama, co-hosted a 2013 fundraiser for Raimondo when she was a state treasurer considering a run for governor.
Supporters of a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox say Rhode Island could lose the team if state legislators don't reconsider a stalled proposal to help finance the project.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien and other supporters held a Wednesday news conference at the State House.
The team is seeking a $23 million state investment for its $83 million proposal to build a downtown Pawtucket ballpark.
The Democrat says the state will lose revenue and an important cultural institution if the team leaves.
Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said Tuesday he won't consider the stadium proposal in this year's session, which ends next month. Ruggerio says he's not worried about the team leaving because the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate has a lease to play at McCoy Stadium through 2020.
A former Rhode Island state lawmaker has been indicted on embezzlement and campaign fraud charges.
A statewide grand jury on Wednesday indicted former state Rep. Peter Palumbo, a Cranston Democrat who lost his re-election campaign in 2014.
Prosecutors allege the 56-year-old Palumbo embezzled more than $100 from his campaign between January 2010 and December 2014. They say he unlawfully appropriated more than $1,000 from the same account.
Prosecutors say Palumbo unlawfully used campaign funds for personal use.
He's set to be arraigned in June.
Providence Police say three men were arrested after they tried to crash multiple graduation parties near Providence College.
They say a graduate told them three strangers tried to get into his party Saturday night and became angry when he refused to let them in. He told police the men vandalized the home and challenged him to a fight before fleeing.
Police say the men then tried to crash another party.
Thirty-year-old Scott Strom, of Cumberland, 32-year-old Bryant Lagasse, of West Boylston, Massachusetts, and 23-year-old Joshua Stein, of Providence, were arraigned Wednesday on vandalism and disorderly conduct charges. Court records don't list attorneys for the men.
A Massachusetts Department of Corrections spokesman says Stein is a correctional officer at the MCI-Concord men's medium-security prison.
A Rhode Island theater company that abruptly closed this week is being sued for more than $860,000.
The Ocean State Theatre Company in Warwick announced its closure Tuesday. The company that owns the building where it used to operate is seeking unpaid rent and other costs.
The theater group chairman had described their financial situation as "challenging" when announcing the closure.
The building owner says he was surprised by the theater's decision, believing the company was going to stay through July and then find another location.
The theater company's managing artistic director declined to comment on the suit.
Warwick's mayor says he hopes another theater company will take over the space.
Data analysis finds only 24 out of the 704 people who appealed their cars' state-assessed value in the past three years were able to get a Rhode Island commission to reduce the value of their car.
The Rhode Island Vehicle Value Commission sets the value of the cars to determine a person's car tax bill. The value is based on a guide by the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union say the commission should consider other factors, such as the vehicle's age, to determine a car's value.
Gov. Gina Raimondo is proposing to cut the car tax by 30 percent next year. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he wants to eliminate the tax completely over the next six years.
Republicans and the American Trucking Association are calling on Rhode Island leaders to repeal a law passed last year that allows the state to install highway tolls on big-rig trucks.
House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan held a news conference Tuesday with fellow Republican legislators and trucker advocates calling for repeal of the toll-financed plan to repair the state's bridges.
They say they've studied how the tolls would work and it doesn't add up.
Rhode Island Trucking Association President Chris Maxwell is also questioning whether the funding is actually needed. Maxwell says inspection reports show one pending project, a replacement of Interstate 95's Oxford Street crossing in Providence, is unnecessary because the 1963-built bridge is structurally sound.
The state Department of Transportation didn't immediately return requests for comment about the claims.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed legislation that would deregulate the business of African-style hair braiding, which practitioners say is a cultural tradition and art form that shouldn't be subject to cosmetology rules.
The House unanimously passed the bill Tuesday. It now moves to the Senate.
It would exempt natural hair braiders from the costly licensing requirements for hairdressers and barbers.
Braiders say training and chemical safety rules for cosmetologists aren't relevant to what they do.
They're backed by a bipartisan group that included the bill's sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Anastasia Williams and conservative and libertarian organizations seeking to cut business regulations.
The national law group Institute for Justice has been fighting for years to deregulate braiding around the country.
Beauty schools have opposed the efforts nationally.
A judge has ruled against a Rhode Island textile company accused of discriminating against a woman when she was denied an internship because she uses medical marijuana to treat migraine headaches.
The Superior Court judge's decision released Tuesday found that the Westerly-based Darlington Fabrics Corp. had violated the state's Hawkins-Slater Medical Marijuana Act, which prevents discrimination against card-carrying medical marijuana users.
The complaint said Christine Callaghan, who was a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, negotiated a paid internship with Darlington Fabrics in 2014 but lost it after disclosing she held a medical marijuana card.
The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island.
The price of gasoline in Rhode Island has remained the same since last week.
AAA Northeast said Monday that self-serve, regular is averaging $2.31 per gallon. That price is five cents below the national average of $2.36.
The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is two cents higher than it was at this time last year. At that time, gas was averaging $2.29.
AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.17 per gallon and as high as $2.44.
The Providence City Council will still consider changing its rules to allow for the removal of the president after the council's indicted leader stepped down last week.
The proposal would allow for a two-thirds council vote to permanently remove a president. Acting President Sabina Matos says the council will send it to a committee rather than vote on the matter Monday.
Former President Luis Aponte resigned from the position on Friday, saying it was in the best interest of his constituents. He remains a member of the council.
Aponte was charged this month with embezzlement and misusing campaign funds. The Democrat pleaded not guilty.
The resignation came after council members called for the special meeting to consider changing its rules to allow for Aponte's removal.
The leader of the Rhode Island House of Representatives is promising "no late-night sessions" as the legislature is just weeks away from adjourning for the year.
Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he can assure the public there won't be a repeat of what happened last June, when lawmakers adjourned after an all-nighter meeting that lasted into dawn.
Mattiello says he hopes to pass a budget by mid-June. There's a lot still to be decided. Legislators will have to cut nearly $134 million from the spending plan presented earlier this year by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo. Updated forecasts show less revenue to work with and higher-than-expected spending by state agencies.
House Democrats held a closed-door meeting last week. Mattiello says their priorities include protecting hospitals and nursing homes from cuts.
From G.I. Joe to My Little Pony, toy maker Hasbro says it's holding the first-ever convention to bring all of its brands together.
The Pawtucket -based company says its HASCON family and fan event will be held in Providence in September. Tickets went on sale this week.
Among those scheduled to participate are 94-year-old Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee, YouTube stars Dude Perfect, actors who have voiced Transformers and My Little Pony cartoons and Candace Payne, who became a social media sensation with a Facebook video of herself in a Hasbro-made Chewbacca mask.
The toy company has been venturing more into the entertainment industry in recent years, capitalizing on brands such as Transformers, G.I. Joe., Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering to move into films, TV and video games.
Workers at the Rhode Island State House are taking guesses at what might be hidden behind a recently uncovered vault door.
The door was revealed as contractors removed wall paneling in a basement office at the capitol on Thursday.
For now, it's unclear what's behind the door, as no one knows the combination to the lock. Faded lettering reads "State Returning Board," a now-defunct body that oversaw vote counting.
Frank Montanaro, legislative services director for the General Assembly, says it would be possible to lift the heavy door off its hinges. But that would be expensive enough to require budgetary approval. Otherwise, he's left hoping that some retired government employee knows the code.
A multimillion-dollar renovation of a nearly 200-year-old Rhode Island building, once the state fair centerpiece, has been completed to provide housing for the homeless.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today at the Fair House in Warwick. The exhibit hall was built around 1820, and has been remodeled to provide 10 apartments for people without homes or people with disabilities.
The $2.5 million project was undertaken by a homelessness prevention group with help from the city, state and federal governments, along with preservationists.
Snow days at Rhode Island schools might not just be for sledding anymore.
The state Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposal that would allow schools to provide at-home virtual education to students if classes are canceled because of inclement weather or another emergency.
It was introduced by state Sen. Roger Picard, a Woonsocket Democrat who was inspired by a New Hampshire program known as "blizzard bags."
Picard has also said he was motivated by the many lost school days caused by blizzards and other snowstorms in early 2015.
His legislation would allow for the virtual education curriculum to count as a school day. Participation by school districts would be voluntary.
The Senate passed Picard's legislation last year but it stalled in the House.
The state Division of Motor Vehicles says it's temporarily closing its Wakefield office to launch a long-delayed new computer system.
The DMV office in the Oliver Stedman Government Center in Wakefield will close today. It's expected to reopen July 18.
The DMV says Wakefield staff members will undergo training on the new computer system, which it plans to launch on July 5.
Many DMV transactions can be completed through the mail or online. The agency has waived banking fees for most online transactions during the launch period.
The total cost of the new computer system will be about $19 million.
The U.S. Coast Guard is opening seasonal stations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the summer boating season.
The Coast Guard says Station Scituate opens Monday and Station Block Island opens Friday.
They are scheduled to remain open through Labor Day.
The stations' crews perform missions including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and recreational boating safety.
The stations are each equipped with 29-foot response boats and crews that are available to respond 24 hours a day.
The stations are overseen by the commanding officers of nearby year-round stations.
Police evacuated an apartment complex and several businesses after a hand grenade was found inside a West Warwick apartment.
Detective Sgt. Stephen Vannini says police were at the home Wednesday to deliver a temporary restraining order. Officers were ordering the subject of a restraining order to surrender all weapons when another person told police about the live hand grenade in a closet.
The state police bomb squad was called and traffic in the area was cordoned off while the grenade was safely removed.
No arrests have been made in connection with the incident and police are continuing to investigate.
A Rhode Island judge has denied a request to release secret grand jury records from the criminal investigation into the state's $75 million deal with the video game company started by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice Gibney on Thursday denied Gov. Gina Raimondo's petition for the 38 Studios records.
Gibney says the governor hasn't shown that the "public clamor" for disclosure outweighs the need for secrecy.
The judge sided with arguments made by Democratic Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, who has said releasing the records would undermine the grand jury process.
The grand jury concluded its work in 2015 with no criminal charges.
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