1540 WADK.com Updates

State Education Commissioner's Tires Stolen Again

State Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green is the victim of a crime, for a second time. The tires were stolen off her car yesterday in Central Falls. The same thing happened last month when thieves took the tires while the car was parked in the commissioner's garage in Central Falls.

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Legislation To Control Prescription Drug Prices

There's legislation to create a prescription drug affordability board in Rhode Island. It would investigate and evaluate drug prices in and possible ways to make prescription drugs more affordable. The bill's sponsor, Warwick Representative Joseph McNamara, says with prices at an all-time high, state government has to find innovative ways to rein in consumer spending.

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House Speaker Cancels Convention Center Audit

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has withdrawn a request for an audit of the Rhode Island Convention Center. House Minority Leader Blake Filippi filed a lawsuit, accusing Mattiello of ordering the audit after a friend of the speakers was suspended from his job as the Convention Center's director of security. Filippi argued Mattiello ordered the audit when it should have been authorized by the Joint Committee on Legislative Services. Additionally, the Convention Center Authority's board voted unanimously to not comply with the audit until it was authorized by the committee.

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Call For Review Of RI Veterans Home

There are calls for a House Oversight Committee hearing to review the trouble-plagued Rhode Island Veterans Home. The long-term care facility has financial problems that have caused a reduction or elimination of various benefits for residents.  West Warwick Representative Patricia Serpa, who chairs the Oversight Committee, says she's scheduled a meeting for early next month to look into the situation.

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Single-Game Tickets For 2020 PawSox Baseball Now On Sale

Single-game tickets for the final season of Pawtucket Red Sox baseball go on sale today. This season will be the 50th anniversary for the PawSox, and the team says throughout the season, it will celebrate all that is good about PawSox baseball. The team is planning to play in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2021.

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Brown University Official Tied To Epstein Controversy Resigns

Brown University fundraising director Peter Cohen is resigning after a controversy over Jeffrey Epstein during Cohen's time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Media reports, plus an investigation commissioned by MIT, found that the Media Lab accepted donations from Epstein and listed them as anonymous to avoid public scrutiny, during a time when Cohen was the director of development for the lab. Cohen was put on leave from his Brown job last year after those allegations came to light. A university spokesperson said in an email to The Providence Journal that Cohen resigned on Tuesday.

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State Treasurer Announces Pension System Action

Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner is announcing that the state's pension fund will stop investing in assault weapon manufacturers and private prison operators. Magaziner said the State Investment Commission voted to approve his proposal to pull out the investments. Magaziner said assault weapons and for-profit prisons have caused too much pain for countless Americans, and that this allows the state to do the right thing without impacting the health of the pensions system.

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Gun Bills Heard Wednesday

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee took testimony on Wednesday on several pieces of legislation concerning firearms. The three bills heard by the committee would establish a statewide records management system, would mandate that applications for gun purchases be sent to the buyer's hometown police department, and another bill would ban the use of untraceable firearms, including 3D-printed ones. 

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Tiverton Obtains Defibrillators For Beaches

There are going to be automated external defibrillators at Tiverton's two beaches.  St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River,  responded to a request for help to obtain the expensive equipment. The AEDs will be available in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest at Fogland and Grinnell's beaches.

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Longtime Garden City Tenant Is Relocating

Cohoes is leaving the Garden City Center at the end of next month. The clothing store is reportedly relocating elsewhere in Cranston when its lease expires. Cohoes has been a Garden City tenant for many years.

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Guilty Plea In Scam Targeting Senior Citizens

A Boston man is scheduled for sentencing in April for his role in a scam targeting senior citizens. The U.S. Attorney's office says 32-year-old Julio Feliciano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Prosecutors say Feliciano and his accomplices contacted senior citizens in several states and falsely told them cash payments were required for bail to get a relative out of jail. The scam victims were told to mail cash to various locations in Rhode Island.

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Housing Construction Moratorium In Narragansett

There's a 60-day moratorium in Narragansett on building houses with more than four bedrooms. The Providence Journal reports it's to give the town needed time to update ordinances to control dormitory-style buildings and rooming houses. Narragansett is popular among college students for off-campus living. Town officials say houses being built with six or more bedrooms for the purpose of renting for profit is threatening to have an excessive impact on residential areas.

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New E.Providence Bus Worker Contract Agreement Announced

The threat of a bus worker strike in East Providence appears to be over. Multiple media outlets report Teamsters Local 251, which represents bus drivers, aides and monitors, has reached a deal with Ocean State Transit. The union had voted to authorize a strike last week. The contract needs to be ratified.

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Commuters Had No Heat On Train Early Tuesday

Commuters on the Providence-Stoughton MBTA train early yesterday morning reportedly had to travel without heat in freezing-cold temperatures. The T said the 4:45 a.m. Providence train from Wickford Junction was operating with minimum lighting and without heat due to a power issue. The T's commuter rail Twitter account apologized for the issue and said the train still had to run to avoid cancellations.

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RI Getting Federal Pre-K Grant Money

Governor Gina Raimondo announced a three-year, 27-million-dollar federal pre-school development grant on Tuesday. Some of the money will pay for Raimondo's budget proposal from last week to add hundreds of additional pre-K seats. Raimondo spoke about the grant at a press event at the Meeting Street School in Providence, where she also shared details about a new media campaign called the Rhode Island Way, which aims to raise awareness about the state's early childhood support programs.

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Committees Going Through Gun Bills

Firearm legislation is being taken up this week by the Rhode Island General Assembly. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation banning untraceable guns, including 3D-printed guns. The House Judiciary Committee will consider the companion bill for that one today, plus two others: legislation to establish a statewide public safety computer-aided dispatch records management system, and a bill that mandates sending firearm applications to the buyer's local police department.

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RIDOT To Resume Highway Renumbering Project

The state Department of Transportation is resuming the highway renumbering project next week. Exit numbers will be changed on I-195 from the I-95 Interchange in Providence to the Massachusetts border in East Providence. The new numbers are part of a federal program to update highway numbering for interstates and other limited-access highways.

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U.S. Postal Service Denies Rural Delivery

The U.S. Postal Service is denying a request for rural mail delivery in the Albion section of Lincoln. The Albion post office burned down three years ago and since then area residents have had to drive two miles to get their mail in Manville. The woman who spearheaded a petition drive seeking home delivery says it was denied due to the cost of adding the route. She says she'll appeal.

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RI National Guard Troops Deployed

The Rhode Island National Guard's 115th Military Police Company is headed to the Middle East. There was a send-off ceremony on Saturday and the soldiers left Monday. They will be away from home for eleven months as part of Operation Spartan Shield.

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State Medicaid Director Leaving

Rhode Island Medicaid director Patrick Tigue is leaving the post. Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones says Tigue's step-down is effective February 1st. Tigue is reportedly taking a private-sector job in Boston. Deputy Medicaid director Ben Shaffer is being named acting director.

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One-Year Anniversary Of Aquidneck Island Gas Outage

We have hit the one-year anniversary mark for the Aquidneck Island natural gas outage crisis. Thousands of customers lost gas service during a very cold stretch of weather; the outage lasted about a week. A report released from the state blamed the outage on the extreme cold leading to high demand, and also blamed, among others, National Grid. The company says it has taken steps to prepare for gas operations on the island for this winter season, including trucked liquid natural gas equipment that will be available for use at its property on Old Mill Lane in Portsmouth; that site was said to have become operational at the end of November.

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Senate President Files Appointment Legislation

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio is pushing for the Senate to have a role in some of the governor's appointments. He wants Senate advice and consent for appointments to the offices of Elementary & Secondary Education Commissioner and Postsecondary Education Commissioner. Ruggerio says his legislation is a matter of good public policy.

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Committee Hearing On Medical Marijuana Bill

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing this week on a medical marijuana bill regarding compassion center licensing regulations. The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, would amend the law passed last year to allow licensing six new compassion centers and increase the licensing fee to 500-thousand-dollars each. 

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Survey: Raimondo Among Least Popular Governors

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is one of the least popular governors in the country. She is third from the bottom in the latest survey from the website Morning Consult. Raimondo's approval rating is 35-percent while her disapproval rating is 55-percent. The only two more unpopular governors are Democrat David Ige of Hawaii and Kentucky Republican Matt Bevin.

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RIPTA Bus In Downtown Providence Collision

The cause of a crash between a RIPTA bus and an SUV in Providence is under investigation. It happened around noon yesterday on South Main Street near Power Street. Police say about a dozen people were treated for minor injuries.

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