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1540 Updates Archives for 2018-06

Stadium Theater To Honor 2nd Story Theater Tickets

The Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket is going to honor tickets from the 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, which is closing for good this Sunday.  Ticket holders for canceled shows will be able to exchange their tickets at the Stadium Theatre box office through the end of July.  

Chafee Endorses Brown For Governor

Former governor and U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee is endorsing Matt Brown in the race for governor.  He says incumbent Gina Raimondo's economic development strategy is big taxpayer giveaways to corporate campaign donors.  Brown is challenging Raimondo for the Democratic Party nomination.

Nardolillo Drops Out Of U.S. Senate Race

Coventry State Representative Robert Nardolillo is out of the race for the U.S. Senate.  His decision comes after Bob Flanders won the state Republican Party nomination Wednesday night.  Nardolillo says he's now supporting Flanders in his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.   

New Employee Leave Act Taking Effect

The State Department of Labor and Training is reminding employers in the state that the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces act takes effect on Sunday.  Under the new law, companies with 18 or more employees will be required to offer paid sick leave, up to 24 hours this year, 32 hours next year and up to 40 hours after that.  The sick and safe leave can be used for a variety of reasons, including for someone who experiences domestic violence, sexual abuse or stalking.  Employers with fewer than 18 workers must provide sick and safe leave time, but it does not have to be paid.

Smithfield Manufacturing Center To Be Renovated

Governor Gina Raimondo is announcing that Rhode Island has been selected for a new manufacturing facility site.  Biotechnology company Rubius Therapeutics will renovate an existing 135-thousand-square-foot facility in Smithfield, according to the state.  The move will result in 160 new jobs.  The state Commerce Corporation approved nearly three-million-dollars in tax credits to support the project. 

Rhode Island Lawsuit Filed Against Opioid Makers

The city of Providence is filing a federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers.  The suit is similar to others filed by governments across the country which blame the companies for profiting off of a crisis.   Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced prescription opiate legislation was filed on behalf of the state this week.

Fourth Middletown Audio-Video Store Worker Arrested

A fourth suspect is facing charges in the case of nude photos being illegally accessed and shared from the cell phones and computers of customers of an East Bay business.  State Police reports indicate Adam Jilling of West Warwick faces charges of access to a computer for fraudulent purposes and conspiracy.  Jilling is a former sales associate who worked at Flint Audio Video in Middletown.  Police say Jilling solicited the former store manager there to illegally access the nude images. 

Two Arrested For Throwing Graduation Party With Drugs, Alcohol

Three people are under arrest in connection to a graduation party in Cranston.  Kimberly Ruggerio of Cranston and Carolyn Bird of East Providence allegedly hosted a party on June 9th when an 18-year-old woman was transported to Rhode Island Hospital after suffering an apparent overdose.  Witnesses reportedly told police that marijuana and alcohol were provided and distributed by Ruggerio and Bird.  Police are also charging Joseph Kirtlink of East Greenwich for the alleged sexual assault of another 18-year-old at the party. 

Brown University Head Concerned Over Court Backed Trump Decisions

Brown University's president says she's deeply concerned about how the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding President Donald Trump's ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries will impact international students and scholars. Christina Paxson said Wednesday she worries the ruling will be used to prevent them from going to American universities to contribute to research, discovery and innovation. A sharply divided Supreme Court upheld Trump's ban Tuesday,

Health Dept. Shows Improvement For RI Teens

Results from a Rhode Island Department of Health survey suggest teenagers in the state are making improvements in behaviors related to sexual activity, alcohol and illegal prescription drug usage. The percentage of high school students who had ever had sex decreased by 10 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2017. The survey, released Wednesday, is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and multiple state agencies.

Storms, Followed By Heat, Forecast For RI

Some severe weather is expected for Rhode Island for the rest of the week. The National Weather Service says showers and thunderstorms may produce heavy rainfall that could yield urban and poor drainage flooding. A few thunderstorms may produce strong wind gusts. Then, forecasters say heat will build across the region over the weekend, with heat indices and-or temperatures at or above 95 degrees for two or more consecutive days.

E. Providence Council Holds Special Meeting

Action is being taken in East Providence to address the alleged rogue behavior of a City Council member. The council voted to take away key card access from board members at a special meeting on Wednesday and appointed the police chief as city manager. Councilman Brian Faria, who was alleged to have spent an all-nighter at City Hall in April, called that allegation and others against him frivolous.

State Supreme Court Rules On Attorney General Representation Decision

The Rhode Island Supreme Court is siding with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin in his decision not to represent a state trooper facing a lawsuit. The state's high court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that the A.G.'s office was within its rights to refuse representation for State Trooper James-Donnelly-Taylor, who was accused of assaulting an arrestee at a jail cell in the Lincoln barracks in 2014. The court backed Kilmartin's determination that the trooper's actions were outside the scope of his employment. 

Election Deadline Passes In Rhode Island

The dust is settling on upcoming political races in Rhode Island following a deadline on Wednesday. "The Providence Journal" reports more than two-hundred candidates declared their intention to run for state or federal office for the 2018 election. State Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell is among them, running for a seat in the House of Representatives. Governor Gina Raimondo has ten challengers.

$5 Million Needed Annually To Cover Stadium Debt

Officials say the Pawtucket Red Sox stadium and its surrounding area will need to bring in about $5 million annually in state and city tax revenues to cover debt from a proposed stadium. General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said in a memo bondholders would like to see about $5.2 million in revenue each year to ensure a cushion. Lawmakers approved a bill last week to help keep the Triple-A team in the state.

Uber Will Pick Up Airport Travelers From Private Garage

Uber is making a return to T.F. Green Airport. The ride-sharing company will now start picking up passengers in nearby privately-owned Propark America property, called "Red Beam Garage C", for a fee of just over three dollars. Uber stopped picking up passengers at the airport last month because of a six-dollar fee being charged by the airport. Uber riders can still be dropped off directly at the airport.

Ex-State Representative, Charged With Perjury, Re-Running

A former state representative who is still facing perjury charges is seeking his old seat. John Carnevale is running as a Democrat in the 13th House District. Carnevale ended his re-election campaign in 2016 after being dismissed from the voter rolls by the Providence Board of Canvassers, and then being indicted on perjury charges in Superior Court.

Pawtucket Pulls Plug On New Transfer Station Proposal

The city of Pawtucket is putting the kibosh on a transfer station expansion and relocation plan. City Council members unanimously approved a resolution last week to oppose the plan to build an expanded station on Concord Street and move the existing facility from Grotto Avenue. Opponents cited property value and quality of life concerns. The resolution was passed a day after the General Assembly approved legislation requiring state officials to consider the community impact of new transfer stations before they are approved.

Providence Launches Municipal ID Program

Providence is formally launching a long-awaited municipal ID program. Mayor Jorge Elorza joined other city officials at City Hall on Tuesday in unveiling IDPVD, which is available to all city residents ages 14 and older for proof of identity and residency, and can be used to engage with city departments. The cards are also aimed at promoting community pride and acceptance. 

Superior Court Judge Retiring Next Month

Superior Court Judge Allen Rubine is going to retire on July 31st.  The 70-year-old Cranston resident has notified Governor Gina Raimondo.  He's been a Superior Court judge for 15 years.  Following interviews and public hearings, the Judicial Nominating Commission has the job of sending a list of names to the governor for consideration to succeed Rubine.

RI Explosives Law Is Updated

A bill to update and strengthen Rhode Island's law on bombs and explosive devices is headed to the governor.  House sponsor of the bill, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, says much has changed since the law was written in 1957 and the updates are needed to protect the public from threats that exist in today's world.  Senate sponsor Erin Lynch Prata of Warwick says it gives law enforcement the tools needed to respond to 21st century threats and prevent tragedies from happening.   

Declaration Of Candidacy Filing Deadline Is Today

The final deadline to file a declaration of candidacy form in Rhode Island is today.  Candidates for Congress or statewide office must deliver or mail a signed form to be received by the Secretary of State's Elections Division by this afternoon at 4.  Candidates for the General Assembly or municipal offices must deliver or mail a signed form to their local board of canvassers also by 4 p.m.. 

Frias To Again Challenge Speaker Mattiello

Republican Steve Frias will once again challenge House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.  Frias lost the 2016 race for the District 15 seat in Cranston by 85 votes.  He says that after Mattiello's narrow victory, he thought the speaker would start listening to voters, but he says that hasn't happened.    

Groundbreaking Event At Electric Boat Facility

Construction is underway for a new submarine-manufacturing facility at General Dynamics Electric Boat in North Kingstown.  A groundbreaking ceremony at Quonset Business Park was attended on Monday by Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin and Governor Gina Raimondo, as well as Electric Boat president Jeff Geiger.  About 13-hundred new jobs are expected to be created from the 800-million-dollar project.

E. Greenwich Council Makes Controversial Move To Reappoint Town Manager

The East Greenwich Town Council is voting to reappoint Gayle Corrigan as town manager.  Corrigan was appointed acting manager about a year ago.  The decision drew jeers from a capacity crowd attending Monday's council meeting, at which the council voted 4-to-1 to retain Corrigan.  Many were apparently upset with a lack of transparency.

Businessman Karl Wadensten Enters Lt. Governor's Race

Rhode Island industrial equipment business owner Karl Wadensten is running for lieutenant governor.  Wadensten notably cast the lone vote against a loan guarantee for 38 Studios when he was a member of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.  He filed paperwork on Monday to run as a Republican.

Providence Budget Agreement Appears Imminent

The Providence City Council and Mayor Jorge Elorza appear to be resolving their differences on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The council's Finance Committee is set to discuss the 749-million-dollar revenue and spending plan on today.  Committee chair John Igliozzi  says that Council members balked at a request from Elorza's office to use neighborhood reinvestment money to cover school-improvement expenses.  According to an agreement reached Monday, the city will fund the improvements through other sources.

RI Gas Prices Rise Slightly

The price of gasoline in Rhode Island is up again.AAA Northeast says its weekly survey found self-serve regular selling for an average of $2.95 per gallon, up two cents from a week ago.That's 11 cents above the national average of $2.84. The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 68 cents higher than it was a year ago.AAA found gas in the state selling for as low as $2.79 per gallon to as high as $3.19.


Recreational Black Sea Bass Limits Increased

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is extending the season and increasing the fall possession limit for recreational black sea bass this year. The season is now open from June 24th through December 31st. The possession limit remains at three fish per day from now until August 31st, and will increase to seven fish per day for the rest of the year. Officials say the change reflects the robust status of the black sea bass stock in the northern region of the Atlantic Ocean.

Two More Arrested For Improper Activity At Audio-Video Store

Two more employees of a Middletown store are facing charges for allegedly accessing and sharing nude images found on the cell phones and computers of customers. Rhode Island State Police reports indicate Terrance Roy of Seekonk, Massachusetts and Geoffrey Preuit of Warwick are charged with accessing a computer for fraudulent purposes, computer trespass and conspiracy. Police say Roy is the warehouse manager at Flint Audio Video, and Preuit is a sales associate. Investigators say the two conspired with George Quintal, the store's former manager who was arrested earlier this month on similar charges, 

Matt Brown Is Out Of Governor's Race

Former Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown is withdrawing his bid for Rhode Island governor. The move came at a meeting of the Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee on Sunday, which nominated incumbent governor Gina Raimondo for its endorsement. The announcement by Brown came at the end of a speech he gave in which he took some parting shots at Raimondo, criticizing her for, among other things, cutting Medicaid and ignoring advice to not launch UHIP, the much-maligned computerized benefit program.   

General Assembly Finishes With A Flurry Of Activity

The 2018 legislative session is history after the General Assembly crammed in the passage of about two-dozen significant bills over the weekend. They included a bill aimed at facilitating the Hope Point Tower project in Providence by allowing the adjustment of boundaries of the I-195 re-development district, new speed camera regulations, the addition of e-cigarettes to smoking laws, allowing for criminal record expungement for crimes that have been decriminalized, and an extension of the foreclosure mediation law that's currently on the books.

General Assembly Passes PawSox Bill

The next stop for a bill allowing public financing of a new ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox is Governor Gina Raimondo's desk. The bill, passed by the General Assembly over the weekend, calls for construction to be financed by combined contributions from the team and from bonds issued by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency, at a total cost of 83-million dollars. The PawSox, which are being actively courted by the city of Worcester, have not publicly reacted to the bill.

RI Passes Budget, Providence Spending Plan Stalled

Rhode Island is passing its budget, but the same can't be said for the state's largest city. The Providence City Council declined to approve a 749-million-dollar budget after Council President David Salvatore said on Friday that the council and the mayor have reached an impasse. Council leaders say the differences will hopefully be resolved in a timely manner. The new fiscal year begins on July 1st, and if a new budget isn't reached, city officials say they'll operate on the old budget guidelines. 

Winthrop Stepping Down From Newport Council

According to the Newport Daily News, Harry Winthrop's sixth term on the Newport City Council will be his last. The mayor confirmed to The Daily News on Sunday a report on his Facebook page that he will not seek re-election in November, adding that there was “no one particular reason” he will leave the council.
Winthrop first was elected to the City Council in 1990 and served until 1995. He also served from 2011-14 and 2016-18.

Water Main Break Affecting Traffic In E.Greenwich

A water main break in East Greenwich will keep a busy street closed for a few more days. The break happened at around 11 p.m. Saturday on Division Street . The street will be closed between Howland Road and Heritage Drive, likely until Tuesday, for repairs. Police don't know what caused the break.

Woman Finds Surprise In Raimondo Ad

A Massachusetts woman says she was surprised to see a glimpse of her late step-father in historical footage used for a campaign ad for Rhode Island's governor. Denise Kryzek says that she was watching television when a clip of her father working as a wire spinner appeared in a campaign ad for Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo. Kryzek says she sent a letter to the governor's office saying how thankful she was to see her father again, and Raimondo visited her home in Seekonk Thursday morning.

Westerly Council Supports Bicycle/Pedestrian Lane Loop

The Westerly Town Council is supporting a planned bicycle and pedestrian lane loop in Misquamicut, funded through the state's Green Economy Bond.  Three alternatives were proposed by a consultant, and  the council favors the least expensive one.   The proposed dedicated lane, which would be separated from several roads with painted lines, markings and posted signs, now goes to the Bicycle Path Study Committee for more input.

Dentist Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion

A North Providence dentist is awaiting sentencing in October.  Lawrence Stephenson of Lincoln pleaded guilty in federal district court on Tuesday to tax evasion.  The U.S. Attorney's Office says Stephenson admitted that in 2011 he started diverting some of his practice's business receipts into a personal bank account and failed to report over one-million-dollars in taxable income. 

New Website For Startups And Small Businesses

There's now a website to help startups and small businesses in Rhode Island.  Launched by the Rhode Island Foundation, the site's intent is to be an online directory for information about low and no cost help with borrowing, marketing, local regulations and taxes. RIBizBuilder-dot-com has more than 100 listings of available resources and services. 

Central Falls Mayor Travels To Southern Border

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa is part of a delegation of mayors that have traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border. The bi-partisan group was expected to speak out this morning against the immigration policy.  The visit to Tornillo, Texas, comes the day after President Trump signed an executive order to keep families together following the outcry about separating children from their parents.  The mayors are calling for the immediate reunification of separated families.    

Swarm Of Bees Closes School Playground

A swarm of honeybees caused the closure of a school playground in Providence today.  It happened outside the Alan Shawn Feinstein Elementary School on Broad Street.  The swarm reportedly flew away before beekeepers could remove them.

Declaration Of Candidacy Filing Deadline Approaching

The deadline to file a declaration of candidacy form in Rhode Island is quickly approaching.  Candidates for Congress or statewide office must deliver or mail a signed form to be received by the Secretary of State's Elections Division on June 25th, 26th or 27th by 4:00 p.m.  Candidates for the General Assembly or municipal offices must deliver or mail a signed form to their local board of canvassers by 4:00 p.m. on the same dates.   

Grand Opening For New Drug Treatment Center For Teens

A new drug recovery center is open in Providence.  The Jim Gillen Teen Center had a grand opening on Thursday, although staffers have been working with patients since the beginning of the year.  The center provides one-on-one meetings with teenagers addicted to drugs and allows them to connect with others.

E. Providence Council Member Allegedly Harassed City Employees

East Providence City Councilman Brian Faria's  behavior is under scrutiny.  At a meeting on Wednesday, it was revealed that dozens of city employees have reported harassment by Faria.  An investigation also found that he spent an all-nighter in City Hall in April allegedly photocopying hundreds of documents, one day after he had filed a public records request looking for all other public records requests dealing with him.  The Attorney General's office is on the record as saying the actions are alarming, but not criminal.

Alleged Democrat Use Of Rent-Free Space Called Into Question

The watchdog group that filed a complaint over use of rent-free campaign space by Republican candidate for governor Allan Fung is expanding the grievance.  Common Cause Rhode Island on Thursday asked the Rhode Island Board of Elections for a wider investigation into Cranston-based Carpionato Group's contribution of rent-free offices to politicians in the city in both parties.

General Assembly Passes Tanning Ban

In other legislative action on Thursday, the House passed a pay-equity bill, while the Senate passed legislation aimed at protecting minors left unattended in a motor vehicle.  The General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners in their third trimester, banning the sale of puppies that aren't fully weaned without written approval and distinguishing pet-sitters from professionally operated kennels.  It also passed a proposed law headed to the governor's desk that prohibits minors from using tanning facilities

PawSox Stadium Bill Heading To Full House

The Rhode Island House version of legislation providing a pathway for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium is moving forward after receiving approval from the House Finance Committee on Thursday.  The full House is scheduled to vote on the bill on Friday, and then it would need approval in the Senate, which passed its own version of a stadium-financing bill earlier this year.  The new version asks for 45-million dollars to be covered by the PawSox, and another 38-million covered by tax revenue from the city and state, and most of the money would be borrowed in bonds not guaranteed by the state. 

AMA Opposes CVS-Aetna Merger

The American Medical Association is urging regulators to reject the proposed merger of Woonsocket-based CVS and Aetna insurance.  The AMA says its opposition is based on evidence that the merger would substantially lessen competition in many health care markets, to the detriment of patients. The president of the AMA announced the opposition earlier this week at a hearing on the proposed deal before the California Department of Insurance.

Report: New Airline Would Fly From Green

The founder of JetBlue Airways is reportedly planning on starting a new airline that would focus on secondary airports such as T.F. Green.  The aviation publication "Airline Weekly" reports David Neelman's Moxy Airlines will be a low-cost carrier with amenities similar to JetBlue.  The new airline could be reportedly be in operation by 2020.

Erosion Forces Move Of Beachfront Houses

Some beachfront cottages are being moved inland in South Kingstown.  About two-dozen cottages at Roy Carpenter's beach in Matunuck are being impacted by hundreds of feet of shore erosion since the 1950s.  The houses will be moved about a quarter-mile.  Another couple-dozen cottages in the village were previously moved back in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy hit.

RI Worst State To Take A Road Trip

A new WalletHub study ranks Rhode Island dead last in the category of road trip destinations in the United States.  The report gives the state particularly bad marks for high cost of car repairs and low total percentage of designated national parkland.  Massachusetts was ranked 25th in the study, while Connecticut was right in front of Rhode Island at number 49. 

RI Emergency Services Manager Takes Federal Post

The director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency is taking a new position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  The White House announced on Wednesday that Peter Gaynor will be FEMA's new deputy administrator.  Gaynor's resume also includes being the emergency management director in Providence and being enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for over two decades. 

House Approves Airport Name Change, Senate Approves Hospital Testimony Bill

In other legislative action on Wednesday, the House approved a bill that would rename the T.F. Green Airport to the Rhode Island International Airport.  The Senate passed a bill that would give the attorney general and the state health department the authority to make hospital executives testify under oath when hospital sales or mergers occur.  The General Assembly passed the following: a bill amending the state's sexual offender registration and community notification laws, legislation called the School Social Workers Quality Assessment Act, a bill sponsored by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin calling for increased penalties for bad contractors, and a new law requiring hospitals to offer flu vaccines to patients 65 or older.

House Committee To Vote On PawSox Stadium Proposal

The House Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on a stadium-financing bill for the Pawtucket Red Sox on today.  House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said yesterday that the PawSox have told him they are "interested" in the General Assembly passing his proposed ballpark financing plan.  The bill would need approval from the Rhode Island Senate, which passed a different iteration of the bill earlier this year.  The House version funds the stadium with bonds backed only by revenue generated around the stadium.

General Assembly Passes State Budget

Governor Gina Raimondo is planning to sign a state budget that is headed for her desk.  The Rhode Island General Assembly completed its approval of a nine-point-six-billion-dollar budget with a Senate vote on Wednesday.  The budget includes sports wagering at Rhode Island's two casinos, for which lawmakers expect to bring in 23-and-a-half-million bucks in 2019.  The budget also includes another year of free tuition at Community College of Rhode Island, and continued local car tax relief. 

Chariho Superintendent Undergoes Brain Surgery

Chariho School Superintendent Barry Ricci is recuperating from brain surgery.  Surgeons at Rhode Island Hospital recently removed a tumor after Ricci started experiencing problems with the left side of his body.  He says it was caught early and hopefully he'll make a full recovery .

Cranston Library Waves Fines For Young Borrowers

The Cranston Public Library is waving late fines for young borrowers.  The goal is to encourage children and teens to return materials and use the library without fear of a mounting bill.   Library officials say over 22-hundred young people's library cards are currently blocked due to overdue fines.  A spokeswoman says penalizing them makes the libraries seem unwelcoming.

Quarry Owner Cleared Of Wrongdoing

Officials have ruled the quarry blast that injured two town employees and damaged multiple buildings accidental. The state Fire Marshal's Office found the blast at the Westerly quarry did not violate state law or the state fire code. The Fire Marshal's Office has reinstated the quarry's blasting license after the owners promised to use an air horn to warn of upcoming explosions.

CVS Pharmacy Announces Universal Prescription Delivery

CVS Pharmacy is now offering prescription delivery from all locations.  The Woonsocket-based retailer says it is the first national drugstore chain to offer such a service.  Same-day delivery will be available in six major cities, including Boston, while customers elsewhere can have their medications delivered as quickly as the next day.

RI Woman Who Directed "Frozen" Gets Disney Promotion

East Providence native Jennifer Lee is being appointed as the new chief creative officer for Walt Disney Animation Studios.  Lee is best known for writing and directing the Disney feature "Frozen," for which she earned an Academy Award.  Lee is taking over for John Lasseter, who announced earlier this month that he plans to step down at the end of the year from that position at both Disney and Pixar studios after dealing with sexual harassment allegations. 

Providence Fountain Fix Coming Soon

Plans are being made to fix the dysfunctional DePasquale Square fountain in Providence's Federal Hill section.  The city of Providence is including about 210-thousand dollars in its budget for the upcoming fiscal year to fix the fountain.  Controversy erupted earlier this month when plants were placed in the lower section of the fountain as a temporary solution.  They've since been removed.

Pawtucket Mayor Pleads For PawSox Stadium Deal

Time is running out for the state of Rhode Island to pass a funding bill for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium.  That was the message from Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien at a House Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday night  Grebien told committee members that if a bill doesn't pass by the end of the Rhode Island legislative session this week, that likely means the team is leaving, as the city of Worcester is trying to lure the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate

Speed Camera, Presidential Tax Return Bills Among Those Passed Tuesday

There was a huge flurry of activity in both chambers of the Rhode Island legislature on Tuesday as the current legislative session draws to a conclusion.  The House of Representatives passed a ban on indoor tanning for minors. Bills that passed both chambers on Tuesday included legislation addressing the controversial Pawtucket transfer station, and another that aims to eradicate substandard automobile airbags.

Lawsuit Over Fatima Hospital's Insolvent Retirement Plan

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, CharterCare, the current owner of Fatima Hospital, and others are being sued over the hospital's insolvent Saint Joseph's pension plan.  At issue is a retirement plan created by the diocese in 1965 which went into receivership last August with about 27-hundred recipients facing proposed deep cuts in benefits.

Raimondo Joins Opposition To Border Policy

Governor Gina Raimondo says the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents at the border is quote, "not American, not Christian, not moral and inhumane."  Raimondo also says that though the state has not been asked to, she would not deploy Rhode Island National Guard troops to the southern border.  

Rhode Island Braces For Pine Beetle Attack

Environmental officials in Rhode Island are preparing for an attack from a pine-killing beetle.The southern pine beetle has travelled north as the climate warms. Scientists first discovered the species in the state in 2015. The rice-size beetles chew tunnels under the bark that disrupt the flow of nutrients and kill the pines in a few months. Trees ooze toxic resin as a defense. Officials use traps that mimic trees and contain pine scent. Beetles are lured into the traps and killed. The state has also used burns to help forest health.

Gas Prices Down This Week in RI

AAA Northeast says Monday its weekly survey found self-serve regular selling for an average of $2.93 per gallon, down two cents from a week ago.That's four cents above the national average of $2.89. The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 64 cents higher than it was a year ago.AAA found gas in the state selling for as low as $2.74 per gallon to as high as $3.09.Northeast Senior Vice President Lloyd Albert says an upcoming oil exporter meeting in Vienna, Austria could influence gas prices and "likely decrease crude oil prices."

Upgrade On Way For UHIP System

A major software update is coming for the troubled computer system for Rhode Island benefits programs. Officials set a target date for the upgrade to the Unified Health Infrastructure Project for June 23. Special Master Deming Sherman says the software update will depend on "successful testing," but his goal is having the state in compliance with federal regulations by the end of June.

Agreement Reached To Get New Technology To Naval Center Quicker

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center has announced a significant new agreement with a Middletown-based group. The Newport center and the Undersea Technology Innovation Consortium will enter into a three-year agreement to speed up the federal contracting process for the acquisition of prototype undersea technology and innovative maritime systems. Senator Jack Reed, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, says the move will allow for priorities to be streamlined. Congressman Jim Langevin, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, also attended yesterday's announcement.

Complaints Filed Over Reported Rent-Free Allan Fung Campaign Space

Governor Gina Raimondo and Republican candidate for governor Patricia Morgan are filing complaints with the Rhode Island Board of Elections against candidate Allan Fung. The complaints cite a report that indicated Fung was allowed either free use of an office space for his 2016 campaign for mayor of Cranston, or was allowed to rent it at a below-market rate. While Raimondo and Morgan call that an illegal campaign contribution, a spokesperson for Fung characterized the complaints as a desperate attempt to grab headlines by candidates who feel threatened by poll numbers. The watchdog group Common Cause also filed a complaint with the elections board over the matter on Monday.  

"Dreamers" Can Drive In Rhode Island Thanks To New Law

A new law allowing anyone with current or past status in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to get a driver's license in Rhode Island is now law. Governor Gina Raimondo signed the legislation, sponsored by state Senator Michael McCaffrey and Representative Shelby Maldonado, on Monday. Raimondo said it was one thing that could be done at the state level, while calling on the federal government and Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for children who were brought into the country illegally. President Trump has cancelled DACA, which was an Obama-era policy, but it has been kept alive through court decisions.  

Temporary Parking Restrictions For Roadwork In Newport

Temporary parking restrictions are now in place for neighborhood roadwork in Newport.  Broken sidewalks are being replaced and roads repaved on Curry Avenue off  Bedlow Avenue.  The project will move from street-to-street in that neighborhood.  The work is expected to take several weeks to complete.

Community Networking Events For Seniors

The first in a series networking events for Rhode Island seniors kicks off  tonight.  Participants will have a meal and discuss ideas for creating age-friendly communities.  The Community Table series hosted by the Age-Friendly Rhode Island Coalition, is part of the Long term Care Coordinating Council plan to expand social opportunities for older adults.  Today’s  kick off is at 5:30 p.m. at Finn's Harborside in East Greenwich.     

Car Excise Tax Phase Out Enters Year Two

With House passage of the 2019 state budget on Friday, the phase out of the automobile excise tax is moving toward year two.  House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello calls it an unfair, regressive and oppressive tax.  The budget contains nearly 55-million-dollars to replace lost revenue for cities and towns, because the tax is imposed locally, and not by the state.  The Senate takes up the budget this week.   

'Fun-Sized' Tourism Campaign Reaps $1.9 Million In Bookings

Rhode Island officials say the state's new "Fun-Sized" tourism campaign is working to the tune of $1.9 million in hotel bookings. The state's Commerce Corporation says the campaign has led to more than 6,000 hotel bookings since it launched in November, as well as more than 4,000 flights to the state. An official says the campaign could have added $11 million to the state economy based on visitor's spending.

Sen. Reed To Announce Award For Undersea Warfare Center

Sen. Jack Reed is planning to announce a new, multimillion dollar award for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Reed says the award will help fund a consortium that will allow for the testing of prototypes and ultimately enhance the capabilities of the nation's undersea operations. Reed plans to offer more details on the award at an 11 a.m. event  today.

U.S. Defense Secretary Speaks To Naval War College Graduates

The Naval War College in Newport was the site of a military leader talking about threats from Russia and China for the second time in less than a week on Friday. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, speaking to this year' graduating class, warned that Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, are attempting to undermine the moral authority of the United States and criticized Russia's military actions in Crimea and Ukraine. Mattis also expressed the belief that China is seeking to reproduce its authoritarian model elsewhere as it expands.

Black Bear Sighting In Westerly

The Westerly Police Department is warning about a black bear visiting the area. Authorities posted a picture of the bear on Facebook on Saturday night and said it was seen roaming the Narragansett Avenue area of the town. The police department says if you see the bear, do not approach it, and contact either the Westerly PD or the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Residents are also being encouraged to remove any outside bird feeders and ensure garbage is secured in covered cans.

Hearing Set For Tuesday On PawSox Stadium Bill

Another hearing in the Rhode Island House is set for Tuesday to discuss the latest version of the deal to finance a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium. The bill, supported by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, removes a state safety net on the potential borrowing authorized in the Senate version of the bill, passed earlier this year. Mattiello said on Friday that he is not comfortable with some of the changes the city of Pawtucket has proposed to the legislation, including the expansion of a dedicated tax zone to help fund the stadium.

House-Passed Budget Includes Sports-Betting Arrangement

The Rhode Island Senate is set to take up the state budget this week after the state House passed it on Friday. The nine-and-a-half-billion-dollar budget includes a revenue agreement for sports-betting at Twin River Casino in Lincoln and the yet-to-be-opened casino in Tiverton. It also calls for 250-million dollars in borrowing to fix run-down Rhode Island schools. Republican efforts to re-route revenue from 911 fees and to eliminate prevailing wage were defeated.  

Pre-Summer Heat Forecast Today

Summer hasn't officially arrived on the calendar but New Englanders are bracing for some very summer-like heat. Forecasters say temperatures in Boston today could approach or even top the record of 94 degrees set back in 1929 for that date. Some school districts in the region are considering early dismissals. Lowell  school officials are considering cancelling classes altogether because the city's aging school buildings get too hot.

Statehouse Dome To Turn Black And Yellow

The dome of the Rhode Island Statehouse is going to be lit up like a bumblebee. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island is working with the state to raise awareness of the importance of protecting pollinators. The dome will be illuminated in black and yellow   tonight. It'll look that way each night throughout the week for "National Pollinator Week." The Audubon Society says the striped dome will "bee" hard to miss.

Credit Card Fraud Suspect Being Sought

Coventry police are looking for a credit card fraud suspect.  Investigators say a woman used a stolen credit card last week to buy a Galaxy 7 Tablet from a Walmart.  Two surveillance photos have been posted on the  department's Facebook page.

Newport GOP Committee Endorsing Morgan

Patricia Morgan is getting the endorsement of the Newport Republican Committee in her run for governor.  In announcing it's support for the West Warwick state Representative, the committee says Morgan has a history of fighting for lower taxes, less spending and going after corruption.  Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and businessman Giovanni Feroce are also vying for the Republican Party nomination.

State Launches Opioid Epidemic Ad Campaign

Rhode Island is launching an advertising campaign to address the opioid epidemic.  It focuses on the misuse of prescription opioids and over prescribing.  The goal is to prevent and reduce the misuse of opioids by young people.   The ad campaign on social media outlets and TV is supported through federal funding and private donations.

Candidate For Governor Drops Out To Run For RI Senate Seat

Rhode Island Democrat Paul Roselli says is dropping out of the governor's race to run for a state Senate seat instead. Roselli said in a YouTube video announcing his decision Thursday that he is running for the Senate District 23 seat being vacated by Sen. Paul Fogarty. Fogarty, a Democrat, had announced in May that he would not seek re-election. Roselli says while he's dropping out of the governor's race, he does not intend to "sit on the sidelines." He says he plans to support Matt Brown in the primary election because he feels Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo will lose the general election.

RI House Passes Hair Braiding Bill

A bill has passed the Rhode Island House of Representatives to deregulate the business of African-style hair braiding. House lawmakers passed the bill Thursday to exempt natural hair braiders from the state's requirement for hairdressers and cosmeticians to be licensed. Practitioners say it's a cultural tradition and art form that shouldn't be subject to cosmetology rules.

Historic Newport Mansion Has New Welcome Center

A welcome center at the Breakers Mansion in Newport is finally open. About six-hundred attended the opening of the welcome center on Thursday, which took more than five years to put together after architectural plans were shared with the public. The project faced intense opposition from neighbors and a group that included members of the Vanderbilt family, which built the house. Nearly half-a-million people are estimated to visit the historic landmark annually.

Connecticut Signs Up For Electricity From Deepwater

Providence-based Deepwater Wind is helping the state of Connecticut enter the wind energy market. The state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection awarded its first offshore wind project to Deepwater for a two-hundred-megawatt system this week. Deepwater was awarded a four-hundred-megawatt project for Rhode Island last month.

Nursing Home Agreement Finalized

A tentative agreement is officially being reached between the Rhode Island  Office of Health and Human Services and almost 60 aggrieved nursing homes. Under the terms, the nursing homes will drop a lawsuit and will receive a two-and-a-half-percent increase in Medicaid reimbursements, rather than an eight-and-a-half-percent cut that was originally contained in a proposed state budget. Rhode Island taxpayers were on the hook for 24-million dollars in additional payments to the nursing homes after a well-documented missed appeal of the suit from an attorney who has since stepped aside. 

RI House Passes Kristen's Law

A controversial law that would allow for a sentence of up to life in prison for dealers who sell drugs that lead to fatal overdoses is one step closer to Governor Gina Raimondo's desk. House lawmakers passed Kristen's Law, named for a woman who died from a fentanyl overdose, 55-to-14 on Thursday. The legislation will need to go back to the Senate because an amendment was added to the House-approved version. Raimondo says she plans on signing the legislation, despite urging by the Rhode Island Medical Society in a letter on Wednesday to veto the measure.

Owner Of Adrift Boat Located, But Coast Guard Still Investigating

The U.S. Coast Guard says the owner of a boat found drifting near the Jamestown Bridge has been found but they are still asking the public for information about seeing a person in the boat on the water yesterday. Coast Guard officials say there's a possibility that someone else took it. They say a bottle of orange juice was found in the empty boat. 

Goddard Park Beach Reopens For Swimming

It's okay to swim at Goddard State Park Beach in Warwick.  A ban on swimming had been issued a few days ago due to high levels of bacteria in the water.  The state Department of Health says based on the latest water samples bacteria levels are now within acceptable limits.  

RI Unemployment Down Slightly

Rhode  Island's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May is four-point-four percent.  That's a tenth of a point lower than the April rate.  Rhode Island-based jobs increased by 12-hundred in May.  The national jobless number for last month is three-point-eight percent.

State Budget Vote Expected On Friday

A General Assembly vote on the state's nine-and-a-half-billion-dollar budget is expected tomorrow.  Still unresolved are newly-proposed changes to the Pawtucket Red Sox stadium bill.  Acknowledging that time is running short, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says his staff is reviewing the amended version of the legislation, however, he says he's not sure it will be considered by the end of the week.  There has been no comment from PawSox ownership on the latest version of the bill. 

Ferry To Newport This Afternoon Is Canceled

The 2:30 ferry trip from Providence to Newport this afternoon is canceled.  The state Department of Transportation says it's because of a routine Coast Guard Safety inspection.  Service alerts and updated schedule information is available online at ridethebayri-dot-com.

Brown Breaks Backpacking Benchmark

Brown University is now the record-holder for most backpacks stuffed with school supplies within one hour. The university says hundreds of staff members gathered at Meehan Auditorium on Wednesday to stuff three-thousand backpacks for children attending the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative. The previous Guinness World Record was 15-hundred-12. Employees reportedly only needed five minutes to do it.

HealthSource Customers Can Now Pay Premiums At CVS

HealthSource RI customers are now able to pay their monthly health insurance premiums at CVS Pharmacy stores. The new option was announced by the state and the Woonsocket-based pharmacy this week. HealthSource RI Director Zachary Sherman says residents lose coverage every month because they've missed a bill payment or paid too late, and that the new partnership will increase the likelihood that customers stay covered. 

RISD Design Partnering With Infosys Tech Company

India-based tech company Infosys is announcing a new design center in Providence. The design and innovation hub will go up this summer as part of a newly-announced partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design. Infosys says it will focus on hiring designers who are trained in the new program as part of its commitment to hire five-hundred American workers in Rhode Island over the next five years.  

Work Necessitates New Traffic Pattern On I-95 In Providence

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is announcing a new traffic pattern for Interstate 95 in Providence due to work on the Blackstone Street Bridge replacement project. Officials say the divided highway configuration on I-95 north and south will go up near Exit 19 in the last week of June and last for about three months. Traffic lanes will be separated by a barrier, and through-traffic will need to pass on either side of the lane split. RIDOT says this will be the same scenario that was used for Route 95 work last summer, and that motorists should not stop or switch lanes.

Contract Uncertainty Could Mean Large Warwick PD Retirement Wave

A large number of Warwick police officers could soon be headed for retirement. The "Warwick Beacon" reports the local police union has indicated that nearly 20 percent of the department's 172 uniformed officers are considering the move due to uncertainty regarding a new collective bargaining agreement. As many as 18 officers have already started the retirement process, according to the newspaper. The current police contract expires at the end of this month, and the Warwick City Council is scheduled to vote on a new deal on July 17th. 

Coventry Fire Official In Hot Water Steps Down

The chairman of the Coventry Fire District Board of Directors is resigning after he was charged with sexual assault. Frank Palin was arrested in Canton, Massachusetts last month for allegedly assaulting a woman with dementia while working as a nurse practitioner. Palin is due back in court for a pre-trial conference at the end of July.

John Lewis Regrets Endorsing RI Governor Over Pal

Civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis says he didn't know his friend was running against Gov. Gina Raimondo when he endorsed her. The Democratic congressman says he would have remained neutral or endorsed Matt Brown, who he called a "very, very good friend." Brown, a former Rhode Island secretary of state, announced in April that he was challenging Raimondo in the Democratic primary.

Lights Out In Warwick On Tuesday

Rhode Island utility company National Grid says a car crash knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses in Warwick. A National Grid spokesman  says the crash happened in West Warwick Tuesday. About 2,400 customers lost power, and several schools were dismissed an hour early as a result.

Wedding Bells Ahead For Elorza

The wedding bells are ringing for Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. A spokesman for the city has confirmed Tuesday that the mayor is engaged to his longtime girlfriend Stephanie Gonzalez. The couple is expecting their first child later this month, and a wedding date has not been announced.

Public Asked To Report Wild Turkey Sightings

Rhode Islanders are asked to report sightings of wild turkey hens to help researchers.  The state Department of Environmental Management is evaluating the wild turkey population which is believed to be growing.  Sightings can be reported via a brief online survey available on DEM's website or by calling the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Beach Enforcement In Westerly Results In Citations

An enforcement effort to create a family-friendly environment on beaches in Westerly is resulting in mounting citations.  A dozen alcohol-related citations were issued last week to three separate groups at East Beach and Misquamicut State Beach.  Police say the periodic enforcement is intended to prevent negative behaviors and alcohol-related emergencies.  Since May 22nd, 43 citations have been issued for various violations.  

Naval War College Forum Features Military Leaders

Leaders from the Pentagon spoke at the Naval War College in Newport on Tuesday for a military strategy forum. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson and Commandant of the Marines General Robert Neller talked about new naval and cyberwarfare capabilities from China and Russia and how it threatens American interests. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer also spoke at the forum, the 69th in the college's history.

Health Officials Report High Levels Of Bacteria At State Beach

The Rhode Island Department of Health is recommending the closure of Goddard State Beach in Warwick for swimming because of high bacteria counts. The department says water quality analysis will be conducted. You can get up-to-date information on when swimming will be allowed again by calling the RIDOH beach telephone line at 401-222-2751. 

Voter Deadline Coming Up For September Primary

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea  is reminding registered voters that Thursday is the deadline for removing their party affiliation for the September 12th primary. Eligible voters should visit to make sure their voter information is up-to-date. Rhode Island has a semi-closed primary, which allows unaffiliated voters to vote in either party primary, according to the Gorbea's office. Registered Republican and Democrat voters can vote only in their own party's primary.

Statement Issued By House, Senate Leaders On Nursing Home Settlement

Rhode Island lawmakers are confirming that a settlement has been reached with nursing homes that filed a lawsuit against the state. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio issued a joint statement on Tuesday saying they were pleased the state and the nursing homes were able to reach an amicable resolution that they say is fair and beneficial to the state and its taxpayers. In exchange for dropping a legal decision that gave the nearly 60 nursing homes 24-million-dollars from the state, the settlement calls for a two-and-a-half-percent Medicaid reimbursement rate increase in the next several months.

Reed Reacts To China Hack Of US Navy

Senator Jack Reed is describing the case of a Chinese government hack into a Newport Naval Station as "very serious."  Reed says Monday he spoke with the Navy's top officer after last week's report that the Chinese government hacked a contractor who works with one of the naval station's operations, stealing massive amounts of sensitive data related to undersea warfare.

U.S. Navy Heads Due In Newport

U.S. Navy leaders are in Rhode Island to strategize with scholars about how technology and innovation will affect the nation's security. The 69th annual Current Strategy Forum is taking place at the U.S. Naval War College today and tomorrow. Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer are scheduled to speak.

State Archives Put Gaspee Affair On Display

The Rhode Island State Archives is opening a new exhibit intended to highlight the state's role in the American Revolution. The display, titled The Gaspee Raiders: Pirates or Patriots will run until September 5th at the building in downtown Providence and is free and open to the public. It focuses on the capture and burning of the Gaspee, the British ship that was set on fire by a group of colonists.

Piping Plovers Emerge From Parking Lot Nest

The piping plover nest in a parking lot that had some beachgoers grumbling over the weekend is empty. A section of the lot at Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett was cordoned off over the weekend to allow the nest of the endangered birds to be undisturbed. Two adult plovers and their three chicks waddled from the nest toward the beach on Monday through a makeshift path that was constructed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Environmental Management. That section of parking lot will remain closed today.

RI's U.S. Senators Discuss New Immigration Bill

Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse are calling for the Trump administration to end its policy of involuntary separation of children from their migrant parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The two U.S. senators were in Providence on Monday to announce new legislation that would keep asylum-seeking families together and prevent the Department of Homeland Security from taking children from their parents at the border, the Keep Families Together Act. Reed called the administration's policy of systematic separation deliberately cruel, and Whitehouse called it un-American.

Chinese Hacking Of Naval Contractor Reported

A new report indicates a contractor working for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport is the victim of Chinese government hacking. A "Washington Post" story over the weekend cited anonymous American officials who said the hackers stole massive amounts of highly-sensitive undersea warfare data earlier this year, including secret plans for the development of a supersonic anti-ship missile on U.S. submarines. The contractor has not been identified. The incident is being investigated.

Two Dominican Nationals In Federal Custody

Two men from the Dominican Republic are in federal custody following their arrests last Wednesday by Pawtucket police.  Officers discovered equipment used to make phony identification documents, credit cards and skimming devices to steal credit and debit card information.  The discovery was made when police responded to a 9-1-1 call for a reported home invasion at the suspect's residence. 

Truck Tolls Now In Effect In RI

Tractor trailer trucks are now being charged a toll in Rhode Island.  Tolling gantries on I-95 in Hopkinton and Exeter were activated Monday.  They are the first of 14 gantries planned on highways around the state.  Revenue generated by the tolls, three-dollars-25-cents in Exeter and three-dollars-50-cents in Hopkinton, will be used to finance road and bridge repairs.

RI Gas Prices Head Downward

The price of gasoline in Rhode Island is inching downwards. AAA Northeast says Monday its weekly survey found self-serve regular selling for an average of $2.95 per gallon, down four cents from a week ago.  That's three cents above the national average of $2.92. The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 65 cents higher than it was a year ago. AAA found gas in the state selling for as low as $2.74 per gallon to as high as $3.09

Portuguese Political Leaders Celebrate Day Of Portugal In RI

The president of Portugal celebrated an important holiday for the country in Providence on Sunday. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa joined Prime Minister Antonio Costa and local Portuguese-Americans for the Rhode Island celebration of the Day of Portugal holiday. Additional events involving Rebelo de Sousa and Costa are scheduled in Boston today.

RI Hospital Faulted For Patient Errors

The Rhode Island Department of Health and Rhode Island Hospital are entering into a consent agreement in lieu of regulatory action following four reported incidents involving patients this past February and March. The health department says the incidents involved patient identification and procedure verification, but that no patients suffered complications from the errors. The hospital has agreed to invest a million dollars to make improvements.

Ravioli Recall From State Health Department

The Rhode  Island Department of Health is advising consumers about a recall notice for food from Providence-based Venda Ravioli. The notice was issued on Friday for about 672 pounds of frozen meat ravioli products which were produced and packaged on various dates between February 22nd and June 7th. The USDA says the food was produced without the benefit of federal inspection, and that there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption.

Truck Tolling Scheduled To Begin Today

Tractor-trailer tolling begins in Rhode Island today. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced last week that two toll gantries on Interstate 95, between exits 2 and 5, would begin costing truck drivers about seven dollars. Another dozen gantries are expected to be fired up soon. Advocates for the trucking industry in the state are vowing legal action against the tolls.

Air Show Draws A Crowd

With the rain staying south, aviation enthusiasts got their money's worth on Sunday at the R.I. National Guard Air Show. An estimated 50-thousand people were in attendance for the second day of the two-day event at the Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown. The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration squad closed out the show.

Governor Rolls Out Attorney Reforms Following Missed Deadlines

Governor Gina Raimondo is ordering a series of reforms to be implemented following a series of embarrassing incidents involving state lawyers. In the last week, attorneys in several departments have been faulted for missing deadlines that could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

RI Lawmakers Unveil $9.6 Billion Budget Proposal

The House of Representatives unveiled its $9.6 billion budget proposal Friday night, a plan that includes funding for school construction, legalizes sports betting and nixes the governor’s plan to expand the number of medical marijuana licenses in the state. The House Finance Committee passed the bill later Friday night. The full House is expected to consider the proposal this week.

Annual Police Roadcheck Sees Close To 800 Violations

The Rhode Island State Police reported almost 800 commercial vehicle and driver violations during the 72-hour international roadcheck which took place on June 5, 6 and 7 at weigh stations on Route 146 South in North Smithfield and on Interstate 95 North in Richmond. According to Colonel Ann Assumpico, inspections revealed 565 vehicle violations and 116 driver violations. Two drivers were arrested for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended CDL license; a third was issued a summons for possession of marijuana.

Gaspee Burning Remembered Tomorrow

Rhode Islanders are burning a model ship this weekend to mark their role in sparking the American Revolution, more than a year before the Boston Tea Party. Tomorrow is the 246th anniversary of the day the British schooner HMS Gaspee was lured into shallow waters and ran aground. Historians say Rhode Island has a legitimate point by complaining the Boston Tea Party gets the lion's share of the attention.

New Whitehouse Act Would Expand Trade With Portugal

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says a new act introduced this week will extend trade and increase international business between the U.S. and Portugal.  He says the Advancing Mutual Interests and Growing Our Success Act will strengthen economic ties with an important European ally.  Whitehouse says sPortuguese immigrant are an important part of Rhode Island's rich heritage.  Bi-lateral trade between the U.S. and Portugal increased 30-percent between 2010 and 2015.

Brown Blasts Raimondo Over Pension Overhaul

A Democratic candidate for governor says the 2011 state pension overhaul is a case of gross fiscal mismanagement by Governor Gina Raimondo.  Matt Brown says that as governor he'd fight to restore cost of living adjustments for state retirees that were "abruptly" taken away six years ago.  Brown says he would work to change from investments in hedge funds that were supported by the governor and move state money back into stable, low-fee and better performing index funds.  

Church Opens Sanctuary Space For Immigrants

The First Unitarian Church in Providence is dedicating a room to serve as a space of sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.  The church is the first in Rhode Island to join the nationwide sanctuary movement.  ICE authorities generally treat churches, schools and hospitals as sensitive locations and avoid raiding them.  There are no laws, however, blocking an ICE raid at these locations.  The sanctuary opened Thursday afternoon.   

State Budget Vote Today

The House Finance Committee has decided to vote today on an amended version of the 2019 state budget bill, according to Finance Chairman Marvin Abney.The new version of the state budget was originally supposed to be unveiled last night, with a committee vote shortly thereafter, but State House leaders delayed the meeting until today as negotiations continued behind the scenes.The speaker's office says they're trying to end the legislative session on June 22 with the new fiscal year beginning July 1.

URI's Communications School Gets Three-Million-Dollar Donation

The University of Rhode Island is receiving a three-million-dollar gift.  URI's Harrington School of Communication and Media is getting the money from alumnus Richard Harrington and his wife, Jean.  The university says the funds will support renovations at Ranger Hall, which includes the Harrington Hub for Global Leadership in Communication and Media, and significant expansion of academic programming.

Federal Hill Fountain Flowers Uprooted

The new floral arrangements in the DePasquale Square fountain of Providence's Federal Hill are gone.  The placement of the plants and flowers in the bottom basin of the fountain as a temporary solution to the fountain's partial non-operation caused quite an uproar this week.  A spokesperson for Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza  says  the removal came at the request of the Federal Hill Commerce Association.  The estimated cost to fix the fountain is about a quarter-million dollars. 

Bridge Demolition Work To Impact I-195 Traffic This Weekend

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that bridge demolition work will begin this weekend, impacting traffic on Interstate 195.  RIDOT says one travel lane in both directions will be closed near the Massachusetts border for the work on the structurally deficient Horton Farm Bridge, which connects I-195 west to the East Shore Expressway on Rhode Island Route 114.  Several other closures and traffic pattern changes will be in effect for the rest of 2018 while the bridge is being replaced.

Court Says New York Congregation Controls Newport Synagogue

Control over the oldest synagogue in the United States, in Newport, is going unchanged for now after a federal court decision on Thursday.  The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand a ruling to place the Touro Synagogue under the control of New York City-based Shearith Israel, which at one time had cared for the place of worship.  A U.S. District Court judge in 2016 declared the Jeshuat Israel congregation in Newport to be the rightful caretaker of the synagogue and the overseer of its artifacts, including valuable Colonial-era silver bells which had been the center of a legal dispute between the two groups.  The Jeshuat congregation says it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. 

Westerly Weeds Have A Height Limit

Homeowners in Westerly could now face a fine if weeds in their yard reach six-inches or higher.  The town council approved a fine this week of 50-dollars a day for violating the weed height limit.   When asked whether the ordinance would apply to tall grass or lawns, town attorney William Conley Junior said he believes grass was covered elsewhere in the state code the town recently adopted.

DEM: Keep Plastic Trash Out Of The Water

With the summer underway and people getting out for some fun in the sun, state officials want to remind residents to take care of the environment.  The Department of Environmental Management says it's critical to reduce the tons of plastic waste in the ocean and getting the support of people is the only way to get it done.  Officials are asking boaters and beachgoers if they can't re-use it, then refuse it and help keep the environment and waterways clean this summer.

Four Rhode Island Companies On Fortune 500 List

The most recent Fortune 500 list published features four Rhode Island-based companies.  CVS Health Corps, Textron Inc, United Natural Foods and Citizens Financial all made the list based on 2017 revenue.  CVS was the highest ranked company from the Ocean State at number-seven with over 180-billion-dollars in revenue.  Aerospace company Textron landed at number 208,  United Natural Foods ranked 319 and Providence-based Citizens Financial Group ranked at number-435.

CVS Announces Changes If Aetna Purchase Approved

Aetna Inc. will continue to operate as a stand-alone business within the CVS Health business structure if the company's acquisition by CVS is approved.  The Providence Business Journal says CVS revealed its proposed reorganized management team yesterday that would take the reins if the deal goes through.  The company also plans to integrate Aetna executives into CVS operations.  

Legislators Hear From Opponents Of Jet Fuel Tax

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation is proposing a new tax on jet fuel.  The corporation, which runs T.F. Green Airport, estimates it can collect more than three-million dollars annually with the new tax, but says it would be offset by cutting other airline fees.  However, a trade group representing the airlines told lawmakers on Tuesday that the new tax could mean higher airfare and reduced service at T.F. Green.

National Grid Proposes Smaller Rate Increase

National Grid is proposing a settlement with the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission regarding gas and electric rates.  The utility is now requesting about half of the rate increase it asked for in late 2017 for the first year of a three-year plan, which would hike residential electric bills up by about four percent, followed by increases of about half a percent in the second and third years.  For residential gas customers, bills would go down slightly in the first year, and then rise one-and-a-half percent in the second year and zero-point-nine percent in the third.  The utilities commission must still approve the proposal.

Providence Fountain Now Flowing With Flowers

A famous fountain in the Federal Hill section of Providence is now a garden of sorts.  Flowers and other plants were arranged by the city in the DePasquale [[ DEE-pass-QUAHL ]] Square fountain on Tuesday after damage from the harsh winter rendered it partially inoperable.  The move is drawing criticism from local restaurant operators who say the fountain is an iconic spot as the busy summer season kicks off.  Providence officials say the plants are a temporary solution and that an assessment for a permanent solution is ongoing. 

RIDOT Director Acknowledges Missed Deadline By Attorney

Yet more lawyer problems are popping up for the state of Rhode Island.  An attorney for the Department of Transportation apparently missed a deadline to respond to a contractor claim for the Providence Viaduct project on I-95, resulting in a Superior Court judge ruling in favor of the contractor earlier this year.  The four-million-dollar suit was filed by Manafort Brothers in 2016.  RIDOT director Peter Alviti Jr. said in a statement that the attorney who missed the deadline was verbally reprimanded. 

Arrest Made In Coventry Home Invasion Case

A West Warwick man is facing charges in connection to a reported home invasion in Coventry on Monday.  Police say Joseph Cevoli was arrested on Wednesday after the victim, a pregnant woman, picked him out of a photo lineup.  Clothing and shoes worn by the assailant were reportedly recovered.  Cevoli is scheduled to be arraigned in district court in Warwick on Thursday.

Opponents Speak Out Against Proposed Kristen's Law

A proposed state law aimed at fighting opioid addiction by establishing a possible life sentence for selling drugs that prove fatal is up for a committee vote in the Rhode Island House tomorrow. Kristen's Law has already passed the Senate and Governor Gina Raimondo supports it. But opponents speaking in Warwick yesterday cited possible negative effects, such as punishing instead of helping those who sell drugs only to feed their own addiction. They also say fear of a long prison sentence might prevent someone from contacting authorities for help if someone is overdosing. 

State Computers Infected By Malware Fixed

Several hundred state computers that were infected with malware are back online. The infection hit computers at the departments of Children, Youth, and Families; Human Services, and Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. Chief Digital Officer Bijay Kumar says the malware was discovered last week. Kumar says it could have been caused by something as simple as someone clicking on a link in an email. 

Coventry Home Invasion Suspect Sought

The Coventry Police Department is looking for a home invasion suspect.  Police say a man assaulted a pregnant woman at her residence on Monday.  The woman was not seriously injured and nothing was taken from the home, according to reports.  The suspect is described as a white male, possibly in his 30s, with a medium build and dark hair, and who was wearing a yellow baseball cap in a surveillance image.

Governor Signs CDL, RV Legislation

Governor Gina Raimondo is signing a pair of transportation bills.  One of the bills streamlines the process for acquiring a commercial driver's license by permitting the use of an electronic means of transmission of the medical certificate required for the CDL.  The other piece of legislation allows RIDOT to issue certificates of title for recreational vehicles.

Expect Delays On I-95 In Cranston Wednesday Night

Lane closures are happening on I-95 north in Cranston tonight.  RIDOT says two lanes will be closed to allow crews to repair a patch of settled pavement.  The transportation department says major traffic delays are likely, and motorists are being urged to use alternate routes such as I-295 to bypass the construction. 

State Trucking Association Responds To Toll Plan

A legal challenge is being promised in response to the state's new plan to make tractor-trailer operators pay tolls.  Rhode Island will begin charging tolls on I-95 next week, near the Hopkinton-Richmond border and in Exeter.  The president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association tells "The Providence Journal" it plans to sue the state for rolling out a plan that specifically targets truckers and not passenger cars.  Rhode Island Department of Transportation director Peter Alviti Jr. says state law doesn't allow passenger cars to be tolled and adds it won't be necessary with the amount of money that will be collected from truck drivers.

Several More State Lawyers Leaving

Lawyers working for the state of Rhode Island are having a rough week.  Just one day after it was revealed that Executive Office of Health and Human Services attorney Greg Hazian had quit after a missed deadline for a costly court appeal, information came out on Tuesday about a second Health and Human Services lawyer, Gregory Madoian, who resigned in April after being taken off of the state's master list of attorneys.  Separately, the departure of Rhode Island Department of Education chief legal counsel Jessica Roche was also disclosed yesterday, according to a WPRI-TV report.  Roche is not licensed to practice in the state, but department officials say that is not the reason for her leaving.

Women And Infants Hospital Selects New President

The Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island is naming a new president and chief operating officer. Rick Majzun most recently served as the vice president of operations at St. Louis Children's Hospital and also worked at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Majzun replaces Mark Marcantano, who stepped down nearly a year ago.

Woonsocket Catholic Parish Consolidation Announced

Three Catholic parishes in Woonsocket are merging. The Diocese of Providence announced on Monday that Bishop Thomas Tobin has approved a request to consolidate Holy Family, Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs and Sacred Heart into the new Holy Trinity Parish, effective July 1st. Parishioners were informed of the move at Mass this past weekend. The diocese says declining population and financial challenges were among the issues that led to the decision. 

Guilty Pleas In Mail Truck Maintenance Contractor Fraud Case

Four people are pleading guilty to tax charges connected to an investigation into payments of vendors who performed maintenance on U.S. Postal Service vehicles in Rhode Island. The U.S. Justice Department says the cases began as a fraud investigation related to companies controlled by Ronald and Cheryl Long of Warwick, who provided the mechanical work. The Longs allegedly put false information on their tax returns and did not file a return in 2011. Retired Warwick postmaster Gary Neirinckx, who opened a business in Warwick co-owned by the Longs, admitted to accepting payment from the Longs in exchange for recommending mechanical services to other postmasters, but prosecutors say he didn't report the income on his tax returns. 

Missing North Providence Man Found

A Silver Alert is closed for a missing North Providence man. Police say 76-year-old Richard Cote was found Monday morning in a heavily-wooded area near his home. Cote was reported missing early Sunday morning. 

Governor Signs School Safety, Nutrition Bills, Among Others

Governor Gina Raimondo signed several school bills on Monday. One new law requires school districts to have regular safety plans reviewed by a panel, while another forbids the advertising of unhealthy foods to students. In other action, the governor signed a new law that requires hospitals to have policies on handling smoke generated during surgical procedures, and she also OK'd a bill banning "revenge pornography" in the state.

Lawyer At Center Of Missed Deadline Quits

The lawyer who reportedly missed a deadline to appeal a costly court decision for the state has resigned ahead of a termination hearing, according to Rhode Island Secretary Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Beane. The court ruling made the state liable for about eight-million dollars annually since Fiscal Year 2017 in a case involving Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes. Governor Gina Raimondo on Monday laid the blame squarely on the attorney, Gregory Hazian, and called for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to look into possible criminal charges against him.

Newport Man Sentenced In Fraud Case

Michael Lynch of Newport was sentenced Monday to 33 months in prison, after years of submitting fraudulent invoices totaling nearly $1.7 million dollars. Lynch was a national sales executive for Dr.Pepper, and admitted to starting up a marketing and promotions company in 2003, under his wife’s name.This company was called Seacoast Unlimited Marketing and Promotions. From January 2007 until November 29, 2017, more than 200 fraudulent invoices were submitted.

RI Gas Price Continues Climb

The price of gasoline in Rhode Island has halted its climb. AAA Northeast says Monday its weekly survey found self-serve regular selling for an average of $2.99 per gallon_the same as a week ago.That's five cents above the national average of $2.94. The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 66 cents higher than it was a year ago. AAA found gas in the state selling for as low as $2.79 per gallon to as high as $3.19

Benny's Store Equipment Going On Auction Block

An auction is scheduled to begin on Monday for the remnants of closed Benny's retail stores. Items ranging from signage to forklifts are up for bidding, according to the auctioneer, S.J. Corio. The auction is online only and run for two days. Benny's closed all of its stores in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts last year.

Robot Gives Commencement Address At RISD

A robot gave the commencement speech for Rhode Island School of Design students this weekend. "Sophia", who called herself the first robot citizen, spoke on behalf of RISD graduate David Hanson of Hanson Robotics. Before speaking directly to the Class of 2018, Sophia asked RISD president Rosanne Somerson when she can begin taking classes at the school. Nearly seven-hundred undergraduates and graduate students participated in the school's 135th graduation ceremony at the Rhode Island Convention Center. 

Providence Mayor Launches Re-Election Bid Amid Teacher Protests

As teachers protested, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced a re-election campaign on Sunday. The members of the Providence Teachers Union were calling attention to the lack of a contract with the city and said Elorza has ignored them. The mayor said one of his priorities will be to commit 400-million-dollars in the coming years to repair Providence schools. 

ACLU: Some School Districts Haven't Put Together Transgender Student Policies

Several Rhode Island school districts are still not compliant with requirements to have policies in place for protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students, according to the Rhode Island ACLU. The organization notes that school districts in the state have only one month remaining to implement the policies, as required by the Rhode Island Department of Education. The districts that the ACLU says have no policies in place are in Johnston, Newport, Tiverton and Woonsocket. 

Malware Attack Affects Three RI Agencies

Several state agencies are reporting a malware attack. A state spokesperson says the departments of Children, Youth and Family Services, Human Services and Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals experienced technical issues on Friday due to the malware, which came from a phishing email. It's not believed that personal information was breached, and minimal service disruptions are expected. 

State Asking For More Time To File Appeal

A missed deadline for filing an appeal could result in the state of Rhode Island losing millions of dollars. Recent court documents indicate an attorney for the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services ignored the deadline for the appeal in a case involving Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes. The ruling made the state liable for about eight-million dollars annually since Fiscal Year 2017, according to a request for an extension on filing an appeal by the state to the Rhode Island Superior Court. State officials say the attorney, Gregory Hazian, is one of two who have been placed on administrative leave in connection to the situation. 

Hands-Free Is Now The Law In RI

It's now against the law to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in Rhode Island.  The new law went into effect as of Friday.  Electronic signs on highways are reminding drivers that phones can't be held to talk, text or for GPS.  Police say they will strictly enforce the law, with violators facing a one-hundred-dollar fine.

Logistics Company For Amazon Closing RI Operations

The company that helps with its Rhode Island operations is closing down next month.  Texas-based Pinnacle Logistics, which has employed people at the Quonset Business Park and was also involved at T.F Green Airport, informed its workers on Fridaday.  A letter to employees says Amazon has decided to terminate the Providence operations due to business reasons unrelated to performance.  An Amazon spokesman has reportedly confirmed the decision.

Governor Raimondo Signs Gun Bills Into Law

It's now illegal in Rhode Island to use devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to be used as automatic weapons.  Governor Gina Raimondo signed the bump stock ban bill on Friday.  She also signed a "red flag" bill that allows police to seek a court order to temporarily seize guns from people deemed to be dangerous.  Supporters say the new laws are common sense safety measures.   

Health Insurance Rates Going Up

Rhode Island's commercial health insurers want to increase rates by as much as 10 percent next year. The state health insurance commissioner's office is currently reviewing the rate requests and taking public comment. The commissioner's office says increasing health care services costs, rising drug prices and uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act contributed to potential rate hikes.

Officials Continue Push To Keep PawSox

Lawmakers have expressed support for a more expensive but less risky plan to replace the aging stadium of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The House Finance Committee considered the revised proposal on Thursday. State and city officials say it's a promising framework that needs fine-tuning. Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello announced the new plan on Tuesday that removes the state's $23-million backing and instead relies on special revenue bonds.

Legislators Voice Concern About 9-1-1 Malfunction

A couple of state legislators are voicing concern about  Wednesday's malfunction of Rhode Island's emergency 9-1-1 system.  The problem, due to what is described as technical issues, prevented callers from hearing dispatchers.   Cranston Representative Robert Lancia has been calling for a system upgrade and he calls the 45-minute service disruption unacceptable.  Coventry Representative Robert Nardolillo says public safety should be a top priority, and yesterday's situation proves more state investment is needed in the 9-1-1 system.

Tiverton Approves Round-The-Clock Gambling At New Casino

The Tiverton Town Council is approving 24-hour gambling at the town's new casino.  The Thursday night vote in a special meeting was 4-to-3.  The move impacts gambling, but not when alcohol can be served.  The Tiverton Casino Hotel is set to open in September. 

RI College Students Comment On Free Tuition At CCRI

Rhode Island College students are concerned about the impact of free tuition at Community College of Rhode Island on their school.  RIC's student government has sent a resolution to state lawmakers claiming the Rhode Island Promise program has hurt enrollment and could lead to tuition increases.  Governor Gina Raimondo, however, says RIC will receive more money from the previous year in her proposed budget and hopes to add RIC to the promise program. 

State Senate Passes School Construction Bill

The Rhode Island Senate is approving a 250-million-dollar school renovation and repair bill.  The House of Representatives must still approve the bill after the Senate passed it unanimously on Thursday.  The group Fix Our Schools RI hailed the Senate approval as the first step toward the passage of a proposed school construction bond. 

Gun Control Measures Head To Governor's Desk

The Rhode Island House and Senate both passed so-called "red flag" laws impacting gun ownership on Thursday.  The bill makes it easier for police to take guns away from those who are at a high risk of killing themselves or someone else.  Both chambers passed the matching bills with overwhelming support, and also passed a ban on bump stocks, the device used by the suspect in the Las Vegas hotel shooting of 2017.  Governor Gina Raimondo is expected to sign the measures on Friday. 


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