These are some of the highlights of bills that were passed in the 2021 General Session:
The 2021 Act on Climate makes the state’s climate goals outlined in the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 more ambitious and updated with current science, achieving net-zero emissions across all sectors by 2050.
Lawmakers prohibited new medical waste incinerators near residential neighborhoods, schools, nursing facilities and delicate environmental areas.
The legislature voted to require financial institutions to report suspected exploitation of seniors to the Office of Healthy Aging, authorizing them to temporarily hold suspect transactions; and enabled municipalities to offer property tax credits to seniors in exchange for volunteer hours.
The Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act establishes a minimum standard of 3.58 hours of resident care per day by Jan. 1, 2022, and 3.81 hours of resident care per day beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
PRESERVING OPEN SPACE
The General Assembly simplified the process for cities and towns to preserve open space by creating municipal parks.
The Assembly established the state’s first permanent funding stream for affordable housing to help address the state’s critical housing shortage and authorized the designation of a “housing czar” to oversee housing initiatives.
Legislators added $10 million to the Department of Children Youth and Families’ budget to hire 91 new employees and help to address ongoing quality issues.
RENAMING THE AIRPORT
The General Assembly renamed the state airport in Warwick “Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport.
Lawmakers passed a bill to incorporate African heritage history education and civics education in all Rhode Island elementary and secondary schools.
A bill passed by the Assembly will prohibit anyone, with certain exceptions, from bringing a firearm onto school property.
PHASING OUT THE CAR TAX
Legislators added $10 million to The State budget continues the phase-out of the car excise tax, set to be fully eliminated after 2023.
A new law will gradually raise the minimum wage in Rhode Island from $11.50 to $15 an hour over the next four years; and approved legislation to ensure pay equity for all employees, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
The General Assembly passed a law to require health insurers to cover in-network preventive colorectal cancer screenings. The General Assembly approved legislation to expand Rhode Islanders’ access to telemedicine coverage.