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Weekly Roundups  

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Senate approves mental health measures as Mental Health Month kicks off
As advocates gathered at the State House to kick off a month of activities promoting mental health, the Senate today approved several measures aimed at improving access to effective mental health care in Rhode Island.

Rep. Canario introduces bill to exempt fees for elderly and disabled state ID cards
Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) has introduced legislation (2017-H 6050) that would exempt the elderly and disabled people who cannot operate a vehicle from paying for state-issued identification cards.
Sen. DiPalma and Rep. Tanzi introduce bill to increase wages for developmentally disabled direct care workers
Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) have introduced legislation (2017-S 0471 / 2017-H 5839) that would urge the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (DBHDDH) and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to increase the base wages for direct and home care workers who service the developmentally disabled community.  
Rep. O’Brien introduces Healthy Workplace Act of 2017 to combat workplace bullying
Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence) has introduced legislation (2017-H 5862) that would establish a cause of action against employers and employees for workplace bullying, harassment and other abusive behavior that may not fall into other categories that are already protected such as race, color, sex or sexual orientation.
Rep. Fellela introduces legislation to permit naming rights for Rhode Island Convention Center
Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston) has introduced legislation that would open the way for corporations to bid on naming the Rhode Island Convention Center.

House passes McNamara bill that would allow terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs
The House of Representatives has approved legislation submitted by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara to allow terminally ill patients to obtain experimental drugs that have not yet been federally approved but which may be in the final stages of FDA testing. The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Miller bill would use Medicaid funds for housing as a means to improve health
Modeled after an innovative bill introduced this year in Hawaii, legislation sponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller would launch a pilot program to test the use of Medicaid funds to treat chronic homelessness.

Senate passes Sosnowski bill that would ban hand-held cell phone use by drivers of motor vehicles
The Senate has approved legislation introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), that would outlaw the use of any non-hands-free personal wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle, except for public safety personnel or in emergency situations.  
House OKs Corvese bill to combat fentanyl
The House of Representatives today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Arthur J. Corvese to crack down on fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is now involved in most overdose deaths in Rhode Island, through significantly stronger penalties for its possession.

Senator Lombardi named chairman of new Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight Committee
President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence) has appointed Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D–Dist. 26, Cranston) to serve as chairman of the newly formed Senate Committee on Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight.

Sen. Lynch Prata named as Senate Judiciary Chairwoman
Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) has been named the new Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist.4, North Providence, Providence).  Senator Lynch Prata was previously the secretary of the committee under Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) who was recently elected as the Majority Leader of the Senate.  
Conley named chairman of Senate Finance Committee
President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence has appointed Sen. William J. Conley Jr. to serve as chairman of the Committee on Finance.

Dominick Ruggerio elected Senate President, Michael McCaffrey elected Senate Majority Leader, Maryellen Goodwin will be Senate Majority Whip
The Rhode Island Senate today unanimously elected Dominick J. Ruggerio to the office of President of the Senate during its floor session.