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Weekly Roundups  

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General Assembly honors women in the military during celebration at State House
To honor the service of Rhode Island women who choose to make the military their career, Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush and Rep. Deborah Ruggiero hosted a celebration today in the State Room to recognize International Women’s Day. The official theme for this year’s event is “Women in the Military.”  
House leader introduces legislation to tighten up campaign expenditure reporting
 In the wake of the arrest of former House Speaker Gordon Fox for using campaign funds for his own personal expenses, House Majority Leader John J. DeSimone (D-Dist. 5, Providence) has submitted legislation that would close loopholes in reporting campaign finances.

House, Senate bills introduced to regulate, tax marijuana
Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller and House Finance Committee member Scott A. Slater have introduced legislation to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and to establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. Regulation of the substance, they said, will allow the state to create barriers to teen access and taxing marijuana sales could generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, a portion of which will be directed toward programs that treat and prevent alcohol and other substance abuse.

Legislation would establish performance-based funding for Rhode Island colleges
President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed and House Health, Education and Welfare Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara have introduced legislation to establish a performance-based funding component to state aid for Rhode Island’s institutions of higher learning. The legislation would make all new state higher education funding contingent upon achievement of certain goals, such as improved on-time graduation rates, and increasing completion of programs in high-demand fields.

O'Grady bill opens door for hotel at Twin River Casino
Legislation introduced today in the House of Representatives sets the stage for construction of a hotel at the Twin River Casino site in Lincoln, a plan that casino officials and some state officials believe will make the gaming facility a thriving destination location. The legislation will provide that construction of a hotel at or in close proximity to Twin River will remain subject to the town of Lincoln zoning ordinances

Legislation sets standards for "distance learning" in RI
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara and Sen. Hanna M. Gallo have introduced legislation in their respective General Assembly chambers to provide easier access to higher education online learning programs. The bills set standards for “distance learning” in Rhode Island and authorize the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education to enter into interstate reciprocity agreements for distance learning.

Bill would take guns away from domestic violence convicts, those with restraining orders
Hoping to provide greater protection to victims of domestic violence as well as those potentially in danger, Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) and Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) have introduced legislation that would take firearms out of the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence. It would also mandate that persons with a restraining order due to a domestic abuse case would be compelled to surrender their firearms.