The Hummel Report

Investigative Reports That Get Results

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Some Head Scratchers

This week Jim Hummel reviews hundreds of bills filed in this year’s General Assembly session - so you won’t have to - going beyond the headlines to take a look at some head-scratchers. From one proposal that would allow killing migratory birds with a crossbow, to a law requiring auto dealers to disclose if a vehicle they’re selling has a spare tire. And an effort to get slow drivers out of Rhode Island’s high-speed lanes.

SCRIPT:

You’ll be hearing a lot in the coming months up here about a car tax phase-out and free college tuition for Rhode Island high school students. But this week:  after a mind-numbing review of hundreds of bills already filed at the General Assembly - we take a look at some proposed legislation that will leave you with no other option but to scratch your head.

After passing a law - yes a law - mandating at least 20 minutes of daily recess for all Rhode Island elementary school children, apparently the lawmakers’ work on the playground is not finished. This year a bill has been filed to allow students to bring sunscreen to school. There’s no word on what SPF they’re supposed to use. Maybe they’ll save that SPF level - maybe they’ll save that for next year.

Some more good news for Rhode Island school students. Remember that winter a couple of years ago when you were bumping up against July trying to make up snow days? If one bills goes through students wouldn’t have to make up any snow days - when the governor declares a state of emergency. That’s a lot of pressure on Gov. Raimondo - not only to pay state workers double time - but from two students who happen to live under her own roof.

A freshman representative - who just happens to work as a waitress- has filed a bill that increase the tipped minimum wage - repeatedly - until it reaches 2/3 of the regular minimum wage. That’s not a conflict of interest, is it?

Last year the legislature passed a bill outlawing the Rhode Island Slide - you know, pulling up into the intersection while waiting to make a turn. Some call it Don’t Block the Box.

As if that isn’t bad enough, now they want to have drivers only use the high speed lane to pass someone. Now this may take more than a law - as most Rhode Islanders think it’s their constitutional right to drive slowly in the high speed lane, while other drivers whiz by them on the right.

Here’s one to ponder: A bill that would legalize killing migratory birds with a…..crossbow. Not a trap, snare, net, spring, rifle, pistol, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance - all outlined in current state law.  But a crossbow would be just fine. Even more baffling: it was introduced by a rep from North Providence.

A bill filed last month would require dealers to disclose whether a vehicle being sold has….a spare tire, with a $100 fine for nondisclosure. This has the whiff of some lawmaker going to change a flat tire only to find the spare, isn’t there.

Then there’s a perennial bill that never gets any traction up here:  it would prohibit all lobbyists from making any political contributions to members of the General Assembly while it’s in session. With all due respect to our good government groups - that’s just not the way things work around here. But nice try.

We all know how well the state has been doing with computer upgrades, right? Well think about this next time you come here to get your license or registration renewed: A proposal that would tack on another $1.50 technology fee surcharge to help with the DMV’s computer problems. So you get whacked in the pocketbook and they still can’t’ figure out.

Here’s one we can all get behind: A so-called Joint Committee of the Repealer. A committee to receive suggestions for the repeal of statutes, regulations and executive orders not considered `business friendly’ or archaic and out of date. That one could take years.

Another special legislative committee formed nearly two years ago is asking for yet another extension to finish its work. It’s called The Special Commission to Study Methods for Growing Tourism in the state of Rhode Island Through Coordinated Branding and Marketing Efforts.

And it’s asked for another extension to May - maybe because every time they have to read the full name of the committee it takes up most of the meeting. They do know the summer season is right around the corner, right?

Finally: here’s a proposal to chew on - extending the term of state reps and senators from two years to four years - just like state officers. But with a catch: a three-term limit - for a total of 12 years in. That way we don’t have to hear from the guy who’s been up here for 25 years and resigns on the verge on indictment - because he wants to spend more time with his family.

At the State House, Jim Hummel for the Hummel Report.