The Hummel Report

Investigative Reports That Get Results

A Rhode Island 501c3 Non-Profit


This week Jim Hummel is back with his annual look at some of the quirkier bills among the nearly 2,000 pieces of legislation filed in the Rhode Island House and Senate since the beginning of this year’s General Assembly session. From a ban on cell phone use by kids on school buses and proposed legislation mandating hunters to use non-toxic ammunition whenever possible - to a bill that would create yet another category of license plate - we take a closer look at proposed laws that may have you asking: Really?


Nearly 2,000 bills have been filed since the beginning of this year’s General Assembly session  - only 115 have made it so far to the governor’s desk. This week our annual look at some proposed bills that may have you asking the question: Really?

The cell phone police are back - with a bill that would make it illegal for students to use cell phones on a school bus - unless it is an emergency. Not the driver, the kids. If they’re really worried about public safety why don’t they ban loud talking and spitballs?

Another bill would require local building officials to either approve - or reject - permit applications within 30 days of the time they receive them - just like they do in Massachusetts. Now this is a common sense bill that I actually like. But that sound you just heard - building officials across the state of Rhode Island collectively throwing up.

Then there’s the proposal to increase the days retired state employees can come back and work - while continuing to collect their pensions. The increase - from 90 to 180 days. You might call it The Double Double Dip.

How about one lawmaker’s proposal to create a commission to streamline business permitting and report back in January of 2015. Great idea, but we shouldn’t we have been doing that in 1915?

Okay all of you owners of electric vehicles, we know how proud you are of saving money and saving the environment all at the same time. Well apparently those I’m electric decals on the rear window aren’t enough. A pending bill would create a special category of license plate just for you - right up there with the chief emeritus plate, war veteran and Red Sox lover plates. Really?

A bill filed last year, and again this year, would allow the town of Smithfield to take over maintenance of grounds and fields like this one from the Smithfield School Department. Fellas, we need a law to get this done?

Attention all hunters: a House bill would mandate that you use non-toxic ammunition whenever it’s available. Maybe not so good for Bambi in the long run, but the rest of us - we can all feel good about the environment.

Next time you go out for a meal, think about this one: A bill that would make all restaurants list the total number of calories and ingredients on the menu. Well that takes all of the fun out of going out, doesn’t it?

The good news: this is an election year, so most of the people up here want to pack up early and get going on their campaigns. That and an unprecedented mid-term change in the leadership means the vast majority of these bills will never make it out of committee. Who said there’s no good news coming out of the General Assembly these days?

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