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Minimum wage hike among new Rhode Island laws to take effect

December 31, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The state’s minimum wage is going up, insurance companies will be required to cover all costs for a mastectomy and carbon monoxide detectors will be required in school buildings.

Those are among the new and updated laws taking effect in Rhode Island in 2019.

The hourly minimum wage increases from $10.10 to $10.50 starting Tuesday. Lawmakers approved increasing it by 90 cents within two years in 2017, when it was $9.60 an hour.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said she’d like to see the minimum wage gradually increase to $15 per hour in Rhode Island. She said people who work hard shouldn’t remain in poverty. In neighboring Massachusetts, the hourly minimum wage increases from $11 to $12 an hour on Tuesday. It will continue to go up in 75-cent annual increments until it reaches $15 in 2023.

Rhode Island lawmakers passed legislation this year to expand mastectomy coverage by eliminating high co-pays and deductibles, and to require school buildings to have carbon monoxide detectors installed beginning Jan. 1.

Democratic House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi led the push for expanded mastectomy coverage. State law mandated insurance coverage for mastectomies in 2005, but insurers have since instituted high co-pays and deductibles and breast cancer survivors have had to pay for necessary medical supplies, he said.

Democratic Rep. Joseph McNamara called for carbon monoxide detectors in schools after he was contacted by a Cranston constituent who believes her daughter was exposed to carbon monoxide at school.

Other laws going into effect will standardize the business registration process for food trucks and carts, require public colleges to develop policies and training to prevent suicides, and ban the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners who are in their third trimester. Notaries will be required to have a notary ink stamp instead of an embossing seal, which doesn’t photocopy well, and the Division of Motor Vehicles will have to issue written notifications to people who owe taxes.

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