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Rhode Island’s General Assembly enters a busy final week

June 24, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Proposals to gives victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue, to compensate people who have been wrongfully imprisoned, and to update the state education system are among dozens of bills being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly as it enters what is expected to be its final week.

Both the House and Senate aim to adjourn Friday. In recent weeks, both chambers passed different versions of a proposal to give sexual abuse victims more time to sue their abusers and institutions that shielded them. The differences must be reconciled before the bill can be sent to the governor.

Lawmakers aim to extend the limit for filing such lawsuits from seven years to 35 years, but the Senate version doesn’t include a provision to allow for suits upon a recovered memory.

The House has also passed a bill to compensate people who served prison time for crimes they didn’t commit. It was inspired by the case of a former Warwick police officer who was wrongfully convicted of murder in the 1989 killing of a Warwick woman with whom he was having an affair. He served more than six years in prison before the victim’s ex-boyfriend confessed.

The measure would provide $50,000 out of the state treasury for each year spent in prison. The Senate is still considering it.

Both chambers are working to pass matching versions of seven education reform bills. Democratic leaders in both chambers have prioritized the bills to bring comprehensive reform to curriculum, instruction support, accountability, teacher certification, specialty skills certification, teacher assessments and the principal certification process.

Standardized test results showed Rhode Island students trailing far behind students in Massachusetts late last year.

A $9.97 billion budget, passed by the House Saturday , is expected to pass the Senate, though a vote has not yet been scheduled. It would expand the state’s pre-kindergarten program and add six new medical marijuana dispensaries.

The budget includes many of the Senate’s priorities, including creating a $5 million annual fee on opioid manufacturers, aimed at compensating the public for the opioid epidemic, and removing the city of Providence’s jurisdiction over zoning in the state-owned Interstate 195 redevelopment district.

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