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Rhode Island

Department of Justice to States: Don’t Sue Polluters

In a blow to states’ leadership over clean energy, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that states cannot sue power plant operators that generate pollution. The Justice Department alleges that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency has already started to regulate greenhouse emissions; and (2) states lack standing to assert a federal nuisance claim.

Anti-immigrant Proposals Continue to Fail in Wake of Arizona’s Law

As this Dispatch will detail, after considerable media hype about Arizona-style bills sweeping across the nation, the reality is that from from Nevada to Arkansas to Massachusetts to Kansas and Rhode Island, anti-immigrant bills and ballot initiatives largely didn't move or failed to make this fall's ballot.  A key reason:  most state leaders and police chiefs recognize that requiring local governments to assume immigration enforcement responsibilities from the federal government will distract them from fighting violent crime and undermine trust with local residents that are essential to successful community policing.

Green Economy Roundtable Law Enacted in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s HB 7407, now Public Law No. 2010-203, creates the Green Economy Roundtable to advise and assist the Governor and General Assembly in advancing Rhode Island’s green energy economy by developing a statewide action plan.

Arizona "Copycat" Anti-Immigrant Bill Killed in Rhode Island Without a Hearing

Immigrant and workers' rights advocates celebrated a victory in Rhode Island this week with the announcement that State Rep. Peter Palumbo's anti-immigrant bill, closely based on Arizona's widely criticized SB 1070, would not get a hearing. Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox came out in opposition to Palumbo's bill, and decided to table it -- the proposal was drafted roughly ten days ago, just before the end of the state's legislative session. 

Paid Sick Days Would Boost Rhode Island's Health

Last fall, Rhode Island Health Department Director David Gifford missed a key press briefing about the state’s effort to combat the H1N1 flu pandemic. He wasn’t shirking his duty — in fact, Rhode Island received national praise for its H1N1 response, and ranked first among states in the rate of vaccination. On the contrary, Dr. Gifford was doing what he advised all Rhode Islanders to do: he stayed home that day because he was feeling sick.

States Decide on High Risk Pools

The choice of whether or not to establish high-risk insurance pools represents the first major decision that states are facing with the March 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). While twenty-nine governors -- 22 Democrats and 7 Republicans -- decided to create the pools themselves, most conservative governors failed to take advantage of the option to shape health care for their constituents and instead just kicked the issue back to the federal government, which will establish its own high-risk insurance pool in states that fail to take action.

The FCC Extends E-Rate Broadband Access Program to the General Public

States and local governments may now use federal E-rate funds to provide the general public access to schools’ and public libraries’ Internet facilities, according to a recent Federal Communications Commission order.  Schools receiving funding under the E-rate program may extend their services to the general public during non-operating hours, that is, after school, weekends, holidays, and summer vacation.