Lawmakers to tackle a pot pourri of pending legislation as they hope to adjourn on Saturday
After staying late Friday to approve a deal to finance a proposed stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox, lawmakers return for a rare Saturday session with hopes of wrapping up business for the legislative year.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — State lawmakers returned to the State House Saturday and by early afternoon had passed legislation that would reduce fines for speeding in a school zone and keep public school employee evaluations from the public as the General Assembly tries to finish up the 2018 election-year session.
Getting back to work after a late Friday night of lawmaking, the House of Representatives passed a bill reducing the maximum fine drivers can get for being caught by a school zone speed camera from $95 to $50. The bill would also limit the hours of speed camera operation to weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. And it would turn the cameras off from July 1 to Aug. 15 each summer.
The General Assembly also passed a bill that would add a new exemption to the state’s public records law for evaluations of public school employees.
Teacher evaluations are already exempt, but Sen. Roger Picard, the sponsor of the bill, said a few years ago, after an unnamed Woonsocket superintendent had a bad experience, the Rhode Island Association of School Committee requested the privacy exemption be expanded to include superintendents.
Asked why the bill exempts all public school employees, and not specifically administrators, Picard said he left that to the lawyers. He said he didn’t know if public college administrators or coaches would also be exempt.
Common Cause Rhode Island executive director John Marion said the bill is another blow to government transparency.
“The General Assembly continues to chip away at the public’s right to know. Now the evaluations of all public school employees are