Legislative News – Feb. 27: Bill would ban riot gear on attendees of rallies, parades; Bill would protect families with parents that have disabilities

The latest news and press releases from the Rhode Island General Assembly.

02/27/2020Sen. Louis DiPalma;Sen. DiPalma bill that protects families with parents that have disabilities passed by Senate
02/27/2020Rep. Arthur Corvese;Corvese bill would ban riot gear on attendees of rallies, parades

Sen. DiPalma bill that protects families with parents that have disabilities passed by Senate

STATE HOUSE – Sen. Louis P. DiPalma’s (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) legislation (2020-S 2139) that precludes the disability of a parent from serving as a basis for denial or restriction in matters involving a child’s welfare, foster care, family law, guardianship and adoption has been passed by the Senate.

“Individuals with disabilities continue to face unfair, preconceived, and unnecessary societal biases, as well as antiquated attitudes regarding their ability to successfully parent their own children.  This leads to new parents with disabilities being unnecessarily referred to social workers and governmental staff for evaluations of their parenting abilities to provide proper care and environments for their children, based solely upon erroneous assumptions about the parent’s disability.  This is unfair, unjust, and may also have serious effects on children who may be denied the opportunity to live in a loving home with parents or caretakers who also have disabilities.  Our society is strongest with strong family environments so we should not eliminate loving homes for our kids simply because a parent has a disability,” said Senator DiPalma.

- Advertisement -

The purpose of the legislation is to protect the best interests of children who have parents with disabilities by establishing procedural safeguards that require adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This would include education of hospital, child protective services and judicial staff in the equal protection rights of parents with disabilities in the context of child welfare, foster care, family law, and adoption.

The legislation states that a parent’s disability cannot serve as the basis of referral to a hospital social worker or the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.  The parent’s disability cannot serve as the basis for the denial or restriction of visitation and custody either if the child’s best interests are taken into account.

Also, when a parent’s disability is alleged to have a detrimental impact on a child, the party raising the allegation bears the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence that the behaviors are, or will likely, endanger the health, safety, and welfare of the child.

Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown) is the sponsor of the companion legislation (2020-H 7295) in the House of Representatives.

Senator DiPalma’s bill has been referred to the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee.

Corvese bill would ban riot gear on attendees of rallies, parades

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Arthur J. Corvese has introduced legislation to prohibit attendees of rallies, demonstrations, parades or assemblies from using protective gear or masks that would circumvent law enforcement crowd-control measures or obscure their identity.

The legislation is meant to ensure that law enforcement is not at a disadvantage when trying to protect lives and safety when violence breaks out at such events.

“We live in very volatile political times,” said Representative Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence). “Whether your perspective is derived from television, radio, the newspapers or social media, it is glaringly obvious every day that America is a polarized nation. Members of the extreme right and the extreme left face off every day with words and actions. In certain cities, such as Boston and Portland, Ore., confrontations between these extremes have turned violent. Local law enforcement officers perform a herculean job in maintaining order while allowing First Amendment rights to be expressed. However, their duty to keep the peace must not be hampered by individuals on both sides of the political divide who are looking to commit violence in the name of their respective causes. This bill would assist our local law enforcement in protecting all participants and maintaining the public peace, while ensuring First Amendment rights are preserved.”

The legislation (2020-H 7543) would prohibit people at parades, rallies, demonstrations or assemblies from the possession or wearing of gas masks, riot helmets, face visors, body armor, vests, neck protection, knee pads, riot shields or any other equipment meant to defeat law enforcement tactics to control crowds. It would also prohibit attendees from wearing a mask, hood, makeup, robe, helmet, disguise of any type or facial alteration with the intent of avoiding their identification.

Violations would be punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $1,000.

Similar bills have been passed in other states and municipalities to assist law enforcement in the proper performance of their duty. New York City has long had a law against gatherings of two or more people wearing masks to hide their identities, and the police chief in Portland, Ore, which has been the scene of numerous violent clashes between right- and left-wing protesters, has called for a similar law.

The legislation is supported by the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association as well as the Fraternal Order of Police.

“The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association is in support of House Bill 7543 introduced by Representative Corvese. Law enforcement appreciates the intent of the bill to recognize that the public has the right to organize in public to exercise their rights under the First Amendment, but to do so in a way which also protects the rights and safety of law enforcement and the public we serve. The RIPCA looks forward to working with Rep. Corvese and all of the legislators on this issue,” said Sidney Wordell, executive director of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association.

Said Robert Quinn, president of the Rhode Island Fraternal Order of Police, “The Rhode Island State Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, would like to thank Representative Corvese and the cosponsors of this legislation because it will assist law enforcement to identify and possibly apprehend individuals who cause property damage and/or harm or injure anyone.”

Cosponsors of the legislation include Rep. Stephen R. Ucci (D-Dist. 42, Johnston, Cranston), Rep. Robert B. Jacquard (D-Dist. 17, Cranston), Rep. Raymond H. Johnston Jr. (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) and Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton).