Rhode Island Government Information

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

Let's start at the Legislative Branch, which is the Rhode Island General Assembly . This branch is made up of the House of Representatives , which has 75 members, and the Senate , 38 members all together (For more information about legislators, search in the index list on each page). Their purpose is to make laws. Each chamber needs to approve of the law before it is sent off to the Governor for approved. It then becomes a Public Law , the law of the state. In addition to these types of laws, the General Assembly can pass Local Acts , which are laws of only a local or private nature, Resolutions , which express the will of the legislature and are not law, and Joint Resolutions , which are resolutions issued by both chambers of the State Assembly.

However, all of this is a long process. Let's look at each step and information available

1) A bill is introduced.

2) A bill is then sent to a committee.

3) There is a debate and vote on the bill.

4) The Governor has the right to veto a bill.

5) The bill becomes a law.

 

1) A bill is introduced.

A bill is only a draft of a law. It needs to be discussed and worked upon before it is voted on.

BILLS

About This Resource

You can do keyword searching in the texts online back to 1997.

Bills are numbered by year, chamber, and number of bill. For example, 2005 -H 6052 "An Act Relating to Food and Drugs - The Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Act" is a House bill numbered 6052 in 2005.

Digital Paper

Bills

Search The Rhode Island General Assembly Website from the Search Through dropdown menu you can search for Assembly or Senate bills back to 1997 Full-text

Rhode Island General Assembly: Senate has only bills from 1993-94.

Rhode Island General Assembly: House has 1987-89, 1991, and 1994.

Consult Rhode Island State Library for bills older than what we have in our resources.

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2) A bill is then sent to a committee.

A bill is then sent to a committee that the chamber elects to work specifically on a subject, e.g., Finance, Judiciary, Labor, etc. These committees are delegated to investigate, consider, report, and act on a introduced bill. In addition to House and Senate Committees, there are also Joint Committees that operate between the two chamber (Check the Legislative Session Information page for links to the committees) However, most work is separate, and each chamber does its own work.

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3) There is a debate and vote on the bill.

There is a debate and vote on the bill. The bill can be either killed in the committee, or approved and sent out to the floor of the chamber with report for a vote. Here the bill is debated, amendments are proposed or the bill can even be sent back to committee for reconsideration. If the bill reaches a vote and is approved, it goes to the other chamber where a very similar process is followed for approval.

The Journal of the House of Representatives and Senate provides information on bills, such as what committee discussed it, floor amendments, when it was brought to a vote, and the vote .

JOURNAL (OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATE)

About This Resource

Use the online resources for the Journal back to 1998.

The numbering system is the respective Journal, Volume, Number. For example, on page two in the Journal of the House of Representatives, Volume 132, No. 74, there is the roll call vote on the override of the Governor's veto of bill 2005 - H 6052 SUB A.

Digital Paper

Search The Rhode Island General Assembly Website From the Search Through dropdown menu, search in the Journals for vote. There is full-text back to 1998.

Journal of the Senate We have from 1907-2000

Journal of the House of Representatives We have from 1905-2000.

Note: Even though committees normally don't keep a written record of sessions, there are some audio and video recordings. Contact the State Library for further information.

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4) The Governor has the right to veto a bill.

The Governor has the right to veto a bill. When our republic was established, the founders decided that there should be a system of "checks and balances," where each branch would be able to influence and stop the other so one does not get more control of the other. To this end, the Governor can veto or reject a bill. However, the bill can override the veto if it is approved of by two-thirds of the House.

VETOS IN JOURNALS

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The veto is either mentioned in the Journal of each chamber of the General Assembly, or it is printed in an appendix of the issue of the Journal. The numbering system follows that of the Journal of each chamber. You can search by the name of the bill or using the word veto.

Digital Paper

Governor's Veto

Search The Rhode Island General Assembly Website From the Search Through dropdown menu, search in the Journals . There is full-text back to 1998.

Journal of the Senate We have from 1907-2000

Journal of the House of Representatives We have from 1905-2000.

R.I. Archives Division has Journals back to the 1800s.

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5) The bill becomes a law.

When the Governor signs the bill, it becomes a law. When the bill finally becomes a law or statute, it is put into Public Law of the State of Rhode Island , which is a chronological compliation of all law enacted annually. The General Laws is a compliation of all laws currently in effect by subject. The General Assembly can also pass Local Acts, Resolutions and Joint Resolutions.

PUBLIC LAWS OF THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS PASSED AT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Rhode Island public laws are published here. Public laws are all acts passed by the General Assembly except acts and resolutions of a local or private nature (See Acts and Resolves). They are listed chronologically.

About This Resource

You can get full text of the laws online back to 1995. For laws passed before that date, search the paper.

The numbering system is Public Law, Chapter Number, session year, chamber (S=Senate, H=House), bill number. For example, Rhode Island Public Law Chapter 209 2004 -- H 8392 "An Act Relating to Workplace Safety" is the 209th Chapter (law) from 2004, that is the approval of House Bill 8392.

Digital Paper

Public Laws

Search The Rhode Island General Assembly Website from the Search Through dropdown menu you can search for public laws back to 1995 full-text.

Public laws of the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations passed at the General Assembly goes back to 1822.

 

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND GENERAL LAWS

All laws that are presently in effect are listed by subject. In addition, there are notes and analyses of each law.

About This Resource

The easiest way is to search the online resources. LexisNexis allows keyword searching.

The numbering system is usually § Title, Chapter, Section. For example, § 17-1-2 is Title 17 (Elections), Chapter 1 (General Provisions), Section 2 (Definitions), which deals with the definitions of elected officials. If multiple sections are cited, the double §§ signs are used, e.g. §§ 7-1-1 - 7-1-26.

Digital Paper

State Codes: Rhode Island (LexisNexis) has general searching for the General Laws

State of Rhode Island General Laws contains full-text copies of all RI laws categorized by subject.

General Laws of Rhode Island contains full-text copies of all RI laws categorized by subject. In addition, there are notes and analyses of each law.

ACTS AND RESOLVES, PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Local Acts, Resolutions, Joint Resolutions and Executive Appointments are given annually (Also see Public Laws)

About This Resource

Start your search online. You can search year back to 1996.

There are a number of different kinds of legislation:

Local Acts are laws of only a local or private nature. They are numbered LA, number of the act, session year, chamber (S=Senate, H=House), bill number. For example, LA 15, 2000-S 2366 "Authorizing the Audubon Society of Rhode Island to Increase its Holdings to an Amount Not Exceeding Fifty Million Dollars ($50,000,000)" is a 15th local act from the session in 2000, which is the acceptance of the Senate bill 2366.

Resolutions express the will of the legislature, and are not law. They are numbered R, number of the act, session year, chamber (S=Senate, H=House), bill number. For example, R 30, 2000-H 6982 "Designating May 15th of Each Year As 'Peace Officers' Memorial Day'" is the 30th resolution from the session in 2000.

Joint Resolutions are resolutions issued by both chambers of the State Assembly. They are numbered as resolutions.

Digital Paper

Acts and Resolves

Rhode Island General Assembly: Public Laws, Acts and Resolves If you scroll down the page, on the left will be links to Public Laws, Acts and Resolves. Full-text for acts and resolves are given from 1996 session.

Acts and resolves, passed by the General Assembly goes from 1678-1817 at the Hay and 1817 onward at the Rockefeller.

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