Notes from the Field


Bill Tracker update: FEB 6

This week thirteen bills were introduced in the General Assembly that could have an impact on our food system. Several of these newly introduced bills are also being heard in House Committees this week, as follows:  

On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, the House Committee on State Government and Elections is hearing two bills: 

  • HB5307 – authorizes the taking of mushrooms from lands under control of the Director of the Department of Environmental Management for personal use (Rep. Place; repeat bill from last year)

On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, the House Committee on Small Business will be hearing three food systems bills:

  • HB5264 – extends the emergency COVID-19 provisions for food businesses or food service establishments and establishes accessibility provisions for outdoor dining. (Rep. McEntee)
  • HB5301 – add pickles and relish to those foods, not requiring refrigeration, which are permitted to be manufactured and sold as a farm home food product (Rep. Place; repeat bill from last year)
  • HB5328 – requires food service establishments to add an additional warning to their menus regarding food allergens and imposes civil penalties for those establishments that fail to comply (Rep. Carson)

On Thursday, February 9, 2023, the House Committee on Corporations will be hearing one bill:

  • HB5161 – restricts the number of self-service check-out lines at grocery stores (Rep. Cotter)

Detailed information about all committee meetings, their agendas and locations can be found on the RI legislative website.  Descriptions of additional food system bills that were introduced last week but are not yet scheduled for hearings are as follows:

  • SB62 – adds climate change, sea-level rise, and coastal resiliency to the analysis of data of the long-term strategic plan for economic development policy and raises the number of members on the economic development planning council from seventeen to nineteen (Sen. Lauria)
  • SB68 – requires free lunches for all elementary and secondary students attending public schools to the extent state and federal funds are available (Sen. Cano)
  • SB71 – requires free breakfast and lunches to be provided for all elementary and secondary students attending public schools (Sen. Acosta)
  • SB78 – exempts beer and malt beverages from sales and use tax at retail (Sen. Burke)
  • SB138 – increases the minimum hourly wage commencing January 1, 2028  by an amount equal to the total percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers for the Northeast Region for the calendar year 2026 (Sen. Raptakis)
  • HB5334 – allows happy hour drink specials served in conjunction with the purchase of a food item, which would include appetizers or entrees prepared on premises (Rep. Alzate; repeat from last year; awaiting Senate companion)
  • HB5342 – requires all public high schools to require students to enroll in a nutrition course, food preparation course, and cooking course during any year of a student’s four year enrollment (Rep. Sanchez)
  • HB5345 – provides that Rhode Island assents to the provisions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act regarding the Preventative Controls for Animal Regulation (PCAF) regulations (Rep. Fogarty)
  • HB5397 – exempts beer and malt beverages from sales and use tax at retail (Rep. Baginski) – companion to SB78 above

The RIFPC Bill Tracker is a reference, covering all legislation affecting the Rhode Island food system and all topics of interest to Council Members. The Tracker is updated daily during the legislative session (January-June), and organized by major impact areas.