Notes from the Field


Bill Tracker update: JAN 23

Fourteen bills with potential impacts on our food system were added to the Bill Tracker this week.  Many are continuations from previous years’ bills, including healthy school meals for all, the extended (30 mile) food waste ban, the ban on polystyrene in food/beverage packaging, pollinator-friendly planting on state lands, and several bills supporting the state’s efforts to achieve Act on Climate carbon emission goals.  All 14 bills are listed briefly below and can be viewed in greater detail, including the bill’s full text, in the Bill Tracker

In other General Assembly news, Committee assignments are still in the works and there are no regular committee meetings scheduled for the upcoming week.  

Senator Josh Miller introduced three of the bills added to the Bill Tracker:

  • SB14, bans the use of polystyrene in food packaging (companion bill to HB5090)
  • SB 15, restricts state purchasing of packaging that contains polystyrene and/or plastic, and mandates other climate-friendly state purchasing practices
  • SB 31, authorizes pollinator-friendly planting along state highways and open spaces 

Rep. Michelle McGaw introduced three of the bills added to the Bill Tracker, none focused directly on the food system but all supporting long term goals for reducing carbon emissions:

  • HB5159 – requires increased installation of EV parking spaces
  • HB5172 – requires carbon emissions reduction goals to be considered in energy siting decisions
  • HB5198 – requires the state to convert its fleet of vehicles to no less than 50% climate-friendly vehicles (electric, light duty, etc) by 2031 to support achieving Act on Climate goals (companion to SB30)

Other bills added to the tracker this week are as follows;

  • SB16 – expands on the PFA ban bills from last year, does not directly call out PFAs in food applications but strengthens state’s overall efforts to ban PFA’s (Sen. Meghan Kallman)
  • SB30 – requires the state to convert its fleet of vehicles to no less than 50% climate-friendly (electric, light duty, etc) by 2031 (Sen. Linda Ujifusa, companion to HB5198)
  • SB 39 – designates allowable on-site (3 glasses) and off-site (3 bottles) sales for manufacturer-wineries (Sen. Valerie Lawson)
  • HB5141provides free lunches for all public-school children (Rep. Justine Caldwell)
  • HB5181 – repeals the law that allowed some employers to pay less than minimum wage to some minor and/or student employees (Rep. Enrique Sanchez)
  • HB5178 – requires food service institutions to add additional warnings about food allergens (Rep. Lauren Carson)
  • HB5171 – requires businesses producing more than 1 ton/wk of food waste and located 30 miles or less from a composting or digester facility to divert their organic waste (same as last year’s bill, from Rep. Terri Cortvriend)
  • HB5161 – restricts the number of self-service check-out lines at grocery stores (Rep. Megan Cotter)

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.