Over 2000 bills have been introduced this year in the General Assembly. There are a little more than 2 months remaining in this legislative session, and RIFPC has been hard at work moving the needle on many of the 155 pieces of legislation in our tracker currently.
Three of our work groups – Wasted Food Solutions, Farmland Access, and Food Access – have been leading the charge to pass legislation that will strengthen our food system, building justice and ensuring resilience. In the last month, these work groups have submitted public testimony, met with legislators, and collaborated with our partners to call for the changes Rhode Island needs. Now, our work is speeding up as these groups prepare to make their greatest advocacy push yet.
RIFPC continue to closely monitor key legislative priorities, described in more detail below:
- HB5803/SB517: Both bills, introduced by Rep. McGaw and Sen. DiMario respectively, would provide a tax credit for food donation by qualified taxpayers to nonprofit organizations. This legislation has been referred to the Finance Committee of the respective chamber, but neither bill has been heard before the committees. HB5803 has been scheduled for hearing this Thursday, April 27. Our Wasted Food Solutions Sub-Work Group continues to inform elected officials on the importance of this legislation to reducing food waste and addressing food insecurity
- HB5998/SB791: Introduced by Rep. Spears and Sen. DiPalma, this legislation would authorize the development of a sliding scale decrease in benefits as the participant’s earnings increase up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line. A recent high priority for our Food Access Work Group, this legislation has become the focus of the group’s advocacy. While the Senate bill was scheduled for a hearing on April 20, the Committee on Health and Human Services had to unfortunately cancel the meeting. As a result, our Work Group members are calling for the hearing to be rescheduled quickly
- HJR6018/SJR560: These joint resolutions, introduced by Rep. and Sen. DiPalma, would appropriate $5 million dollars to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for farmland preservation, protection, and conservation. Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate Finance Committees have heard or considered the legislation as of yet. Our Active Farmland Sub-Work Group is working diligently to bring the voices of farmers most affected by this issue to the ears of decision-makers who can ensure the Agricultural Land Preservation Commission’s funding is restored
- HB5171/SB201: Introduced by Rep. Cortvriend and Sen. Valverde respectively, these two bills would expand Rhode Island’s current Food Waste Ban. The proposed changes would require that qualifying entities generating more than 52/tons of food waste per year and are located less than 30 miles from an authorized composting or anaerobic digestion facility to recycle that food waste. There has been no movement on either piece of legislation since February; however, our Wasted Food Solutions Work Group remains ferocious advocates, pushing for this legislation.