Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
News : Recent Press Releases     Op-Ed     Publications     About the Legislative Press Bureau Printer Friendly View
6/13/2024 Assembly passes bill to pilot investigatory powers for AG
Please note: The governor vetoed this legislation on June 26.

STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed a bill introduced by Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. David Morales to pilot expanded investigative powers for the attorney general’s office to protect Rhode Islanders from persistent illegal conduct.

The legislation (2024-S 2935A, 2024-H 7830A), introduced at the request of Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, now goes to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

“This legislation fills a gap between the attorney general’s investigative and enforcement authority to allow the office to better enforce the laws that Rhode Island already has on the books,” said Senator Euer (D-District 13, Newport, Jamestown), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “This does not expand the definitions of illegal conduct, but rather allows for swifter investigations into patterns of repeated violations, which will allow the attorney general to step in sooner in defense of the rights of Rhode Islanders.”

Said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence), “As we have seen in the last few years, a few bad actors repeatedly violate our laws when it comes to areas like housing, tenant rights and environmental protections. I commend Attorney General Neronha and his office to taking aim at these offenders. But under current law his office lacks the ability to proactively investigate these abuses until they have grown so egregious as to merit a lawsuit or referral from another state agency. This law allows his office to step in and investigate earlier, before more of our neighbors can be harmed.”

The legislation gives the office of the attorney general the authority to engage in pre-suit discovery and bring action if warranted when it suspects an entity of engaging in pattern of illegal acts.

“As attorney general, this administration has gone on offense to protect Rhode Islanders from unlawful environmental, consumer and health care practices, and we have achieved great results,” said Attorney General Neronha. “This legislation will help clarify my office’s civil jurisdiction in instances of repeated violations of law – and when repeat violators face justice, Rhode Islanders win. I thank the General Assembly, Speaker Shekarchi, President Ruggerio, and the bill’s sponsors for their support in helping my office stand up for all Rhode Islanders. This authority would allow the attorney general’s office to more easily investigate patterns of illegal conduct in areas like housing, health care and consumer protection, without first having to start a legal action or have a case referred to them by another state agency.”

The legislation goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2025, and is set to sunset on Dec. 31, 2026. The Attorney General’s office will submit annual reports by Feb. 1, 2026, and Feb. 1, 2027 to the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and the governor detailing the number of investigations, the outcomes of the investigations and recommendations about the usefulness of this legislation.

“The Department of State’s Business Services Division is proud to serve Rhode Island’s businesses, and our office has seen an uptick in reported business identity theft and misrepresentation claims,” said Secretary of State Gregg M. Amore. “Without this legislation, there is no private right of action in which consumers can defend themselves against these bad actors. This legislation will provide an avenue to catch this fraudulent behavior and ultimately help consumers obtain the justice they deserve.”

For more information, contact:
Tristan Grau, Publicist
State House Room B20
Providence, RI 02903