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4/7/2021 House passes Deputy Speaker Lima’s bill to ease quorum delays
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by House Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence) to reduce procedural delays that could hold up the permitting process for development.

The bill, H 5569 SUB A would enable local planning boards to establish a quorum for votes more easily, thus preventing potential delays in development matters before them.

“Particularly with the pandemic, quorum requirements for planning boards can be onerous and overly restrictive, which causes unnecessary delays,” said Representative Lima. “In speaking to developers, I consistently hear feedback that the General Assembly can help spur development by streamlining the review process. This legislation keeps zoning decisions at the local level, but makes the quorum process more feasible.”

This is the fourth piece of legislation passed from Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s seven-bill housing package, which was introduced in March.

“When I announced my legislative package of housing bills, I noted that Rhode Island needs urgent action to meet our housing needs,” said Speaker Shekarchi. “My colleagues in the House understand this sense of urgency and are moving quickly to take concrete, substantive actions. We know that we need more housing in Rhode Island, but in order to accomplish that, we need to look at the regulations already in place that may be inadvertently hampering development.”

Three bills from the Speaker’s housing package have already been passed by the House:
  • 2021-H 5950, sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi, creates a legislative commission to study all aspects of land use, preservation, development, production, regulation, zoning, housing and the environment. The commission will make recommendations to enable the state to ensure and promote land use that allows for sustainable and equitable economic growth in support of efforts to achieve the state’s affordable housing goals.
  • 2021-H 5953 SUB A, sponsored by Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol) creates a special legislative commission to study the Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act. A similar commission led by former Rep. Shelby Maldonado was created in 2016, and made numerous recommendations, one of which was to continue studying ways to meet the state’s affordable housing challenges.
  • 2021-H 5257, sponsored by House Labor Committee Chairwoman Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), would prohibit housing discrimination against those who receive government assistance to pay their rent. Known as the “source of income” bill, the legislation has been passed by the House and is now before the Senate. A 2019 study by Southcoast Fair Housing found that although Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) recipients can afford more than one-third of listed apartments in Rhode Island, they are ultimately rejected from 93 percent. Over 9,300 households in Rhode Island rely on HCV to afford housing.

For more information, contact:
Emily Martineau, Deputy Director of Communications for the Office of the Speaker
State House Room 323
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2466