Legislators Talk Bills With ALN – April 8th, 2019

April 8_2019 ALN Annual Meeting Newport This Week

The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) held its annual meeting on April 8, with the emphasis on “livable.”

By ohtadmin | on April 11, 2019By James Merolla

Mayor Jamie Bova, City Councilors Justin McLaughlin and Angela McCalla, School Committee member Louisa Boatwright, Sen. Dawn Euer (D-District 13 Jamestown/ Newport), Rep. Lauren Carlson (D-District 75/Newport) and Rep. Marvin Abney (D-District 73) spoke of their priorities and what they might mean for the city.

Topics ranged from short-term rentals to long-term economic school solutions. Although there were few real answers, some bills are coming to the fore on Smith Hill that may make a difference locally.

Carlson said she was introducing a bill on April 9 to regulate Airbnb, the site that lists short-term rentals nationally.

“The first step in requiring registration of Airbnb municipalities is recognizing them,” she said. “Then, once they are delineated, you can regulate them, tackling issues like parking, zoning, legality, and then taxing them appropriately.”

Of the other major issues facing Newport, she mentioned bridge realignment and Rogers High.

Euer said she is working on legislation that would create regional school districts. “How do we bring Middletown to the table?” she asked.

Her bill would essentially create a county-based school district, but it needs to be fully worked out, citing difficulties that faced Chariho and Bristol-Warren.

She is revisiting the funding formula for schools and how to make sure it is equitable, “across the state.” She is also championing a student loan regulation bill, rolled out two weeks ago.

“It’s a huge financial crisis in our country,” she said. “Students are left with a bill that they have no hope in paying off. This is an effort to allow us to really regulate this at a state level.”

She is also investigating the possible remapping of state flood zones, affected by climate change.

“There’s only one bill that I would be concerned with and that’s the state budget,” Abney said. “If a bill is passed, and there’s a cost tied to it, it is my responsibility to make sure it fits into the tax breakdown of this [budget].

“Right now, we are trying to work our way out of a $150 million-plus deficit,” he said. “We can’t continue to borrow money into the future. I have to take a keen interest in what the taxpayers have to say. What do Rhode Islanders really want? What will you tolerate?”

Boatwright asked how the legislature can help raise money for school bonds with limited Newport options like property tax revenue.

Carlson said she once introduced legislation “to raise our hotel and our meal tax.”

“The City Council did this, I introduced it, but it never happened,” she said. “They don’t want to see a higher meal tax in Newport, as they do in Middletown. They want a steady meal tax. This is basically where our money is coming from. People who are paying the meals tax are probably not from Newport. We should pursue that aggressively. Let them pay $1 on a $100 meal. I don’t see a big problem with that.”

Euer said Jamestown considers its schools, “a community project, [but] in Newport not so much.” She added, “I do see our schools as a community project.”

“It’s all about leadership,” said Abney. “At the state level, all the way down to the superintendent. If you don’t have good leadership, every other year, someone new is going to change the direction of the education system. Massachusetts chose their direction years ago and stuck to it. You have to have a plan and follow it through for a number of years. You can’t turn it around in a year.”

Carlson is introducing a bill to expand training for planning and zoning boards. She said she had HDCS in the original draft of the bill, but took it out, calling it too much at this time.

“We need to standardize how Historic District Commissions operate so they can understand the consequences of their decisions,” she said.


Free Public Forum – The Working Future of Newport – Oct. 5th 6-8pm @ Pell School

DATE: Thursday, October 5

TIME: 6-8pm

LOCATION: Claiborne Pell Elementary School | 35 Dexter Street, Newport, RI.*Ample parking directly across the street from the school.

What Will Be the Jobs in Newport’s Future and Who Will be Qualified to Fill Them?  “The Working Future of Newport”

A Public Forum Presented by The Alliance for a Livable Newport

If economic initiatives planned by the City of Newport are successful they will create new opportunities for people trained in 21st-century job skills. What can be done to make sure our residents will be able to meet this challenge?

Here’s an opportunity to learn about The North Side Innovation Hub; Newport’s successful application for the “Working Cities” Grant; Career Tech Programs at Rogers High School, and the OneNewport Outreach to the Newport Community.


Sarah Atkins, Newport Department of Economic Development and Civic Investment

Robert Young, Director, Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) and Newport Area Career and Technical Center (NACTC)

Kerry Clarke, College and Career Readiness Coordinator, Rogers High School

Colleen Jermain, Superintendent, Newport Public Schools

Joe Tomchak, Assistant Executive Director, Boys and Girls Club of Newport County

Moderator – Lauren Carson, Newport’s State Representative for District 75

“Green Newport” article by Lauren Carson

According to the Discover Newport website, http://www.gonewport.com/green-newport

“Green Newport is not just historic and cultural treasures …we strive to preserve, its natural treasures as well. Surrounded by and dependent on its natural resources, ‘going green’ and reducing our environmental impact only makes sense, so we applaud area hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, businesses, boutiques attractions, restaurants, transportation modes and visitors who join our commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle. Taking a green approach is an easy and essential way to protect the places you love to visit, not just for yourself but for the travelers who come after you and for the people who will continue to live there long after you’ve gone home.”

The Newport Energy and Environment Commission (NEEC) agrees. That is why the NEEC has launched a campaign in 2012 to make Newport events sustainable. The campaign goals are embodied in their campaign mission’s statement. “To work as a community to implement sustainable practices during major events held in Newport to reduce the impact of huge numbers of visitors on our sensitive coastal community and model methods of behavior that will protect our island for decades to come. Define specifically a five year goal to require sustainable events that make Newport a desirable and exciting tourist destination, build a sustainable economy and reduce impact on our valuable island resources.”

The specific goals of the Sustainable Events Campaign are to reduce carbon emissions and increase transportations options; divert waste from the landfill, expand recycling efforts in conjunction with the City, State and private efforts; increased business recycling; educate visitors and the community about Newport’s sustainable best practices; engage the tourism and boating community in these efforts; utilize State and Municipal resources for sustainability; and involve Newport residents in the building of a sustainable economy resulting in a higher quality of life for all Newporters and our guests.

The NEEC has worked all summer to measure how sustainable Newport Events currently are, as they propose this policy. They have studied 8 events in the City and will be distributing a summary report on those activities prior to the meeting. The NEEC is also drafting voluntary sustainable protocols for Newport for 2013.

The Newport Energy and Environment (NEEC) invites ALN members and all Newporters to a Community Workshop on Thursday October 25, 2012 at the Newport Library at 6:00. The workshop will focus on the NEEC’s efforts to build sustainable event protocols for Newport events.

The October 25th meeting will include a presentation of several of the case studies, a proposal for voluntary standards, and a community discussion.

(photo courtesy of Discover Newport)

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