News

Governor ceremonially signs legislation to address safety of dams throughout state

STATE HOUSE — Gov. Daniel McKee ceremonially signed legislation introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) that looks to improve the safety of dams throughout the state.

The legislation is the result of an annual report from the Department of Environmental Management on dam safety.

The first law (2022-S-2294) amends dam safety standards to require the State Building Code Standards Committee to take into account the effect of climate change on inundation areas below dams classified as high, significant, or low hazard.

“This addresses construction in inundation areas downstream from dams, and also is a good opportunity to educate people about those dams and the property damage that could result if that dam were to fail,” said Senator Sosnowski, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill. “This would help property owners to think about how they would proceed with any construction in those areas.”

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The second law (2022-S-2295) authorizes the Department of Environmental Management to assess administrative penalties for failure to comply with emergency action plans relative to significant or high hazard dams and would mandate that the department and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency establish a notification system in the event of severe weather conditions consisting of dam advisories, dam watches and dam warnings.

Sen. Sosnowski’s genetic counselors legislation ceremonially signed into law

STATE HOUSE – Legislation (2022-S-2205A) sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski to establish a licensing process for genetic counselors within the Department of Health was ceremonially signed into law by the governor today.

Currently in Rhode Island, there is no legal standard to determine who can represent themselves as genetic counselors.

The legislation would ensure minimum standards for genetic counselors in the areas of academic training, certification, clinical experience and the delivery of high-quality genetic counseling services.

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“This bill is about protecting our state’s patients when utilizing genetic counselors while also controlling health-care costs through the ordering of correct tests, the prevention of unnecessary testing and proper interpretation of genetic tests. These patients are experiencing significant anxiety and stress and the legislation will ensure they are treated properly and safely,” said Senator Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham).

Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. Genetic counselors are health care professionals who have specialized graduate degrees and experience in medical genetics and counseling. They serve as interpreters of medical information and help patients reach decisions that are appropriate for each individual, according to his or her own beliefs.

Some genetic counselors consult with patients for adult onset conditions such as breast and colon cancer, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and for prenatal diagnosis and pediatric genetic disorders.