- Associated Press - Sunday, August 6, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Lawmakers have dozens of bills they could consider when they come back for a rare fall session, after they abruptly adjourned in June.

Legislative leaders said after the budget passed on Thursday that their top priorities for September include a proposal to mandate paid time off for workers who call in sick and a bill that would require anyone on a domestic protective order issued by a court to surrender guns.

The state House of Representatives and Senate have passed versions of both proposals. The chambers have to reconcile the differences between the bills before legislation can be sent to the governor.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the two bills are important to many lawmakers and citizens, “so we’ve got to get them passed on their behalf.”

The session ended in June amid a budget dispute. The budget was hung up over a disagreement between the chambers over details of phasing out the car tax and the adjournment left many bills in legislative limbo.

The Senate returned on Thursday and passed the budget that had already passed the House. Both chambers plan to reconvene Sept. 19 to take up other pieces of legislation that did not get addressed before the end of the session.

Neither chamber plans to vote on legislation for a new ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Legislation that was introduced outlines a proposed state lease and payment agreement that would help construct a new stadium complex for the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate.

The Senate Finance Committee plans to hold a series of hearings through the fall about it. Hearings in the House Finance Committee are a possibility, Mattiello said, but he has been concentrating on the budget and hasn’t considered much beyond that.

“We’ll do our normal end of session work,” Mattiello said. “The PawSox is not part of that normal work and we’ll see if we take that up.”

Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said he’d like to see a package of bills already passed by the Senate move forward to reform the probation and sentencing systems. The bills aim to save money and make communities safer by offering such services as drug treatment in place of incarceration. The Senate passed similar bills last year that stalled.

The full House hasn’t passed the justice reinvestment bills, but Mattiello said there’s a lot of interest in them so the chamber will consider them and he expects passage.

Another priority for the Senate is a bill to put into statute protections that currently exist through the Affordable Care Act. It would prevent exclusions for pre-existing conditions and allow people up to the age of 26 to stay on a parent’s policy, for example.

The Senate passed it because of the debate in Washington over repealing and replacing former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. The House has not.

Ruggerio said he’s hopeful the chambers will reach agreement on several major pieces of legislation.

Mattiello and Ruggerio struck a deal to consider car tax legislation separately to monitor the impact of the phase-out, putting an end to the budget impasse. The Senate approved that legislation Thursday. The House is expected to consider it in September.

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