The 2018 Legislative Session seemed like it should be the year of #MeToo, but when the General Assembly adjourned at the end of June with an exhausting Saturday session (that almost went into Sunday) they failed to approve legislation ensuring equal pay for equal work, or any of the bills that emerged from a commission tasked with helping address sex harassment in the workplace.

Instead, they approved a proposal fought for years by the ACLU and media groups regarding sending sexually explicit images online, exacerbated the War on Drugs by passing legislation for drug-addicted Rhode Islanders to serve up to a life sentence for the death of someone with whom they use drugs, and provided financial incentives to school districts to put more police officers in schools.

It wasn't all bad news for civil liberties however: the General Assembly approved legislation limiting the shackling of pregnant prisoners, and a bill ensuring that people’s gender identity is respected on their death certificates has become law.

Perhaps our greatest successes this year were in beating back dangerous proposals that were on the verge of passing during a nail-biting end to the legislative session, including: an Attorney General bill designed to dismantle a cell phone location privacy law passed with the ACLU’s assistance only two years ago, a full-press effort to pass a bill allowing for the involuntary commitment of substance abusers, and clearly unconstitutional legislation aimed at restricting panhandling. These battles demonstrated clearly the important role the ACLU plays in being eternally vigilant.

As in past years, the ACLU of RI lobbied on over 300 bills, both good and bad. Below are some of the more prominent ones.

Good bills that passed:

Bad bills that passed:

Some good bills that died:

Some bad bills that died:

To learn more about this year's session and read our testimony on these and other bills, visit the legislative section of our website. We also hope you’ll also come to our annual legislative wrap-up, which is at 6pm on Monday, July 23rd at the East Providence Weaver Library.