Bill would ban questioning applicant about convictions

Employers in Rhode Island would no longer be able to ask job applicants about criminal convictions under legislation pending in the General Assembly.

Sen. Harold Metts said Wednesday that his bill would eliminate a discriminatory practice that costs too many former offenders a chance at employment.

The Providence Democrat was joined at a Statehouse news conference by men who said convictions continue to affect their job prospects long after their sentences ended.

The proposal wouldn’t apply to jobs at casinos, hospitals, schools and nursing homes, where background checks are required by law.

Supporters of the bill say seven states have banned conviction-related questions from job applications.


State getting $2 million in highway aid after Irene

New Hampshire is getting nearly $2 million in emergency relief funds to assist with repair costs for federal lands and highways following Tropical Storm Irene.

At the height of the storm in August 2011, close to 250 roads in New Hampshire were closed due to flooding or damage. Then-Gov. John Lynch had issued an emergency declaration at the time.

The funds come from the Federal Highway Administration.


Navy awards Sen. Shaheen highest honor for civilians

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has received the Navy’s highest award for civilians.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was recognized Tuesday for her commitment to the Navy and Marine Corps.

She received the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award.

Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy, said Shaheen’s willingness to chair last year’s Senate Energy Committee’s field hearing aboard USS Kearsarge in Norfolk was just one of many examples of her vision and commitment.


Jury: J&J should pay teen $109 million for side effect

A Massachusetts jury has found health care giant Johnson & Johnson should pay a Massachusetts teenager and her parents $63 million after she suffered a life-threatening drug reaction when she took children’s Motrin nearly a decade ago.

A Plymouth Superior Court jury on Wednesday decided that J&J and its McNeil Laboratories subsidiary should pay Samantha Reckis and her parents a total of $109 million, including interest.

Attorney Brad Henry said Samantha was 7 when she was given children’s Motrin brand ibuprofen. She suffered a rare side effect known as toxic epidermal necrolysis and lost 90 percent of her skin and was blinded. She now has just 20 percent lung capacity.

A J&J spokeswoman said the Reckis family has suffered a tragedy, but the New Brunswick, N.J.-based firm disagreed with the verdict and is “considering additional legal options.”


Feeding of wild animals banned to deter coyotes

Portsmouth has banned feeding wild animals as part of an effort to keep coyotes away from homes and reduce attacks on pets.

The Newport Daily News reported the town council passed the ban on Monday, making it the second Rhode Island community to institute such a rule. Middletown was the first.

The rule bars residents from leaving food outside in any area where a wild animal could get to it.