RI's 5 things: Pell begins bid, flu shot debated

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — From another candidate for governor to a debate over requiring preschoolers to get flu vaccinations, here are five things to know in Rhode Island:

PELL MAKES IT OFFICIAL

Clay Pell formally kicked off his campaign for governor Tuesday with an introduction from his wife, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan. Pell, a Democrat, is the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell. He's a former White House national security staffer and Coast Guard officer. He faces Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo in what's shaping up to be a contentious Democratic primary.

CAMPAIGN FUNDS GROW

Taveras and Raimondo released new campaign finance numbers that indicate the race for governor will be an expensive one. Taveras said he raised $324,920 in the final quarter of last year — his most successful quarter so far — and had $1 million on hand at the start of the new year. Raimondo continued to enjoy a significant fundraising lead, reporting that her campaign raised $485,507 in the final quarter and has just over $2.5 million on hand. Pell filed his first campaign finance report Friday showing that he has $1.1 million on hand — thanks mostly to a more than $1 million loan he gave to his campaign.

FLU SHOT PROPOSAL DEBATED

The state's Department of Health has proposed a rule that would require annual flu vaccinations for children up to age 5 before they could attend public or private preschool or day care. Children exempt from the rule for medical or religious reasons would be forced to stay home during flu outbreaks. The Health Department says the proposal is designed to protect the public, but the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union disagrees and says the proposed rule would infringe on the ability of families to make their own medical decisions.

38 STUDIOS BILL PASSES

Legislation designed to encourage settlements in the litigation surrounding the collapse of Curt Schilling's 38 Studios passed the Rhode Island Senate unanimously Thursday. The bill is designed to shield any defendant that settles with the state from a lawsuit filed by a co-defendant over damages that co-defendant is found liable for. The bill is pending in the House. The state's economic development agency is suing Schilling and others over the state's failed investment in the now-bankrupt video game company started by the former Red Sox pitcher. An attorney for the agency says he's had preliminary settlement talks with unnamed defendants.

CASINO COMING TO FALL RIVER?

Connecticut-based Foxwoods has pitched a plan to build a $750 million resort casino in Fall River, Mass., where Mayor William Flanagan said the project could create as many as 5,000 jobs. The plan would need approval from voters and state gaming officials. Besides a large casino, the facility would include restaurants, a hotel, convention center, spa and entertainment venue.

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