News Minute: Here is the latest Rhode Island news from The Assoc - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

News Minute: Here is the latest Rhode Island news from The Associated Press at 4:40 p.m. EDT

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A spokesman for Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says the office is looking into reports that a state lawmaker from Providence bullied a witness at a public hearing on a bill that would exempt hair-braiding from state licensing requirements. WPRI-TV reports at least two people have accused state Rep. Anastasia Williams of pushing and making threatening gestures toward a woman who was testifying Tuesday against the bill, which Williams sponsored. Williams denies the accounts.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The head of Rhode Island's Department of Transportation is defending a decision to shut down state government during a storm this week that was not as serious as first thought. Director Peter Alviti tells WPRO-AM the decision to close government Wednesday was made when the forecast called for a much more dangerous storm. Alviti says he is not second-guessing himself for standing by the advice he gave the governor because the decision was made "on the basis of people's lives."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - State labor officials Rhode Island's unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent in February, unchanged from January. The Rhode Island rate is four-tenths of a percentage point higher than the national rate of 4.1 percent. The national rate has fallen six-tenths of a percentage point since February 2017 when it was 4.7 percent. By contrast, the rate in Rhode Island is the same as it was a year ago.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island Supreme Court chief justice has nominated a new chief magistrate at the state Traffic Tribunal, a move some say is the first of its kind in the state. The Providence Journal reports state Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell submitted Domenic DiSandro III to the state Senate for consideration this week. The organization Common Cause Rhode Island says this is the first time a magistrate has been replaced at the end of their 10-year term.

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