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RI's 5 things to know: Pension deal dies, 38 Studios fallout, new job prospects for disabled


PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Mediation over a landmark law ends, people with mental disabilities getting better job opportunities and a potential new owner for Newport Grand. Here are five things to know in Rhode Island this week:


A lengthy court-ordered mediation ended Friday after a failed attempt to settle lawsuits brought by public employees and retirees over the state's 2011 pension overhaul law, designed to save taxpayers billions. Members of police unions, the smallest of six groups asked to approve the proposed settlement, rejected it in a vote announced Monday. The state and the unions say they will start to prepare for a trial, now scheduled to start in September.


Lawmakers say they may ask key players in the failed $75 million state loan guarantee to 38 Studios to testify about the deal, including company founder and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, ex-House Speaker Gordon Fox and former Gov. Don Carcieri. House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Karen MacBeth backed off previous comments that she wanted to subpoena them, saying witnesses would first be asked to appear voluntarily. Separately, a judge is now considering whether to release witness testimony made in a lawsuit brought by the state economic development agency against several players in the deal, including Schilling.


Under a first-of-its-kind agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the state agreed to provide better job opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The settlement resolves allegations that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities in segregated centers called "sheltered workshops." The deal will cover an estimated 3,250 people over the next decade.


Overdose deaths continue to rise steadily in Rhode Island, with the Health Department saying the number has climbed to 78 for the year. A spokesman says Rhode Island Emergency Medical Services administered the overdose antidote Narcan 328 times between Jan. 1 and mid-March.


Providence Mayor Joe Paolino says he's considering buying slot parlor Newport Grand with developers Peter de Savary and Paul Roiff, but the only way they'd do it is if they could add table games, something rejected by voters in 2012. In comments first reported by the Newport Daily News, Paolino said he wants to put the question back to voters this year. He says a recently proposed casino in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts, means the gambling landscape has changed.

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