Last year the General Assembly approved sending the issue to the ballot for voters to decide if they want to amend the state constitution to allow felons to vote. Thursday's bill details the process for registering felons to vote and is contingent on voter approval of the ballot question in November.
The Department of Corrections would provide the felons with voter registration forms and offer help to fill them out.
Sponsors of bill are mostly Providence's lawmakers who have a significant number of constituents serving probation or parole.
The legislators said Rhode Island has the nation's second highest rate of people on probation and is the only state in New England that prohibits voting for residents serving time in prison or on probation or parole.
As a result, 15,500 convicted felons in Rhode Island are disenfranchised. Most of them are minorities and losing their votes affect the neighborhoods with high numbers of people on probation or parole.
Sen. Joseph Polisena, one of four senators who voted against the bill, said he preferred the bill to make a distinction between felons who commit minor crimes and those who commit serious ones, like rape or murder.
"It's not that I don't forgive people," Polisena said. "But there are people who don't deserve a second chance."
Meanwhile, the House approved a bill that allows diners in Rhode Island to bring home their unfinished wine.
Supporters said it improves public safety because diners won't feel that they need to finish off the bottle of wine in the restaurant.
The opened bottles would be recorked, sealed in a bag and labeled with a receipt before the diners bring them home.
Information from: The Providence Journal, http://www.projo.com/