Political news

Providence, RI – A new Brown University poll finds mixed support for Governor Lincoln Chafee's tax plan.

Close to 60 percent of respondents say they support extending the sales tax to include dry cleaning, and movie and concert tickets. But 88 percent oppose adding a one percent tax for heating fuel. A slim majority of respondents is against taxing clothing or shoes.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents back Chafee's plan to lower the state sales tax from seven to six percent. The governor's approval rating came in at 32 percent.

Providence, RI – The push for same-sex marriage legislation has gained two new supporters, including one of the state's most prominent unions.

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO announced its support of the same-sex marriage bill after a recent vote of its executive committee. The union's president, George Nee, calls same-sex marriage a fundamental civil rights issue.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Lincoln Chafee was on the road yesterday promoting the budget he presented to the General Assembly the day before. In the Tuesday night speech he invoked the name of his barber, Ernie, to support his proposal to impose a six percent sales tax on some goods and services that have never been taxed.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Senator Jack Reed says the international community should take the lead in trying to oust Libya's government.

Reed says the U.S. should be cautious about using military force in Libya, because doing so would raise expectations of a deeper American involvement. Instead, he says, the US should work with its United Nations colleagues for change in Libya.

Photo by Alex Nunes.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has briefed leaders of the General Assembly on his budget proposal a day before he publicly announces his strategy for addressing the state's budget deficit.

Chafee, an independent, met with state House and Senate leaders Monday afternoon in the Statehouse. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed would not reveal details of Chafee's proposal. She said Chafee avoided budget details during the meeting and instead presented his "overarching vision" for the budget.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A former North Providence town councilman accused of soliciting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes is scheduled to return to court today for a change-of-plea hearing to federal conspiracy, bribery and extortion charges.

John Zambarano is also expected to plead guilty to his role in an unrelated insurance fraud scheme.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Senators from Rhode Island, Florida, New York, and West Virginia say Florida's governor should enact a program to better track the growing trade of abused prescription drugs to other states, a route called the "flamingo express."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Advocates are renewing an effort for undocumented immigrants to be able to attend state colleges for the same in-state tuition as U.S. citizens.

Senator Juan Pichardo, a cosponsor of the bill, addressed supporters yesterday during a State House rally.

"This is a moral imperative," Pichardo said. "It does not make any sense to deny any young student the opportunity they have created to excel and reach their full potential in higher education. We all benefit at the end."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Lincoln Chafee has scheduled his first major address to the General Assembly. It will be a combined budget address and state of the state speech.

It's scheduled for March 8th, probably in the evening.

Rhode Island faces a nearly $300 million deficit in the budget year beginning July 1. During his campaign for governor he proposed a one percent tax on items currently exempt from the state's seven percent sales tax.

Same-sex marriage supporters, with some opponents, demonstrate in the State House rotunda. Photo by Ian Donnis.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Supporters call legalizing same-sex marriage the right thing to do. During a House Judiciary hearing yesterday on related legislation, they also say it would stimulate an economic windfall for Rhode Island.

Providence real estate agent Jim DeRentis says almost all of Rhode Island's 40 largest companies offer benefits to same-sex couples or ban discrimination based on orientation.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – House lawmakers will take up a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on the bill Wednesday after delaying a Feb. 2 hearing because of bad weather.

The legislation has been introduced several times over the years, but failed when it faced opposition from previous Republican Gov. Don Carcieri and former legislative leaders.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Providence City Council is slated to take a preliminary vote this evening on a new $638 million budget.

Mayor Angel Taveras says the city is poised to end an unprecedented situation in which it has operated for months without a budget. Two votes are necessary to approve the spending plan, and the second is expected later this month.

A recently completed audit found that the city's liabilities for the fiscal year ending last June 13 exceeded its assets by $20 million.

Former Providence Mayor, now Congressman David Cicilline. Photo by Catherine Welch

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Former Providence Mayor David Cicilline is defending the near depletion of the city's reserve fund, saying he had to make tough choices.

A new audit finds during the last fiscal year, the reserve fund went from $17.3 million to $3.4 million.

Last October the city auditor warned about a draining fund. At the time Cicilline's office claimed the warning was political. Cicilline now says he tapped into the rainy day fund because it was raining.

Central Falls City Hall

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – I was born in Central Falls - at a time when Broad and Dexter streets were booming with small businesses, churches on Sundays were over-crowded and neighborhood social clubs were choice venues for weddings, celebrations and community events. It was a thriving, spirited and engaged community.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The House Judiciary Committee will consider a bill this afternoon inspired in part by the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.

A bill sponsored by Representative Roberto DaSilva would remove the possibility of parole for someone convicted of the first-degree murder of a state or local official.