In the aftermath of last year’s Newtown school shootings, Rhode Island politicians leaped on the gun control bandwagon. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what’s happened since.
After last December’s horrific school massacre in Connecticut, political leaders from the White House to the Rhode Island State House vowed to crack down on gun violence. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed all advocated measures to advance gun control in our state.
Every year, when Rhode Island lawmakers start working on a new budget, they face a spending plan mired in red ink. By law, the budget must be balanced by the end of the legislative session, usually in June. But like a boomerang, projected budget deficits zoom back to Smith Hill by the time the new session starts in January. Next year will no different -- Rhode Island already faces the fiscal year starting in July 2014 with an estimated $149 million hole. And the state lacks a plan for overcoming budget deficits that are projected to get far worse with time.
Former Secretary of State and public television executive Susan Farmer has died after a long fight with cancer.
Farmer became the first woman elected to statewide office when she won an election for secretary of state in 1982. Former Providence Journal political columnist M. Charles Bakst said Farmer was the leader in a wave of GOP women winning political office.
As the media burst with news that Gov. Lincoln Chafee was not seeking re-election, the state’s top elected officials crafted statements praising the governor.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and state treasurer Gina Raimondo, who are both expected to run for Chafee’s office, released statements thanking him for his years of public service. Taveras called him a man of integrity, while Raimondo called Chafee an unfailing optimist who always had the state’s best interest at heart.
The head of the state Republican Party is blaming legislative Democrats for failing to improve Rhode Island’s economy. The state’s unemployment rate climbed by a tenth of percent in July, to 8.9 percent.
State GOP chairman Mark Smiley said the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders are wrong to brag about their efforts when the unemployment rate is going in the wrong direction.
Rhode Island voters can expect to decide next year whether to organize a constitutional convention. Voters are supposed to be asked that question once every 10 years.
The question of whether to stage a constitutional convention can be put on the ballot by either the General Assembly or the secretary of state. Secretary of State Ralph Mollis said if the legislature doesn’t pose the question for voters, he’ll put it on the ballot next year.
The list of Rhode Island lawmakers who have decided to forego their pay raise is getting longer. According to House leadership spokesman Larry Berman, five members of the House and 10 senators have told the Assembly that they will not be taking the $307 cost-of-living adjustment that all legislators are eligible for under the state Constitution pay provision.
State Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed joins the Political Roundtable this week to discuss legislative attempts to improve Rhode Island's economy; the search for a new state commissioner of higher education; and why the Senate voted in April to legalize same-sex marriage.
When the Rhode Island Senate made history by approving same-sex marriage legislation in April, more than a few close observers (including me) saw it as a matter -- in part -- of Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed preserving her leadership. The thinking was that if same-sex marriage was defeated again (in a battle that started in 1997), SSM supporters would aggressively target legislative opponents at the polls next year.