Teresa Paiva Weed

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Advocates for the poor gathered in the Statehouse rotunda Wednesday to appeal to lawmakers to address poverty as they begin a new legislative session. The coalition of faith leaders in attendance hope lawmakers will adopt several policy initiatives to fight homelessness and increase assistance for the poor.

RIPR FILE

Legislative leaders opened the new General Assembly session yesterday by pledging to focus on jobs and education.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed unanimously won re-election to their leadership posts.  Mattiello began his chamber’s 2015 session by vowing to keep a continued focus on jobs and the economy.  Mattiello won his first full two-year term as speaker on a unanimous vote.

The gifts have been unwrapped, the eggnog raised, and now it's quick sprint to New Year's before the start of a new phase in Rhode Island politics. So thanks for stopping by. As always, feel free to share tips and thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) or to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he's willing to consider cutting spending if that's what it takes to reduce Rhode Island's long-term structural deficits.

During a Statehouse interview Monday, Mattiello said that when it comes to the almost $200 million deficit for the fiscal year starting next July, the state needs to be more efficient "and we're going to have to look at what our neighboring states do and get our expenses in line with our neighboring states."

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Teresa Paiva Weed of Newport is poised to be elected next month to her fourth term as president of the Rhode Island Senate. Paiva Weed recently sat down in her Statehouse office to talk about her priorities for 2015 and other issues.

There are some glimmers of positive economic news as Rhode Island races toward the New Year. So thanks for stopping for my weekly column. Feel free to share your tips and thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

It looks like the RhodeMap RI debate is much ado about not so much. Those who oppose this largely benign economic and social blueprint have blown the results so far out of proportion as to be ludicrous.

The pre-holiday slowdown is descending on the land, but there's still plenty of interesting stuff going on, naturally. So thanks for stopping by and feel free to send me a note at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s Democratic General Assembly leaders want to exempt pensions and social security from state income taxes. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if this makes sense in our cash-strapped state government.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, have both said that one of their top priorities when the Assembly convenes in January is legislation that would end income taxes on pensions and social security.

It's a new phase in Rhode Island politics, with the election this week of Gina Raimondo as governor, and Jorge Elorza as mayor of Providence. Democrats had a big sweep, while Republicans had to settle for modest gains in the RI House of Representatives. So thanks for stopping by, and feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. Your comments and tips are always welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me on the twitters. Without further ado, here we go.

File / RIPR

One of the developers behind turning Newport Grand into a casino said he’s surprised that Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed has now come out against table games in Newport. Her comments came shortly after Wednesday night’s vote by the Newport City Council to reject a host agreement with developers.

RIPR FILE

In what the Senate president called “an abundance of caution” the state senate voted again and approved a bill putting casino gambling in Newport on the November ballot.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed says the governor’s legal counsel was worried that the part of the bill giving $1.5 million dollars to Newport would be considered an appropriation. And appropriation measures need a two-thirds majority, or 26 votes. It got only 24 votes in the final hours of the session.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

On a 14-2 margin, the House Finance Committee Thursday approved an $8.7 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July first.  Lawmakers say they hope tax cuts will bolster Rhode Island’s underperforming economy.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Eliminating the master lever in Rhode Island elections is picking up steam in the General Assembly. RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay says getting rid of straight party voting may be much ado about not much.

The Rhode Island House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to end the so-called master lever, a relic of the state’s urban political machine past. A conga line of statewide elected politicians, from Gov. Lincoln Chafee down to Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, support this change.

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