Teresa Paiva Weed

House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed each say they intend to seek another term at the top of their respective chambers in 2015, provided they win re-election to their legislative seats next November.

In related news, Fox and Paiva Weed sounded different notes on the issue of repaying investors in failed video-game maker 38 Studios. The tab for taxpayers is set to increase in 2014 to $12.5 million dollars, up from $2.5 million in 2013 -- a factor that may resound in legislative elections in the new year.

Welcome back to my Friday column, and thanks for stopping by. As always, feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Let's get going:

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.

Rhode Island Remembers Susan Farmer

Sep 16, 2013

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.

“Republicans led the way in this state. Five of the first six women who were elected to office were Republicans,” said Bakst. “She was a liberal Republican. In her day, that was the thing to be.”

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.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed joins Bonus Q+A to discuss the legislative process; funding bridge maintenance; her future political plans; and much more.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

Thanks to a cost of living adjustment mandated by the state Constitution, 111 state lawmakers are entitled to get a $307 boost in their annual pay, bringing the yearly amount to $14,947. The pay hike is doubled for House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who get twice the salary of other lawmakers.

What all these means depends whom you ask.

Rhode Island’s 2013 General Assembly made history by legalizing gay marriage. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why lawmakers don’t handle other issues in the same manner.

After a vigorous debate, the Assembly made history in April when it approved same gender marriage, making Rhode Island the 12th American state to sanction gay unions.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Residents and merchants in the East Bay are sharply opposing tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Local lawmakers have joined them in asserting the tolls will hurt the economy in communities near the bridge.