(PROVIDENCE, RI) High unemployment, same-sex marriage and the state budget are among the top issues facing the General Assembly as it starts a new session Tuesday.
The Assembly is meeting on New Year’s Day because of a requirement that legislative sessions start on the first Tuesday of the year. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed says her chamber plans to concentrate on jobs. “Economic development and a focus on turning around Rhode Island’s economy will be the Senate’s single highest priority this session.”
House Speaker Gordon Fox has pledged a vote on same-sex marriage early in the session, but the Senate remains a question mark on that issue.
Lawmakers face a $69 million deficit for the budget year starting July first. Advocates also plan to make their case for and against hiking taxes for Rhode Islanders who earn more than 250-thousand dollars a year. The House GOP caucus is looking to eliminate the sales tax.
Legislative Democrats will have an even stronger hold on power when the General Assembly starts its new session Tuesday.
Republicans have just 11 seats between the House and the Senate – that’s down from 18 in the last session.
House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed are expected to win re-election to their leadership posts.
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