The terms for a possible Newport casino was among the issues still awaiting General Assembly action on what is expected to be the last day of its session Friday. The House ended its session Thursday night to allow more time for closed-door negotiations between legislative leaders.
State representatives met for about 90 minutes before taking an unexplained three-hour break. After the session resumed only to end moments later at about 9:40 pm, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he was headed into an expected few hours of closed talks with his Senate counterparts. Mattiello says one area of discussion was the terms for an envisioned Newport casino expected to go on the ballot this November.
“We’re trying to structure something that works for both the city of Newport and the state of Rhode Island," he said. "Their interests are slightly different, so you have a speaker that’s got the sole interest of the state, you’ve got the Senate president that’s got the interest of the state, but she’s from Newport, so it creates an interesting dynamic.”
Mattiello says other areas under negotiation include the frequency of teacher evaluations and possible restrictions on a high-stakes graduation test for high school students. The speaker says an ethics overhaul opposed by good government groups as too broad is unlikely to pass in the House, because he has not had adequate time to vet the legislation.
The House last night approved eliminating the practice known as using the master lever. The legislation is expected to soon head to the governor’s desk.
The House and Senate are slated to begin their Friday sessions at 3 pm.