TGIF: 8 Things to Know About RI Politics + Media

May 24, 2013

Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column, truncated this time before the ceremonial start of summer. Let's get to it.

1. The 2013 legislative season will be remembered as the Year Rhode Island Legalized Same-Sex Marriage. How much more of substance gets done as the weeks tick down is an open question, particularly with lower than expected revenue estimates casting a pall over the budget. 

2. Steve Laffey, the voters of Colorado barely knew ye.

3. My RIPR feature on Tuesday morning will look at the third consecutive year of debate over payday lending -- a practice damned as predatory by critics, and as an alternative source of cash by the industry that significantly profits from it (to the tune of more than $75 million in payday loans in Rhode Island last year). Opponents sometimes point to former House Speaker William Murphy's role as Advance America's lobbyist. Yet when it comes to any number of nettlesome issues that linger for yet another year, institutional inertia on Smith Hill also remains a considerable factor.

4. RI GOP chairman Mark Smiley, who won his post in March, seems more than ready for the role, judging by his time this week on RIPR's Political Roundtable and Bonus Q+A. He talked up Cranston Mayor Allan Fung's skill set and outlined plans to focus next year on the General Assembly (where Republicans hold just 11 of 113 seats). Smiley said the GOP is working to focus its message through current polling, and will offer new candidate training for future legislative hopefuls.

5. ICYMI: The youth movement and the 2014 governor's race.

6. Governing goes deep on Rhode Island's new health exchange. The challenge as summed up by Christy Ferguson: “What we’re doing is we’re taking something that people have to buy and we’re trying to ensure that there’s a value proposition for people who need to buy. That is far more like a private sector enterprise than a public sector enterprise. I’ve posed this to a number of people, and none of us can come up with anything that government has ever done in any sector where that’s the case. This is different than anything that’s ever been done before.”

7. Kudos and congrats to Bob Whitcomb, whose end-of -the-month retirement as editorial page editor of the ProJo has been been formally announced. Bob is a thoughtful guy who's had a fine career and he was gentlemanly enough to return my calls when I was doing media criticism at the Phoenix. My only quibble is how the ProJo's op-ed page could make more use of Rhode Island's divergent voices. Perhaps Whitcomb's successor will take that up.

8. Former Rhode Island Moderate candidate Will Pierce has resurfaced in DC with a new group, We Can Together, geared toward supporting what he calls reform-minded candidates, including Ken Block.