On Politics

Rhode Island Public Radio's political blog. Scott MacKay and Ian Donnis keep you up-to-date with the latest in political news from around Rhode Island.

We also have PODCASTS of regular politics coverage, too!

Pre-2013 archives of the On Politics​ blog can be found here.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo has harped on creating new manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island since she began running for the governorship in 2014. But since moving into the 2nd floor Statehouse office on Smith Hill, the first-term Democrat changed her tune a bit, especially when it comes to recruiting high-tech companies to come to the Ocean State.

This morning, Raimondo’s face was peering out from the first business page of the Boston Globe. Her message was a distinctly different approach from her emphasis on manufacturing for the Ocean State business crowd.

RIPR FILE

In good tidings for motorists, gasoline prices keep dropping in Rhode Island. Triple A reports that for the first time since March, 2009, that the average gas price has fallen below $2 per gallon.

AAA’s survey of prices in RI, released this morning, shows that self-serve regular unleaded gas is averaging $1.99 per gallon.

The pump price drooped even lower in Massachusetts, where self-serve regular is averaging $1.95 per gallon. January traditionally brings a low demand for motor fuel, according to Mary Maguire, AAA public affairs director.

The General Assembly is back, and the political year kicks into gear. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Jeff Britt, one of Rhode Island's best-known Republican operatives, is pointing to what he calls anti-Muslim statements by Donald Trump and other politicians as the explanation for why on Thursday he formally left the GOP.

Britt said he has been a registered Republican since around the time when he was in college in the late 1980s. He disaffiliated from the party Thursday morning at Warwick City Hall.

Republican John Pagliarini -- the winner of Tuesday's special election in state Senate District 11 -- and Democratic rival Jim Seveney say opposition to Governor Gina Raimondo's truck-toll proposal was a significant factor in the race.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

As expected, Governor Raimondo's controversial truck toll proposal quickly emerged as a hot topic on the first day of the 2016 General Assembly session. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he expects a revised version of the governor's plan to emerge in a week or two, although it might take longer, and that he anticipates passage early in the session. 

RINPR

In an email to the newsroom of the Providence Journal, executive editor David Butler downplayed a report by Politico indicating that he will serve as interim editor of the embattled Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In the email, the contents of which were described to RIPR, Butler said his time in the Review-Journal newsroom will be short and that he expects to be back in Rhode Island as soon as next week.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The 2016 Rhode Island General Assembly session kicks off tomorrow. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay has a preview of what to expect and some New Year's resolutions to suggest to the returning lawmakers.

As predictable as a winter chill, lawmakers throng Smith Hill tomorrow for the new  year. There will be the usual mélange of grandstanding,  pomposity and first-day-of- school style greetings.

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading and listening to our work here at RIPR, and best wishes for 2016 -- a time, no doubt, when Rhode Island politics will remain the gift that keeps on giving. As usual, you can share your tips and thoughts via email, and follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

State Rep. Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick) said Tuesday that Governor Gina Raimondo is not being forthcoming enough about her truck toll plan, although a Raimondo spokeswoman reiterated that preliminary locations for truck tolls will be identified at a later date.

RIPR file photo

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is renewing a push for tougher penalties that he calls a better deterrent for the harm caused by drunk drivers.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello sat down in his State House office last week to discuss his priorities for 2016 and his year as speaker.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he supports the basic premise of Governor Raimondo’s plan to pay for bridge improvements through truck tolls, during his wide-ranging end-of-year interview with Rhode Island Public Radio.

The governor’s infrastructure plan died in the 2015 legislative session when it did not get a vote in the House.

There's just one week until Christmas, so I want to wish a very happy holiday season to my readers, and offer my thanks for stopping by in 2015. (Program note: TGIF is taking next week off and will return December 31.) As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Aaron Read / RIPR

  It’s the usual mixed bag of good news and not-so-good news as Rhode Island’s unemployment rate dipped one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.2 percent in November, down from 5.3 percent in October, according to data released by the state Department of Labor and Training.

Job gains came in several sectors, including restaurants and hotels, professional and business services,  arts, entertainment and recreation and educational services. But job losses still dog other sectors, including construction, government employment and information.

Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo is stepping down from the leadership of Rhode Island’s oldest public institution of higher education. Her resignation takes effect after graduation in May, 2016 and was prompted by a group of current and former RIC employees who questioned her leadership and requested her resignation.

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