The year ended as 2013 began: with Rhode Island's political/media class fixated on the looming race for governor in 2014. At least we're a bit closer now. With that in mind, welcome back to my weekly column. Your tips and thoughts are always welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and your cordially invited to follow me on the twitters. Let's get to it.
The House Finance Committee will meet this afternoon to review attempts to rein in spending in different state agencies.
Spending above budgeted amounts has been an issue in some different state departments in recent years. The agencies in question include the state Department of Corrections and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.
The heads of those two departments have in the past attributed the higher than expected spending to overtime and other unpredictable expenses.
Advocates of eliminating or cutting Rhode Island's sales tax will make their last stand on December 30, for now at least, before a legislative commission presents its findings and recommendation to Smith Hill leadership. Yet House Speaker Gordon Fox isn't rushing to embrace proponents' argument that reducing the tax would be an economic catalyst.
Fox's spokesman, Larry Berman, says the speaker will carefully review the recommendations from the Special Joint Legislative Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal.
Get ready for the first serious snow of the year, and a storm of a different sorts in Exeter. Welcome back to my weekly column. 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 to it.
Democratic Secretary of State candidate Nellie Gorbea joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss her campaign; Rhode Island's Voter ID law, the move to create separate councils overseeing K-though-12 and higher education; and the lack of bidders for a study on the impact of not paying back investors in 38 Studios.
Democratic Secretary of State candidate Nellie Gorbea joins us on Bonus Q+A to discuss her campaign and various issues facing the office, including voter turnout; voter ID; lobbyist disclosure; and the level of legislative transparency.
Intellectual property rights for 38 Studios, the failed video game that left Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook for $90 million, were slated to hit the auction block Wednesday. Nick Jimenez, executive vice president with Heritage Global Auctions, says via email there will be "more to report after the sales process is completed in the coming days." In the interim, an update on related developments:
Voters in Exeter will go to the polls this Saturday to decide whether to keep or kick out four of the five members on the town council. The recall election was sparked by a request from four councilors who voted to ask the General Assembly to change how gun permits are issued in Exeter. Although the legislature never took up the request, advocates for gun rights responded by organizing the recall. The fight in Exeter shows how attempts to change local gun laws face sharp opposition.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican candidate for governor, is putting himself squarely behind state Senator Dawson Hodgson's latest call for an independent commission to investigate the state's losing investment in failed video-fame maker 38 Studios.