general assembly

Never a dull moment around here, as the 2015 General Assembly session screeched to a dramatic close this week. Thanks for stopping by. As usual, your tips and thoughts are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you follow me through the week on the Twitters. Here we go.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The General Assembly session came to a very abrupt end Thursday due to an impasse between the House and Senate. After starting their legislative year in January, lawmakers will now be called back in the fall to tackle one or two major issues. Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis spoke with host Dave Fallon, about this session's highs and lows.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org 

State Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket) joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss the state budget, future of the PawSox, competing approaches to tax benefits in the I-195 development district, the state Ethics Commission and other issues.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

State Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket) joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss how the House didn't vote for Governor Raimondo's truck-toll plan; the impact of new legislation on charter schools; and the Cranston bridge closing controversy.

The General Assembly ended its regular session Thursday night without approving Governor Gina Raimondo's plan to use tolls on trucks to pay for bridge improvements. The last night of the session was punctuated by a dispute that led senators to leave their chamber as the House was still meeting, and resulted in a series of bills slated for votes going by the wayside.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

House Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield) doesn't expect the House to vote on Governor Gina Raimondo's truck-toll proposal before lawmakers recess for summer this week.

Newberry points to remarks by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, who has shown little enthusiasm for a vote this week, due to his lingering concerns on the impact on business of the governor's ambitious infrastructure plan.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he wants the State Police or state Department of Transportation to investigate why problems that led to the closure Tuesday of Cranston's Park Avenue Bridge were not discovered when the bridge was inspected last September. The state Senate, meanwhile, approved Governor Gina Raimondo's truck-toll plan, while the proposal's outlook in the House remains uncertain.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo continued to press Monday for the General Assembly to approve her plan to pay for bridge improvements through new tolls on trucks, although the person with the most impact on the outcome -- House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello -- said he remains undecided.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island lawmakers are expected to wrap up the regular part of their 2015 session later this week. It remains unknown for now if legislators will return to hold a special session later this year.Governor Gina Raimondo is pressing lawmakers to back a plan to fund bridge improvements through new tolls on truck.

The state Trucking Association opposes the plan.

House Majority Whip Jay Edwards (D-Tiverton) joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss the House budget; whether lawmakers should investigate 38 Studios; the criteria for considering a Providence ballpark; and much more.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

House Majority Whip Jay Edwards (D-Tiverton) joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the budget passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives; the way forward on curbing fire service costs; and the outlook for Governor Raimondo's truck-toll proposal.

On a 6 to 3 vote, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill Wednesday restricting the growth of charter schools.

The legislation sponsored by Senator Adam Satchell (D-West Warwick) requires city or town councils in a host community to approve new charter schools. The bill would also keep charter school funding at the current level until the state adopts a new formula for funding charter and traditional public schools.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The Rhode Island House broke from tradition Tuesday night by unanimously passing a budget for the next fiscal year during a speedy three-hour session. The spending plan cuts some business taxes while giving Governor Gina Raimondo much of what she wanted.

Budget debates in the House of Representatives traditionally go until the wee hours of the next day. So even veteran lawmakers were surprised when the chamber approved an $8.7 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July first faster than at any time in at least 30 years.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Although Governor Gina Raimondo highlighted a desire during her 2014 campaign to provide driver's licenses to undocumented Rhode Islanders, the General Assembly is not expected to move the issue forward in this session.

In the fall of 2013, Raimondo campaign expressed disappointment via Twitter when Democratic primary rival Angel Taveras said Congress should decide the issue of driver's licenses for undocumented drivers.

Thanks for stopping by. It's been a long week, so let's get rolling before I fall asleep at my standing desk. Your tips and thoughts remain welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and I invite your attention on the twitters. Here we go.

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