The state Ethics Commission on Tuesday decided to investigate a complaint filed against House Speaker Gordon Fox. The question is whether Fox needed to disclose legal work done for the City of Providence.
Jason Gramitt, a staff attorney for the Ethics Commission, calls the step taken by the commission "preliminary. The commission only looks at the complaint and decides whether or not it should authorize an investigation, and so that's all they've done. They didn't offer any opinion as to whether the complaint is a good complaint or a bad complaint."
Every year, when Rhode Island lawmakers start working on a new budget, they face a spending plan mired in red ink. By law, the budget must be balanced by the end of the legislative session, usually in June. But like a boomerang, projected budget deficits zoom back to Smith Hill by the time the new session starts in January. Next year will no different -- Rhode Island already faces the fiscal year starting in July 2014 with an estimated $149 million hole. And the state lacks a plan for overcoming budget deficits that are projected to get far worse with time.
Former Secretary of State and public television executive Susan Farmer has died after a long fight with cancer.
Farmer became the first woman elected to statewide office when she won an election for secretary of state in 1982. Former Providence Journal political columnist M. Charles Bakst said Farmer was the leader in a wave of GOP women winning political office.
As the media burst with news that Gov. Lincoln Chafee was not seeking re-election, the state’s top elected officials crafted statements praising the governor.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and state treasurer Gina Raimondo, who are both expected to run for Chafee’s office, released statements thanking him for his years of public service. Taveras called him a man of integrity, while Raimondo called Chafee an unfailing optimist who always had the state’s best interest at heart.
The head of the state Republican Party is blaming legislative Democrats for failing to improve Rhode Island’s economy. The state’s unemployment rate climbed by a tenth of percent in July, to 8.9 percent.
State GOP chairman Mark Smiley said the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders are wrong to brag about their efforts when the unemployment rate is going in the wrong direction.
Rhode Island voters can expect to decide next year whether to organize a constitutional convention. Voters are supposed to be asked that question once every 10 years.
The question of whether to stage a constitutional convention can be put on the ballot by either the General Assembly or the secretary of state. Secretary of State Ralph Mollis said if the legislature doesn’t pose the question for voters, he’ll put it on the ballot next year.
As same-sex marriage becomes legal in Rhode Island Thursday, state Representative Frank Ferri and his longtime partner are among those planning to mark the day by tying the knot. It took almost 20 years to legalize same-sex marriage in the Ocean State.
Ferri and his partner, Tony Caparco, plan to marry in Warwick this evening with about 300 friends and family members on hand. House Speaker Gordon Fox will perform the ceremony. Ferri, a Warwick Democrat, says the newfound ability of gays and lesbians to marry in Rhode Island will lend special meaning to the nuptials.
Thanks to a cost of living adjustment mandated by the state Constitution, 111 state lawmakers are entitled to get a $307 boost in their annual pay, bringing the yearly amount to $14,947. The pay hike is doubled for House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who get twice the salary of other lawmakers.
Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate Ken Block has hired a veteran of Rhode Island politics to manage his run for governor next year.
Block has hired Jeff Britt to run his latest campaign for governor. Last year, Britt managed a spirited run by an independent challenger to House Speaker Gordon Fox. Block said he thinks Britt has the ability to make a big difference in his campaign.