Gordon Fox

Thanks for stopping by for a visit with my weekly column. Your tips and thoughts are always welcome via idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me all week long on the twitters.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

House Speaker Gordon Fox welcomed lawmakers back Tuesday by hoping the new legislative session is more civil than the one that stretched into last July.

Debate in the House turned prickly over parts of the budget during the last legislative year. In his opening speech on the first day of the new session, Fox called for a different approach.

“I hope that we strengthen the lines of communication, so hopefully we end this session earlier than last session and end it nice. Welcome back to 2014, let’s get to work," said Fox.

The General Assembly starts action Tuesday afternoon in a year marked by politically complicated issues -- the possible fallout of pension mediation and the rising tab for 38 Studios, for starters -- and a high-profile race for governor.

In case you've missed it, here are some ways to get up to speed on the new legislative session.

My interview with House Speaker Gordon Fox.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

One of the key issues facing the General Assembly in the new year is the fate of a significant overhaul of the state pension system in 2011.  The new legislative session starts Tuesday.

State officials and public employee unions have held closed-door talks for more than a year in an attempt to settle a lawsuit over the pension overhaul. House Speaker Gordon Fox said he opposes any dramatic changes, because the overhaul alleviated pressure on the state budget.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

With the General Assembly set to start its new session Tuesday, House Speaker Gordon Fox sat down to discuss the issues facing the legislature, including the latest budget deficit; fallout from 38 Studios; the possible impact of a settlement over the 2011 overhaul of the state pension system; tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; and more.

The 2014 political year kicks off in earnest with the start of a new legislative session Tuesday (and the lingering shadow of the unresolved closed-door pension mediation). Thanks for stopping by for my (slightly delinquent, slightly abbreviated) weekly column. 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.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s General Assembly convenes a new session Tuesday. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why this year’s legislature may sound a lot like last year’s.

By now, most of us have cleared our heads of those New Year’s  hangovers. That’s not the case for Rhode Island’s 113 lawmakers.

The 2014 Assembly that convenes tomorrow will resemble nothing so much as the …2013 Assembly. The reason for this is all too evident:  As has too often been the case, the Smith Hill Crowd decided not to decide some big, prickly issues last session.

House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed each say they intend to seek another term at the top of their respective chambers in 2015, provided they win re-election to their legislative seats next November.

In related news, Fox and Paiva Weed sounded different notes on the issue of repaying investors in failed video-game maker 38 Studios. The tab for taxpayers is set to increase in 2014 to $12.5 million dollars, up from $2.5 million in 2013 -- a factor that may resound in legislative elections in the new year.

Welcome back to my Friday column, and thanks for stopping by. 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 going:

In the aftermath of last year’s Newtown school shootings, Rhode Island politicians leaped on the gun control bandwagon. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what’s happened since.

After last December’s horrific school massacre in Connecticut, political leaders from the White House to the Rhode Island State House vowed to crack down on gun violence. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed all advocated measures to advance gun control in our state.

House Speaker Gordon Fox has put an end to the suspense about his political future, telling Democratic state reps at a closed caucus Monday that he won't be running for mayor of Providence.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

David Caprio warmed to the task of scorning Republicans following his unanimous election Thursday night as the new chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. Speaking before a few hundred party insiders at the Portuguese Club in Cranston, he offered a series of comparison-contrast points to highlight how, as he described it, Democrats remain the party of working families.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island Democrats plan to make their selection of a new state chairman official this evening Thursday.  Former state rep David Caprio won the backing for the post last month from House Speaker Gordon Fox.

Democrats will hold a state committee meeting this evening to elect Caprio as their new chairman. No other candidates for the volunteer position are expected.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Senator Dawson Hodgson (R-North Kingstown) joins the Political Roundtable to discuss an ethics complaint against House Speaker Gordon Fox; Hodgson's interest in running for attorney general in 2014; debate about federal cuts in food programs; and the latest on Deepwater Wind.

Back in 2007, Gordon Fox said he didn't think his public office had been beneficial to his private law practice. The statement has some unintentional irony in the present, considering how Fox faces a state Ethics Commission investigation for not disclosing legal work done from 2005 to 2009 for the Providence Economic Development Partnership.

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