Jack Reed

Welcome back to my Friday column. As always you can reach me at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get started.

The debate over Obamacare rages from Providence to Pasadena. As the state moves closer to launching its health insurance exchange, RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the arguments and traces the law’s Rhode Island roots.

Ask Rhode Island Republican State Chairman Mark Smiley what he thinks of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and you’ll get a blunt answer:  He says, ``I hate it.’’

Smiley’s position is simple and wedded to his party’s national stance: Repeal the entire law and start over. ``Socialism,’’ he says, ``doesn’t work.’’

Wikimedia Commons

The Rhode Island International Film Festival is underway.  One movie highlights the loan program named for the late Senator Claiborne Pell.

A documentary about Pell Grants will receive its world premiere in Providence as part of the week-long film festival.

The movie follows the battle Senator Claiborne Pell fought in Congress to pass the grant program in the seventies.

It was written and directed by Steven Feinberg, who’s also the executive director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office.

RIPR FILE

Senator Jack Reed said he’s confident that Rhode Island will receive federal money meant to boost the state’s manufacturing sector.

Reed and the three other members of the congressional delegation took part Monday in a manufacturing forum at URI’s Providence campus. About 100 people attended the discussion.

Reed said the outlook is good for Rhode Island to get a preliminary grant of up to 200-thousand dollars to foster a strategy for adding manufacturing jobs.

Rhode Island’s congressional delegation helped launch Monday an effort to encourage participation in the federal healthcare overhaul known as Obamacare.  Nine community health centers around the state will play a role in the campaign.

file / RIPR

Once again, Rhode Island has embarked on an advertising campaign to raise our state’s flagging self-esteem. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time for us to stop running down our tiny corner of New England.

Back in 1996, when Jack Reed was running his first U.S. Senate campaign, Texas Gov. Ann Richards came to Newport to speak at a Reed fund-raiser. The tart-tongued Texan introduced the vertically-challenged Rhode Island Democrat by saying to prolonged laughter that Reed is proof ``that size doesn’t matter.’’

T.F. Green Airport Starts Upgrades

Jul 30, 2013
Catherine Welch / RIPR

An ambitious four-year plan to upgrade T.F. Green Airport has finally gotten underway. Monday one of the airport’s two runways was shut down to make way for the removal of a hangar.  Next month work begins on a new de-icing fluid treatment plant.

Peter Frazer, general counsel to the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, said none of this should inconvenience travelers.

Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed has failed again in his attempt to hold down college student loan rates.

The Senate has once again failed to pass Democrat  Reed’s legislation that would keep federal student college loans from doubling in interest. Reed’s bill failed on a procedural motion by a vote of 51 to 49. Sixty votes were needed to end the Republican filibuster.

Congressman David Cicilline is calling this a good day for equality, reacting to news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples.

“No longer will people be discriminated against because of who they love,” said Cicilline, “and all marriages will be respected and people will be treated equally under the law. That’s a great victory.”

At this time of the RI General Assembly session every year, when the State House gets as hot as a sauna and the rhetoric boils over, lawmakers are confronted with money items tucked into the arcane language of the state budget that don’t seem to have received much discussion but have an impact on state taxpayers.

One that for the most part has dropped below the media radar is what appears to be some very favorable treatment for a huge defense contractor that doesn’t really need state financial help, the Electric Boat division of General  Dynamics.

RIPR FILE

On Capitol Hill Thursday the Senate will vote on a bill by Senator Jack Reed that blocks a rate hike on student loans. What’s called “The Student Loan Affordability Act” would keep the interest rate on federal student loans from doubling for two years.

Reed said that’s how long it will take Congress to come up with a long-term solution.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior was in Rhode Island Friday touring parts of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. The visit highlighted a push to make the corridor part of the National Park System.

Rhode Island’s two U.S. senators are weighing in on the IRS scandal.  The agency charged with collecting taxes has been targeting conservative groups for special attention in their applications for tax-exempt status.

Staring down a July 1st deadline, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are looking at ways to control the costs of federal student loans. Senator Jack Reed is behind a measure that would overhaul how student loan interest rates are calculated.

Reed and a handful of democrats in Congress are pushing legislation that offers adjustable rates and caps the maximum interest rates on federal loans. The bill also allows borrowers stuck with high interest rates to refinance.

RIPR

A bill allowing states to charge sales tax for online shopping (passed/failed) in the senate. Rhode Island senator Jack Reed supported the bill, and he sat down with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Scott MacKay to talk about a variety of issues including the impact online sales have on Rhode Island’s economy.

Pages