Rhode Island Statehouse

RIPR FILE

Governor Gina Raimondo is using the words “Christmas tree” in connection with a holiday celebration at the State House. That’s in contrast to the initial approach used by former governor Lincoln Chafee.

In Governor Chafee’s first year in office, in 2011, he called the tree in the State House rotunda a “holiday tree.” Chafee maintained his approach was in keeping with tradition, but critics said the governor was stepping on the spirit of the holiday.

If anyone still cares about the Holiday/Christmas tree Statehouse kerfuffle, Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced today that this year’s rotunda evergreen will be called a`` Christmas tree’’ and that Secretary of State Ralph Mollis will light it on Wednesday, December 3 at 6 p.m.

The 15-foor Fraser Fir evergreen was donated to the state by Sarah Partyka of the Farmer’s Daughter farm in South Kingstown.

``I am happy to be part of such a wonderful holiday tradition, lighting the State House Christmas tree,’’ said Mollis in a statement.

RIPR FILE

Besides the competitive state elections and ballot questions, voters next week will elect every member of the Rhode Island General Assembly. As part of our Rhody Votes ’14 coverage, RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay speaks with morning host Elisabeth Harrison for a look at the major battles in the state legislature.

RIPR FILE

The Rhode Island House of Representatives is expected to cap a dramatic sequence of events unfolding over the last few days by electing a new speaker Tuesday. The change was set in motion last Friday when state and federal authorities raided House Speaker Gordon Fox’s East Side home and Statehouse office. Fox resigned from his leadership position the next day, saying he doesn’t plan to seek re-election to his state rep seat in November.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

A coalition of Rhode Island religious leaders is calling on lawmakers to put poverty at the top of their agenda this year.  The plea was issued at a Statehouse rally Wednesday.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block has filed a complaint, accusing the state agency that manages state-owned properties with multiple violations of the Open Meetings Act.  The candidate is also calling on the General Assembly to strengthen the law and enhance the penalties for violating it.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State officials unveiled a lifelike statue Tuesday of one of the most important figures in Rhode Island history.

The statue of Thomas Dorr was celebrated during an afternoon ceremony outside the Senate chamber at the Statehouse.

State historian Patrick Conley calls Dorr the second most significant figure, after Roger Williams, in Rhode Island history.

Dorr led a rebellion in the early 1840s that led to expanded voting rights. Before the so-called Dorr Rebellion, only property owners were able to vote.

RIPR FILE

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.

Same-sex marriage bill moves to full RI House

Jan 22, 2013
Flo Jonic

A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island has cleared its first legislative hurdle. The House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly approved the legislation, paving the way for a full House vote later this week.

The crowd assembled for the same sex marriage vote erupted in applause and cheers when the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill on to the full House.  The panel had heard hours of testimony. By the time it came to vote, only Committee chair Edith Ajello had anything left to say.