RI House of Representatives

To paraphrase a remark (mistakenly) attributed to Mark Twain, the coldest winter I ever spent was a spring in southern New England. But we roll with the punches, right? 

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Political novice Nika Lomazzo hopes to become the first openly transgender Rhode Island state representative. Lomazzo has never held or run for elected office before. She says she’s only become politically active in the past year and a half, inspired in part by the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.

Eugene McCaffrey, a former Rhode Island Democratic state representative, state senator and mayor of Warwick, has died. He was 84.

McCaffrey was the father of Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, D-Warwick.

John Bender / RIPR

The state Board of Elections Wednesday night declined a request to delay the certification of votes in a high-profile legislative race. 

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island House Majority Leader John DeSimone, D-Providence, who was narrowly defeated in the September primary, is announcing tomorrow that he is mounting a November general election write-in challenge to the political newcomer who defeated him in the primary, Marcia Ranglin-Vassell.

Political newcomer Jason Knight defeated veteran State Rep. Jan Malik in the District 67 Democratic primary by winning a huge victory in the two Barrington precincts, even as Knight lost the two polling places in Malik’s Warren stronghold.

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As the days dwindle to 2016, Scott MacKay has some Christmas and New Year’s thoughts for Rhode Island’s politicians. With sincere apologies to Clement Moore.

The sweat box that is the Rhode Island Statehouse in the summer months may become a thing of the past.

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Rhode Island has long been engaged in a debate about government benefits for the poor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says our state isn’t as generous as most other New England states on helping those with less.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston has heard the complaints for years from conservatives and some elements of the business community:  That Rhode Island’s overly generous social welfare programs handcuff taxpayers and harm the state’s business climate.

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Legislative leaders opened the new General Assembly session yesterday by pledging to focus on jobs and education.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed unanimously won re-election to their leadership posts.  Mattiello began his chamber’s 2015 session by vowing to keep a continued focus on jobs and the economy.  Mattiello won his first full two-year term as speaker on a unanimous vote.

Aaron Read / RIPR

UPDATE: This was approved: Rhode Island’s low-skill minimum wage workers will very likely get a wage increase under legislation that the Rhode Island House is poised to approve before the end of the current legislative session.

The measure would jump the state’s floor wage for workers from the current $8 per hour to $9 on January 1, 2015. Such legislation has been approved by the state Senate and the House Labor Committee and has been posted for action by the full House tomorrow.

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The state Senate is expected Monday to approve a new budget for the fiscal year starting July first.  The House of Representatives passed the spending plan early last Friday morning.

After too many years of giving short shrift to public higher education in Rhode Island,  the General Assembly and state government appear to have finally begun to reverse this short-sighted policy.

In the budget that cleared the House Finance Committee on a 14 to 2 vote Thursday, the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island have won some important initiatives.

Nick Mattiello has only been House Speaker for two days. So it may not be fair to criticize his committee and leadership choices; he had to throw together his team very quickly.

But it hasn’t escaped notice that Mattiello’s new team has given women lawmakers short shrift.

The new speaker has named three committee chairs: Ray Gallison, D-Bristol, takes over the House Finance Committee; Cale Keable, D-Burrillville, assumes control of the Judiciary Committee; and Robert Craven, D-North Kingstown becomes the new chairman of the Municipal Affairs Committee.

The stench of corruption has once again encircled the Rhode Island State House. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it may be time to try something different on Smith Hill.

Unless you have been living in one of those 1950s-era nuclear bomb shelters, or the old East Side tunnel, you’ve probably heard of the latest Statehouse scandal. The state police and federal IRS and FBI agents raided the offices of House Speaker Gordon Fox 10 days ago. The next day he abruptly resigned.

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