scott mackay

An old Rhode Island summer tradition – Governor’s Bay Day – will be celebrated Sunday July 27th with free parking at all state beaches.

Lite 105 and 92 Pro FM radio stations will be broadcasting from Roger Wheeler and Scarborough state beaches as part of the bay celebration.

Governor’s Bay Day has been celebrated since 1989. It began in response to the World Prodigy oil spill and to highlight the quality and fragility of Narragansett Bay.

Rhode Island politicians are increasingly looking to non-profit institutions to finance local government. The latest tug-of-war between town and gown is in Smithfield, where the town thinks Bryant University is not paying its fair share. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says its time for cooperation, not confrontation.

House Speaker Gordon Fox says he does not favor a General Assembly override of Governor Lincoln Chafee’s veto of legislation that would create an anti-abortion `Choose Life’ Rhode Island license plate that would serve as a fund-raising vehicle for an evangelical Christian anti-abortion group.

Fox’s comments came during an interview with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Political Roundtable panelists Scott MacKay, Flo Jonic and Maureen Moakley. Fox noted that he a long-time supporter of abortion rights who did not vote for the `Choose Life' plate when it was approved  in the House.

Brett Smiley, chairman of the Providence Water Supply Board and Democratic political consultant, said today that he is forming a Smiley for Mayor Committee to explore a run for Providence mayor in 2014 if Mayor Angel Taveras decides to run for governor, as many top Democrats expect.

The baseball all-star game is the best of all the major American professional sports because the players actually play defense, unlike the NBA’s basketball all-star farce and the NFL’s pro bowl, a game that resembles nothing so much as Arena football. Even the NHL all-star fest features scant defense.

It seems curious that Gov. Lincoln’s Chafee’s Administration waited until today to announce that it intends to ask the State Ethics Commission for a waiver from the revolving-door ethics law so that lawyer Eva Marie Mancuso can legally become interim commissioner of higher education.

Some news for Rhode Island’s beleaguered economy: First quarter tax data shows that job growth in the Ocean State was better than estimated, with the state economy generating 1,700 more jobs that first indicted in the March, 2013 report from the state Dep0artment of Labor and Training.

The DLT says that the new data is based on employment information from the state’s 32,000 private sector employers. The new estimates suggest an over the year gain of 2,300 Rhode Island-based jobs.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has signed into law legislation giving up to four weeks of Temporary Disability Benefits for those out of work to care for a newborn child or sick relative.

The measure, which was advocated by organized labor, covers both newborns and adopted children. The T.D. I. program  is financed by a 1.2 percent tax on the first $61,400 in income. The paid leave program takes effect on January 1, 2014.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has signed into law legislation that will require Bryant University and Smithfield town officials to negotiate reimbursement for the university’s use of town police, fire and rescue services.

The university and its president, former U.S. Rep. Ron Machtley, have argued strenuously against the legislation, saying Bryant already contributes to the town and generates $17 in local economic activity. But town officials and Smithfield lawmakers say it is isn’t fair for Bryant to charge town taxpayers for services used by the university and its students.

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.

The federal spending sequester has been little more than an inconvenience for most Americans, especially in states that do not have a plethora of defense spending.  As it turns out, the fortunes of Virginia and Rhode Island have been flipped due to changes in the economics of military-industrial complex spending.

Organized labor has been beset in recent years with declining membership in the private sector and a corresponding drop in clout at the Rhode Island Statehouse.  Unions have taken their lumps recently, but there were signs of a rebound during the recently adjourned General Assembly session.

Labor did not get nearly everything it wanted; building  trades union  leaders are unhappy that lawmakers did not approve requiring construction firms bidding on state projects worth $1 million or more to have a union apprenticeship program.

Some comings and goings in Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s office:

Jamia McDonald is moving from deputy chief of staff and the governor’s liason to the state’s emergency management agency to become executive director of RIEMA.

Christian Vareika, the governor’s deputy communications director and chief speechwriter, is leaving the administration to attend law school. Vareika worked on Chafee’s 2010 campaign and has crafted major Chafee speeches.

Communications Associate James Alvarez is leaving the administration to pursue a creer in the U.S. Army.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee is expressing skepticism over the General Assembly’s last-minute license plate legislation that created a special  anti-abortion ‘Choose Life’ plate.

Chafee spokeswomen Christine Hunsinger says the governor has made no decision yet on whether to veto the measure or let it become law but that he is concerned whether ``it is appropriate for money that flows through the Division of Motor Vehicles to go to a religious organization.’’

Tis the high season of summer in the Ocean State and the time of hijinks at the State House. As the hours dwindle towards adjournment, items big and small sometimes get lost in the last-minute shuffle as the competing egos in the House and Senate square off.

One very important economic development and education issue to watch: the fate of the resolution needed to move forward the plan to revive a gateway to the old Jewelry District in Providence by putting a nursing school in the old Dynamo Building, the onetime South Street power station.