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 Op-Ed

 
Aug.
2017
With so much negativity, DMV deserves praise for getting it right
K. Joseph Shekarchi is the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and he is a Democrat representing District 23 in Warwick

We live in a time period where negativity, particularly toward government, has sadly become the norm.  It is understandable why the public has a negative view of state government due to various missteps and mistakes that have been made. But at times, successes are overlooked and quietly fly under the radar with little fanfare or recognition.  That is why the recent rollout by the Division of Motor Vehicles of the long overdue new computer system should be recognized as a prime example of something government has gotten right for the taxpayers of the state.

Jul.
2017
​Senate's last-minute shenanigans hurt R.I.
House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston)

There is nothing more important than integrity and keeping your word.



May.
2017
Post-election audits help to safeguard democracy
Sen. James C. Sheehan

Long ago, our ancestors decided to throw off the yoke of tyranny and oppression by abandoning absolute monarchy and embracing a republican form of government — the belief that our common interests are best served by a group of elected representatives who would make our laws.

That was more than just a political experiment. Many of our forebears fought and died to secure our rights to that form of government. The power you have at the ballot box is one that could only be dreamed about through much of world history.

In order for that system to work, the people need to know that elections are fair and that their votes count. In fact, eight of the 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution deal directly with voting or elections. A huge portion of Rhode Island General Law deals strictly with elections, political campaigns and voting. Every safeguard has been adopted to ensure the fairness, legitimacy and accuracy of elections.

That’s why I’ve submitted legislation at the behest of the good government group Common Cause. The bill (2017-S 0413) would require the Board of Elections to establish a post-election audit program to make sure that the equipment and procedures we use to count votes during an election are all working properly. This will go a long way toward ensuring public confidence in election results. In those cases where problems or issues are detected they can be corrected long before the next election cycle. Without the constant scrutiny and examination of election procedures, the democratic system could be called into doubt.  

A post-election audit makes sure that all the equipment is functioning well — that election procedures yielded the correct results. During a post-election audit, paper records are checked against the results produced by the voting system to determine accuracy.

In effect, an audit is a partial recount of results to verify that the voting system is accurately recording and counting votes. The legislation would authorize the Board of Elections to audit the results within seven days after an election using established rules and proven methodologies.  These audits would not only act as a deterrent to voter fraud, but they would help to avoid a full recount by showing when a recount is necessary, as well as uncovering programming errors, equipment malfunctions and bugs in the system.

And make no mistake, these audits are needed. For example, in the past election, there were ballot formatting errors which caused substantial inaccuracies in the vote counts in both Foster and my hometown of North Kingstown. In North Kingstown, the error produced a wrong outcome — one that made it appear that only a handful of people voted to approve a town referendum. When the ballots were re-run, it turned out that the ballot question had passed.

In both cases, subtle changes had been made in the spacing of words and fill-in ovals that weren’t reflected on the test ballots that were used to calibrate the machines. In this case, the error was caught because the result was so unusual. But had it been a close result, no one would have known that these errors actually undermined the will of the people.

If passed, Rhode Island would join 29 other states that already require post-election audits. This is an excellent way to safeguard our democratic process — and I urge everyone to contact their state senators and representatives and ask them to support this bill.

The author, James C. Sheehan, is a Democratic state senator representing District 36 in North Kingstown and Narragansett. He resides in North Kingstown.​

May.
2017
Line item veto would bring balance to state's budget process
Sen. James C. Sheehan

As this year’s legislative session draws to a close, I would like to draw your readers’ attention to an issue that has been bandied about for some time now without any sort of resolution — the line item veto.​


May.
2017
It’s Time to End the Home Care Access Crisis
Rep. Julie A. Casimiro

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with one of my constituents who receives healthcare services in their home in order to remain safely at home. Without home care, this North Kingstown resident would not be able to live in our community with family and would be subject to nursing home placement at a higher expense to taxpayers.

Mar.
2017
Small business - The Backbone of the Rhode Island Economy
By Rep. Deborah Ruggiero

I’m proud to join Treasurer Seth Magaziner in announcing the “Bank Local” program to help small business get an infusion of capital. This is an innovative plan to incentivize local banks and credit unions to make loans to qualified small businesses and, in return, receive a matching state deposit into that bank or credit union. 



Mar.
2017
​Rhode Island’s Car Tax Must Go
Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello

Earlier this year, I announced my initiative to phase out the onerous and regressive car tax within five years.  The budget the House will adopt this June will provide approximately $40 million in car tax relief, which will continue over the next five years until it is completely eliminated.  ​


Jan.
2017
Why I am proud to support the Fair Shot Agenda
Rep. Anastasia P. Williams

A group of House Democrats came together to craft the Fair Shot Agenda, a life-saving and life-changing legislative package that consists of Earned Paid Sick Days, a $15 minimum wage, Tax Fairness, and School Building Repairs.  These four simple ideas will serve as a life-line to the poor, the vulnerable, and the disenfranchised who work so hard, yet the American Dream remains elusive and out of reach.

Jan.
2017
Rhode Islanders are doers
Rep. Deborah Ruggiero
The Rhode Islanders I know are doers—successful business owners, technology entrepreneurs, community advocates, and passionate educators.   They know technology is part of our everyday life—online banking, GPS, email, SKYPE, search engines, even online dating.  Every business, large or small, has a website, email, and a digital footprint. It’s how we do business.

Nov.
2016
​Post-election thoughts at Thanksgiving
By Sen. Harold M. Metts
Oct.
2016
​Rhode Island needs to continue to be proactive and vigilant in our targeted investments in education
Sen. Louis P. DiPalma

I have previously written that the Defense Economy is vital and critically important to Aquidneck Island, Newport County, Rhode Island and our national defense. Critical to ensuring this most important sector of the state’s economy remains strong, sustained and growing, is targeted investments in education, from pre-K to 16, specifically in the STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) subjects.  These continued, targeted investments in education are needed now more than ever. ​

Aug.
2016
New Law Ensures Officers Are Trained In Body and Mind
Senator Stephen R. Archambault & Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi

This year Rhode Island enacted legislation that is a reflection of a need that we as lawmakers have to address to make certain that our front line responders are prepared.  Nearly 15% of police service calls will deal with some component of mental illness and this percentage is on the rise.  When an officer arrives on scene they not only should have the proper equipment but, they should have state of the science training. Rhode Island now will guarantee that our police officers will receive nationally certified training with proven success all over the country.  This program is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

Aug.
2016
Rhode Island needs to act proactively to build upon strong defense industry
Sen. Louis P. DiPalma
We need to do all in our power to ensure our coveted defense industry remains vibrant, is nurtured and fares as well in the next BRAC round as it did in 2005.

Jul.
2016
Why I voted against House 7537, the “revenge porn” bill
By Rep. Edith H. Ajello

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I heard and discussed “revenge porn” legislation for four or five years. I could not agree more with the goal of the bill, which is to protect privacy. But I believe it is imperative that we concern ourselves not just with the rhetoric surrounding proposed legislation, but also the language of the proposed law. Because the details of the law determine how is implemented.

 ​

Jul.
2016
This November, vote yes on Question 2
By Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello

We will hear our fair share of partisan politics this campaign season but I hope we can all come together to support Question 2 on the November ballot.  If voters approve this ballot question, the Ethics Commission would once again have the power to police conflicts of interest among General Assembly members.​


Jun.
2016
Rhode Islanders can be proud of children’s health improvements
Louis P. DiPalma and Melissa Bann
The overall state of children’s health in Rhode Island has shown marked improvement over the last several years. However, further improvement is required.  
Jun.
2016
A way forward on solitary confinement reform
Rep. Aaron Regunberg

This year, I joined together with community groups, civil rights organizations, and formerly incarcerated Rhode Islanders to introduce legislation reforming the use of solitary confinement in our prison system, and I’m glad our efforts have kickstarted a real conversation on this controversial practice. It was clear that making an informed policy decision on this controversial issue would require additional collaboration and research. That’s why I am very excited that the Rhode Island House passed a resolution creating a study commission that can work to resolve these questions.

Jun.
2016
Sustained effort will make us stronger
House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello

Rhode Island has struggled to emerge from the Great Recession. Yet, through sustained efforts to improve our business climate, invest in education and raise the quality of life for our residents, we are putting Rhode Island on a path to recovery.

The House Finance Committee recently approved a spending plan that includes no broad-based tax increases, provides tax relief to retirees, enhances our state’s economic development toolkit, fully funds our education formula and cuts state beach fees in half.


Jun.
2016
House Oversight Committee seeks more efficient state government
Rep. Patricia A. Serpa

Under my leadership, the House Oversight Committee will analyze how well our state agencies are working and determine what needs to be done to improve services to Rhode Islanders. ​

May.
2016
It's time to end stalking and protect domestic violence victims
Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello

I was outraged to learn that no Rhode Island law stops someone from hiding a device on your car to monitor its movements.  As a result, anyone, even domestic abusers, can track another person’s whereabouts with little to no legal recourse.  Due to an antiquated statute, courts are struggling to prosecute this predatory behavior among domestic abusers.  Therefore, we must modernize Rhode Island’s stalking laws to afford comfort, privacy, and protection to victims of domestic abuse.  ​

May.
2016
Legislative grants: The view from the other side
Sen. Harold M. Metts
How could the good done by the majority of those receiving legislative grants be missed in the media frenzy over the abuse of a few?  In the spirit of fairness, people need to look at the big picture.
May.
2016
DBR Director McCleary, Representative Shekarchi, Senator Walaska - The Premium Jobs Initiative
DBR Director McCleary, Representative Shekarchi, Senator Walaska
If we want to create jobs and grow our economy, we have to make it easier to do business in Rhode Island. Right now, companies across the country are making decisions about where to grow and create jobs, and we need to compete to be included in these discussions. That means we need to innovate. We need to find areas where we can remove red tape, update our policies, and blaze the trail if we are going to encourage companies to consider Rhode Island as they expand.
May.
2016
R.I. must build smarter now to adapt to already-rising sea levels
Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport)

​The the state must adopt a philosophical approach to meeting adaptation goals that embrace the broader aim of protecting Rhode Island’s overall economy from flooding and rising waters. 

May.
2016
​It’s Time for Ethics Reform
Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello

Many Rhode Islanders share my frustration with the recent events concerning elected officials in our state. The bottom line is that we should be able to trust our government instead of worrying about what scandal is around the next corner.

That is why I have worked over the last few months on a bill to restore Ethics Commission oversight of the General Assembly: to give the public and the business community faith that our government is working for them.


May.
2016
Green energy sector a bright spot in Rhode Island economy
Rep. Deborah Ruggiero

From an economic stand point, the clean energy sector has been a very bright spot in our economy.  “Environmental economics” means a lot to this state’s economy

Apr.
2016
Toll-setting must be subject to checks and balances
By Sen. Marc A. Cote and Rep. Daniel P. Reilly

One of the most important checks involves the legislative branch’s ability to keep the executive branch from spending too much money. That is why, although the governor gets to propose budgets, the General Assembly ultimately votes on what is included in them. Without that check on the executive branch, the state departments would have little impetus to control spending, with taxpayers left to foot the bill.  With this very necessary balancing act in mind, we have introduced legislation aimed at changing the recently passed RhodeWorks road-and-bridge repair program to require General Assembly oversight and approval over the amounts of tolls and the location of toll collection sites.


Apr.
2016
Bond question will have huge impact on Rhdoe Island homelessness
Sen. Juan M. Pichardo

Never before has housing been such an important issue to Rhode Islanders.

 

Apr.
2016
Making sure we all make it in Rhode Island
Sen. Gayle L. Goldin and Rep. Scott A. Slater
As the Ocean State strives to become a place where all families can enjoy our natural beauty while maintaining affordable housing, nutritious food, and a quality education, a further increase to the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit is a common-sense tax policy we should all rally behind. An increased state EITC means 83,000 Rhode Island taxpayers are rewarded for working hard to keep their families afloat.
Apr.
2016
House commission studying statewide tourism marketing expects better effort
Rep. Lauren H. Carson D-Dist. 75, Newport

Since October, I have been chairing a House commission studying the potential for growing tourism through a coordinated marketing effort. I sponsored the bill creating this commission because I firmly believe Rhode Island needs an ad campaign that effectively conveys our state’s unique identity to tourists. The Assembly agreed, and concurrently appropriated $5 million to the Commerce Corporation to create that campaign.

 

The mismanagement of this effort has jarred Rhode Island as well as members of our commission. 

Mar.
2016
Surprise billing can be financially disastrous to patients
Sen. Stephen R. Archambault
Since some insurance plans offer little to no out-of-network coverage, patients can get hit with all sorts of surprise bills that are considerably higher than what they were led to believe they would be charged.
Mar.
2016
Cell phone location data merits protection
Rep. Edith H. Ajello and Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush

​Approximately every seven seconds, our cell phones ping the nearest tower. Each ping is recorded and, through a simple process, our location information is triangulated, accurate to within ten meters, or about 33 feet for those of us who don’t measure in meters. The telecommunications company that maintains this information can store it indefinitely, and release it whenever and to whomever it pleases — including the police. The information this real-time map of your movements can reveal is virtually unprecedented in its detail, and that is why we have introduced legislation (S-2403, H-7167) to establish limits on law enforcement’s access to it.

 
Feb.
2016
There will be no tolls on cars; money won't go in general fund
Rep. Daniel McKiernan

​Rallying points for RhodeWorks opponents are riddled with inaccuracies and misinformation.

Feb.
2016
​RhodeWorks: The right route to a stronger economy
Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), Deputy Majority Leader

Rhode Island has the least-safe bridges and roads in America—visible to anyone traveling the state. A thriving Rhode Island economy is predicated on investing in infrastructure. That’s how we grow the economy, by creating more taxpayers and not more taxes.   ​


Feb.
2016
Tolls and Pension Reform - The same vote for the same reason
Rep. Jeremiah T. O'Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket)

As I walked into the House chamber last Wednesday to vote on the revised RhodeWorks infrastructure funding bill, I was struck by a sense of déjà vu and transported back to November 2011 when I walked into that same chamber to vote on then Treasurer Raimondo’s pension reform proposal.  The similarities between the two issues and, the solutions proposed to address them, are striking.

 ​

Feb.
2016
A 'Victory Day' for Rhode Island taxpayers and small businesses
Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown), Deputy Majority Leader

As consumers, we have the power to support these local businesses and buy local so they survive. That is just one of the reasons I introduced legislation to create a sales tax holiday on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 (2016-H 7010​).​

Jan.
2016
Sales tax weekend is good for businesses, people of Rhode Island
Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr.

This year, I’ve submitted legislation (2015-H 7068) that would create a sales tax holiday weekend — similar to the one they have in neighboring Massachusetts. For two days in August, items below $2,500 would be exempt from the state’s 7 percent sales tax.​

Jan.
2016
Reproductive freedom still elusive in Rhode Island
By Rep. Edith Ajello and Sen. Gayle Goldin

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v Wade ensured that women have the right to reproductive freedom. This opinion was reaffirmed in 1992 when the Court ruled that “throughout this century, this Court also has held that the fundamental right of privacy protects citizens against governmental intrusion in such intimate family matters as procreation, childrearing, marriage, and contraceptive choice…and this Court correctly applied these principles to a woman’s right to choose abortion.”

Jan.
2016
The benefits of buying locally
Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket)

Globalization has hit Rhode Island hard. Those manufacturing jobs that allowed my immigrant parents and generations of other Rhode Islanders the opportunity to raise their families in modest comfort are long gone. It’s not just manufacturing, either. Our state is touted as the calamari capital of the world. Yet, walk into any local supermarket today and you will find packages of frozen calamari from China competing with offerings from Galilee, often at a lower price. Now, we can sit around and lament the impact that globalization has had on our local economy or we can personally change this troubling societal trend by taking a very simple action.

Jan.
2016
Close monitoring warranted for RIDOT environmental mitigation
Lauren Carson is a Democrat who represents District 75 in Newport. ​

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation recently finalized an agreement with the federal government after failing to comply with the Clean Water Act, neglecting its drainage systems and allowing runoff from highways to pour runoff into more than 200 bodies of water in our state for years on end.

 ​

Jan.
2016
Qualified Jobs Incentive Act begins to bear fruit
Sen. James C. Sheehan

The Qualified Jobs Incentive Act makes tax incentives available to companies locating, expanding, and hiring in Rhode Island, with particular emphasis on high-wage employment — jobs that pay well in promising industries.​

Sep.
2015
Equity in the housing market for communities of color
Sen. Juan M. Pichardo

The people of Rhode Island have never been afraid to take action when they see a problem. We were the first of the original thirteen colonies to declare our independence and were also the first to take military action against England. Now, we must be the first to stand up for our communities of color as they work toward building equity in the housing market.​

Sep.
2015
RhodeWorks - The time to act is now!
By Louis P. DiPalma

The United States Department of Transportation ranks Rhode Island last -- 50th out of 50 states -- in bridge quality. Everyone agrees that we have to fix the bridges across RI, approximately 1 in every 5 (20%) of which are structurally deficient. This represents over 150 bridges which require immediate attention. The time to act is now. The problems will get worse if they’re not addressed, and the longer we wait the more costly it becomes. ​

 ​

Aug.
2015
The Rhode Island Blood Center — giving you the chance to save a life
Rep. John G. Edwards

This week, I reach a personal goal — one 17 years in the making. On Saturday, I’ll be donating a pint of blood that will bring my total to 75 gallons. Of all the achievements in my life, I take special pride in this one, because I know how much it’s needed, and how many people can be saved.

Aug.
2015
Rhode Island aviation history in danger
Rep. Doreen Costa

The Quonset Air Museum is in danger of being permanently dismantled if its present home cannot be repaired or if a new location cannot be found.​

Jul.
2015
33-percent raises shouldn't be necessary
Rep. Gregg Amore

If our state’s best candidates for public service refuse the opportunity to serve because $100,000 is not a big enough salary, perhaps we are looking at the wrong type of candidate to lead our state agencies.​

Jul.
2015
Save the Quonset Air Museum
Rep. Doreen M. Costa

A piece of Rhode Island’s aviation history may disappear forever. The Quonset  Air Museum is in danger of being permanently dismantled if its present home cannot be repaired or if a new location cannot be found.​

Jul.
2015
Save the Quonset Air Museum

A piece of Rhode Island’s aviation history may disappear forever. The Quonset  Air Museum is in danger of being permanently dismantled if its present home cannot be repaired or if a new location cannot be found.​

Jul.
2015
State budget is a pro-business triumph
Sen. James C Sheehan

Speaking as one voice, the General Assembly and governor have given us a budget that takes a step — make that a leap — in the direction of making Rhode Island a good place to do business. Instead of just talking about what we should be doing, we’ve actually done something concrete. And that’s worth taking note.​

Jun.
2015
A statewide brand
Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport)

We need to reorganize and re-energize our efforts to make Rhode Island  not just a city here or a beach there  a destination for tourists and the money they bring with them.​

May.
2015
Taking guns out of the hands of domestic abusers
Sen. Stephen R. Archambault
My colleagues, Sen. Cynthia Coyne and Rep. Teresa Tanzi, have sponsored legislation — legislation I am proud to support — that would effectively take guns out of the hands of those who would perpetrate acts of domestic violence. And it goes further than that: it would take guns away from those who have restraining orders due to domestic abuse cases.

Apr.
2015
Safer medicines will protect Rhode Islanders and save money
Sen. Joshua Miller & Rep. John G. Edwards

​Prescription drug abuse affects every community, economic class, race and age. Simply put, it is not just an inner city problem but a statewide issue. Every year opioids abuse costs Rhode Islanders $108 million in health care costs. In fighting this epidemic, we must look at every available solution.

Mar.
2015
Hate crimes and religious bigotry should be strongly condemned
Rep. Mia Ackerman

In response to recent crimes aimed at Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of other faiths, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed a resolution I sponsored condemning hate crimes and religious bigotry.​

Mar.
2015
Cut franchise tax to attract more start-up businesses to RI
Sen. James C. Sheehan

It seems nonsensical to try to attract new businesses to Rhode Island, and then welcome them to the state by handing them a tax bill. And then another bill the next year, and the next. That is why I have again this year introduced legislation that would suspend the imposition of the minimum business corporation tax of $500, for a period of three years from the date a business incorporates with the Secretary of State. The legislation is specifically intended to apply to start-up businesses in the state, as well as new businesses coming to Rhode Island. It is designed to support new companies that may not, in the first few years of operating, have achieved profitability.

 

Mar.
2015
A program to create jobs, lower unemployment, help companies grow
Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi and Sen. James C. Sheehan

If Rhode Island wants to attract new companies to move here, and encourage existing companies to grow here, we must offer solid reasons that our state is an attractive place for business to operate. The fact, albeit unpleasant, is that the cost of doing business in Rhode Island is relatively higher than it is in many other places in the country. Also, we have developed a reputation as a difficult place to do business. Therefore, if we want to be successful at attracting companies here, we need to offer incentives for businesses to invest here.

Mar.
2015
Our waterfront parks will benefit from burying high-voltage power lines
Sen. Gayle L. Goldin, Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski, Councilman Seth Yurdin

For all those guests to the waterfront parks that span across the tip of Fox Point, one problem is clear: the towering high-voltage power lines.  As we improve our public parks through better maintenance and more programming, we must also include a major improvement that has had broad public and political support for more than a decade: burying the waterfront power lines that diminish the public’s enjoyment of four popular waterfront parks at the head of Narragansett Bay. These wires loom over India Point and Corliss Landing Parks in Providence and dominate views of the water and cityscape from Bold Point Park in East Providence and from the $22 million linear park opening this spring over the Seekonk River.  

Mar.
2015
GMO food labeling lets Rhode Islanders decide
Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush

I feel strongly that "you are what you eat." Knowing this truism, people across Rhode Island are telling us they want more information about the food they put in their shopping carts.  One of the most spirited issues right now surrounds genetically modified foods. Are they good for us or bad for us? The problem is that we really don't know.

Mar.
2015
Replace the illicit marijuana industry with legitimate businesses
Rep. Scott A. Slater

​As Rhode Island lawmakers take a serious look at reforming our marijuana laws this legislative session, it is crucial that we keep in mind an important fact. Whether you love it or hate it, whether it is legal or illegal, people are going to buy, sell, and consume marijuana. The question is not whether we want marijuana in society or not. The choice we have to make is whether we are going to continue to allow criminals to control the market or if we are going to put marijuana behind the counters of licensed businesses that label their products, sell only to adults, and pay taxes.

Feb.
2015
​The time has come to talk about campus sexual assault publicly
Rep. Mia Ackerman

It’s time for the legislature to get involved in the problem of campus sexual assault, if for no other reason than to get everybody — lawmakers, colleges, students, parents and the media — to start talking about this problem instead of sweeping it under the carpet.​

Feb.
2015
Non-traditional apprenticeships can help close skills gap
Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio

​Apprenticeships work. These programs help to address the unemployment rate by providing effective training programs that teach skills particular to a field as well as “soft skills” such as punctuality, communication and teamwork. They have historically served as a strong pathway to the middle class and a step towards a rewarding career in the trades industries, such as electricians and plumbers.

Feb.
2015
A fair way to address keeping dogs safe in the cold
By Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr.
Legislation designed to keep dogs safe in extreme temperatures would be fair to dogs and dog-owners alike.
Dec.
2014
Electric rate hike result of limited gas pipeline capacity, not renewables
Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton)

National Grid has been very clear about the fact that its request is the result of high costs caused by limited gas pipeline capacity, not renewable energy requirements. Our conventional electric power plants run largely on natural gas, and their needs, combined with – and competing with – the demand for natural gas used in residential heating, means the limited capacity of the pipeline is in great demand​.

Dec.
2014
RhodeMap RI: Of, by and for Rhode Islanders?
Rep. Dennis M. Canario

​Rhode Island desperately needs to address certain issues if we hope to move our economy forward – issues such as our tax burden, our skilled worker gap, our incentives for attracting and growing business, our infrastructure. Before we rush to action on the RhodeMap RI plan, let’s put together a more comprehensive, thorough action plan that all stakeholders in Rhode Island can buy into.

Oct.
2014
Constitutional Convention: An unnecessary cost
Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr.

​At first blush, the idea of a Constitutional Convention seems in keeping with the democratic principle of citizen participation in government. In actuality, a Constitutional Convention is an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer dollars and a potential vehicle for special interest groups to accomplish their goals at the expense of all other citizens. 

 

Oct.
2014
Medical Tourism: Healing patients, helping RI economy
Rep. Joseph M. McNamara

The Rhode Island Medical Technology Innovation Act, which I sponsored in the House of Representatives, was developed to address regulations that presented impediments to providing good health care services to state residents. The new law corrects previous delays in responding to a new business entering Rhode Island and eliminates a major roadblock to firms involved in new, evolving kinds of health care services from coming to Rhode Island. With the adjustments to Rhode Island’s regulations as a result of the new law, our state is positioned to attract these new businesses and the new, good paying jobs they will create.

 

Oct.
2014
A Yes Vote on 4 is a Yes Vote for Rhode Island's Economic Recovery
Rep. Nicholas A. Mattiello and Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed

In the last legislative session, we worked together to pass a number of bills aimed at addressing two challenges: an inability of unemployed to find jobs fitting their skills, and concern that the state's workforce is not prepared for the demands of tomorrow's economy. But we must do more than pass legislation. We must build on and leverage public-private partnerships between academia and business, between government agencies and corporate leaders. And that is why we are 100 percent behind Question 4.

Aug.
2014
Wide Gap Between Commissioner Gist's Leadership Theory and Practice
Sen. James C. Sheehan

Following a reading of Department of Education Commission Deborah Gist's dissertation, I believe I know why it had been embargoed from public view until recently. To guide her efforts to develop and implement a teacher evaluation system, she embraced a model of good leadership and a theory of adaptive change to inspire confidence. She did not succeed at either.

Jul.
2014
Corporate tax reform makes Rhode Island more competitive
Sen. Daniel Da Ponte

Following meetings with dozens of business leaders from a cross section of industries, I submitted legislation this session to reduce the corporate tax from 9.0 percent to 7.0 percent. By working with Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council Executive Director John Simmons, the RIPEC staff and the Senate Fiscal Office, we developed a fair bill aimed at making the state more competitive. I have made this a focus of my legislative activities for the past three years. 


Jun.
2014
With many economic investments contained in budget, reneging on 38 Studios payment would send wrong message
Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello

The House of Representatives last week adopted a state budget which promotes economic development and encourages companies to invest and grow in Rhode Island.With such a great emphasis being placed on improving our state’s economic climate, we also had to make an extremely difficult but necessary budget decision. We included $12.3 million that is due to bond holders for the repayment of the moral obligation bonds in the 38 Studios debacle.  As distasteful and maddening as that payment is, our state must not reverse the economic momentum we will achieve with many of our budgetary investments.

Jun.
2014
Using the Power of the Public Purse–Workers with more money in their pockets need less public assistance
Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey

One element that contributes to the concentration of wealth in this country is the inordinately high compensation packages that many companies pay their executives. While the success of those firms often relies on paying disproportionately lower wages to the masses who create, sell or otherwise promote the corporation’s products or services, those at the top can pull down tens of millions in a single year, hundreds of times the salary of the vast majority of their employees.

 
Low wages are not just a business matter. This extreme wage inequality often comes at a cost to the taxpayer, too. Many workers at the bottom of the pay scale are forced to rely on numerous social services – food assistance, subsidized child-care, rent and energy assistance, health care and more – to make ends meet, despite being employed full-time.

Apr.
2014
Cut franchis tax to attract more start-up businesses to RI
Sen. James C. Sheehan
Under existing tax structure, all Rhode Island businesses face a minimum $500 per year business corporations (franchise) tax. This year, I have introduced legislation that would suspend the imposition of the annual franchise tax of $500 for a period of three years from the date a business incorporates with the Secretary of State. The legislation is intended to help small, start-up businesses in our state, the kind that we have been trying to attract through the various reforms and initiatives that have been enacted into law the past few years.

Apr.
2014
Legislation offers incentives for companies to hire
Sen. James C. Sheehan and Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi

To encourage business growth, and to try to reduce our unemployment rate, we have introduced legislation that could be an enormous job creator in Rhode Island. The “Rhode Island New Qualified Jobs Incentive Act” would make tax incentives available to companies that hire new “qualified” full-time employees who work a minimum of 30 hours per week, with a salary that is at least 250 percent of the state’s hourly minimum wage.

Apr.
2014
Strengthen the middle class for real prosperity
Sen. Gayle Goldin

In Rhode Island and nationwide, policymakers must shift our focus to what’s good for the middle class. Instead of talking about merely creating jobs, we must demand that jobs pay a living and equitable wage, create pathways to success, and recognize the complexity of balancing a career while managing a family. We need economy-boosting jobs, not economy-busting ones.

Feb.
2014
A Sensible Marijuana Policy for Rhode Island
Rep. Edith H. Ajello and Sen. Joshua Miller
Marijuana policy reform is a hot topic these days in Rhode Island and across the country. Over the last three years, we’ve been discussing the issue with constituents, colleagues, opinion leaders and activists on both sides of the issue. Our conversations have led us to two points of agreement:
 o    Our current marijuana policy has failed. For instance, studies indicate an increase in youth marijuana use and that it is easy for them to get it.
 o    Most Rhode Islanders are ready for change.
 
Feb.
2014
Ballot question could determine future of chronic homelessness in Rhode Island
Sen. Juan M. Pichardo

I was heartbroken to see so many people waiting in line to file applications for subsidized housing this past year. We’re approaching a tough time for baby boomers, who due to the constraints of a poor economy and a dozen other factors are having trouble competing for jobs in a tech-savvy world. The consequences of such a high demand for subsidized housing include a growing number of homeless people on our streets. A lot of different community groups and government entities have attempted to tackle the homelessness problem in various ways. It is my belief that ending chronic homelessness begins with a plan, based on a permanent foundation.

Feb.
2014
It’s time to answer the sales tax question
Rep. Mia A. Ackerman

For the last few years, there has been some serious debate over Rhode Island’s sales tax. It’s a tough decision – do we stay at 7 percent or do we lower it a little to stay competitive with the border states? Some people think we should just eliminate it all together. In order to really get a good grasp on how we should attack the issue, I think we have to think about why people really cross the border. Is it to save on sales tax, even if there is only a 75-cent difference? Or is it about convenience? These are fair questions to ask ourselves.

Jan.
2014
Major pension reforms reduced budget stress
By Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox

In the fall of 2011, the General Assemby came together for an unprecedented special session and overwhelmingly enacted major refor5ms to the state's pension fund. The legislation we enacted truly balanced the costs and risks between employees and the state and it protected the fiscal integrity of the retirement system, the state and our municipalities.

Jan.
2014
Tax initiatives will put Rhode Island back on track
By Rep. Robert D. Phillips

Rhode Island's economy has been a bloodied battleground these last few years. In that time, the General Assembly has been working to attack every facet of our economic troubles in various ways. I took office primarily to join this fight against unemployment after seeing the poor and vulnerable people of Woonsocket and Cumberland suffer at the hands of a monstrous depression.​

Nov.
2013
Through legislative action, Rhode Island positioned for real growth
By Sen. James C. Sheehan

Time is an essential element of long-term, sustained growth, especially in the case of Rhode Isalnd and its low national business competitiveness rankings. But with the enactment of the various "Moving the Needle" bills during the last legislative session, Rhode Island has positioned itself to see real growth in the years ahead. ​

Nov.
2013
A progress report on the Behavioral Health / Firearms Safety task force
By Rep. Deborah Ruggiero

The 20-member Task Force on Behavioral Health and Firearm Safety, which I co-chair, has been meeting regularly during the General Assembly's off-session. Our collective charge is to review current mental health laws and recommend a comprehensive approach to vehavioral health and gun safety. There is a delicate balance between gun ownership, public safety and mental health.​

Oct.
2013
Quonset site-readiness project: Creating jobs and economic growth
By Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Rep. Gordon D. Fox

The General Assembly has worked to build a shared vision for improving the Rhode Island economy and creating jobs. An important part of that effort is removing time-consuming, expensive red tape and regulations that prevent existing businesses from growing, and may discourage potential employers from opening in our beautiful state. As an example of success, consider the economic engine that has emerged at the Quonset Business Park.

Sep.
2013
Regulatory reform will make the difference
By Rep. Patricia A. Serpa

Regulatory reform isn't the sexiest topic in state government right now, but for small business owners it's everything. It is my belief that Rhode Island is coming close to achieving tangible progress in streamlining our regulatory processes.

Sep.
2013
On NECAP and equal opportunities
By Sen. Harold M. Metts

Many have called equal educational opportunities for all students the top civil rights issue of our time. It may also be the top economic issue of our time. At recent Senate economic summits, the economists who offered their various positions were clear and unified about one topic - we need an educated workforce in Rhode Island, to draw industry and jobs. What has been lost in the recent academic rhetoric is that there are different methods for how to reach that objective. No one has a monopoly on the methods and ideas to get there.​

Sep.
2013
Rhode Island fast becoming a "State of the Arts"
By President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Speaker Gordon D. Fox

The General Assembly continues to recognize the critical impact that small buinsesses possess as powerful economic engines in building culturally vibrant communities for future generations. Within the small business community is the rich and diverse creative sector that encompasses nationally distinguished organizations as well as hidden gens with over 3,000 arts-related businesses that employ more than 13,000 individuals statewide. From galleries to acclaimed performing arts establishments, the creative sector continues to grow and flourish in the Ocean State.

Sep.
2013
RI first in nation with utility tariff so municipalities can own streetlights
By Rep. Deborah Ruggiero

Streetlights may not sound exciting, but the Municipal Streetlight Investment Act, which I championed this legislative session and is now law in Rhode Island, can save our cities and towns about $3 million a year.

Sep.
2013
Thoughts on a year of service in the Senate
By Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey

My first session in the Rhode Island State Senate is over and the question I am often asked by family and friends is "So, is it what you expected?" I understand why people get frustrated that problems aren't solved faster or decisions don't meet their expectations, but I can confirm the people in the legislature spend a lot of time and energy trying to get it right for Rhode Island.

Jul.
2013
Assembly helps 'Pave the Rhode Back Home' for RI veterans
By Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. and Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr.

Rhode Island is not alone in acknowledging its debt to our nation's military veterans. Rhode Island citizens, like citizens around the nation, appreciate the service they have given, the sacrifices they have made. But actions speak louder than words and the General Assembly has acted this session to pass several important pieces of legislation, that have all been enacted into law. These new laws are designed to assist veterans with their reintegration into society, increase their access to educational opportunities and help them obtain essential medical and human service benefits.

Jul.
2013
Bryant's unjust treatment of Smithfield taxpayers
By Sen. Stephen R. Archambault, Rep. Thomas Winfield and Rep. Gregory J. Costantino

We have the utmost respect for Bryant University and know that the Town of Smithfield is pleased to have the school as a resident. But it is not equitable that a property owner exempt from paying what would be about $2 million yearly in property taxes should at the same time receive services that are paid for by all the other residents of the town, both homeowners and businesses. That is why we sponsored legislation (which has become law) that will require the school to reimbuse the town for the actual cost of police, fire and rescue services to the campus.

Jul.
2013
Major economic development initiatives pass Assembly
By M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Gordon D. Fox

We have been proud to work together to create a vibrant economic environment in Rhode Island and to encourage job creation by business. Changes we have made in recent years included overhauling the income tax, establishing the new Office of Regulatory Reform and addressing workforce development. With the economy still stagnent and too many Rhode Islanders unemployed, we came into the 2013 session with a renewed sense of urgency to build upon these recent reforms and improve economic development in Rhode Island.

Jun.
2013
Economy is Senate's priority
By Rep. Jan P. Malik

In January the Senate and RIPEC released a joing report, called "Moving the Needle." This report took an unflinching look at where we need to improve, such as the poor quality of our roads and bridges and the state's regulatory climate. In March, a package of 27 bills was submitted based on the recommendations in the report. The legislation addresses issues in the categories examined in the report, including commerce, workforce, education, health, energy, codes and regulations and tax reform. The comprehensive approach we have taken recognizes that varied initiatives will combine to improve our economic competitiveness.

Mar.
2013
RI sales tax: Time to start a serious conversation
By Rep. Jan P. Malik

When I introduced legislation to eliminate the Rhode Island sales tax, I indicated that I had one goal in mind -- to start a serious conversation. Will Rhode Island eliminate the sales tax? Likely not. Should Rhode Island have a serious discussion about where we stand and where we should or could be? Absolutely. Doing nothing is doing a disservice to the taxpaying citizens of our state and to the small businesses that are suffering.

Feb.
2013
Legislation would improve the Coastal Resources Management Council
By Rep. Donna M. Walsh

Rhode Island's coastal resources rank among its greatest treasures. We are named the "Ocean State" for good reason, as our coastline has shaped our history and culture, and is vital to our state's economy. I have introduced legislation to improve and streamline the state's primary agency responsible for protecting this precious asset, the Coastal Resources Management Council.

Oct.
2012
Tax expenditures warrant regular review
By Rep. Teresa Tanzi

More than $1.73 billion of state revenue was given up through tax expenditures in 2009. Many of these expenditures were written decades ago and are in desperate need of review. I have and will continue to propose creating a finance sub-committee to review all existing tax expenditures and make recommendations over time as to whether to maintain, strengthen or repeal the 235 preferences that currently exist.

Sep.
2012
Historic overhaul of Access to Public Records Act
By Sen. James C. Sheehan and Rep. Michael J. Marcello

Have you ever had trouble getting public information from your government? You shouldn't, but it has at times been a problem here in Rhode Island. Legislation pased by the General Assembly and signed by the governor took effect on September 1, making significant improvements to the Access to Public Records Act (more commonly known as the open records law) will fix that.

Sep.
2012
Working to turn the economy around
By Sen. William A. Walaska and Sen. David E. Bates

There is not one simple action that can be taken to improve Rhode Island's economy, some magical financial panacea or a better business climate silver bullet. Yet thanks to actions taken by the State Senate in recent years, Rhode Island is already making the concerted effort and taking the steps necessary to restore prosperity to our state.

May.
2012
'Good Time' legislation: Fighting for future victims
By Rep. Teresa Tanzi

In light of last year's release from prison of murderer Michael Woodmansee, it was clear that Rhode Island's system of awarding time off to prisoners for good behavior was too generous to people who had committed very serious crimes. Under legislation I introduced, the only way a serious offender could earn time off his or her sentence would be by actively participating in rehabilitative programs, such as substance abuse or educational programs that teach useful life or career skills.

Apr.
2012
When being number one hurts
By Rep. Patricia L. Morgan

Businesses large and small are worried. Too many are surviving, but not thriving. East year about this time they get the quote from their health insurance coverage and each year it worries them more. With increases of 15 percent to 22 percent, they simply can't squeeze the additional cash out of their budget anymore. An easy, short term answer to soaring healthcare costs is to reduce the number of mandates.