STATE HOUSE, Providence – The Rhode Island Senate today unanimously elected Dominick J. Ruggerio to the office of President of the Senate during its floor session.
Just prior to today’s session, Senate Democrats conducted a caucus during which they elected Michael J. McCaffrey as their new Senate Majority Leader, a post previously held by Senator Ruggerio since 2011.
Maryellen Goodwin will continue serve as Majority Whip for the new leadership team. Senator Goodwin (D – Dist. 1, Providence) has served as Majority Whip since 2011, and prior to that was Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Special Legislation.
“I have always been fortunate in the Senate to work alongside such a tremendously talented and dedicated group of public servants,” said President Ruggerio (D – Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). “We come from many different backgrounds and all regions of the state, and we each bring our own perspectives, but our goal is fundamentally the same: we want to make Rhode Island an even greater place to live and work.”
President Ruggerio resides in North Providence and represents District 4, which includes portions of North Providence and Providence. He is the father of two grown children and grandfather to three granddaughters.
Among the awards and honors President Ruggerio has received for his public service is The Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Legislator Award. He has sponsored numerous bills to prevent cruelty to animals.
Senator Ruggerio championed the legislation establishing the I-195 Redevelopment Commission to bring investment into the capital city, create good paying jobs and invigorate new industries. When progress at the city level had stalled, he fostered establishment of a tax stabilization agreement on the reclaimed I-195 land.
Senator Ruggerio has sponsored initiatives to reform economic development in the state, including the requirement for long-term economic planning, as well as legislation to remove bureaucratic hurdles facing small businesses. Senator Ruggerio championed a non-trade apprenticeship incentive bill enacted last year to foster use of this proven training technique in fields outside of the traditional trades, such as in IT, design, advanced manufacturing, and management. Other initiatives Senator Ruggerio has sponsored to help make Rhode Island more competitive include the law, enacted in 2007, allowing automobile dealerships to open on Sundays, and legislation enacted this year effectively enabling Twin River to offer simulcast wagering on Sundays.
Senator Ruggerio has sponsored legislation to preserve the environment, including new laws to institute recycling and collection programs for products such as paint, batteries, and mercury used in automobiles and to improve collection and disposal rules for mercury thermostats and mattresses. He has been named an “Earth Day Champion” by Clean Water Action and Ocean State Action.
Senator Ruggerio served as Majority Leader during the 2011-2012, 2013-2014, and 2015-2016 sessions, and until today in the 2017 session; and as Senate Majority Whip from 2003 to 2010. He previously served as Deputy President Pro Tempore of the Senate and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor and Transportation. Ruggerio served in the House of Representatives from 1981 through 1984, when he was elected to the Senate.
President Ruggerio is the “Dean,” or most senior member, of the Senate.
Senator Michael J. McCaffrey was elected to serve as Senate Majority Leader during today’s caucus.
“I am humbled that my colleagues have placed their faith in me to lead the chamber,” said Leader McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick). “It is an honor to work with such a talented group of individuals who are truly passionate about making Rhode Island the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to working with President Ruggerio and the entire Senate to continue tackling the challenges that face our state.”
Senator McCaffrey was first elected to the Senate in 1994. He represents District 29 which encompasses much of Warwick. He was named chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, which considers all bills affecting the penal code, judicial system, ethics, open meetings, access to public records and election laws, in 2003.
A practicing attorney, Senator McCaffrey is a member of both the Rhode Island and the District of Columbia Bar Associations.
During his time in the Senate he has championed issues ranging from elder abuse, to strengthening sex offender laws, to a measure enabling aid for family members who care for a developmentally disabled or chronically ill relative.
He was the driving force behind the Good Samaritan Overdose Act, which expanded legal protections for those who seek medical assistance for individuals experiencing a drug overdose, and legislation which protects owners of homes on leased land.
In addition, Senator McCaffrey has led the Senate’s efforts at justice reinvestment, and is the prime sponsor of a Senate package of bills this session that would overhaul Rhode Island’s probation and parole system. The legislation was passed by the Senate early last month.
He has been honored for his work by organizations including Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his work to curtail drunk driving, specifically legislation which allows judges to require ignition interlocks for those convicted of drunken driving.
After serving as President of the Senate for over eight years, M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) stepped down from the Senate’s top post today to accept a position as president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, and will soon be transitioning out of her Senate duties.
For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903