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1/17/2020 Ruggerio bill provides for Senate confirmation of education commissioners
STATE HOUSE — President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio has introduced legislation to require appointments to the offices of Elementary & Secondary Education Commissioner and Postsecondary Education Commissioner to be subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, just as other high-level state government appointments are. 
 
The legislation would also require that the Governor resubmit the appointments of the Secretaries of the Office of Health and Human Services and Commerce upon the Governor’s second term, as is required with department directors.
 
“Senate advice and consent is a critical oversight function that helps provide accountability and ensure the best candidates are filling critical positions in government. Yet, with regard to these very important education, health and economic development positions, the law is deficient,” said President Ruggerio (D – Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). “The education commissioners and health and commerce secretaries are among the highest level positions in state government. They shape policies that impact all Rhode Islanders. They should be subject to the same oversight and accountability measures as every other department head.”
 
President Ruggerio noted that the legislation is not motivated by any particular individual in, or being considered for, one of these positions. Rather, it is a matter of good public policy because of the important nature of the positions.
 
Additionally, the legislation would clarify that any appointment to these offices in an “acting” or “interim” capacity must also be submitted to the Senate for approval within 10 days, even if a search for a permanent director is ongoing, as is required for other departments.
 
The bill, 2020-S-2005, is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D – Dist. 29, Warwick), Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D – Dist. 1, Providence), Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Hanna M. Gallo (D – Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), and Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley, Jr. (D – Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket). It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 276-5558