This Week at the General Assembly: January 4, 2013
Here are the highlights from news and events that took place in the General Assembly this week. For more information on any of these items visit http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/News/.
General Assembly convenes with 24 new legislators
The Rhode Island General Assembly kicked off the 2013 session on Jan. 1, welcoming eight new state senators and 16 new state representatives. This year, the House of Representatives comprises 69 Democrats and six Republicans. The Senate is composed of 32 Democrats, five Republicans and one Independent. Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis administered the oath of office to all 113 members of the General Assembly. Click here to see news release.
Senate re-elects M. Teresa Paiva Weed as president of the Senate
The newly minted 2013-2014 Rhode Island Senate elected M. Teresa Paiva Weed – the first woman to serve as a presiding officer in either chamber – to a third term as president of the Senate. Rhode Island District Court Associate Judge Colleen M. Hastings administered the oath of office to President Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown). The Senate president previously served as Senate majority leader from 2004 to 2008 and has held leadership positions on several committees since she was elected in 1992. Click here to see news release.
Fox elected speaker as 2013 session opens
Rep. Gordon D. Fox (D-Dist. 4, Providence) was overwhelmingly elected speaker of the House of Representatives after a vote by his House colleagues as the 2013-2014 General Assembly session opened. Speaker Fox, whose oath of office was administered by Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney, has served as House speaker since February 2010. First elected in 1992, he was majority leader from 2002 until his election as speaker, and previously chaired the House Finance Committee. Click here to see news release.
Same-gender marriage bill introduced in both chambers
Legislation to allow same-gender couples to marry in Rhode Island was introduced in both chambers, with a pledge from House Speaker Gordon D. Fox for a floor vote early in the session. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) and Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15,Pawtucket) has broad support, with 41 members of the House and 10 members of the Senate signing on as additional cosponsors. Click here to see news release.
Senate passes bill to set new implementation date for Board of Education
The Senate unanimously approved legislation (2013-S 0002aa) to give the Senate more time to conduct its advice and consent process by postponing implementation of the new Board of Education, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. Sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), the bill delays implementation until March 7, leaving the current Board of Governors for Higher Education and Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education in place until then. Click here to see news release.
Senate committee chairs named
President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed named chairs of the Senate’s standing committees. New chairs for the 2013-2014 session are Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Cumberland, Woonsocket), Corporations; Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown), Government Oversight; Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Health and Human Services; Sen. Juan M. Pichardo (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Housing and Municipal Government, and Sen. Erin P. Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), Rules. Re-appointed chairs are: Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), Education; Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Environment and Agriculture; Sen. Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence), Finance; Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), Judiciary; Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield), Labor, and Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Bristol, Tiverton, Warren), Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs.