Rep. Frank Ferri testifies on his bill that would reform paypay loans in RI. In the background is Bill Murphy, former House speaker, a lobbyist opposed to the reform.

Lt Gov. hopeful Ferri has a plan to reform lobbying

Frank Ferri, who bills himself as a “progressive Democrat for Lt. Governor,” released a plan today that would distance legislators from lobbyists during the session, and double the time retired legislators have to wait to become paid lobbyists. “No business wants to come to a place where the government can’t be trusted,” according to his [...]

RI Sierra Club announces legislative endorsements

RI Sierra Club announces legislative endorsements

The Rhode Island chapter of the Sierra Club has released the endorsement of the following candidates for state representative. As part of the oldest environmental group in the country, our selection committee based this on a questionnaire we did with Clean Water Action which was sent to every candidate running. Also, for incumbents, the Environmental [...]

RIPDA announces legislative endorsements

RIPDA announces legislative endorsements

The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats last night voted to endorse 17 candidates in General Assembly elections. Here’s the list of the 17 candidates (only six men!) from around Rhode Island who earned their endorsement: Edie Ajello, Providence, House District 1 Joe Almeida, Providence, House District 12 Dave Bennett, Warwick, House District 20 Lauren Carson, Newport, [...]

Why is Nick Mattiello scared of Maria Cimini?

Why is Nick Mattiello scared of Maria Cimini?

When it comes to championing progressive causes, no one in the Rhode Island General Assembly is any braver than Providence Rep. Maria Cimini. For years, she has lead the charge – against the richest special interest group in Rhode Island – for a less regressive income tax structure. And this year she valiantly defended on [...]

20+ community groups urge veto of ‘criminal street gang’ bill

20+ community groups urge veto of ‘criminal street gang’ bill

On the last day of the 2014 legislative session, the General Assembly approved legislation that could place at-risk youth in prison for more than a decade–for a crime as simple as graffiti. The legislation (H-7457 as amended and S-2639 as amended) allows up to 10 additional years on the sentence of anyone convicted of any [...]

More opportunity than danger for legislative progressives

More opportunity than danger for legislative progressives

For a state that claims its General Assembly members are too ensconced, there certainly are a lot of legislators running unopposed. More than 44 percent of incumbents will be alone on the ballot. But in the contested races, there seems to be more opportunity than risk for the progressive caucus in the General Assembly. Here [...]

Hotel worker Hunger Strike: Day Two

Hotel worker Hunger Strike: Day Two

There will be a rally today at the State House at 5pm to support these brave women, and also to support the Just Cause bill, which would protect tenants from no-fault evictions. The Senate has passed this measure, but the House has yet to do so. Passing this bill would allow tenants to stay in [...]

Hotel workers plan week long hunger strike for $15 minimum wage

Hotel workers plan week long hunger strike for $15 minimum wage

The Rhode Island House, under the leadership of Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, moved to strip away the political power of Providence hotel workers by inserting a provision in the state budget that would prevent municipalities from setting their own minimum wage last Thursday night. This week, the Rhode Island Senate takes up discussion of the budget, [...]

Budget bill is big on corporate welfare, short on renter protections

Budget bill is big on corporate welfare, short on renter protections

Crying the need to ease the burdens of doing business in Rhode Island, the House of Representatives recently passed a budget that lowers the corporate tax rate, raises the ceiling on the estate tax, pays millions to 38 Studios bond investors, raises the gas tax and the cost of a car inspection. One has to [...]

E-cigarette bill is a boon for tobacco industry

E-cigarette bill is a boon for tobacco industry

The House is set to vote today on an e-cigarette bill that will benefit only the tobacco industry, according to anti-tobacco advocates. “The voices for the tobacco industry are receiving more attention than the advocates trying to protect our kids,” said Karina Wood, the director of Tobacco Free Rhode Island. The group lobbied for new [...]

Beth Comery is a former Providence police officer who has become an advocate for taxing and regulating marijuana in her retirement.

The time was now for marijuana reform

There is little doubt that that Rhode Island will one day regulate marijuana like alcohol. The political winds are just too strong. The nation supports it. And we are a solid blue state. Even among the few Republicans, Ron Paul scored better here than he did in all but two other primaries.  The real question [...]

RI House to hotel workers and PVD City Council: screw you

RI House to hotel workers and PVD City Council: screw you

Last night the Rhode Island House passed a measure in the budget that would eliminate the ability of cities and towns in Rhode Island to set their own minimum wage. Though the bill was targeted to stifle a proposal before the Providence City Council, Representative Ray Gallison, chairman of the House Finance Committee, inserted the [...]

Minimum wage bill moves forward in Senate

Minimum wage bill moves forward in Senate

While the focus has been on fair wages for Providence hotel workers, the state Senate yesterday passed a bill that would increase the minimum wage statewide from $8 to $9 an hour. A similar bill in the House would still need to passed out of Labor Committee, according to a Senate press release. House spokesman [...]

The 5 worst things in the House budget

The 5 worst things in the House budget

The Rhode Island House of Representatives has put together a new budget, and there is a lot not to like.  Here are my top five: 5.   Slashing the corporate income tax from 9% to 7%. New House Speaker Mattiello, a very conservative Democrat from Cranston, has been championing this idea ever since he rose [...]

A camp on the banks of the Providence River (Photo by Bob Plain)

Real estate transfer tax will help get homeless off the streets

A proposed increase to the real estate transfer fee is good news for the homeless in Rhode Island. That’s because the new revenue will benefit a rental voucher program that helps keep people off the streets. “We are thrilled that the House Finance Committee ensured that this year’s budget invests in the long-term solutions to [...]

Low income RIers pay for estate tax exemption

Low income RIers pay for estate tax exemption

The budget as proposed benefits wealthy heirs at the expense of low-income Rhode Islanders, according to an Economic Progress Institute analysis of the House Finance Committee’s revenue and spending plan released late last week. The proposed budget would increase the exemption on the estate tax from $921,655 to $1.5 million while eliminating $3.9 million in [...]

Wingmen agree! Cutting sales tax better than estate tax

Wingmen agree! Cutting sales tax better than estate tax

When it comes to reducing revenue, Justin Katz and I agree that it would be better to slash the sales tax than the estate tax exemption, in contrast to what the House Finance Committee thinks is the best course for Rhode Island. But that’s about as close to agreeing on the proposed budget – or [...]

Housekeeper Santa Brito: ‘House leadership is moving to jail us in poverty’

Housekeeper Santa Brito: ‘House leadership is moving to jail us in poverty’

“House leadership is moving to jail us in poverty,” said Santa Brito, a housekeeper at the Renaissance Hotel. “We are hard working mothers and the backbone of the Providence tourism industry, fighting to send our kids from Head Start to Harvard.” Brito was responding to Rep. Ray Gallison’s 11th-hour bill that would prevent cities and [...]

Rep Gallison proposes state control of municipal minimum wages

Rep Gallison proposes state control of municipal minimum wages

What could be more threatening to the status quo than a group of low paid workers, mostly women and many of them working mothers, petitioning their government for a living wage? Perhaps Representative Raymond E. Gallison, Jr., a putative Democrat from District 69 covering Bristol/Portsmouth can provide an answer. Gallison introduced House Bill 8276 yesterday, [...]

Senate committee considers ‘Guns and ammo tax’ today

Senate committee considers ‘Guns and ammo tax’ today

Imagine how much safer Rhode Island would be if police departments and nonviolence nonprofits were incentivized to work together to reduce gun violence? The Senate Finance Committee will consider a bill today that would do exactly that. Known as the guns and ammo tax, the legislation would put an additional 10 percent tax on the [...]