Rhode Island State Senate
|Rhode Island State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 6, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D)|
|Majority Leader:||Dominick Ruggerio (D)|
|Minority leader:||Dennis Algiere (R)|
Democratic Party (32)
Republican Party (5)Independent (1)
|Length of term:||2 years|
|Authority:||Art VI, Section 2, Rhode Island Constitution|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (38 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016 (38 seats)|
|Redistricting:||Rhode Island legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Standing committees
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
It is composed of 38 Senators, each of whom is elected to a two-year term. Rhode Island is one of the 14 states where its upper house serves at a two-year cycle, rather than the normal four-year term as in the majority of states. There is no limit to the number of terms that a Senator may serve.
The Rhode Island Senate meets at the Rhode Island State Capitol in Providence.
The Senate can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments to executive departments, commissions, boards, or justices to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
As of March 2015, Rhode Island is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.
Article VI of the Rhode Island Constitution establishes when the Rhode Island General Assembly, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 3 of Article states that the General Assembly is to convene its regular session on the first Tuesday of January in each year.
- See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the General Assembly will be in session from January 6 through late June (Projected).
Major issues during the 2015 legislative session include a budget deficit estimated at $200 million, social security tax reform, a structural deficit expected to reach $400 million by 2019, education funding and ending homelessness of the state's veterans.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the General Assembly was in session from January 7 through June 23.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included a budget deficit estimated at $100 million, pension reform, raising the minimum wage, reducing corporate income taxes and raising bridge tolls.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 1 through July 5.
Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included a budget deficit estimated at $69 million, legalization of same-sex marriage, gun control, and economic development.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 3 through June 13.
The legislature had to address a $120 million budget deficit. Legislators wanted to cut spending to close the gap while Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) pushed for a tax raise. Major issues also included reducing municipal pension costs and reducing regulations to spur economic growth.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 4 - July 1. The legislature is in recess until October, when a special session is planned to tackle the cost of public-employee pensions.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
Role in state budget
- See also: Rhode Island state budget and finances
|Rhode Island on|
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in July of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year.
- Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in September and October.
- Agency hearings are held in November and December. Public hearings are held in March and April.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in January.
- The legislature typically adopts a budget in June. The fiscal year begins July 1.
In Rhode Island, the governor has no veto authority over the budget.
The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the legislature is legally required to pass a balanced budget.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Rhode Island was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Rhode Island received a grade of D+ and a numerical score of 62, indicating that Rhode Island was "lagging" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Rhode Island was given a grade of D in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
Elections for the office of Rhode Island State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on September 9, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 25, 2014.
|2012 Donors, Rhode Island State Senate|
|Lombardo III, Frank||$18,100|
|Rhode Island Democratic Party||$17,625|
|Rhode Island Laborers||$16,650|
|Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers||$15,500|
|Cullen, John J||$14,730|
|Rhode Island Laborers Public Employees||$13,325|
|Jabour, Paul V||$12,700|
|Operating Engineers Local 57||$12,000|
|Rhode Island Troopers Association||$11,450|
|National Education Association Rhode Island||$10,650|
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Rhode Island State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 21||Nicholas Kettle||1.5%||13,769||Scott M. Pollard|
|District 34||Catherine Cool Rumsey||10.3%||12,973||Francis Maher, Jr.|
|District 27||Hanna Gallo||13.1%||12,603||Aram G. Garabedian|
|District 35||Dawson Hodgson||16.8%||13,534||Winters B. Hames III|
|District 23||Paul Fogarty||18.2%||12,728||Julian P. Forgue|
|District 22||Stephen R. Archambault||18.2%||12,518||Richard A. Poirier|
|District 19||Ryan William Pearson||19.2%||12,540||Bethany Moura|
|District 36||James Sheehan||20.2%||14,327||Mariacristina C. Mckendall|
|District 17||Edward O'Neill||21.3%||13,232||John J. Cullen|
|District 33||Leonidas Raptakis||23.4%||12,607||Glenford Shibley|
The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was May 28, 2010. The primary Election Day was September 14, 2010.
|2010 Donors, Rhode Island State Senate|
|Tassoni Jr, John J||$50,000|
|ONeil, Kevin R||$49,166|
|Assalone, John R||$42,617|
|ONeil, Edward J||$35,100|
|Pinga, Michael J||$22,715|
|Butera Noble, Linda||$20,500|
|Rhode Island Senate Democratic Leadership||$18,000|
|Colaluca, Anthony J||$17,903|
|Ruggerio, Dominik J||$17,825|
|Lanzi, Beatrice A||$17,700|
Elections for the office of Rhode Island's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on September 9, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008. A total of 38 seats were up for election.
|2008 Donors, Rhode Island State Senate|
|Mckenna, Keven A||$47,945|
|Oneill, Edward J||$25,327|
|Rhode Island Laborers||$21,700|
|Pagliarini Jr, John A||$19,250|
|Rhode Island Troopers Association||$17,900|
|Rhode Island Carpenters||$16,250|
|Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers||$16,250|
|Rhode Island Laborers Public Employees||$16,195|
|Rhode Island Education Association||$13,475|
|Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 51||$13,100|
Elections for the office of Rhode Island's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on September 12, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006. A total of 38 seats were up for election.
|2006 Donors, Rhode Island State Senate|
|Jabour, Paul V||$35,314|
|Maselli, Christopher B||$31,500|
|Rhode Island Laborers||$25,000|
|Senate Democratic Leadership of Rhode Island||$24,075|
|Spillane, Eileen Rice||$20,000|
|Schoos, Geoffrey A||$17,907|
|Rhode Island Laborers Public Employees||$14,590|
|Rhode Island Carpenters||$13,800|
|National Rifle Association||$13,050|
|Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers||$12,540|
Elections for the office of Rhode Island's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on September 14, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004. A total of 38 seats were up for election.
|2004 Donors, Rhode Island State Senate|
|Damiani, Michael J||$50,000|
|Senate Democratic Leadership of Rhode Island||$29,600|
|Rhode Island Republican Party||$23,771|
|Cote, David A||$21,000|
|Rhode Island Laborers||$20,500|
|Electrical Workers Local 99||$18,475|
|Sheeler, Carl L||$17,692|
|Sheehan, James C||$17,578|
|Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 51||$17,175|
Elections for the office of Rhode Island's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on September 10, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002. A total of 38 seats were up for election.
|2002 Donors, Rhode Island State Senate|
|Sheehan, James C||$28,893|
|Carlino, Mario G||$21,302|
|Lanzi, Beatrice A||$18,341|
|Blais, Leo R||$17,763|
|Rhode Island Laborers||$17,570|
|Levesque, Charles J||$12,000|
|Gagnon, Paul N||$11,388|
|Ciccone III, Frank A||$10,077|
|Walsh, Donna M||$9,261|
|Brien, Stella G||$8,305|
Elections for the office of Rhode Island's State Senate consisted of a primary election date on September 12, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000. A total of 50 seats were up for election.
|2000 Donors, Rhode Island State Senate|
|Sheehan, James C||$20,825|
|National Rifle Association||$10,165|
|Garabedian, Aram G||$10,000|
|Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers||$9,200|
|Rhode Island Laborers||$8,650|
|Kelly, Paul S||$8,450|
|International Brotherhood of Teamsters||$7,660|
|Senate Democratic Cmte of Rhode Island||$7,000|
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If there is a vacancy in the senate, a special election must be held to fill the vacant seat. The secretary of state must call for an election to be held anywhere from 70 to 90 days after the vacancy occurred. No election can be held if the vacancy happens after the first Monday in February during an election year. The person elected to fill the seat serves for the remainder of the unfilled term.
- See also: Redistricting in Rhode Island
The General Assembly is responsible for legislative redistricting, with the Governor holding veto power. In June 2011, the Assembly passed a law establishing a redistricting commission of 18 members -- 12 legislators and six members of the general public -- that would make recommendations to the Assembly, who would then pass new maps as regular legislation.
Rhode Island received its census data on March 23, 2011. The state had a very low growth rate of 0.4 percent; the five counties ranged from -3.0 to 2.8 percent. As far as the most populous cities, Providence grew by 2.5 percent, Warwick decreased by 3.7 percent, Cranston grew by 1.4 percent, Pawtucket decreased by 2.5 percent, and East Providence decreased by 3.4 percent.
On February 1, 2012, the Senate and House passed a proposal that the commission had released and approved in December 2011. Republican were upset over what they saw as gerrymandering in House District 47 working to the benefit of incumbent Cale Keable (D). Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed the maps into law on February 8, 2012. A Republican lawsuit followed on March 8.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Rhode Island Legislature are paid $14,185.95/year during legislative sessions. Legislators receive no per diem.
Rhode Island does not provide pensions for legislators who took office after 1994.
When sworn in
Rhode Island legislators assume office the first Tuesday in January.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of March 2015|
The President of the Senate serves as the presiding officer of the body. The President is elected to a two-year term by the entire Senate. Duties of the President include calling the Senate to order, deciding all questions of order, and appointing all standing committees. The majority and minority caucuses choose their party leaders. The majority and minority leaders serve as ex-officio members of all standing committees.
|Current Leadership, Rhode Island State Senate|
|President of the Senate||M. Teresa Paiva Weed||Democratic|
|State Senate Majority Leader||Dominick Ruggerio||Democratic|
|State Senate Minority Leader||Dennis Algiere||Republican|
Length of terms
- See also: Length of terms of state senators
- The senators and representatives in the general assembly shall be elected on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, biennially in even numbered years, and shall severally hold their offices for two (2) years from the first Tuesday of January next succeeding their election and until their successors are elected and qualified.
List of current members
The Rhode Island Senate has 11 standing committees:
- Commerce Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Education Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Environment and Agriculture Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Finance Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Government Oversight Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Health and Human Services Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Housing and Municipal Government Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Judiciary Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Labor Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Rules Committee, Rhode Island State Senate
- Special Legislation and Veterans' Affairs, Rhode Island State Senate
Partisan balance 1992-2013
During every year from 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Rhode Island State Senate. The Rhode Island State Senate is 1 of 16 state senates that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Rhode Island state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Rhode Island had a Democratic trifecta in the early years of the study, from 1992-1994, but after that maintained a divided government. The state's best SQLI ranking, finishing 26th, occurred in 2002. In more recent years of the study, Rhode Island's ranking fell, finishing in the bottom-10 at 41st in both 2009 and 2011.
- Rhode Island General Assembly
- Rhode Island House of Representatives
- Rhode Island state legislative districts
- Length of terms of state senators
- State legislative scorecards in Rhode Island
- Official website of the Rhode Island Senate
- Map of Rhode Island Senate Districts
- State Senate of Rhode Island.
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- State of Rhode Island General Assembly, "Rhode Island Constitution, Article 4, Section 1," accessed July 1, 2014
- Providence Journal, "Top R.I. lawmakers Mattiello, Paiva Weed pledge cooperation with new governor," accessed January 22, 2015
- Providence Journal, "R.I. General Assembly fields more than 30 pieces of legislation, touching on minimum wage, corporate tax," accessed January 10, 2014
- boston.com, "Pensions, budget, tolls on 2014 legislative agenda," accessed January 10, 2014(Archived)
- Coventry Patch, "This week at the General assembly," January 6, 2013
- Boston.com, "Issues to watch in 2012 RI session," January 2, 2012
- Projo.com, R.I. lawmakers pass flurry of bills, recess until October," July 1, 2011
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "2010 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 19, 2014(Archived)
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Rhode Island State Senate 2012 Campaign Contributions," accessed June 6, 2014
- Follow the Money, "Rhode Island State Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed June 6, 2014
- Follow the Money, "Rhode Island State Senate 2008 Campaign Contributions," accessed June 6, 2014
- Follow the Money, "Rhode Island State Senate 2006 Campaign Contributions," accessed June 6, 2014
- Follow the Money, "Rhode Island State Senate 2004 Campaign Contributions," accessed June 6, 2014
- Follow the Money, "Rhode Island State Senate 2002 Campaign Contributions," accessed June 6, 2014
- Follow the Money, "Rhode Island State Senate 2000 Campaign Contributions," accessed June 6, 2014
- Rhode Island Legislature, "Rhode Island General Laws," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 17-3-6 (a))
- Rhode Island Legislature, "Rhode Island General Laws," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 17-3-6 (b))
- U.S. Census Bureau, "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Rhode Island's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting," March 23, 2011. Accessed August 20, 2012
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- USA Today, "State-by-state: Benefits available to state legislators," September 23, 2011
- The State of Rhode Island General Assembly, "Rhode Island Senate Leadership," accessed July 1, 2014
- The State of Rhode Island General Assembly, "Rhode Island Constitution," accessed July 1, 2014
State of Rhode Island
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