Rep. Canario picks up new committee assignment

canario.jpgPortsmouth Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-71) received committee assignments for the 2015-16 legislative session, picking up one additional committee, according to state house news release.

Rep. Canario, who is serving his second term in the House, will continue to hold the position of Deputy Majority Leader.

Rep. Canario will continue to serve on the House Committee on Judiciary, and will also continue to serve as the Secretary of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare as he did during the 2014 General Assembly session. This term, Canario has also been appointed to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Committee appointments were announced this week by Speaker of the House of Representatives Nick Mattiello.

The Committee on Judiciary is one of the major standing committees of the House and is responsible for all bills affecting the penal code, judicial system, ethics, open meetings, access to public records and election law. The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hears legislation that impacts the lives of Rhode Island veterans.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA

Portsmouth reps oppose National Grid rate hike

Two of Portsmouth's state representatives — Dennis Canario (D-71) and Jay Edwards (D-70) announced their intention to press the RI Public Utilities Commission to reject a proposal by National Grid to hike electricity rates by nearly 24% next year. In a joint statement this afternoon, the two reps expressed concern for the effect of the increase on both homeowners and commercial customers.

“There just doesn’t seem to be any concern on the part of National Grid as to what a horrendous impact this proposed rate increase will have on Rhode Islanders, both residential and business,” said Rep. Canario. “Rhode Islanders who are already struggling to make ends meet will be facing what is expected to be an additional $240 or more for electric next year. Businesses that are struggling just to stay open will also face significantly higher costs. This is just too much at the wrong time.”

Rep. Edwards agreed. “As our state works to improve its economic status, this enormous rate hike is going to be a major impediment to growth in the business sector and is going to put further financial pressure on families across the state that are trying to hang on. I understand the dynamics of this increase — commodity prices rise at this time of year, there is insufficient pipeline availability to bring enough gas to our region. People expect to see utility prices rise, but the size of this proposed increase is well beyond reasonable.”

National Grid filed its request for a 23.6 percent rate hike with the PUC earlier this week, saying the commodity price spike it is seeing is due, in part, to lack of capacity in pipelines bringing natural gas to New England. When there is insufficient capacity to move more natural gas to the region, the price to use the pipes gets higher.

Reps Canario and Edwards said they understand the pressure on National Grid to maintain service to their customers in the face of rising commodity prices. But with the colder months rapidly approaching, consumers are already expecting to see higher utility bills as they try to keep their homes warm. A hike of this size, they said, is excessive.

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

02871, Localblogging, GA, NationalGrid

Reps Canario and Edwards deliver education grant


Rep. Dennis Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton), center, is joined by Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), right, during presentation of a $2,000 legislative grant to the Tiverton Education Foundation. Accepting the check on behalf of the organization are, from left, Deborah Pallasch, Diane Saana and Linda Larsen. The Tiverton Education Foundation raises money through donations, grants and fundraisers to be used for unbudgeted or enrichment programs within the Tiverton schools to help stimulate students’ academic achievements and enrich their learning environment.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA

Canario announces re-election bid


Portsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario (D-71) will be seeking re-election, according to a press release posted on his web site today. Full text follows:

As many of you know, my first term serving in the House of Representatives (District 71) and the People of the State of Rhode Island was not only a historic one for our state, but a very meaningful one for our community. Removing the tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge and funding our state’s road and bridge infrastructure system was a vital step in helping save our economy in both East Bay and our state.

I am proud of the tremendous work we accomplished and I know there is still a lot more to do. Jobs and the economy are two very important issues that we must continue to work at. I have and will continue to advocate for a clean/green environment, address how we tax retirement income, sensible and responsible spending of taxpayer money, equal civil rights for all Rhode Islanders, and support the health and welfare of all veterans and those with special needs.

I am honored to announce that I will seek re-election for State Representative to the General Assembly representing district 71 which covers portions of Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton. As your State Representative I have worked tirelessly for our district and have made great strides. I ask each and every citizen for your support and I ask that you allow me to continue to build on a better future for Rhode Island. My proven record of commitment, honesty and integrity will help keep us on that path to a brighter future.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA, 2014

Portsmouth Rep. Canario named Deputy Majority Leader

canario.jpgPortsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario has been appointed a Deputy Majority Leader of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
The appointment was announced this week by Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello.
As a Deputy Majority Leader, Canario is a member of the House leadership team and will work closely with the Majority Leader and Senior Deputy Majority Leader to ensure that party members are properly informed on measures and votes coming before the body.
In addition to that post, Rep. Canario has been named the Secretary of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and will continue to serve as a member of the House Committee on Judiciary.
Rep. Canario, who is serving his first term in the House of Representatives, is a retired police officer who served on the Portsmouth Town Council for six years, including two years as president.

With this announcement, three of Portsmouth's reps have been appointed to leadership positions in the House. In addition to Canario, Jay Edwards (D-70) is Majority Whip, and Ray Gallison (D-69) is chair of the House Finance Committee.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA

Portsmouth Rep. Edwards becomes majority Whip

With the support of Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello (D-15, Cranston) and his colleagues in Tuesday’s Democratic caucus, Rep. Jay Edwards (D-70) has secured a new title: House majority whip.

He will join a new slate of lawmakers who have been cemented as part of the speaker’s leadership panel, including Rep. John DeSimone (D-5, Providence) as majority leader and Rep. Joseph Almeida (D-12, Providence) as deputy majority whip.

“It is truly a privilege to serve on the speaker’s newly assembled team,” Representative Edwards said. “I am pleased that I will be able to use the leadership skills I have cultivated as senior deputy majority leader to serve at the behest of Speaker Mattiello and my colleagues in the House. I have a great deal of confidence that we will be able to bring creative and practical ideas to the forefront in order to rebuild what was once a thriving economy here in Rhode Island. More importantly, my constituents will continue to have a strong voice in the chamber. I have fought for their interests and the needs of all Rhode Islanders to the best of my ability since I was first elected in 2008. In that regard, nothing has changed.”

Majority Whip Edwards, 55, has been an active opponent of tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge and has introduced legislation this year to create a predictable statewide funding source for roads and bridges without the toll. He has been a strong advocate for government transparency, tenants’ rights, and cracking down on industrial polluters, among other issues. He was also the lead sponsor for the 2012 bill that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Prior to his 2008 victory in the District 70 race, Representative Edwards served on the Tiverton Town Council. Since he became a state representative, he has served on the Labor, Small Business and Veterans’ Affairs committees. He is a 1983 graduate of Northeastern University, graduated from St. George’s School in 1976, and is a 1975 graduate of Le Centre Scholaire St. Marc in Lyon, France. He and his wife, Donna, have three children: John, Kelsey and Mae. A project manager for the construction firm H.V. Collins Company, he is past chairman of Associated Builders and Contractors Rhode Island, and has been active in the Tiverton Land Trust, Friends of the Tiverton Library, Caritas RI, the Tiverton Lions Club, the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, the National Eagle Scout Association, Save the Bay and Clean Water Action.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA

Portsmouth Reps tapped for leadership posts

Newly elected RI House Speaker Nick Mattiello today appointed Portsmouth Rep. Ray Gallison (D-69) chairman of the House Finance Committee.

“I am confident that Representative Gallison will be an excellent leader who will be a tireless watchdog of our state’s finances. He has long been a very dedicated member of this committee, and has amassed a great deal of institutional knowledge that will serve this House and our state well. I’m proud that he will serve as our new Finance chairman,” said Speaker Mattiello.

Rep. Gallison was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2000. He has served as co-vice chairman of the Finance Committee since 2010. He served on the committee from 2003 to 2006, and then again from February 2010 to the present.

Since 2011, he has been chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, a position he will relinquish as a result of this appointment. In the past, he has also served as vice chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and as a member of the Health, Education and Welfare Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the former House Separation of Powers Committee. He was a deputy majority leader for three terms as well.

The Finance Committee is considered the most influential of the House committees, since it is in charge of developing the state budget as well as other matters that have a financial impact on the state. It is also one of the busiest committees, meeting daily for much of the session.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to lead the Finance Committee. The work our members do is very complicated, intense and often requires difficult decisions, but it also is an opportunity to ensure that our budget reflects our state’s values. I’m proud to have a dedicated team who will work alongside me, and am looking forward to advancing the progress we’ve already made this session,” said Chairman Gallison.

Yesterday, another Portsmouth legislator, Jay Edwards (D-70), was chosen by the incoming Speaker for the post of Whip.

Editorial note: Written substantially from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA

Humane Society honors Gallison and Serpa

serpa gall hsus.jpg
Humane Society presenter Lena Spadacene, Rep. Patricia Serpa and Rep. Ray Gallison with Humane State Legislator awards, Nicole Paquette, and Michelle McDonald. State House press bureau photo.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) honored Ray Gallison (D-69) and Patricia A. Serpa (D-27) as Rhode Island’s Humane State Legislators of 2013 for their efforts to crack down on wildlife poaching and protect elephants, according to a state house release.

Representative Serpa’s bill (2013-H 5764A), which passed the General Assembly last year, allowed Rhode Island to become a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Under the compact, a person who is cited for a wildlife violation such as a fishing or hunting infraction in a state other than their own faces a number of legal hurdles. He or she is either required to post bond or collateral immediately, stay in custody until bond or collateral is posted, or go to court for an immediate appearance. However, a person cited for a violation in their home state can accept the citation at the scene and be immediately on their way. With the addition of the compact, a person cited for a violation in any member state would be treated as a resident of that state, and would be allowed to take their citation on-site. These measures are intended to make the administration of wildlife law more efficient so that officers can spend more time patrolling and less time processing violators.

“I am proud that Rhode Island agreed to become a part of the unification of wildlife law across the country, especially in light of the fact that many Rhode Islanders who hold hunting, fishing and trapping licenses have been affected by this issue,” Representative Serpa said. “This recognition from HSUS really serves as accolades for the creation of a fair, expedient process for violators and a new page in the book of environmental law. Any time we can streamline and simplify often has a positive ripple effect on the system.”

HSUS honored Portsmouth's Rep. Gallison for his legislation (2013-H 5853) barring the use of bullhooks and chains on elephants used in traveling shows and circuses. The Humane Society noted that although the legislation did not make the pass last year, it garnered enough attention to shed light on abusive practices commonly used when training elephants.

“I’m honored to be recognized by an organization that performs such great work in the realm of animal advocacy,” Representative Gallison said. “My hope is that this will serve as a reminder to others that improper treatment to elephants working in the entertainment industry can not only serve as a cruel form of abuse, but also endanger the health and welfare of those who attend these shows. Abused and neglected animals can become sick or diseased, and those that break free from captivity have the potential to kill or injure masses of people.”

HSUS is one of the country’s largest animal protection organizations – annually recognizes state lawmakers across the country who pursue trailblazing animal protection legislation and policy.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA

Edwards bill would extend study time for Sakonnet tolls

Rep. Jay Edwards.
Photo: RI General Assembly.

Rep. Jay Edwards (D-70) has introduced legislation that would ultimately accommodate a full vetting process for an equitable alternative to Sakonnet River Bridge tolls, according to a state house news release.

The legislation (2014-H 7569) extends the date that the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) may impose a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge – not to exceed 10 cents – from April 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014.

“This bill gives us the time we need for our colleagues in the General Assembly to review our transportation proposal and, if approved, place it in the state budget,” said Edwards, also the primary House sponsor of the transportation bill. “This needs to be a transparent, thorough process so that we do not have to revisit this issue again. Bridge tolls are still a hot-button issue for my district and the East Bay; although I certainly would not limit this conundrum to just East Bay residents. How we go about maintaining our bridges and roadways is a statewide issue, which we have said from the beginning. We have done our homework, and now it’s time to move forward and address this issue head-on.”

Submitted earlier this month, the transportation proposal (2014-H 7432, 2014-S 2335) creates a predictable statewide funding source for roads and bridges without needing a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Under this proposal, the state would establish a new Infrastructure Trust Fund using a number of existing revenue streams to maintain all state-controlled roads and bridges. It also adds funding to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

If approved, the legislation would also transfer the Sakonnet River Bridge and the Jamestown-Verrazzano Bridge from RITBA back to the state, while creating a new Rhode Island Bridge Authority as a department within the state Department of Transportation. The new bridge authority would only have the ability to toll the Claiborne Pell Bridge.

“We put the April 1 deadline in place so that we could study the toll issue,” said Sen. Lou DiPalma (D-12), who is the lead sponsor of the transportation bill in the Senate. “If nothing came of that study, that deadline wouldn’t matter right now. But because we were able to come up with a compromise that we believe alleviates a lot of the concerns related to the issue, it is now imperative that we take the next step and give everyone ample time to ask questions. This is not something we want to rush.”

Cosponsors of the House bill pushing back the toll deadline are House Majority Leader Nick Mattiello (D-15), Majority Whip Stephen Ucci (D-42), Deputy Majority Whip Chris Blazejewski (D-2) and Deputy Speaker Donald J. Lally Jr. (D-33). It has been referred to the House Finance Committee. Senator DiPalma plans to submit identical legislation in the Senate.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, Sakonnet River Bridge, GA

Edwards charter/FTM transparency bill passes House

Rep. Jay Edwards.
Photo: RI General Assembly.

The RI House passed a measure today that would require political parties and political action committees advocating for a town or city charter-amending question to file a report of all expenditures in excess of $100 with its local board of canvassers.

“I have been working to close this loophole for years,” said Rep. Jay Edwards (D-70), primary sponsor of the bill. “It’s important that the public be able to see contributions to groups and action committees advocating for charter amendments. Expenditures are equally, if not more important to the integrity of the election process. We should not settle for anything less than full transparency because that is what protects the integrity of the election process.”

The House approved the measure in a 68 to 0 vote.

The bill (2013-H 7054) applies to all charter questions considered during an election or financial town meeting. In 2012, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee signed similar legislation that focused on contributions received in excess of $100 as opposed to expenditures.

Cosponsors of the bill – which will now travel to the Senate for consideration – include all Portsmouth Reps (Dennis Canario (D-71), Raymond Gallison Jr. (D-69), Linda Finn (D-72)) and Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-23) has sponsored the mirroring legislation (2014-S 2235) in the Senate.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA