Canario intros bill to cap special ed cost hikes

Portsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario (D-71) has introduced a bill (H5203) which would limit the increases allowed for private educational service providers to the level set by the state tax levy cap, according to a state house news release.

“Students with disabilities and special needs should never be the victims of budget problems in a community,” said Canario.

Yet as school departments face tighter budgets, and as costs increase from private special education providers, it is becoming more difficult for schools to ensure that the special education needs of some students can continue to be met.

The legislation introduced by Canario would prohibit providers such as the Groden Center, Bradley Hospital and others, from seeking an annual increase in payments from school departments greater than the 4 percent increase in tax levy increases allowed for municipalities by state law.

“As a result of law enacted some years ago, the so-called “3050” that sets a 4 percent cap on municipal tax levy increases, municipal and school budgets can grow only so much,” said Representative Canario. “In the face of that, it is a nightmare for schools departments to deal with special ed costs from private providers grow at 5 or 8 or 10 percent each year.”

Rep. Canario, who has been working with members of the Tiverton School Committee who sought out his help to address the issue, said the answer “is not short-changing special needs students or trimming back other areas of a school budget to cover higher special education costs. It is finding a way to keep those outside costs from rising so much, so often.”

“There may be instances when the specific kind of services provided by these agencies represents a significant change in the normal kinds of services, and obviously that would entail a higher fee,” he said. “But all else being equal, if communities have to live with a 4 percent increase every year, service agencies should not expect more than a 4 percent increase for their services.”

The Canario bill has been referred to the House Committee on Finance. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Jay Edwards (D-70), Rep. Linda Finn (D-72), Rep. Ray Gallison (D-69) and Rep. Frank Ferri (D-22, Warwick).

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Localblogging, 02871, GA

RI House passes marriage equality 51-19

Clerk, please lock the machine…

With all four of Portsmouth's representatives (Canario, Edwards, Finn, and Gallison) voting in favor, the RI House passed marriage equality bill H5015 this afternoon following a series of spirited floor speeches. Full vote tally here.

Thanks to our Portsmouth delegation for being on the right side of history, and thanks to everyone who has worked so hard for these past 16 years to get us to this point.

Now on to the Senate and let's win there.

Localblogging, 02871, GA

Portsmouth Rep. Canario (D-71) scores committee appointments

Rep. Dennis Canario (GA photo)

Newly elected Portsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario (D 71) has been appointed by House Speaker Gordon Fox to two committees for the 2013-2014 legislative session, according to a state house press release today.

Canario will serve on the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and the House Committee on Small Business.

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare considers all bills affecting the health care system, public education, human services and children and families.

The House Committee on Small Business reviews matters relating to the streamlining of licenses and permits, eliminating or decreasing bureaucratic steps and uncoordinated or duplicative filings, and reducing associated costs to businesses.

Congratulations, Rep. Canario!

Editorial note: Written from a state house press release.

Localblogging, 02871, GA

Portsmouth's new reps sworn in

Overflow crowd watches in the State Room. Click to embiggen.

In a 2-hour ceremony at the Rhode Island state house marking the start of the 2013-14 legislative session, Portsmouth's four state representatives were among the 75 members sworn in by Secretary of State Ralph Mollis.

Portsmouth's two sitting reps, Ray Gallison (D 69) and Jay Edwards (D 70) were joined by their newly elected colleagues Dennis Canario (D 71) and Linda Finn (D 72). Canario and Finn joined a freshman class of 16 new members of the house.

It was an occasion rich with tradition. Rep. Peter Martin, as the senior house member from Newport, chaired the session until the election of the speaker. After being sworn in, the new legislators cast their first vote, by an overwhelming majority, to return Rep. Gordon Fox to his position as Speaker.

In opening remarks, Fox acknowledged the challenges facing the incoming legislature, and quoted Abraham Lincoln, urging the lawmakers to work through the difficult times ahead. He announced that the House will spend Jan 17 in a full-day economic conference at Rhode Island College seeking policy ideas for the upcoming session. Fox also reiterated his promise to bring marriage equality to a floor vote in the House by the end of January.

Governor Lincoln Chafee offered brief remarks, then the members, as is tradition, introduced their colleagues' guests.

Hope you'll join me in congratulating our new reps Canario and Finn, and welcoming back Gallison and Edwards. Thanks for your service, and for representing our town.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA

Canario promises campaign in District 71 race

Dennis Canario, now the sole candidate for RI representative in District 71 after incumbent Dan Gordon's failure to gather enough signatures to make the ballot, promised to continue campaigning when reached for comment.

In an e-mail to harddeadlines this morning, Canario said, "Gathering signatures for nomination papers is just the first step, and I want to thank everyone who helped get me on the ballot. I intend to continue my campaign, and look forward to talking with the residents of District 71 over the months to come. I will be a Representative that we can all be proud of."

You can find Canario on on the web at, and on Facebook.

Full disclosure: I am a supporter of Dennis Canario.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon

Rep Dan Gordon (?-71) fails to make signatures, off the ballot for District 71

The ProJo is confirming a story broken on Twitter by harddeadlines: Portsmouth Rep. Dan Gordon (?-71) failed to gather enough signatures on his nomination papers, and is out of the running for his seat in the legislature.

The ProJo confirmed with Portsmouth canvasser Madeline Pencak that Gordon had only collected 28 valid signatures, leaving him 22 short of the 50 required to be placed on the November ballot.

According to tweets by Dan McGowan, Gordon said he would mount a write-in campaign and that he should just "need to work a little harder."

Full disclosure: I am a supporter of Dennis Canario (who is now running unopposed.)

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon

Portsmouth candidates set for November, September… and Never

According to the RI Secretary of State web site — as well as coverage on Patch, Portsmouth voters will see both uncontested races (Sen. Chris Ottiano (R-11) and Ray Gallison (D-69)) and a September Primary (there are six "Democrats" running for four seats on the School Committee.) I've learned not to rely on the Secretary of State web site for a day or so until things stabilize, but Sandy McGee at Patch seems to have gotten the info straight from Town Hall.

Oh, and there's also one puzzling filing. Phil Driscoll is apparently running for Town Sergeant, a position which was eliminated eight years ago. According to the latest revision of the Charter on the Portsmouth Town site:

505. Town Sergeant. (Repealed) There shall be a Town Sergeant who shall be a qualified elector. He/She shall be elected at the biennial election pursuant to provisions of state law. His/Her duties and prerogatives shall be those defined by statute. (Adopted November 7, 1972; eff. date July 1, 1973 REPEALED November 2, 2004, eff. date same.) [emphasis added]

Heh. Only in Portsmouth.

Full disclosure: I am an officer of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee; my views here are entirely my own. Don't worry, I'll have more to say about that School Committee race.

Localblogging, 02871, Elections, RI, GA

Dennis Canario announces candidacy for State Rep District 71

Former Town Council President (and retired Portsmouth police officer) Dennis Canario has filed his candidacy papers for state rep in District 71 according to listings on the Secretary of State web site , and this afternoon, he sent a press release to local media.

“I am running because I believe District 71 needs a leader who can bring people together to solve the serious challenges facing our state," Canario said in the statement. "All Rhode Islanders deserve better than the divisive political games that have been played recently at the General Assembly. I have a demonstrated track record of honesty and integrity and I will keep my focus on the key concerns that East Bay voters have — not partisan wrangling.”

Canario stated, “I am proud of my many years serving our community as a Town Council member and member of the Portsmouth Police Department. I look forward to the opportunity to visit with voters throughout our district over the next four months, asking them to allow me to serve them at the State House."

Canario said that he plans building a grassroots campaign with local residents, bringing groups together to talk about the issues important to them. “Every voter I’ve talked with so far wants to see Rhode Island strengthen our economy. They also want us to continue to protect our environment, support the needs of our seniors and of our young people, and ensure a safe future for adults and children with disabilities. But most importantly, they want honest and responsive government.”

“I look forward to a vigorous campaign, and I am pleased to officially kick it off this week with my campaign declaration.”

Full disclosure: I am an officer of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee, and Dennis Canario's opponent, Dan Gordon, has blocked me on Twitter.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon, Portsmouth Democrats

Gordon and Reilly to face new challengers for Portsmouth State Rep seats

Two of Portsmouth's sitting state representatives, Dan Gordon (?-71) and Dan Reilly (R-72) will be squaring off against new faces in November, according to the list of candidates published on the Secretary of State web site this morning.

In District 71, former Town Council President Dennis Canario (D) has declared his candidacy, and in Linda Finn (D) has filed in District 72.

I can't pretend to be impartial. I'm delighted to see Ms. Finn running against Reilly, who was a sponsor of Rep. MacBeth's odious ultrasound bill and Rep. Gordon... well, you can click the "Dan Gordon" tag under this post to see my previous coverage. Dennis Canario demonstrated, during his tenure on the Council, a fair, considered, even-handed approach to issues that would serve Portsmouth well in the State House.

These are going to be two exciting races to watch. And if you're a politics junkie like me, you'll want to watch the Secretary of State candidate page tomorrow morning as well, when the rest of the local races will be posted. Candidates have until this afternoon to file papers, so if you're *really* interested, you can pop by Portsmouth Town Hall and ask the Registrar just before closing time.

Full disclosure: I am an officer of the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, GA, Dan Gordon, Gordon