Rhode Island’s cap on combined campaign donations may be on the way out.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that federal-level aggregate limits on how much money a donor can contribute across all politicians, parties and PACs (as opposed to the limits on how much can be contributed to each one) are unconstitutional. Rhode Island is one of eight states that also has its own aggregate limit on state-level contributions, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his decision.
Rhode Island law currently caps the amount that can be donated to candidates, party committees and PACs to $10,000 a year. While Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling did not itself throw out Rhode Island’s state-level limit, the R.I. Board of Elections says it may not defend them in court if they get challenged.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Young liberals have found the candidate they want to replace former Speaker Gordon Fox in the R.I. House of Representatives.
Aaron Regunberg, a 24-year-old community organizer known best for launching the Providence Student Union activist group, said Thursday he plans to run for the House District 4 seat left open by Fox, who resigned as speaker and announced his plans to retire after law enforcement officials raided his Gorton Street home and State House office two weeks ago.
Rhode Island’s individual health insurance market has gotten considerably larger due to Obamacare.
Nearly 40,000 Rhode Islanders signed up for individual policies during the 2014 open enrollment period that ended Monday night, up from roughly 17,000 who did so in 2013, according to preliminary figures from the state’s new HealthSource RI marketplace and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
Those 11,271 direct-purchasers are important to Blue Cross because they will be combined with those who bought through HealthSource RI to make up the insurer’s 2014 risk pool for individual insurance. The size and shape of the risk pool is crucial to determining how much premiums will cost.
Gary Claxton, an expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The New York Times that “these lives count every bit as much as the ones that came in through the exchange” for insurers because of the risk pool issue.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A new report from the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity suggests $225 million that should be cut from Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s proposed budget for next year, starting with the elimination of a $50-million increase in the historic-preservation tax-credit program.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Board members for the Providence Economic Development Partnership (PEDP) are scheduled to meet behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss potential litigation involving the troubled city lending agency.
A spokesman for Mayor Angel Taveras said he could not confirm the matter that will be discussed when the board enters executive session, but Target 12 reported last month that the FBI subpoenaed records related to a 2009 loan approved by the PEDP.
Separately, the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services told WPRI.com 56,531 individuals used HealthSource RI to sign up for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income individuals, from Oct. 1 to March 22. That’s far more than what state officials had forecast, which was for 28,000 Medicaid sign-ups by Sept. 30 and 51,000 by March 2015.
At this point, then, more than 84,000 Rhode Islanders have signed up for health insurance through the new Obamacare marketplace since it opened Oct. 1 when private and Medicaid enrollment are combined. Blue Cross was not immediately able to say how many others have signed up for coverage directly through its website, bypassing HealthSource RI.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Nearly 28,000 Rhode Islanders signed up for private health insurance plans through the state’s new Obamacare marketplace before Monday night’s deadline to enroll, according to a preliminary count.
HealthSource RI spokeswoman Dara Chadwick said 27,968 individuals signed up for private plans through the new marketplace between Oct. 1 and the 11:59 p.m. deadline for 2014 enrollment, 1,840 of whom signed up Monday. The number is expected to rise as others finish getting processed.
Thorne Sparkman, managing director of Rhode Island’s taxpayer-backed nonprofit Slater Technology Fund, told WPRI.com Slater made multiple investments worth a total of $750,000 in Andera, and its stake in the company was worth more than $3 million when the Bottomline acquisition closed.
Sparkman called the Andera deal “a nice win for Charlie, his team, investors, and Rhode Island generally,” and said Slater will use the windfall to “invest more aggressively in other young Rhode Island companies.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Congressman David Cicilline may have a serious challenger after all.
John Loughlin, a former Republican state representative who lost to Cicilline by six percentage points in 2010, said Tuesday he is considering challenging the two-term incumbent later this year. He said he will make a final decision in the “very near future” and could declare his candidacy as soon as next week.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Five mayoral hopefuls outlined their vision for Rhode Island’s capital city Monday, promising to hire more minorities and women, improve the school system and build a more diverse police force during a candidate forum at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on Cranston Street.
The forum was moderated by Brown University political science professor Marion Orr and hosted by the Rhode Island Black Business Association, a 501(c)6 nonprofit founded in 2010. The candidates included Democrats City Council President Michael Solomon, former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, former Water Supply Board Chairman Brett Smiley, East Side businessman Lorne Adrain and Republican Daniel Harrop.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One of the best-known companies in Rhode Island’s technology sector has been acquired by a larger firm in an eight-figure deal.
Andera Inc., a Providence-based tech firm that makes software for banks, announced Monday it has been purchased by Bottomline Technologies, a publicly traded financial software firm based in Portsmouth, N.H.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The number of Rhode Islanders signing up for private health insurance plans through the state’s new Obamacare marketplace has surged ahead of Monday night’s deadline to enroll, WPRI.com has learned.
A total of 26,128 individuals had signed up for private plans through the HealthSource RI marketplace as of Sunday night since the start of enrollment Oct. 1, up from 19,690 as of March 8, HealthSource RI spokeswoman Dara Chadwick told WPRI.com.
1. How do you go from declaring yourself the next House speaker late on a Saturday night to dead in the water by Sunday dinner? The rapid collapse of the leadership team led by Reps. Michael Marcello and Chris Blazejewski had a lot of lawmakers scratching their heads this week, but the consensus seems to be that once the union-backed Woonsocket delegation and most of the Republican caucus moved to Rep. Nick Mattiello, the battle was over. “When they had all those people in room on Sunday night, that’s when the floodgates opened,” Rep. Patrick O’Neill told WPRI.com. So could it have gone differently? We know Rep. Doreen Costa – the new vice chair of the Judiciary Committee – said she simply couldn’t back a team that was supported by so many liberal lawmakers because “the progressive movement is very dangerous.” For his case, O’Neill, who fought until the end for Marcello, said the group considered several different leadership combos – including offering Rep. John DeSimone one of the top two spots – but “we went all-in on Marcello and Blazejewski on Saturday.” That’s why it was so disappointing to see Blazejewski and some of the others end up voting for Mattiello, according to O’Neill. Blazejewski chalked his vote up to “my belief that egos shouldn’t get in the way” of moving the state forward, a comment that irked more than a few of his colleagues. “That’s just very disappointing,” O’Neill said.
2. Do not miss Ted Nesi’sdeep-dive on new Speaker Nick Mattiello to understand what his promotion will mean for Rhode Island. While you’re at it, make sure you read Providence Journal reporter Katherine Gregg’shour-by-hour rundown of how Mattiello put together his team while Rome was burning last week.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Louis A. DeQuattro Jr., the R.I. Department of Business Regulation’s executive counsel and deputy director for the Division of Regulatory Standards, Compliance and Enforcement, has been placed on administrative leave, WPRI.com has learned.
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Congressman David Cicilline said Friday he has not yet spoken with former House Speaker Gordon Fox since lsat week’s stunning FBI raids on Fox’s home and office, but called the federal probe swirling around his longtime friend “very sad.”
“I think it’s very sad for our state obviously [and] sad for Gordon’s family,” Cicilline said during a taping of WPRI 12′s Newsmakers. “I’ve always known him to be a serious legislator, but this is obviously a very sad set of circumstances.”
CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – Fast-growing Rhode Island jewelry manufacturer Alex and Ani LLC is apparently considering whether to go public.
Alex and Ani has begun searching for a new director of reporting, who would be hired to “manage internal and external” U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosures and to draft “complete SEC registration statements and filings, including Forms S-1, 10-K and 10-Q,” according to a recent job posting.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – One of the members of the leadership team chosen by Rhode Island’s new speaker of the House has been facing scrutiny over his campaign finance filings since 2012, according to the R.I. Board of Elections.
Rep. Joseph Almeida, D-Providence, was chosen as the new House deputy majority whip by incoming Speaker Nicholas Mattiello on Tuesday. Officials at the elections board said claims against Almeida, a South Providence Democrat, were referred to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office for prosecution in January, following more than a year of correspondence with the lawmaker.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The pension plan in Rhode Island’s capital city has outperformed the state’s fund since Democratic rivals Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimondo took office, the city’s longtime financial consultants said Thursday.
The analysis, conducted by Boston-based Wainwright Investment Counsel, shows Providence’s $284 million in investments earned a 10.9% return between 2011 and 2013, while the state pension fund earned a 9.2% return during the same time period.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It didn’t take long for newly minted Speaker Nicholas Mattiello to put his imprint on the R.I. House of Representatives.
A day after the 75-member House overwhelmingly voted him to lead the chamber, Mattiello named Rep. Raymond Gallison chairman of the Finance Committee and Rep. Cale Keable chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the first in what is expected to be a slew of changes announced in the coming days.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State Rep. Nicholas Mattiello was overwhelmingly voted speaker of the Rhode Island House Tuesday, just five days after state and federal investigators executed two search warrants that targeted former Speaker Gordon Fox’s East Side home and State House office.
“I hoped some day to be speaker of this House,” Mattiello said while addressing House lawmakers Tuesday, “I never expected such a stunning and rapid turn of events. There is no time for transition. To say that I am hitting the ground running is a vast understatement.”
“If he does half of what he’s promising, the state is in a different direction,” Republican Rep. Joe Trillo said. “The ship has totally turned around and we’re going down the path and we’re going down the path of making it more business-friendly.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – State Rep. Michael Marcello said Tuesday he has conceded the race for speaker of the R.I. House, a day after Cranston Rep. Nicholas Mattiello declared he had earned the support of the “overwhelming” number of the 75-member House.
Marcello, D-Scituate, said he called Mattiello to congratulate him on the victory, but indicated he still intends to submit his name for nomination “out of respect for the process and for those representative who share my reform agenda platform” when the House convenes Tuesday afternoon.
We know one thing he’s not: a liberal. Mattiello and Elizabeth Warren may be members of the same political party, but the “D” after their names is about all they have in common. As Republican Rep. Doreen Costa told WPRI.com’s Dan McGowan on Sunday: “He’s not a progressive Democrat.”
Yet that doesn’t necessarily make Mattiello a conservative. A lot depends on how you define the term, and how you adapt it to the odd politics of Rhode Island. His critics on the left do define him that way: Tom Sgouros, writing Monday on the Rhode Island’s Future blog, described the 50-year-old Cranston Democrat as the latest in a line of conservative Democrats who’ve controlled the General Assembly – and, via the speaker’s office, the Rhode Island Democratic Party – “for decades.”
Certainly, though, Mattiello isn’t a movement conservative or a Tea Party activist. If anything, he seems motivated less by ideology than a desire not to rock the boat too much. Anchor Rising’s Justin Katz smartly described Mattiello’s coalition as a “relatively conservative, but mostly establishment, bloc.”
Indeed, Mattiello seems to be basically a business-friendly centrist – a creature of the Chamber of Commerce consensus. In some states he’d be a moderate Republican; in Rhode Island, he’s a moderate Democrat.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Lincoln Chafee expressed confidence Monday that the Rhode Island House will be able to move on from the sudden resignation of Speaker Gordon Fox, as House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello took further steps to consolidate his support.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – When former R.I. House Speaker Gordon Fox leaves office later this year, it is unclear how he’ll manage a personal campaign account that currently contains more than $200,000.
State law allows former elected officials and candidates to continue to use campaign funds for political purposes, donations to charity and in some cases, legal fees until the account is drawn down and dissolved, according to Richard Thornton, the R.I. Board of Elections’ director of campaign finance.
With House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello confident that he has the votes to become speaker on Tuesday, political insiders are buzzing about a different question: what happens to Frank Anzeveno?
Anzeveno, a 55-year-old former state representative from North Providence, has been one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes State House powerbrokers for more than 12 years, serving as chief of staff to House Speakers John Harwood, William Murphy and now Gordon Fox since July 2001.
But Anzeveno has also been a controversial figure, particularly in recent years when some Democratic lawmakers privately argued he was wielding too much power and working to undermine them politically. Mattiello himself has clearly signaled he may bring in someone new.
“Frank Anzeveno, and a team of people that work for him who have been a disease in the State House, will not be there very, very soon, and that alone will change this state more than anything else could,” state Rep. Spencer Dickinson, D-South Kingstown, told WPRI.com on Monday morning. Dickinson said his confidence that Mattiello will replace Anzeveno is a key reason he’s backing the majority leader for speaker.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello announced after a closed-door caucus of lawmakers Sunday evening that he has the support of at least 46 of his colleagues to become speaker in the wake of Gordon Fox’s unexpected resignation.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, a leading candidate to succeed Gordon Fox as speaker, has called a caucus of Democratic lawmakers for Sunday afternoon to take a test vote on who should become the chamber’s new leader.