The Rhode Island Senate’s Democrats caucused at the Providence Marriott tonight and reelected Senator Michael J. McCaffrey to another term as Senate Majority Leader. They also endorsed Senator Dominick J. Ruggerio as the Caucus nominee for President of the Senate. The vote for President of the Senate will be taken by all members of the Chamber on the first day of the 2021-2022 session.
Senators Ruggerio and McCaffrey outlined new priorities in their remarks and added that they will continue to fight to codify the Affordable Care Act into state law. Among the new priorities they hope to pass early in 2021 are a living wage, a more equitable tax structure, adult cannabis use, and the Economic and Climate Resilient Act.
“Our constituents have not only tasked us with navigating our state through a pandemic, they have elected us to fundamentally rebuild it,” said Majority Leader McCaffrey. “This pandemic has severely impacted public health, the economy, housing and education. It has also exposed deep divides that exist in our state, and we have been entrusted by our neighbors to provide strong leadership that will close those divides.”
In his remarks, President Ruggerio discussed his desire to enact a statutory pathway to a $15 an hour living wage and secure budget relief for distressed communities. “The Senate has consistently passed legislation to steadily increase the minimum wage,” said Senate Ruggerio. “Now, we must insist on enactment of a clear pathway to $15. We also demand that distressed cities and towns receive the funding they depend upon to provide a continuum of services to residents in our communities, without delay.”
President Ruggerio also discussed several steps he is taking to ensure the Senate can convene safely in January, including an off-site chamber at the Rhode Island Convention Center. “We are in the process of securing off-site accommodations in the spacious and well-ventilated Convention Center to enable us to meet regularly, and safely.”
President Ruggerio also announced several key members of the leadership team. He asked the senators to support the election of Senator Hanna Gallo as the next President Pro Tempore when the Senate reconvenes in January. He also announced his intention to make the following appointments:
- Senator Maryellen Goodwin, Majority Whip
- Senator Ana B. Quezada, Deputy Majority Whip
- Senator Cynthia A. Coyne, Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee
- Senator Ryan W. Pearson, Chairperson of the Finance Committee
- Senator V. Susan Sosnowski, Chairperson of the Commerce Committee
- Senator Dawn Euer, Chairperson of the Environment & Agriculture Committee
- Senator Sandra Cano, Chairperson of the Education Committee
- Senator Joshua Miller, Chairperson of the Health & Human Services Committee
- Senator Frank Lombardo, III, Chairperson of the Housing & Municipal Government Committee
- Senator Frank A. Ciccone, III, Chairperson of the Labor Committee
- Senator Walter S. Felag, Jr., Chairperson of the Special Legislation & Veterans Affairs Committee
- Senator Louis P. DiPalma, Chairperson of the Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight Committee
Both leaders called for unity and collaboration as the Senate works together to make progress on behalf of Rhode Islanders.
Ruggerio has served as Senate President, and McCaffrey as Majority Leader, since March 2017.