Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I'm Dan McGowan and I think I’m more excited for this big "Jeopardy!” tournament than I am the NFL playoffs. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.
It doesn’t feel like they had much of an offseason (thanks IGT and Twin River!), but Rhode Island lawmakers will return to Smith Hill today for another legislative session.
It’s also an election year, so you know there are plenty of aides to House and Senate leadership who are already thinking about how to get their bosses re-elected later this year.
But before campaign season completely takes over, the General Assembly has plenty of issues to address. Here’s a quick guide to the topics that could dominate the conversation over the next six months.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he’s confident a projected $200 million budget gap can be closed, but he’s already warned Governor Gina Raimondo that she shouldn’t send a “political” budget to lawmakers when she lays out her plans next week. Translation: Leave legalized marijuana revenue out. Keep the car tax cuts in. And maybe cool it with those lofty gambling numbers.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the state’s review of Providence’s school finances found the district isn’t in desperate need of an infusion of cash, but that doesn’t mean Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green will be invisible at the State House. Look for another round of lobbying for funding for English learners to be on the agenda. Plus, state Senator Ryan Pearson is expected to unveil recommendations for revisions to the funding formula later this week.
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said he’d like to address the proposed lottery/slot machine contract extension for IGT during the session, even though there are still a few years left on the existing agreement.
The gun safety public hearings are always among the longest nights of the year, but it’s difficult to say if any action will be taken this year. The shooting death of a woman in Pawtucket last week has spurred renewed interest in banning “ghost” guns, and Ruggerio has already said his chamber will pass that bill again. Raimondo has vowed to introduce another package of gun bills as well.
It’s a topic that flies under the radar, but Ruggerio is adamant about finding ways to address the state’s housing shortage this year. Expect an expert task force to be convened early in the year and legislation to be introduced before the end of the session.
One of the few things that Raimondo, Mattiello and Ruggerio appear to be in total agreement on is the need for Lifespan, Care New England and Brown University to get back to the table to discuss some type of local health system. The politicians can’t exactly force everyone to play nice, but they can certainly pressure all of the players to continue discussions.
NEED TO KNOW
Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you've got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.
- This will be the story everyone is buzzing about at the State House today. Ed Fitzpatrick reports the state’s potential witness list in the money laundering trial of campaign operative Jeff Britt is a who’s who of influential lawmakers, aides and attorneys.
- Brown University graduate Sumbul Siddiqui has been elected mayor of Cambridge.
- Providence resident Stephen J. Nelson has a thoughtful letter to the editor in the Globe today on the decision to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani with a drone strike in Iraq.
- Here’s how President Trump’s proposed vaping ban could affect Rhode Island and other New England states.
- In the Globe’s Ideas section, David Scharfenberg questions whether Democrats in Washington, D.C. are willing to play more of what scholars call “constitutional hardball,” using tactics that are technically legal, but break with decades- and even centuries-old traditions of fair play.
WHAT'S ON TAP TODAY
Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.
- Rhode Map Live: Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Ruggerio will be interviewed on Jan. 15 by yours truly about their priorities for 2020. The event will take place at District Hall in Providence. Tickets are free, but you have to RSVP here.
- Happening at the State House before the legislative session begins today: Governor Raimondo and Senate President Ruggerio will speak at the Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty vigil.
- This is cool: Seven Stars Bakery is donating 100 percent of its sales today to local nonprofits, including The Elisha Project out of Rumford, Amos House in Providence and We Share Hope in Warren.
- If reading Rhode Map is the first thing you do in the morning, you still have time to grab coffee with East Providence Mayor Robert DaSilva. He’ll be at Borealis Coffee Company in Riverside between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
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