In recent months, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed has emerged as perhaps the state's leading voice for economic revival.
In January, she announced the release of the "Moving the Needle" report, which focused on ways to improve the state's poor showing in business climate rankings. And last week, she unveiled a package of 25 legislative proposals built on the report's recommendations.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives will pass a same-sex marriage bill today. And the real fight will be in a closely divided state Senate.
That's the conventional wisdom. And it's just about right. But the significance of today's vote - in its particulars and in its larger impact - should not be underestimated.
The House of Representatives is expected to approve a same-sex marriage bill next Thursday, January 24, setting the stage for an intense battle in the senate.
The House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the measure, just posted a vote for Tuesday at 3 pm. The panel is all-but-guaranteed to approve the bill, putting it on course for a vote by the full chamber two days later.
Governor Chafee, set to deliver his "State of the State" address at 7 pm tonight, will unveil a budget proposal designed to "make Rhode Island more competitive," invest in public education, assist struggling municipalities, and maintain and improve infrastructure.
Staff gave reporters a glimpse at the specifics in a briefing this afternoon, on condition that they not reveal the details until the speech begins.
My new cover story, sizing up the 2014 gubernatorial race, discusses the early jockeying for labor's support, among other topics. And my basic conclusion is this: public employee unions have no "fair-haired child" in the race, as one Chafee aide put it.
All the leading contenders have ticked off union leaders in one way or another in the last couple of years.
Governor Lincoln Chafee has a habit of going out on a limb. Last year, he pushed for a doomed expansion of the state sales tax. His refusal to turn over murder suspect Jason Pleau to federal authorities, fearing they might seek the death penalty, seemed like a legal longshot from the start. And his stubborn insistence on calling the State House spruce a "holiday tree" - two years running now - remains deeply unpopular.
Speaker of the House Gordon Fox announced in an interview on WPRI-TV's Newsmakers last week that he would call a vote next year on same-sex marriage.
Last year, of course, Fox declined to bring the measure to the floor - loathe to force House members into a vote on a controversial bill, only to have it die in the state Senate, where Senate President M.