As I wrote in my cover story for last week's Phoenix, the question of religious exemptions could play a central role in the looming same-sex marriage battle in the Rhode Island state senate.
Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed is opposed to gay nuptials. But if she decides to allow the bill through - perhaps in exchange for concessions from openly gay Speaker of the House Gordon Fox on other issues - she'll need some sort of political cover.
Angus Davis, who runs Swipely - the Providence firm that helps small companies accept payments and crunch sales data to better understand customers - has landed on Forbes "Most Promising CEOs Under 35" list.
"Today's recognition by Forbes validates
both our huge opportunity, and our traction with customers," said
Davis, in a statement.
With the 10th anniversary of the Station nightclub fire approaching, I've been reading Providence lawyer John Barylick's definitive account of the tragedy, Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America's Deadliest Rock Concert.
Barylick, one of the lead attorneys for the victims, is unsparing in his lawyerly prosecution of the club owners and local officials.
Here's the trailer for a forthcoming Station nightclub fire web series, "The Station," from local filmmaker David Bettencourt. The 10th anniversary of the fire is just weeks away.
WPRI superblogger Ted Nesi delivered new Public Policy Polling figures on the nascent Rhode Island gubernatorial race this morning. And the headlines were not entirely surprising: Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, is the early frontrunner and Governor Lincoln Chafee, an independent, faces a tough road to re-election.
My cover story in this week's Phoenix - on-line later today - will take a deep dive into the looming Senate battle over gay marriage.
The piece touches, in part, on the whip count I've developed - a senator-by-senator analysis of where everyone stands on the legislation. I'm offering a sneak preview in this space. (Check out the Providence Journal's partial count, which differs a little from mine, here
Gay marriage advocates have been outspending - and outstaffing - opponents in state after state, of late. And the current fight in Rhode Island looks like no exception.
Providence Journal reporter Phil Marcelo, in a strong Sunday piece on the looming same-sex nuptials fight in the Senate, mentioned a couple of the roving, national talents who are helping gay marriage advocates this winter and spring: Matt McTighe, an activist with Rhode Island ties who ran the successful gay marriage referendum campaign in Maine last fall, and Amy Mello, a Rhode Island native who has served as field coordinator for a series of campaigns around the country.
With same-sex marriage legislation headed to the Senate, there's plenty of speculation about where the chamber's 38 members stand on the issue.
One marker: sponsorship of Senator Frank Ciccone's bill, which asks voters to weigh in on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as "a lawful union between one man and one woman."
The Rhode Island House's passage of same-sex marriage legislation by a 51-19 margin - one of the most lopsided pro-gay nuptials votes in an American legislature - has put the smallest state in the headlines for a day. But the Ocean State is not the only site of a same-sex marriage push this year.
Advocates in Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, and Minnesota are also making legislative pushes.
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.
Rhode Island's commentariat has given Governor Chafee relatively high marks for his budget proposal.
The praise has focused, most of all, on the budget's political virtues. After a doomed attempt to broaden the state's sales tax in the early portion of his term - raising the hackles of the business community and many legislators - this was a fiscal blueprint that received a relatively warm reception in the halls of power.
Rhode Island's House Judiciary Committee will vote to send same-sex marriage legislation to the floor in the next couple of hours. And the full chamber is expected to approve the bill by a comfortable margin in the coming days, setting the stage for a battle royale in the state Senate.
There will be many voices vying for attention in the upper chamber: not least of them the Rhode Island Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, a group of ministers supporting the legislation, and a still-potent Catholic Church, opposing it.
The Providence Journal has wrapped up its "Reinvent Rhode Island" series - tackling Rhode Island's confoundingly poor economy - and put it all in one spot on its web site.
So, what to make of the paper's big, one-year project?
In a time of diminished resources and, too often, limited vision, at the state's paper of record, the ProJo deserves credit for the ambitious effort.
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.