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Stories about Rhode Island

Rhode Island voters will decide whether to remove “Providence Plantations” from the official state name in November

On November 3, Rhode Island voters will decide a constitutional amendment that would change the state’s official name from “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” to “Rhode Island.”
On July 16, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed the amendment. It was approved by the state Senate on June 18. The amendment would also remove “Providence Plantations” from state references in the preamble, Article III (Oath of Officers), and Article IX (Commissions).
The amendment was introduced by State Senator Harold Metts (D) on June 17, 2020. The state Senate approved the amendment with a unanimous vote. The amendment was sponsored in the state House by Democratic Representatives Anastasia Williams, Joseph Almeida, Joseph Solomon, Karen Alzate, and Raymond Hull. The state House passed the amendment in a vote of 69-1 with five members not voting.
In support of the name change, Senator Metts said, “Rhode Island built its economy on being a leader in the slave trade in colonial times. This old, festering wound still needs healing. We aren’t proud of that history, and we must stop glorifying a word that is inescapably associated with that terrible past.”
In 2010, 77.9% of Rhode Island voters defeated a similar measure, which was also sponsored by Senator Metts (D).
On June 22, Governor Gina Raimondo (D) signed an executive order to remove “Providence Plantations” from all official legislative and executive branch documents.
The amendment is the first certified measure for the November ballot in Rhode Island. The number of measures appearing on statewide general election ballots between 1995 and 2018 ranged from two to 14 and totaled 75. Of that total, 82.67 percent (62 of 75) of statewide ballots were approved by voters, and 17.33 percent (13 of 75) were defeated.
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Candidate filing period for congressional races ends in Rhode Island

On June 24, the statewide filing deadline passed to run for U.S. Congress in Rhode Island. One U.S. Senate seat and both of Rhode Island’s U.S. House seats are up for election in 2020.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D) filed for re-election to his Class II Senate seat. He was first elected to the seat in 1996. On the U.S. House side, both incumbents—District 1 Rep. David Cicilline (D) and District 2 Rep. Jim Langevin (D)—filed for re-election. Cicilline was first elected to represent District 1 in 2010, and Langevin was elected to represent District 2 in 2000. The Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office is currently assessing the ballot qualifications of all filed candidates.

The primary is scheduled for September 8, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Rhode Island’s statewide filing deadline was the 48th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The final two statewide filing deadlines are in Delaware and Louisiana on July 14 and July 17, respectively.

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Filing deadline passes for state legislative candidates in Rhode Island

On June 24, 2020, the filing deadline passed to run for state legislative offices in Rhode Island. Candidates filed for the following offices:
• Rhode Island House of Representatives (75 seats)
• Rhode Island State Senate (38 seats)

The primary is scheduled for September 8, and the general election is scheduled for November 3.

Rhode Island’s statewide filing deadline was the 48th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on July 14 in Delaware.

Entering the 2020 election, the Rhode Island State Senate has 33 Democrats and five Republicans. All 38 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 20 seats.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has 66 Democrats and nine Republicans. All 75 seats are up for election, and a majority requires 38 seats.

Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Candidate filing period to end for state legislative offices in Rhode Island

The filing deadline to run for state legislative offices in Rhode Island will pass on June 24. The primary is scheduled for September 8, 2020, and the general election will be held on November 3, 2020.

In Rhode Island, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
  • State Senate (38 seats)
  • State House (75 seats)

The next and second-to-last statewide filing deadline in the 2020 election cycle is on July 14 in Delaware.

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Three stay-at-home orders set to expire tomorrow

Stay-at-home orders in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island are set to expire tomorrow. So far, 15 states that were previously under stay-at-home orders let those orders expire. Another seven states never implemented stay-at-home orders.

After these orders expire, the states with the next expiring orders are Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont on May 15.

Although the orders vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure or curtailment of nonessential businesses in the state and requiring all residents to stay home except for essential trips for supplies or outdoor exercise.


Chair of Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee seeks appointment to she state Supreme Court

On April 28, 2020, State Senator Erin Lynch Prata (D-RI), applied to fill retiring Justice Gilbert Indeglia’s seat on the state supreme court.

Senator Lynch Prata is a former clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. She stated that becoming a supreme court justice “has always been a dream,” and that the position on the state supreme court provides an opportunity for her to “give back to the community in a new way.”

Because she currently holds a political position, she sought an advisory opinion from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission to ensure that her application was not in conflict with the “revolving door” provision in the state code of ethics, which prohibits state legislators from applying to state agencies within a year of their departure from the legislature. In her letter to the ethics commission, she asked that the commission “provide me with guidance as to whether I am correct that the revolving door provision does not apply to a member of the General Assembly who seeks appointment by the Governor to the constitutional office of Supreme Court Justice.”

The code of ethics states that she may seek election to any constitutional office or “be appointed to a senior policy-making position on a general officer’s or general assembly’s staff, or appointment by the governor as a department director.” The code of ethics does specify judgeships in its enumeration of offices which may be sought within the one year time-frame of departing from the state legislature.

Lynch Prata argues a position on the state supreme court is a constitutional office as opposed to a position within a state agency. In an interview on April 28, she said, “The law is clear. If I didn’t think this was an appropriate thing to do, I wouldn’t be doing it.”



Rhode Island schools closed to in-person instruction for rest of academic year

On Thursday afternoon, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced that schools across the state would remain closed to in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools in the state were scheduled to be closed through April 30.

Rhode Island became the 41st state in the country to close schools to in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. So far this week, eight other states have also announced year-end closures. The 41 states with year-end closures account for 84.8% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.

Of the nine states that have not announced that schools will for the remainder of the year, four have Democratic trifectas, two have Republican trifectas, and three have divided governments.

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