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Rhode Island State legislative leaders answer business community questions



State elected legislative leaders answered questions about marijuana, the estate tax, the FY 2021 Budget, affordable housing, education, plastic bag bans, state preemption, corporate welfare, the airport, and who they support for President.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce holds an annual luncheon where they invite business leaders and members of the Rhode Island General Assembly to hear their concerns. It’s extra-strength lobbying, the kind ordinary people could never afford.

Attending this years event and appearing on stage with Laurie White, President of the Chamber, were Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi, Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, House Minority Leader Blake Filippi and Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere.

Here’s the video:

The first question was to Speaker Mattiello, and concerned Governor Gina Raimondo‘s FY 2021 Budget. Is the Speaker aligned with Raimondo’s budget?

In a follow up with White mentioned additional funding for Real Jobs Rhode Island, new funding for local economic development programs and new investments in public education as priorities for the Chamber in the new budget.

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In her second follow-up question, White asked Speaker Mattiello if there is anything in Governor Raimondo’s proposed budget that he has a “particularly dim view” on.

Turning to Senate President Ruggerio, White asked about his thoughts on creating a permanent funding stream for affordable housing and what she called “workforce housing.”

In a follow-up to Senate President Ruggerio, White asked if commercial properties should be subject to a proposed doubling of the conveyance tax.

White asked Senate President Ruggerio about the plastic bag ban currently being debated in the legislature:

White congratulated Senate President Ruggerio on the Senate version of the bill having a preemption clause. Preemption prevents local municipalities from creating their own version of plastic bag bans, limiting their ability to go farther than state level legislation would allow. For more on preemption, see here.

The audience was polled as to whether or not recreational marijuana be legalized in the next two years. About 50 percent of those responding and in attendance voted yes.

Turning to House Majority Leader Shekarchi, a question about Commerce incentives, that is, giveaways to large corporations.

White hit Senate Majority Leader McCaffrey with a question on education:

White asked House Minority Leader Filippi how his idea of letting children from failing schools attend any other school of their choice:

White asked Senate Minority Leader Algiere how he felt about allocating more money to Workforce Rhode Island:

The second poll question to the audience was about whether or not TF Green Airport should have its name changed to Rhode Island International Airport.

Lightning round:

Will Tom Brady return to the Patriots?

Do you support a phase out of the tax load on retirement income?

Do you support increasing the current threshold on estate taxes?

Do you support the proposed bond for higher education?

Who are you supporting for President in 2020?

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.