AP NEWS

Rhode Island’s new legislative session set to begin

January 5, 2020 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s new legislative session begins Tuesday.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio will gavel in the 2020 session in their respective chambers and welcome lawmakers back. Bills can be introduced.

Investing in job training programs, improving the state’s educational system and balancing the budget are among the top priorities for Rhode Island’s Democratic leaders this year.

Lawmakers are returning to meet in renovated chambers. A historic preservation project, costing roughly $2.5 million, was recently completed. The work was intended to restore the chambers as closely as possible to their original appearance in the early 1900s, while improving accessibility and technology and complying with modern building codes.

It was the first significant chamber renovation since the General Assembly downsized in 2003 from 150 seats to the current 113.

The opening day will be broadcast live by Capitol Television and live-streamed online.

Before the session opens Tuesday afternoon, local religious leaders will march to the Statehouse and gather in the rotunda. The Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty said the purpose of the gathering is to call on political leaders to govern with compassion in 2020 and propose policies that will reduce poverty in the state.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and Ruggerio will give remarks to greet the group, according to the coalition.