The Rhode Island Senate’s Democrats gave their unanimous endorsement to the reelection of M. Teresa Paiva Weed to the Office of President of the Senate at a Democratic Caucus held today in the Senate Lounge at the State House. The election of the President of the Senate, by the full membership of the Senate, will take place on January 1, 2013, the first day of the new legislative session.
Senator Paiva Weed is completing her second term as President of the Senate. She previously served for five years, from 2004 through 2008, as Senate Majority Leader. She is the first woman in Rhode Island history to serve in either of these offices. She is also the first woman to serve as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee (1997-2000).
Senator Paiva Weed served as Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee from 2002 to 2004, and as Deputy Chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Safety and the Environment from 2000 to 2002.
First elected to the Senate in 1992, Senator Paiva Weed was instrumental in the reformation of the state’s welfare system, transforming it into a system that helped families gain the skills and supports they need to achieve self-sufficiency without having to rely on cash assistance. She was instrumental in changing the method of judicial selection to a merit-based process. She has sponsored numerous new laws to provide major environmental protections for Rhode Island.
Senator Paiva Weed championed the new cap on property taxes, a law deemed the most important pro-taxpayer legislation in decades. She was also instrumental in the new education funding formula and the sweeping business reform package enacted into law in the past several sessions. She sponsored the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011, which was co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio.
“I am very fortunate to lead a chamber filled with talented and passionate individuals dedicated to public service and willing to put in the hard work to bring progress to our state,” said Senator Paiva Weed. “Working together with our outstanding Majority Leader, Dominick Ruggerio, and all the members of the Senate, we will continue to address the serious challenges facing Rhode Island and move our state forward in the coming months.”
President Paiva Weed represents District 13, which includes Jamestown and portions of Newport. She resides in Newport.
Senator Dominick J. Ruggerio was unanimously reelected Senate Majority Leader at during today’s Caucus.
Majority Leader Ruggerio resides in North Providence and represents District 4, which includes portions of North Providence and Providence. He is the father of two grown children, Charles and Amanda.
Among the awards and honors Senator Ruggerio has received for his public service is The Humane Society of the United States’ Humane Legislator Award, in recognition of his efforts to prohibit double-decker horse trailers. He has sponsored numerous bills to prevent cruelty to animals.
Senator Ruggerio championed the legislation establishing the I-195 Redevelopment Commission to bring investment in the capital city, create good paying jobs and invigorate new industries. He has sponsored initiatives to remove bureaucratic hurdles facing small government. Other initiatives Senator Ruggerio has sponsored to help make Rhode Island more competitive include the law, enacted in 2007, allowing automobile dealerships to open on Sundays.
He has sponsored legislation to increase recycling by producers of products such as paint and batteries. Senator Ruggerio has championed legislation to preserve the environment, including new laws to institute recycling and collection programs for products such as paint, batteries, and mercury used in automobiles and to improve collection and disposal rules for mercury thermostats. He has been named an “Earth Day Champion” by Clean Water Action and Ocean State Action.
“I am extremely honored by the confidence that my colleagues have placed in me,” said Senator Ruggerio. “Working together over the next two years, we will build upon the successes we have achieved to improve Rhode Island’s competitiveness, foster economic development and job growth, and enact fair, responsible and compassionate budgets. We will seek to further improve education, protect the environment, and improve quality of life. The challenges facing our state are significant, but so too is the resolve to address them by this tremendous group of senators under the outstanding leadership of President Teresa Paiva Weed.”
Senator Ruggerio served as Majority Leader during the 2011-2012 session, and as Senate Majority Whip from 2003 to 2010. He has previously served as Deputy President Pro Tempore of the Senate and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor and Transportation. Senator Ruggerio served in the House of Representatives from 1981 through 1984, when he was elected to the Senate.
Majority Leader Ruggerio is the “Dean,” or most senior member, of the Senate.