Woonsocket's delegation kicked off the the 2013-2014 General Assembly session New Year's Day with a swearing in ceremony and a call from Senate and House leaders to work to build the state's economy.
In the Senate, re-elected Senators Marc A. Cote, (D-Dist. 24) and Senator Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20) took the oath of office with their fellow 36 senators.
The body began the legislative year with the re-election of Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Newport, Jamestown) as the President of the Senate.
In the House, re-elected Representatives Robert D. Philips (D-Dist. 51), Lisa Baldelli Hunt (D-Dist. 49) and newly-minted Rep. Steven Casey (D-Dist. 50) took the oath of office with their fellow 72 representatives.
Rep. Gordon Fox (D-Providence) was returned to the House speakership after being nominated by Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington,East Providence) and Rep. Thomas Winfield (D-Dist. 53, Smithfield, Glocester).
Following the vote, Fox addressed the newly inaugurated members of the House of Representatives, invoking the spirit of Lincoln's inaugural address in 1861, attempting to preserve the nation just after seven southern states had seceeded. “We don’t have such a daunting task ahead of us on New Year’s Day in 2013. But much like Congress in 1861, what we do today is for the long term. We have a long, festering problem that was triggered by the Great Recession of 2008, and we’ve had a slow-moving economy ever since."
To jumpstart its work on improving Rhode Island’s economy, the House will hold a five-hour economic development conference at Rhode Island College on Thursday, Jan. 17, in place of its regular session that day, Fox said.
Weed said the Senate will work to make the state more business-friendly. She said the Senate will focus on initiatives to:
• Better equip the workforce with the skills they need to succeed in today’sknowledge economy
• Reverse Rhode island’s reputation as an over-regulated state
• Improve education at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through higher education
• Encourage urban revitalization and bolster the construction industry through a targeted historic tax credit
• Further economic development through the arts
• Address budgetary challenges in a manner which preserves essential services while improving Rhode Island’s competitiveness; andImprove the affordability, quality and transparency of Rhode Island’s health care system.