Now that the state House of Representatives has passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage, the question has become when will the Senate Judiciary Committee – on which Sen. Lou Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry) serves – take it up.
Raptakis, of Coventry, represents a small portion of East Greenwich. He has said he is against same-sex marraige. On Sunday he said it's up to the head of the committee, Sen. Michael McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), to decide when to take up the bill.
When asked if he thought the Senate should act quickly, he said, "Why did the Speaker of the House push it through now? Aren’t there more pressing business concerns?"
Alternatively, Sen. Dawson Hodgson (R-Dist. 35, North Kingstown) would like to see a vote on same-sex marriage as soon as this week. Hodgson is for same sex-marriage, but his real motivation in having the vote soon is to move the issue offstage.
"Whether you're for this or against this, you should have a vote," he said Sunday. "I thing we should do this sooner rather than later … and then get back to what we were elected to do."
Rep. Anthony Giarrusso (R–Dist. 30, E.G.) voted against the bill on Thursday. Since then, he said, he's received two emails criticizing his vote.
"It’s a process, that’s why it’s called a debate," he said, noting he was one of 19 representatives who voted against the bill. "There were more Democrats that voted against it than Republicans."
In other action last week ...
Giarrusso introduced two bills, one that would require the state pay for the property revaluations it mandates. The other was what he called a "common sense bill" – making sure that a convicted rapist is not able to exercise parental rights if his victim becomes pregnant and has the baby.
He said it was brought to his attention by a constituent.
"Let’s get this on the books before it becomes an issue," he said, acknowledging he didn't know of any such incidents in Rhode Island. "It just adds insult to injury."
Hodgson introduced a bill calling for the reinstatement of both the Board of Governors for Higher Education and the Board of Regents on a temporary basis, until the new single panel governing all education in the state is up and running.
"There's been no governance over education since Jan. 1," he said. A bill combining the two groups was passed at the very end of last year's General Assembly session. Gov. Chafee has put forward names of people to serve on the panel but as of now there is no one tapped to lead it.
"Before we hand over a huge amount of authority to an organization there should be an administrative plan," Hodgson said. He said he's gotten several co-sponsors.
Meanwhile, Raptakis co-sponsored a bill that would allow businesses to recoup some of the $500 corporate tax all businesses in the state must pay yearly.
"That allows any small business that pays that $500 tax each year, if you owe the state $200 at the end of your corporate filings, you would get $300 back," Raptakis said.