This week’s State Report centers on a holiday charity blackjack tournament that took place at Twin River, which featured more than a dozen state lawmakers. Additionally, we’ll look at the recall election in Exeter, as well as examine multiple state grants announced this week." />

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State Report: Lawmakers Play Holiday Blackjack, Recalls + Grants

Saturday, December 14, 2013


This week’s State Report centers on a holiday charity blackjack tournament that took place at Twin River, which featured more than a dozen state lawmakers. Additionally, we’ll look at the recall election in Exeter, as well as examine multiple state grants announced this week.

Lawmakers Participate in Charity Blackjack Tournament

On Tuesday, State Representative Scott Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) won the first annual “Holiday Blackjack Tournament for Charity” held at Twin River Casino. Slater received $10,000 for his victory—all of which went to his charity of choice the Assumption Church Food Pantry.

The legislators and other tournament players each played a few hands of blackjack until a winner was determined at each of six opening round tables. The top six qualifiers earned a seat at the championship table, where one more round of blackjack was plated to determine a winner.

In total, Twin River donated $60,000 to 36 charity groups—including the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, the RI Brain & Spine Tumor Foundation, the Hearthside house in Lincoln, the RI Academic Decathlon, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of RI, the Kent County YMCA, Inspiring Minds, Crossroads, Woodlawn Catholic Regional School, St. Mary’s Feast Society, and Woodlawn Catholic Regional School.

A total of 16 members of the General Assembly participated in the event including Speaker of the House Gordon Fox and Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio.

Here is the breakdown of General Assembly participation:


  • Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence), the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
  • Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), the RI Brain & Spine Tumor Foundation.
  • Sen. Edward J. O'Neill (I-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield), the Hearthside house in Lincoln.
  • Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), the RI Academic Decathlon.
  • Sen. David E. Bates (R-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of RI.



  • House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, (D-Dist. 4, Providence), Inspiring Minds.
  • House Majority Leader Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston), Crossroads.
  • Rep. William San Bento Jr. (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket), Woodlawn Catholic Regional School.
  • Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), Milk Fund.
  • Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), American Cancer Society.
  • Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), St. Mary’s Feast Society.
  • Rep. Scott Slater, (D-Dist. 10, Providence), Assumption Church Food Pantry.
  • Rep. Jan Malik (D-Dist 67, Warren, Barrington), Warren Senior Center.
  • Rep. Katherine Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence), Boys & Girls Club of East Providence.
  • Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Join Our Neighborhood and Help of Warwick.
  • Rep. Lisa Tomasso (D-Dist. 29, Coventry, West Greenwich), Coventry Community Food Bank.


For more news from the past week, check out the slides below.

Related Slideshow:
RI State Report: More News of the Week - 12/14/13

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Recall Election

Today, the town of Exeter will hold an election to recall four Exeter Town Council members—William P. Monahan, Robert Johnson, Calvin A. Ellis, and Arlene B. Hicks.

In June, a group of Exeter residents formed a petition committee to collect signatures to recall the four council members following the members attempts to change the way in which concealed weapons permits are issued in the town.

Exeter’s current law allows individuals seeking a permit to apply with either the attorney general of local police office—which Exeter does not have. Due to the absence of a police department, the authority to issue concealed weapons permits falls upon the town clerk, who the council members argued does not have the proper resources to conduct background checks.

As a result, the council members proposed that all permit requests only go through the attorney general’s office. Their request did not receive an Assembly vote.

There will be no other election. For each person recalled, persons who got fewer votes in the 11/06/2012 election will replace them. Those people are  Daniel W. Patterson, Edward F. Nataly, and Lincoln P. Picillo. If a fourth council member were also recalled, these three people, along with Raymond A Morrissey, would choose the fifth member, and they would serve until the November 2014 election.

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Food Pantry Grant

On Monday, Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) presented the North Kingstown Food Pantry with a $1,500 legislative grant.

The funds will help the NK Food Pantry pay for the cost of oil to help heat its new facility at 445 School Street in North Kingstown, which it recently leased from the town in order to expand its storage space and provide more room to clients using the pantry. The extra room will allow the NK Food Pantry to join the RI Community Food Bank system and purchase food at lower prices.

“The North Kingstown Food Pantry provided about 7,500 meals per month to 180 local families last year, and because of the continuing state of our economy, the need, unfortunately, continues to grow for organizations like this,” said Sheehan. “I am glad to have been able to obtain this grant to allow the Food Pantry to continue to provide the outstanding services it does for North Kingstown residents in need.”

Senator Sheehan is scheduled to present the grant check to officials of the Food Pantry at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 11, at the Little Red School House on School Street.

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Grant for Seniors

Earlier this week, Sen. James C. Sheehan also announced the presentation of a legislative grant to the Narragansett Senior Association.

The Narragansett Senior Association is receiving a $1,300 grant to help the center in its mission to promote and maintain the well being, dignity and independence of Narragansett seniors by providing programs and services to meet their needs. The grant money obtained by Senator Sheehan this year will also be used to purchase office furniture and supplies.

The Narragansett Senior Association, which operates at the Narragansett Community Center facility, 53 Mumford Road, Narragansett, provides daily activities, other programs and bus transportation for town residents 55 and older.

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Rep. Amore Awarded

In December, the Rhode Island chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society recognized Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) as its “Advocate of the Year” for his work on the oral chemotherapy law.

He accepted the award on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Santa Maria Di Prata Society in Cranston as party of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s awards ceremony.

“It is a great honor to be chosen as this organization’s ‘Advocate of the Year,’” Representative Amore said. “I worked as hard as I could to get the oral chemotherapy law passed in Rhode Island, and I was elated when it finally happened. This awful disease affects so many people and takes so many lives. There’s so much sadness in watching people have to fight for their lives. My hope is this new law will present better, or at least more affordable options for the most vulnerable of those people. Anything that will ease the financial burden attached to that is worth it to me.”

Before the General Assembly passed Representative Amore’s bill this year, oral chemotherapy was treated as a prescription drug benefit, which required patients to pay a large amount of the drugs’ cost. IV chemotherapy is treated as a medical benefit, essentially requiring insurers to issue a modest patient co-pay and a limit to annual out-of-pocket expenses. The law is expected to save cancer patients thousands of dollars for a treatment that serves the same purpose as the intravenous form. It also recognizes the growing range of oncology drugs and leaves room for medical advances in oral treatments.

A 2008 National Comprehensive Cancer Network report stated that oral chemotherapy treatments make up more than 25 percent of the 400 cancer medicines that are in the process of being tested. Scientists have also been able to develop successful targeted therapies with oral treatments for certain types of cancer.

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Sales Tax Update

The Special Joint Legislative Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday, December 17, in Room 35 of the State House. This is expected to be the final public hearing of the commission before reporting its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly.

Scheduled to testify at the hearing are Michael Stenhouse and Justin Katz of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, who will discuss the budget implications of reforming the state sales tax to 3 percent, and Rod Motamedi and Brett Albert, who will discuss the state’s model prepared by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI).

This is the seventh hearing of the study commission, a 13-member panel that was created by legislation approved during the most recent legislative session to “make a comprehensive study of all aspects of the current system pertaining to sales tax, including, but not limited to, the possibility of repealing the sales tax.”

The commission is expected to report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by February 6, 2014. Rep. Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) is the commission chair.

The hearing will be televised by Capitol TV (Channel 15 for Cox Communications and Full Channel; Channel 34 for Verizon).

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Special Election

Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis announced on Friday, that four people have declared their candidacy in the State Representative (District 49) Special Election. The filing deadline was 4:00 p.m. Friday.

The four candidates, which have declared are Douglas T. Brown, Mark L. Chenot, Stuart Gitlow, and Michael A. Morin, all have filed as Democrats.

These candidates will obtain their nomination papers on December 18th, and they have until December 24th to get the required 50 signatures of eligible voters from within District 49.

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Art Funding

On Tuesday, Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation announced $123,000 in National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant funding for Rhode Island arts organizations and programs. These competitive grants were awarded to organizations that contribute to the cultural and economic development of the state through the arts.

“This federal funding will help support local artists and bolster economic development and education through the arts,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NEA’s budget. “By combining federal grants with state and local funds and private donations, we are expanding opportunities for young people and supporting artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation in communities across the state.”

This first round of NEA FY2014 competitive grants were awarded to organizations across the country that support the creation and presentation of artistically excellent work, both new and established. Projects include commissions, residencies, rehearsals, workshops, performances, exhibitions, publications, festivals, training programs and literature fellowships.  Over $23 million was awarded during the first round, which included over $1.6 million to arts education projects. Grants from the NEA generate, on average, $9 from non-federal sources for each $1 awarded.

The following Rhode Island organizations received NEA funding:

  • Alliance of Artists Communities; Providence, RI – $40,000 to support the research and publication of “Artist Residencies and Social Practice
  • Everett Dance Theatre; Providence, RI – $15,000 to support “The Freedom Project,” a new multidisciplinary performance about the American prison system
  • RiverzEdge Arts Project Inc.; Woonsocket, RI – $23,000 to support the Studio Arts & Enterprise Projects
  • FirstWorks; Providence, RI - $20,000 to support the multidisciplinary Cross-Wired series
  • New Urban Arts; Providence, RI - $15,000 to support the Youth Mentorship in the Arts program and the Summer Art Inquiry program for teens
  • Trinity Repertory Company; Providence, RI - $10,000 to support a new production of “Oliver!,” Lionel Bart’s classical musical inspired by Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist with direction by Sharon and Richard Jenkins.

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michael riley

Senator Sheehan taking credit for taxpayer dollars going to a food pantry in North Kingston is disgusting.

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