State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

JANUARY SESSION of the General Assembly begun and held at the State House in the City of Providence on Tuesday, the fifth day of January in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine.
Volume 126, No. 2 Wednesday, January 6, 1999 Second Day

The House of Representatives meets at the State House in Providence, Wednesday, January 6, 1999, and is called to order at 3:09 o'clock P.M., by the Honorable John B. Harwood, Speaker.

The roll is called and a quorum is declared present with 97 members present and 3 members absent as follows:

PRESENT 97: The Honorable Speaker Harwood and Representatives Abdullah-Odiase, Aiken, Ajello, Almeida, Amaral, Anderson, M., Anderson, 5., Barr, Benoit, Benson, Bramley, Burlingame, Callahan, Cambio, Carpenter, Carroll, Carter, Cicilline, Coderre, Coelho, Corvese, Costantino, Crowley, Dennigan, DeSimone, Faria, Farrell, Ferguson, Flaherty, Fleury, Fox, Garabedian, Garvey, George, Giannini, Ginaitt, Gorham, Heffner, Henseler, Hogan, Inman, Iwuc, Jacquard, Kelley, Kelso, Kennedy, Kilmartin, Knickle, Lally, Lanzi, Larisa, Levesque, C., Levesque, 6., Lewiss, Lima, Long, Lopes, Lowe, Maher, Malik, Martineau, McCauley, McNamara, Menard, Millard, Montanaro, Moura, Mumford, Munschy, Naughton, Palangio, Picard, Fires, Pisaturo, Quick, Rabideau, Reilly, Rose, Russo, San Bento, Schadone, Scott, Shavers, Sherlock, Simonian, Slater, Smith, Sullivan, Thompson, Vieira, Voccola, Wasylyk, Watson, Williams, Williamson, Winfield.

ABSENT - 3: Representatives Hetherington, Murphy, Palumbo.


The Honorable Speaker presents Representative Slater, who delivers the Invocation and leads the membership in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

(For Invocation, see Appendix, this Journal.)


By unanimous consent, the House Journal of Tuesday, January 5, 1999, is approved as printed.


Representatives Henseler and Dennigan introduce (99-H 5006) House Resolution congratulating Warren McGoldrick on his retirement after 29 years of dedicated service.

Representative Henseler requests unanimous consent for immediate consideration.

There is no objection.

Read and passed, on motion of Representative Henseler, seconded by Representative Watson, and by unanimous consent, on a voice vote.

Representatives Quick, C. Levesque and Maher introduce (99-H 5007) An Act relating to distressed areas economic revitalization act.

Read and referred to the Committee on Finance.

Representatives San Bento, Vieira, Burlingame and Coderre introduce (99-H 5008) An Act relating to sales and use taxes.

Read and referred to the Committee on Finance.

Representatives San Bento, Vieira, Burlingame and Coderre introduce (99-H 5009) An Act relating to imposing a maximum income tax rate on business income for individuals.

Read and referred to the Committee on Finance.

Representatives San Bento, Vieira, Burlingame and Coderre introduce (99-H 5010) An Act relating to small business tax credit.

Read and referred to the Committee on Finance,

Representatives Fleury, Carroll and Rabideau introduce (99-H 5011) An Act relating to motor vehicles.

Read and referred to the Committee on Corporations.

Representative Fleury introduces (99-H 5012) An Act relating to public officers and employees - retirement system - contributions and benefits.

Read and referred to the Committee on Labor.

Representatives Pisaturo, Carroll, Montanaro, Lanzi, C. Levesque and several other members of the House introduce (99-H 5013) An Act relating to labor disputes at hospitals.

Representative Pisaturo requests unanimous consent for immediate consideration.

Representative Watson objects.

Representatives S. Anderson, Montanaro, San Bento, Lopes, McNamara, Moura, Garabedian and Smith discuss the act.

Read and referred to the Committee on Corporations.


By unanimous consent, all matters on the Clerk's desk are ordered to be transmitted to His Excellency, the Governor, and to the Honorable Senate forthwith.


Representative Schadone wishes Linda McElroy, the
Recording Clerk of the House, a very Happy Birthday.


Representative Barr, seconded by the Honorable Speaker, thanks the staff for yesterday's ceremonies.


Representative Cambio welcomes to the House as a guest Stephen Delmonico, a student from St. Mary's School in Cranston.


Representative Pisaturo welcomes to the House as a guest Sonya Pisaturo.


At 3:31 o'clock P.M. on motion of the Honorable Speaker Harwood and Representatives Montanaro and Amaral, and as a further mark of respect to the memory of Ira L. Schreiber, Esq., seconded by Representatives Martineau and Watson, the House adjourns, on a unanimous rising vote.

Recording Clerk




Almighty God, we ask that you help us as we try to make Rhode Island a better place.Amen.




January 5, 1999

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, our special guests, members of this House of Representatives. According to the provisions of Article VII, Section 2 of the Rhode Island Constitution I call Assembly to order.

Today we begin the last legislative session of the twentieth century. If the infamous Y2K bug is captured and tamed we will be here next January beginning the first legislative of the new millennium. Of course if the bug is not captures the state, the country and the world will be plunged into darkness and chaos. But hey, that's not going to happen for at least another three hundred and fifty-nine days so as the song says: don worry, be happy.

One hundred years ago this House was both very different and yet recognizable to us today. In January of 1899 the General Assembly was not here yet. It did not convene until the 31st of January and when it did it was located several hundred yards to the east of us in the old state house on the east side. The first session in this beautiful and now beautifully restored room was in 1901. In 1899 the General Assembly continued to hold a winter session in Providence and a spring session in Newport. Now that's an idea we may want to reconsider.

Following the May session a new Assembly was elected each year. In 1899 the Assembly consisted of thirty-seven senators, one from each town and seventy-two representatives.

In the House there was a significant political imbalance. Sound familiar? The Republicans controlled sixty-five seats and the Democrats only six. One member had died before taking office. If the Democrats were building a power base for the future it may have begun in New Shoreham which sent Democrats to both the House and Senate.

A review of the manual profiles shows that there were eighteen merchants, eleven lawyers, nine farmers, nine skilled workers, seven manufacturers, four physicians, three contractors, the accountants and other miscellaneous occupations. There were no teachers.

Eleven of the members were not born in the United States. Six were from Canada, four were from England and one was from Germany.

Eighteen were college educated including Harvard, Dartmouth, Amhurst, and four from Brown. Eleven were veterans of the Civil War. There were of course no woman.

The work of the Assembly appears to have been the efficient maintenance of the status quo. the Newport Daily News reported on February 1st that "The General Assembly has a rather dull time today." and that the next day was occupied with almost exclusively routine matters." A review of the acts and resolves shows that much of the work related to cities and towns, acts of incorporation, resolutions and the budget which was passed on February 24th and included a distribution of school aid based on school census. Providence got the largest share at $29,336.58, while Charlestown received the lowest at $834.56. I'd be willing to bet that then as now, no one was entirely pleased with what their town received.

Apparently there was a rather serious problem with our feathered friends as the Assembly passed a law related to fowl. The first established a fine of twenty dollars and three months in prison for stealing domestic fowl of a value of less than twenty dollars. If the fowl was worth more than twenty dollars the offender was to be imprisoned for not less than six months and fined not less than one hundred dollars. Such mandatory fines and prison sentences must have surely put an end to such fowl behavior.

In the House there were thirteen standing committees: Judiciary, Special Legislation, Finance, Corporations, Education, Rules and Orders, Militia, Charities and Corrections, (an interesting combination), fisheries, elections, agriculture and mechanic arts, state property, and public institutions.

In just four years the House will be reduced to seventy five members. They will be expected to carry the same increasing load of work of the current membership of one hundred. If we believe that the General Assembly and it's work is critical to this state than we must begin now to bring this great institution into the twenty first century. We need to develop an action plan that will result in a new or restored facility that will provide all members with office space, staff support, adequate meeting space and research facilities to do the job they are elected to.

In my tenure here I have voted to provide excellent, modern, efficient office space to the Department of Administration, education, secretary of state, environmental management, attorney general and other agencies and commissions, I read in the newspaper that the Governor will request funding to move another department to a new building. I am giving notice today that I will not support any more legislative/executive branch agreements to address the capital needs of this body. It is likely that many of you will benefit from such facilities more than I. But if we work together and do it right the people of this state will be the real beneficiaries.

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