Two newly-minted Smithfield legislators officially started their terms New Year's Day, getting sworn in at the State House.
Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence) and Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D – Dist. 44, Lincoln, Smithfield, Johnston) were formally sworn into office on Tuesday, January 1, as the 2013-2014 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly convened.
Archambault was one of eight new members of the Rhode Island Senate who took the oath of office, which was administered to all 38 Senate members by Rhode Island’s Secretary of State, A. Ralph Mollis.
Archambault, an attorney, former police officer, former member and president of the Smithfield Town Council and current Lincoln and Foster Town Prosecutor, is serving his first term in the General Assembly.
The Senate began its legislative year with a program of activities that included the re-election of Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Newport, Jamestown) as the President of the Senate.
Costantino was one of 16 new members of the House of Representatives who took the oath of office. Costantino, a small businessman from Lincoln, is also serving his first term in the General Assembly.
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). Also nominated was Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry (R-Dist. 48, North Smithfield, Burrillville) who received 6 votes.
Following the vote, Fox addressed the newly inaugurated members of the House of Representatives, invoking the spirit of Lincoln's inaugural address in 1861, just after seven southern states had seceeded from the union. “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.