Editor’s note: The following information was provided by the the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau.
STATE HOUSE, Providence – The Rhode Island Senate unanimously elected Dominick J. Ruggerio (D – Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) to the office of President of the Senate during its floor session Thursday, electing Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) as their new Senate Majority Leader.
Senate Democrats conducted the caucus electing McCaffrey as their new Senate Majority Leader just prior to the session. The post had bee previously held by Senator Ruggerio since 2011.
Maryellen Goodwin continues as Majority Whip for the new leadership team. Senator Goodwin (D – Dist. 1, Providence) has served as Majority Whip since 2011, and prior to that was Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Special Legislation.
“I have always been fortunate in the Senate to work alongside such a tremendously talented and dedicated group of public servants,” said President Ruggerio . “We come from many different backgrounds and all regions of the state, and we each bring our own perspectives, but our goal is fundamentally the same: we want to make Rhode Island an even greater place to live and work.”
Ruggerio resides in North Providence and represents District 4, which includes portions of North Providence and Providence. He is the father of two grown children and grandfather to three granddaughters.
Ruggerio championed the legislation establishing the I-195 Redevelopment Commission to bring investment into the capital city, create good paying jobs and invigorate new industries. When progress at the city level had stalled, he fostered establishment of a tax stabilization agreement on the reclaimed I-195 land.
Senator Ruggerio served as Majority Leader during the 2011-2012, 2013-2014, and 2015-2016 sessions, and until today in the 2017 session; and as Senate Majority Whip from 2003 to 2010. He previously served as Deputy President Pro Tempore of the Senate and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor and Transportation. Ruggerio served in the House of Representatives from 1981 through 1984, when he was elected to the Senate.
Ruggerio is the “Dean,” or most senior member, of the Senate.A practicing attorney, McCaffrey is a member of both the Rhode Island and the District of Columbia Bar Associations.
“I am humbled that my colleagues have placed their faith in me to lead the chamber,” said Leader McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick). “It is an honor to work with such a talented group of individuals who are truly passionate about making Rhode Island the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to working with President Ruggerio and the entire Senate to continue tackling the challenges that face our state.”
McCaffrey was first elected to the Senate in 1994. He represents Dist. 29, which encompasses much of Warwick. He was named chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, which considers all bills affecting the penal code, judicial system, ethics, open meetings, access to public records and election laws, in 2003.
During his time in the Senate he has championed issues ranging from elder abuse, to strengthening sex offender laws, to a measure enabling aid for family members who care for a developmentally disabled or chronically ill relative.
He was the driving force behind the Good Samaritan Overdose Act, which expanded legal protections for those who seek medical assistance for individuals experiencing a drug overdose, and legislation which protects owners of homes on leased land.
McCaffrey has also led the Senate’s efforts at justice reinvestment, and is the prime sponsor of a Senate package of bills this session that would overhaul Rhode Island’s probation and parole system. The legislation was passed by the Senate early last month.
He has been honored for his work by organizations including Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his work to curtail drunk driving, specifically legislation which allows judges to require ignition interlocks for those convicted of drunken driving.