PRESS RELEASE September 20, 2016

Rep. Marcello receives NFIB award, named ‘Friend of Small Business’

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston) was recently named by the Rhode Island chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) as a ‘Friend of Small Business’ for his commitment to the needs of Rhode Island’s small businesses during the 2015-2016 legislative session.

“There is nothing more important to the vitality of Rhode Island’s economy than the health and growth of our small businesses and I am honored to be recognized by the NFIB as an advocate and defender of our state’s small businesses,” said Representative Marcello.  “

Representative Marcello was recognized by the NFIB for his support for unemployment insurance reform; amending the administrative procedures act that streamlined the state’s regulatory processes, a fairer revenue stream for road and bridge repairs, and other small business friendly measures that came before the Rhode Island State Senate the 2015-2016 legislative session.

The NFIB is the nation and Rhode Island’s leading small business advocacy association.  NFIB is a non-profit and nonpartisan organization that gives small and independent businesses a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect small businesses.  NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the rights of its members to own, operate, and grow their businesses within the Rhode Island and national economy.


PRESS RELEASE August 31, 2016

Rep. Marcello receives highest Common Cause ranking for second time in a row

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello has received the highest RI Common Cause ranking among his Democrat colleagues for the second legislative term in a row.  The ranking is determined by examining how legislators voted over the last two-year legislative term on topics such as elections and campaign finance, ethics and lobbying reform, judicial selection, open government, and rules and separation of powers.

“I am humbled to be recognized by an organization such as RI Common Cause that fights for open, transparent and accountable government for Rhode Islanders every single day,” said Representative Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston).  “Government serves the people and my goal since first entering the House has been to make accessibility, honesty and integrity the norm for all of state government and all of its elected officials and I will continue to stand side-by-side with Common Cause to deliver the government that Rhode Islanders deserve.”

RI Common Cause gave Representative Marcello a score of 84% after he voted in favor of legislation Common Cause supported 27 times and voting against Common Cause supported legislation on five occasions.

Common Cause of Rhode Island is part of a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization whose mission is to promote representative democracy by ensuring open, ethical, effective and accountable government at all levels of government.


PRESS RELEASE August 1, 2016

Representative Michael Marcello Announces Re-Election Bid to House 41 Seat

State Representative Michael J. Marcello (D-41 Scituate/Cranston) today declared that he is seeking re-election to House seat District 41. “Whether it was opposing and voting against the Rhodeworks tolling plan or advocating for and achieving restoration of Rhode Island Ethics Commission jurisdiction over members of the General Assembly, I am proud of my record for fighting for and reflecting the views of my constituents both in and out of the State House,” Marcello said.

First elected in 2008, Marcello currently serves on the House Corporations Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources & Environment.  In 2013, he unsuccessfully challenged the current leadership of the House when he ran for House Speaker after the resignation of then Speaker Gordon Fox.

“From the first day I entered the House, I have pushed needed reforms in our state government and demonstrated that I am willing and able to stand up and fight for what is right.  That is why I fought for and achieved the reduction of the state’s minimum corporate tax as well advocated for legislation that removed the sales tax on the electric bills of commercial businesses.  I also pushed through major reforms to the state’s open records act to make government more transparent and accountable,” Marcello noted.

A life-long resident of District 41, Representative Marcello is a graduate of Colby College and of the American’s University’s Washington College of Law.  He previously served eight years on the Scituate Town Council before being elected to the General Assembly.   A former partner at the Boston-based law firm of Morrison Mahoney LLP, he currently leads the law department of the City of Woonsocket as its City Solicitor.

“Our state faces difficult challenges, and it is important that those who seek elected office not only understand the issues, but have a proven track record of proposing solutions and achieving results.”  Marcello said.


PRESS RELEASE  July 20, 2016

Rep. Marcello and Sen. Gallo bill that eases student debt levels signed into law

studentloanbill_photo

From the left: Rep. Teresa Tanzi, Governor Gina M. Raimondo, Rep. Michael J. Marcello, Sen. Hanna M. Gallo, and RI General Treasurer Seth Magaziner at a ceremonial bill signing of RISLA legislation in the State Room of the State House

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello and Sen. Hanna M. Gallo’s legislation (2016-H 7370 / 2016-S 2453) that empowers the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) to issue bonds to allow the refinancing and consolidation of existing eligible student loans was signed into law by Governor Raimondo at a ceremonial bill signing today.  The bill, which was passed by the General Assembly last month, also authorizes RISLA to purchase and invest in its own bonds and notes.

“After introducing this legislation for the past couple of sessions, the signing of this bill is excellent news for Rhode Island graduates and students struggling with their educational debt,” said Representative Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston).  “With the costs of higher education rising on a yearly basis and wages remaining stagnant year in and year out, too many of our students are coming out of college with crippling amounts of debt that remains with them for decades after graduation and this is completely unacceptable.  This legislation will allow RISLA to help our state’s current and former students manage the growing debt that has had a stagnating effect on their adult lives.”

“For those students in Rhode Island who have an exceedingly high debt, this legislation will hopefully get them some lower interest rates through refinancing,” said Senator Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick). “The Rhode Island Student Loan authority is a great success story with one of the lowest bond rates and student loan rates in the country. This legislation will help them enhance the great work they’re already doing.”

RISLA is a non-profit quasi-state authority which has been providing affordable higher education solutions since 1981. RISLA offers low cost state-based education loans, free admissions and financial aid assistance through the College Planning Center of Rhode Island, and financial literacy guidance at high schools and colleges throughout the State of Rhode Island.

RISLA does not receive any funds from the state of Rhode Island.


 

Rep. Marcello introduces bill enabling municipalities to regulate the sale of fireworks

March 1, 2016

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston) has introduced legislation (2016-H 7656) that would authorize cities and towns to regulate, by local ordinance, the sale of fireworks within their municipal boundaries.
“Since the state legalized the sale of fireworks several years ago, there has been confusion at the municipal level as to what local licenses, if any, are needed to regulate them in each community,” Marcello said.
The legislation enables municipalities to adopt an ordinance to create a firework license in each City or Town by which the municipalities can regulate the time, place and manner of their sale.
“Around July 4th of every year, national and local vendors with tents appear in almost every City and Town peddling fireworks, and this legislation would give municipalities the clear authority to regulate their sale through a special license,” Marcello said.
“While it would not stop the explosive sounds of fireworks ringing through night, it will allow our municipalities some element of control and give them clear authority to set appropriate fee as well as location where such sales could occur.” Marcello said.
Under the proposed legislation, municipalities could charge up to $1,000 for the license.

Rep. Marcello legislation calls for minimum malpractice insurance for lawyers

February 29, 2016

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello has introduced legislation (2016-H 7667) that would require Rhode Island lawyers to carry at least $1 million in malpractice insurance.

“This is an important piece of consumer protection legislation that will protect the citizens of Rhode Island from legal malpractice,” said Representative Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston). “Legal malpractice does occur and it is vital that protections and compensation are available for Rhode Islanders who are victim to malpractice by their attorneys.”

The legislation calls for any lawyer who violates the requirement be subject to a civil penalty of no less than $2,000 and no more than $5,000 to be determined by the unauthorized practice of law committee.

Rep. Marcello calls for constitutional amendment to restore Ethics Commission powers over Assembly

February 16, 2016

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston) has introduced legislation that will ask voters to decide – through a constitutional amendment – if the Ethics Commission should maintain jurisdiction over legislators’ votes and actions.
“When voters approved the constitutional amendment establishing the Ethics Commission more than two decades ago, the assumption was that ethical behavior would be expected of all elected officials, including members of the General Assembly, and that the Ethics Commission could prosecute unethical behavior,” said Representative Marcello. “While the court’s ruling may be right on point, constitutionally it was never anyone’s intent to grant the members of the legislature a free pass on ethical issues.”
The bill (2016-H 7577) would put a question on the next general election ballot asking voters to decide if the Ethics Commission should be allowed an exception in the “speech in debate” clause of the Rhode Island Constitution that shields lawmakers from prosecution or civil suits based on their actions as legislators, such as proposing or voting on a bill.
The legislation he sponsored, said Representative Marcello, will allow voters to reaffirm that when they approved the Ethics Commission creation in 1986, they intended for that body to have jurisdiction over all public officials.
If approved, the constitutional change would reverse a Supreme Court decision that acknowledged a conflict between the “speech in debate” clause and the section of the constitution that established the Ethics Commission. The Supreme Court, in that ruling, gave precedence to the former.  The change would not repeal the “speech in debate” clause, which is intended to protect legislators from being harassed or stopped from doing their jobs as legislators as a result of frivolous lawsuits and complaints. It would, however, grant the Ethics Commission an exception in that clause so that the commission would have the power to prosecute ethics violations by legislators.
Cosponsors of the legislation are Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Johnston, Smithfield), Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), and Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
The legislation was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

Rep. Marcello aims to ease student debt with Student Loan Authority legislation

February 4, 2016

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello has introduced legislation (2016-H 7370) that would empower the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) to issue bonds to allow the refinancing and consolidation of existing eligible loans.  The bill would also authorize RISLA to purchase and invest in its own bonds and notes.
“With the costs of higher education rising on a yearly basis and wages remaining stagnant year in and year out, too many of our kids are coming out of college with crippling amounts of debt that remains with them for decades after graduation.  This is completely unacceptable,” said Representative Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston).  “This legislation will allow RISLA to help our state’s current and former students manage the growing debt that has had a stagnating effect on their adult lives.”
RISLA is a non-profit quasi-state authority which has been providing affordable higher education solutions since 1981. RISLA offers low cost state-based education loans, free admissions and financial aid assistance through the College Planning Center of Rhode Island, and financial literacy guidance at high schools and colleges throughout the State of Rhode Island.
RISLA does not receive any funds from the state of Rhode Island.
Representative Marcello’s legislation was referred to the House Committee on Finance.

National group names Marcello ‘Friend of Small Business’

September 4, 2014

STATE HOUSE – The National Federation of Independent Business/Rhode Island has named Rep. Michael J. Marcello a “Friend of Small Business” for the 2013-14 legislative session.

“We thank you for your commitment to the needs of Main Street business owners and the tens of thousands of people who work in Rhode Island’s small businesses” and for “standing with us on issues making it easier and less costly to do business in Rhode Island and to grow jobs and the economy,” said Billl Vernon, NFIB/RI State Director, in recognizing Representative Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston).

Representative Marcello was honored by the organization for his support of regulatory reforms and other measures to lower the cost of doing business, which the NFIB/RI said is consistent with its mission to promote and protect its members’ right to own, operate and growth their companies.

“The NFIB does an outstanding job of supporting and helping the many small businesses that make up the majority of Rhode Island’s work places,” said Representative Marcello. “It’s an honor to be recognized by them and it’s my commitment to small business – owners and workers alike – to focus my efforts at the legislature on ways to create jobs and improve our economy.”

NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, DC, and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their businesses.

Marcello scores highest in Common Cause assessment

August 7, 2014

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston) received an 82% grade on the recently released Common Cause Legislative Scorecard, the highest rating of all members of the House of Representatives and Senate.
The 11th annual scorecard from Common Cause, assessing the 2013-14 General Assembly session, ranked lawmakers on a number of pieces of legislation relating to issues such as voting rights, campaign finance, ethics and open government. The most significant single piece of legislation Common Cause said was included in the three dozen it targeted during the two-year session involved elimination of the straight party option, known as the master lever.
Specific scores for Representative Marcello for the five issue categories rated by the organization were: Ethics – 100%; Campaigns and Elections – 100%; Judicial Reform – 50%; Open Government – 78%; Separation of Powers – 50%. The organization recorded Representative Marcello as voting pro-Common Cause bills 28 times, compared to 7 anti-Common Cause votes. He did not vote on 8 Common Cause bills, the scorecard said.
“I appreciate the good mark from Common Cause and I applaud the organization for continuing to be a watchdog of the General Assembly,” said Representative Marcello. “The votes I cast on legislation weren’t done to score high with any one group, however, but were based on one abiding factor – serving the good of all Rhode Islanders. Government serves the people and my goal since first entering the House has been to make accessibility, honesty and integrity the norm for all of state government and all of its elected officials.”
Common Cause of Rhode Island is part of a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization whose mission is to promote representative democracy by ensuring open, ethical, effective and accountable government at all levels of government.
In addition to the master lever, other bills included in the Common Cause assessment were: voting place closing times; ratifying the 19th Amendment; accountability of quasi-public agencies; casino gambling in Newport; Ethics Commission constitutional amendment.
Representative Marcello is serving his third term in the House of Representatives and is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He was the author of legislation passed and enacted in 2012 that made significant changes to the state’s Access to Public Records Act.

Marcello calls for audit of Scituate police pension plan

April 4, 2013

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston) has made a formal request of the Town of Scituate Pension Board to conduct an audit of the police pension plan to determine what, if any errors or problems have been encountered.
In a letter to the pension board members requesting the audit and full disclosure of its findings, Representative Marcello said that he had attended a recent meeting of the board, during which it was disclosed that certain retired police officers were receiving compounded COLAs in contravention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and pension documents.
In letters sent out last December by the town treasurer, several retired police officers who are receiving pension payments were informed that “pension calculations have been calculated in a manner inconsistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement” and indicating, in each specific case, the future payment adjustments that would be made to recoup any overpayments.
In regard to those letters and because questions remain as to whether the adjustments were also being made in the case of two police officers, Representative Marcello wrote to the board to express “some very serious concerns about the past administration of this plan.” He said that he received misinformation in regard to questions he posed in the fall of 2012 and, as a result, “I will continue to press for more information as to when this so-called error was discovered and why it was not disclosed.”
He said, further, that he finds it interesting that an attempt is being made to recoup some COLA overpayments, yet no attempt is being made to recoup overpayments in the case of two specific police officer retirees.
“As you know,” Representative Marcello wrote to the board, “the Scituate Police Pension Plan is severely underfunded and I believe that the board has a fiduciary obligation to recoup all overpayments in whatever form for the benefit of the current members and the future retirees.”
He wrote, further, that “I urge you to make full disclosure of all errors and problems with the plan in an effort to build consensus on a solution. I believe a full and complete audit of the plan and its beneficiaries is long overdue give these ongoing systematic errors.”
Representative Marcello said he expects the board to request the audit be conducted by its own audit firm and that he has not yet considered requesting an audit by the state’s Auditor General.

Marcello bill would increase tax credit transparency

June 6, 2013

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist 41, Cranston, Scituate), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight, is looking to shine a brighter light on Rhode Island’s tax credit programs. Legislation he recently introduced, (2013-H 6130), which was heard this week in the House Committee on Finance, would add language to a series of tax credit laws requiring any beneficiaries of those credits or incentives to report the value to the Division of Taxation.
According to Representative Marcello, this measure would make cost estimates of these programs more accurate.
“Tax credits are a great way to provide targeted incentives that improve our economy, but each one costs us some revenue,” said Representative Marcello. “It is crucial that we get a precise estimate of this total revenue cost so that we can be good administrators of these tax credit programs.”
Every even-numbered year, the Rhode Island Department of Revenue issues a Tax Expenditure Report, which estimates the total cost of Rhode Island’s tax credits. Each individual tax credit estimate is given a reliability score on a scale of one to five, with one being the most reliable. A score of five means that there is no data from which to make an estimate, and this poses a problem for finding a total cost figure. With the new bill, Representative Marcello says, the estimates would become more reliable, and the state would strengthen its accountability to taxpayers.
Under the bill, language would be added to a number of tax credit programs requiring those that benefit from them to report their tax modifications to the Division of Taxation. This additional data would then be used to improve the accuracy of the biennial Tax Expenditure Report. Programs targeted by the bill include employment tax credits, job training credits, small business credits, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation credits, and education credits among nearly twenty programs in total.
Other New England states have recently taken similar initiatives to Representative Marcello’s. In Connecticut, the State Comptroller recently spearheaded the introduction of new legislation to increase the transparency of the state’s tax credit programs. Similarly, in 2012, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued its first ever Tax Credit Transparency Report, which listed the recipients of all the state’s tax credit programs.
“Tax credits and economic development are always tied to two principles: transparency and accountability,” said Representative Marcello. “My bill would make our tax credits more transparent, and make Rhode Island’s tax system more accountable. Economic development is our number one priority here at the State House, but it cannot be effective without open and accurate information for all Rhode Islanders.”
The Marcello bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Johnston, Lincoln, Smithfield), Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), and Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence).
A companion Senate bill (2013-S 827), introduced by Sen. Frank Lombardo III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston), has passed the Senate and is now before the House Committee on Finance.

House Oversight issues final report on 2012 elections

April 12, 2013

Calls for better overall planning, new machines, more training for poll workers

STATE HOUSE – The House Committee on Oversight has issued its final report on the 2012 elections, listing findings and recommendations stemming from a series of hearings on problems encountered during the November balloting.
While the committee reports that the vast majority of polling places reported no problems and that there was no evidence the Voter ID law or changes in the size and location of polling places caused any problems or delays, the Oversight Committee report does call for better overall election planning, more training for poll workers and the purchase of new voting machines for the state.
Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston), Chairman of the Oversight Committee, said the committee is issuing its findings and recommendations “with confidence that they will improve the voters’ experience at the polls. If implemented, the committee’s recommendations will help to improve election planning, poll worker training and recruitment and data collection.”
The committee conducted four hearings on the 2013 election and problems that were experienced at polling places, receiving testimony from the Office of the Secretary of State, the State Board of Elections, other public officials and representatives of several groups, including the ACLU, NAACP, League of Women Voters and Common Cause.
The committee heard testimony that adequate polling places are difficult to find in many voting districts, that recruiting capable, reliable poll workers has proven to be difficult in most municipalities, that there are concerns about ballots with multiple pages, and that the current voting machines, purchased in 1997, are no longer adequate.
The committee also expressed a concern that, as of March of this year, the ballot reconciliation of the election results of the 2012 general elections had not been completed.
The committee recommended that the Board of Elections, working with the local Boards of Canvassers, needs to establish written minimum standards for the selection of polling places, including adequate parking, signage and lighting. As a separate recommendation, the committee would like the Board of Elections to work with local Boards of Canvassers to collect data on the length of the lines at polling places, the peak times of voting and the length of time voters take in the privacy booths.
Several of the committee’s recommendations focuses on staffing of the polls and recruitment and training of the poll workers, including:
— The Board of Elections needs to increase the number of poll workers and require greeters at polling places with an historic high turnout or with a history of long lines at the polls;
— The Board of Elections, local Boards of Canvassers and Secretary of State’s Office should adopt a state plan to recruit high quality poll workers and implement a program to certify poll workers, including a test.
— The Board of Elections should improve its training of election clerks to decrease mistakes on elections certificates.
— The Board needs to hire and train more technicians to repair machines on election day.
Several of the committee’s recommendations impact on the Office of the Secretary of State. The committee would like the Secretary of State’s Office to have the authority to set a maximum number of pages for the ballot, and to undertake a review of the ballot designs for ease of voting and to consider new designs for bilingual ballots that is less confusing. The committee is also recommending that the Secretary of State should be added as an ex-officio member of the Board of Elections to increase communications between the two offices.
It is also the committee’s recommendation to support funding to the Board of Elections for the purchase of new voting machines, and to direct the board to develop a plan to replace the machines before the next presidential election in 2016.
Other members of the committee are Rep. Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence), Co-Vice Chair; Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Co-Vice Chair; Rep. Karen L. MacBeth (D-Dist. 52, Cumberland), Secretary; Rep. Michael W. Chippendale (R-Dist. 40, Coventry, Foster, Glocester); Rep. Elaine A. Coderre (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket); Rep. Lisa Baldelli Hunt (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket); Rep. Jeremiah T. O’Grady (D-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket); Rep. Thomas A. Palangio (D-Dist. 3, Providence); Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick); Rep. Lisa P. Tomasso (D-Dist. 29, Coventry, West Greenwich); Rep. Donna M. Walsh (D-Dist. 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly), and Rep. Thomas Winfield (D-Dist. 53, Smithfield, Glocester).

Bill calls for electronic monitor in certain domestic violence cases

April 8, 2013

STATE HOUSE – A court-issued protective order or no contact order is not, in itself, a guarantee that the victim of a crime will be safe from further violence.
“Some individuals, especially in the cases of domestic violence, continue to be harassed and bothered and even abused by the individual against whom the protective or no contact order has been issued by the court,” said Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston). “If we want victims of domestic violence crimes to feel truly safe and to be protected from their attackers, we must do more than merely issue a court order.”
To increase the level of protection for victims of domestic violence, Representative Marcello has introduced legislation that will allow the courts, in certain circumstances, to order an individual who is the subject of a protective order to wear an electronic monitoring device.
“When a court issues a protective or no contact order, the clear intent is to provide a level of safety for the victim of the crime,” said Representative Marcello. “The court should have the discretion to take further steps if there is reason to believe that merely issuing an order is not going to achieve its intended purpose.”
The Marcello bill, 2013-H 5963, would allow the court, in requiring an electronic monitoring device, to consider the person’s conduct subject to prior protective orders or no contact orders, prior convictions of crimes of violence, prior incidents of domestic violence against the party for whose benefit the order has been issued, or the offender’s history of drug or alcohol abuse or access to weapons.
Under the Marcello legislation, any domestic violence offender ordered to wear a monitoring device would be guilty of a felony and subject to five years in prison for tampering with, damaging or destroying the device. Further, any costs associated with wearing a monitoring device would be borne by the offender, unless the individual is determined by the court to be indigent.
“Unfortunately, we know there have been instances when the victim of domestic violence has continued to be abused or attacked by the perpetrators of those crimes,” said Representative Marcello. “Clearly, there are no absolute guarantees that an individual will be completely safe merely because a protective order or no contact order has been issued. By requiring individuals, in certain circumstances, to wear a monitoring device, we can increase the level of safety the order is intended to provide.”
The bill is before the House Committee on Judiciary. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) and Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence).