PRESS RELEASE from Rhode Island General Assembly


House, Senate pass bill to move RI primary day to Feb. 5

STATE HOUSE Ė The General Assembly today, at its special one-day session, passed a newly-introduced bill that will move Rhode Islandís 2008 Presidential Preference Primary up one month, to February 5 -- what is nationally being called Super Duper Tuesday.

The legislation (2007 - S1152), sponsored by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick), changes existing state law that now sets the primary on the first Tuesday of March. With enactment of the legislation, Rhode Islandís primary in 2008 and every fourth year thereafter will be the first Tuesday of February.

Senator Raptakis said he proposed the change to allow Rhode Island to compete with the other primary states for the attention of the presidential candidates. With the number of states that have placed their primaries closer to the January 22 New Hampshire primary, the legislators said they wanted to make sure voters in Rhode Island were not left behind to cast meaningless votes after the Democratic and Republican nominees have essentially been decided in early February.

The move to a February primary would add Rhode Island to the 20 states that have already chosen that date for their primary, among them Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma. Other states are still considering such a move.

The measure was part of the business taken up today by the General Assembly, which had convened to also consider overrides of several gubernatorial vetoes and for Senate confirmations on a number of appointments.

A similar bill had been introduced at the beginning of the 2006 General Assembly session. That bill, also by Senator Raptakis, was approved by the Senate but was not taken up by the House before the session adjourned.

The bill passed today used that earlier bill as its basis, but some language was changed to address a concern about filing timetables and deadlines.

Similar legislation was introduced in the House earlier this year by Rep. Edwin R. Pacheco (D-Dist. 47, Burrillville, Glocester). That bill was still in a House committee when the 2006 session ended.

For more information, contact:
Randall T. Szyba, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457