2017-03-30 / Front Page

Paiva Weed resigns as Senate president

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed in the rotunda of the State House in Providence during the 2013 session. She is stepping down after 25 years to lead the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed in the rotunda of the State House in Providence during the 2013 session. She is stepping down after 25 years to lead the Hospital Association of Rhode Island. Teresa Paiva Weed, the first woman to serve as president of the Rhode Island Senate, has resigned from her post four months after being elected to her 13th consecutive term.

Although she is no longer president, Paiva Weed remains a member of the legislature. Her full departure, however, is expected soon.

“This has been a very special time in my life, having had the opportunity to represent the residents of Newport and Jamestown for the past 25 years,” Paiva Weed said. “I am both humbled and grateful for the faith and trust they have placed in me. It has been my privilege to be their voice in the Rhode Island Senate.”

The 57-year-old Newport lawyer is leaving Smith Hill to serve as president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, a nonprofit trade organization that serves 10 hospitals. She officially takes the helm in May.

“After much soul searching, I believe it is time to take on new challenges,” said Paiva Weed, a Democrat. “Perhaps at no other time in our history has it been so critically important to ensure the vibrancy and affordability of hospitals and our overall health care system.”

Jamestown independent Sav Rebecchi, who unsuccessfully campaigned against Paiva Weed in November, does not plan to run for the District 13 seat unless it’s an uncontested seat.

So far, three Newport Democrats, John Florez, Dawn Euer and David Allard, have announced their intentions to run. Florez, an at-large city councilman, is best known for unsuccessfully campaigning for a panhandling prohibition last year. He also led the charge to save Cliff the coyote. Euer, an attorney and activist, made headlines in 2013 as a supporter to legalize gay marriage. Allard, a Progressive Democrat, is a former outreach manager for Gov. Gina Raimondo who currently manages third-grade reading for the state Department of Education.

Paiva Weed’s legislative accomplishments are far-reaching. Early in her career, she spearheaded efforts to reform the state’s welfare system. She also was instrumental in legislation that compels judges to be appointed on their merits, not political popularity.

In other landmark law, Paiva Weed instituted a cap on property taxes and created the Family Independence Assistance Act, which established a legal basis for needy families to receive public financial aid. She also has championed green jobs, education and job training, and most recently secured money to relocate the Newport bridge ramps. As president of the Senate, Paiva Weed shepherded legislation to address the opioid crisis and has supported a package of bills to improve access to mental health treatment.

“Senate President Paiva Weed has dedicated her adult life to public service,” Raimondo said. “Throughout her career, she has led the way to protect the most vulnerable people in our state and has taken strong stances to improve and protect social services. By rising to the top post in the Rhode Island Senate, she shattered a glass ceiling and has led her chamber with dignity, compassion and integrity for nearly a decade.

“I have enjoyed working with her to increase wages for homecare workers and improve the quality of care that people across our state receive. I will miss our frequent meetings at the State House, but wish her all the best in her next endeavor.

“Rhode Island is a stronger, better state because of Teresa.”

First elected president in 2009, Paiva Weed was re-elected to that post by her colleagues in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

“I will forever be grateful for their support by re-electing me as their president over these many years, and could not be more proud of our collective accomplishments.”

State law requires a special election no more than 90 days after Paiva Weed’s seat is officially vacant. However, there are exceptions as the legislative session moves closers to its recess date in June.

The Senate has not had a Jamestown member since 1966; roughly three-quarters of the voters in District 13 are from Newport.

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