Ruggerio new Senate president; McCaffrey elected majority leader

STATE SEN. Dominick J. Ruggerio, D-North Providence, was unanimously elected on Thursday to serve as Senate president. He replaces Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, who resigned from the leadership post to take a job with a hospital association. / COURTESY R.I. GENERAL ASSEMBLY
STATE SEN. Dominick J. Ruggerio, D-North Providence, was unanimously elected on Thursday to serve as Senate president. He replaces Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, who resigned from the leadership post to take a job with a hospital association. / COURTESY R.I. GENERAL ASSEMBLY

PROVIDENCE – The Senate on Thursday unanimously elected North Providence Democrat Dominick J. Ruggerio as its president, a day after Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, resigned from the leadership post to take a job with a hospital association.

Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey was chosen to serve as the new Senate majority leader, a post previously held by Ruggerio since 2011.

Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, will continue serving as majority whip for the new leadership team.

“I have always been fortunate in the Senate to work alongside such a tremendously talented and dedicated group of public servants,” said Ruggerio in a statement. “We come from many different backgrounds and all regions of the state … but our goal is fundamentally the same: We want to make Rhode Island an even greater place to live and work.”

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Ruggerio is the longest-serving member of the Senate. He supported legislation establishing the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and economic-development initiatives, including removing bureaucratic hurdles facing small businesses.

McCaffrey, D-Warwick, is an attorney who has been active on issues that include elder abuse and strengthening sex-offender laws.

He also championed the Good Samaritan Overdose Act, which expanded legal protections for those who seek medical assistance for individuals experiencing a drug overdose, according to a Senate news release.

Paiva Weed served as Senate president for more than eight years, before resigning to become president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.