Rhode Island Senate called back to reconsider Newport Grand legislation after late vote

The Rhode Island Senate president took the unusual step Thursday of calling senators back to a special one-day session to reconsider a casino bill that was approved in the middle of night as the General Assembly hurried to adjourn.

In an email to senators, President Teresa Paiva Weed said there will be a Monday afternoon session to reconsider legislation that outlined the terms of an agreement under which gambling would be expanded at Newport Grand if voters approve in a referendum.

She said the step is being taken as a precaution because of concerns raised over the majority with which it passed.

The measure in question was approved 24-2, with 12 senators not voting. The Senate recessed for the year at 3:36 a.m. Saturday, shortly after that vote.

A two-thirds majority of all those elected — not just those present and voting — is needed for appropriations measures. Paiva Weed said legal advisers don't believe such a majority is needed in this case but that a re-vote will be held nonetheless.

"We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution because this is such an important decision for the voters of Newport to consider in November," she said in a statement.

The legislation passed the House 52-4 at 2:49 a.m., with 19 representatives not voting. That meets the two-thirds threshold.