New Speaker Mattiello says he's in charge

Nicholas Mattiello

Nicholas Mattiello has been speaker of the Rhode Island House for less than a week, and while the campaign was intense for a couple of days over the weekend, the final vote was a landslide for the four-term state representative from Cranston.

"I'm going to unify the House," Mattiello told a taping of "10 News Conference" on Friday.

He has said all week long that he will concentrate on issues that will advance Rhode Island's economy. But if you were thinking this is a reformer who will open up the process in the House of Representatives, you'd be wrong.

For instance, would he make a pledge that if a majority of members signed on to a bill that it could get a floor vote?

Mattiello's answer: "No."

He said he supports the committee system, which theoretically will screen bills on their merit. But if he does not believe a bill is a good one, he will not let it go to a vote on the floor.

"You can have 38 signatures on a bill, but I may get personal word from some of those members, 'You know what, I had kind of a change of heart. I read it. I don't like this language '" Mattiello said.

Mattiello agreed members have the option to vote "no" on the floor.

"They could. But if they don't want it to come to the floor, and it's not a good idea, then I will do my job. I'm going to be a speaker that does what he thinks is right for the state of Rhode Island," Mattiello said.

Bills that have been denied floor votes include payday lending reforms and giving the Ethics Commission more power over lawmakers. It's likely they will not get votes this session either.

"We're going to work as a House. Every member of that House is going to have a say as to what comes onto the floor or not. But at the end of the day, I have a significant responsibility. I will do what's in the best interest of the citizens," Mattiello said.

Mattiello said his friendship with two major lobbyists -- former Speaker Bill Murphy and former state Sen. Bob Goldberg -- will not give their clients any advantage at the State House.