Dominick J. Ruggerio is the President of the Rhode Island Senate. He has served as the Senate President since March of 2017. He previously served as Majority Leader since November 10, 2010.
As President, Senator Ruggerio serves as an ex-officio member of all standing Senate committees.
During his time in the General Assembly, he has focused on economic development, co-sponsoring the Senate's initiatives to make it easy to do business in Rhode Island by reforming the income tax code, cutting red tape, improving access to capital, and building the skills of the workforce.
In the 2023 session, he helped create a new $50,000 tangible personal property tax exemption that will fully eliminate this tax for roughly 75 percent of Rhode Island businesses. Previously, he co-sponsored the legislation to reform the state income tax by reducing the top marginal rate from 9.9 percent to 5.99 percent, making the state more competitive and resulting in a tax cut for the vast majority of Rhode Islanders, particularly middle-income taxpayers.
Senator Ruggerio has also championed job creation and retention through his work as a member of the Joint Commission on Ports and by working to strategically develop the land being made available in downtown Providence from the relocation of Interstate 195. He championed a package of bills, known as “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island," aimed at removing barriers to development such as needless and costly delays in building inspections. Additionally, he has been a consistent champion of the Real Jobs Rhode Island program, which utilizes an industry-driven approach to help workers acquire the skills needed for in-demand, family-supporting jobs.
Other initiatives Senator Ruggerio has sponsored to help make Rhode Island more competitive include the legalization of sports betting in Rhode Island following a landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision; subsequent measures to allow for mobile sports wagering, betting on in-state collegiate teams during tournaments, and iGaming; and a law, enacted in 2007, allowing automobile dealerships to open on Sundays.
Senator Ruggerio has been a champion of Rhode Island's climate action. Following the adoption of the 2021 Act on Climate, he sponsored a historic law requiring that 100 percent of Rhode Island's electricity be offset by renewable production by 2033, setting the most aggressive energy standard of any state in the U.S.
Senator Ruggerio co-sponsored and strongly supported the law, enacted in 2010, establishing a fair and predictable formula for state aid to education. He has championed education reform to improve schools throughout Rhode Island, modeling laws enacted in 2019 after successes in Massachusetts. He has also supported investments in Rhode Island's early childhood care and education system, including efforts to realize universal prekindergarten access; and sponsored legislation to make the Rhode Island Promise program permanent, providing eligible Rhode Island students with up to two years of free tuition at CCRI.
Senator Ruggerio has been an advocate for Catholic and parochial schools in Rhode Island, supporting issues such as a tax credit program enabling businesses to establish scholarships for students at these schools and a text book sharing program.
He has also championed legislation to preserve the environment and protect public health. He has been a leader in efforts to address lead poisoning by replacing all lead pipes in Rhode Island's water supply. He also sponsored the Plastic Waste Reduction Act to reduce single-use plastic bags, as well as successful legislation to phase-out mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs. He has additionally sponsored laws to institute a recycling program for mercury used in automobiles, improve collection and disposal rules for mercury thermostats, and create the state's mattress recycling program.
Senator Ruggerio has sponsored several bills to assist retirees who are part of the insolvent St. Joseph's Health Services pension plan. The new laws would assist former employees of Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph's hospitals by encouraging settlements in the pending lawsuit. It would also add protections such as increased transparency and steeper penalties for these types of pension plans so that similar situations don't happen again.
Senator Ruggerio has also focused on addressing the state's opioid overdose crisis. In 2019 he created a $5 million Opioid Stewardship Fund, assessed on large pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors to provide prevention and treatment services. He also sponsored a law prohibiting life insurance companies from denying coverage based solely on the filling of a prescription for the anti-overdose medication Naloxone, which many nurses and first responders keep on hand.
Additionally, Senator Ruggerio has been recognized for his animal welfare efforts. Among other measures, he sponsored a 2022 bill to establish new requirements for the care of abused animals, as well as hold owners of those animals responsible, and a 2019 law expanding domestic violence protective orders to protect pets.
Senator Ruggerio served as Majority Whip from 2003 through 2010. He has previously served as a member and as Vice Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor and Transportation, and as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Rules Committee, the Senate Labor Committee, and the Joint Committee on Accounts and Claims. He also previously served as Deputy Majority Leader.
First elected to the Senate in 1984, Senator Ruggerio is the “Dean," or most senior member, of the Senate.
Prior to his tenure in the Senate, Senator Ruggerio was a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 1981 through 1984, and was a member of the House Labor Committee and House Corporations Committee.
He served as a Policy Aide for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor from 1977 through 1981.
A 1966 graduate of La Salle Academy, Senator Ruggerio attended Bryant College and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1974 from Providence College. He is retired as an Administrator of the New England Laborers Labor Management Coop Trust. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Wanskuck Library and as a member of the Sons of Italy, Loggia Vittoria and the DaVinci Center Development Committee.
Among the awards and honors Senator Ruggerio has received for his public service is The Humane Society of the United States' Humane Legislator Award, in recognition of his efforts to prohibit double-decker horse trailers. He has also received the Mattress Recycling Council's Environmental Stewardship Award, the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce's Barbara Burlingame Award, and the Clean Water Association's Legislator of the Year award.
President Ruggerio resides in North Providence and represents District 4, which includes portions of North Providence and Providence. He is the father of two children, Charles and Amanda.