St. Patrick's toast held after fuss over lawmakers' drinking

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 16, 2017 at 5:27 p.m.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island lawmakers raised a glass to St. Patrick's Day and St. Joseph's Day on Thursday, a week after a legislator complained about heavy drinking at the State House.

The toasts were part of Irish and Italian cultural celebrations held in the legislative chambers.

Providence Democratic Rep. Moira Walsh last week told WPRO-AM there's an "insane amount of drinking" in the building. Legislative leaders disputed that.

Despite the brouhaha, Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello didn't consider skipping the toasts. Lawmakers drank a small amount of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur and Chianti wine.

Mattiello said it's tradition to celebrate various cultures and there isn't excessive alcohol consumption.

Walsh, who took office in January, walked out of the room before the first toast and drank from a water bottle during the second. She said she's frustrated by the amount of time wasted on celebrations and resolution-passing. She said they should spend more time voting on meaningful bills.

"I thought I'd come in here, kick down walls and make policies to help my neighbors," she said on Thursday. "I feel like I've spent a lot of time applauding."

The House also honors Israel Independence Day, the Day of Portugal and Dominican Republic Independence Day.

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