Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr. (D-Dist. 33, Narragansett, South Kingstown), a State Representative since 1989, announced his resignation from the House of Representatives. First elected in a special election in November 1989, Representative Lally’s 25 years of service ranked second in the House this session in terms of seniority. He was serving this year as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, having previously been the Deputy Speaker. His House tenure also includes four years as chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary. A special election to fill the House seat will be held on June 9. In a formal letter of resignation delivered today to Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello, Representative Lally said, “I have been deliberating on whether or not to continue in my present position as Rhode Island State Representative for District 33. I decided that it is time for me to step down. … My constituents in Narragansett and South Kingstown deserve to have a representative who has the enthusiasm, energy, commitment, and burning desire to represent them throughout the entire year. This legislative body is not a part-time legislature. It has become a year-round commitment.”
“Recently, I lost both of my parents and it led me to reflect upon how important family truly is,” wrote Representative Lally in his resignation letter, saying that at this time he wishes to devote more time to his wife and two children and to his law practice.
“To my fellow members in the House, both past and present, as well as my constituents over all of these years, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve,” he said.
Representative Lally, who ran unopposed for the House District 33 seat last fall, was first elected in November 1989 after a special election to replace Gilbert Indeglia, who was named to the District Court bench at that time (and is now on the Supreme Court). His 25 years of service ranks second in the House in terms of seniority.
A member of the House Leadership team, he is this year serving in the role of Speaker Pro Tempore. During the previous legislative session, he was the Deputy Speaker of the House. He served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee from 2006 to 2010, and still serves as a member of that committee. He is also this session a member of the House Committee on Oversight and the House Committee on Rules.
After taking leadership of the Judiciary Committee in 2006, one of his first efforts was to secure the passage of legislation strengthening the state’s breath test refusal laws, long considered a weak spot in Rhode Island’s drunken-driving prevention statutes. The legislation doubled the infractions for first-time offenders and made subsequent refusals criminal offenses.
That year his committee also won passage of a “social host” law that allowed adults to be charged criminally if they allow underage drinking in their homes. In 2008, the committee successfully refined that law to ensure that adults could be prosecuted if the underage drinking occurs anywhere on their property, not just inside the home.
An attorney at Lally Law Associates, LLC, in Narragansett, he received his law degree from the New England School of Law in 1980. He is licensed to practice law in the U.S. Supreme Court, Federal Court, and the courts of the State of Rhode Island. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island in 1977. He is a 1973 graduate of East Providence High School. He and his wife Sandi live in Narragansett and are the parents of two children, Jessica, a University of Rhode Island graduate currently pursuing her doctorate in audiology at the University of Connecticut, and Connor, a freshman at URI majoring in business.
Representative Lally is the son of Donald Lally Sr. and Frances Lally, both of whom passed away within nine days of each other in December 2014 and January 2015.
Representative Lally has been involved with a number of causes and organizations including the Narragansett Bay Project, the R.I. Aqua Fund and the Narrow River Preservation Association. He is member of the Narragansett Democratic Town Committee.
Dear Mr. Speaker and Members of the RI House of Representatives:
As you may be aware, I have been deliberating on whether or not to continue in my present position as Rhode Island State Representative for District 33. I decided that it is time for me to step down, effective immediately, as Rhode Island State Representative for District 33.
I decided to run for re-election in 2014, given the circumstances of last session, to do what I could in my leadership role to see that the House would stay on task. Mr. Speaker, I am confident that you will continue to lead the House and the State of Rhode Island to more prosperous times.
I have served my district for over 25 years and my constituents in Narragansett and South Kingstown deserve to have a representative who has the enthusiasm, energy, commitment, and burning desire to represent them throughout the entire year. This legislative body is not a part-time legislature. It has become a year-round commitment.
We have two children: Jessica, who attended the University of Rhode Island for four years and is now finishing her second year of a Doctorate program in Audiology at the University of Connecticut; Our son, Connor, is finishing his first year at the University of Rhode Island in Business. I need to dedicate more time to my law practice.
Recently, I lost both of my parents and it led me to reflect upon how important family truly is. Few people realize what a commitment it is to serve in the General Assembly. My wife, Sandi, has supported me in my endeavor to represent the constituents of District 33 and we have done the best we could to balance the commitment of this office with the responsibilities of our family. As Chairman of Judiciary, I gave my son’s Little League schedule to my secretary so she could schedule around it for committee meetings.
I have truly loved being a part of the legislative process, whether it was in teaching new members how to navigate the system; reaching across the aisle to work with the Republican members; or working within my own party. They say that good legislation is like making good sausage… but you do not want to see how it is made. I have always enjoyed rolling up my sleeves and getting involved in making the “sausage”. Maybe that is why I stayed so long.
During my tenure, I have met colleagues who will be friends of mine for life. Some of the finest people I have ever met, with few exceptions, have been in this House, the Senate, and the Governors’ offices. The time has come for me to move on.
I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to serve on your leadership team. To my fellow members in the House, both past and present, as well as my constituents over all of these years, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve.
Representative Donald J. Lally, Jr.