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RI lawmakers mull role in economic development

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- An influential panel of state lawmakers is set to discuss state government's role in economic development as the General Assembly continues its focus on the state's lackluster business environment.

The House Finance Committee is scheduled to hear a presentation Wednesday on defining the state's role in economic development given by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, an independent, business-backed group that looks at state policy.

Top lawmakers in the state Senate and House of Representatives have identified the state's economy and business climate as their No. 1 issue this year. The state's January jobless rate was 9.8 percent, putting Rhode Island in a tie with California as the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.