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RI House chairwoman wants a hearing on bill to prevent payment of 38 Studios debt

Rep. Karen MacBeth, chairwoman of the Rhode Island House Committee on Oversight, wants a hearing on her bill to prohibit payment of the 38 Studios debt, The Associated Press reports.

MacBeth wrote a letter to Speaker Nicholas Mattiello to protest that her bill did not receive a hearing within 30 days of being submitted.

"I am objecting to the failure of the House Finance Committee to adhere to the rule referenced above and hereby request that you order the immediate discharge of said bill," the letter reads.

MacBeth proposed legislation in 2013 and in 2014 that would prevent the state from continuing to make payments. In April, just after being named charwoman, she said that she would issue subpoenas to learn more about the deal.

Mattiello has been a vocal supporter of repaying the loan, arguing that the state has a moral obligation to do so. After the Governor Lincoln Chaffee submitted legislation and the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a bill to encourage settlements, Mattiello said that its purpose was to "to get monies in sooner to the state of Rhode Island, so that we can use that as one of the things that we consider in dealing with this very complex and difficult issue."

In early May, Rhode Island made a $2.4 million payment to investors who backed the loan. That payment was that first to use with funds not originally earmarked for the failed $75 million loan guarantee that was intended to bring the video game developer and 450 jobs to the state.

38 Studios declared bankruptcy in 2012, and lawmakers have debated not paying the debt ever since. The state filed suit against members of 38 Studios and those involved in approving the deal in late 2012, claiming that it was not aware of the some portion of the deal's risks.

A study commissioned by the Rhode Island Department of Administration said that the state's bond rating could be reduced to junk status if the balance is not repaid.

You can follow along with the continuing story of Rhode Island and 38 Studios in Polygon's StoryStream.

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