This bill will allow citizens to vote on a Constitutional Amendment to restore jurisdiction over the General Assembly to the state’s Ethics Commission.
Sen. J. Michael Lenihan
Click here for more info (fix link to etichsamend2010)
Sen. Lou Raptakis
Rep. Larry Ehrhardt
Allow pro and con arguments in the Voter Information Handbook on Referendum questions
Sen. Ed O’Neill
Rep. Michael Marcello
Publish legislator roll call committee votes
Roll call committee votes are not published anywhere on the General Assembly website. It would not cost additional tax payer dollars to scan the documents containing the vote.
Sen. Lou DiPalma
Rep. Deborah Ruggiero
Eliminate straight-ticket voting
This is a question at the top of the ballot asking the voter if he/she wants to vote for all members of a particular party with one vote. This does not allow the voter to choose their candidates, one at a time, or to not vote for a candidate he/she may not know. Only 14 states have straight-party voting, including Rhode Island.
Sen. David Bates
Rep. Brian Newberry
Public financing of elections
To allow public financing of General Assembly and General Office candidates.
Sen. Rhoda Perry
Rep. Christopher Fierro
Deepwater Wind Project
OCG opposed this legislation for the end-run around the Public Utilities Commission
Sen. Susan Sosnowski
Rep. Patrick O’Neill
OCG LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP, JUNE 2010
As the French said years ago: The more things change, the more they stay the same. That applies to the 2009-2010 Rhode Island General Assembly. Even though Senate President Montalbano left, and Speaker Murphy stepped down, the new leaders replacing them gave OCG the same result: none of OCG’s legislative priorities passed.
The new leadership, just like the old, also presided over a mad rush to adjourn during the last days of the session, amending and passing many bills with minimal opportunity for the public, or even rank and file legislators, to review or provide input.
The biggest disappointment was the Ethics reform bills (S2391 Lenihan, H7357 Fox) to allow voters to re-establish Ethics Commission conflict of interest oversight over the General Assembly. Though H7357 passed the House overwhelmingly, 67–5, it, and S2391, both died in the Senate Committee on Constitutional & Regulatory Issues, chaired by Senator Goodwin.
The opposite happened with our bills to put pro and con statements in the Voter Handbook. The Senate bill (S2456 O’Neill) passed the Senate, but it, and the companion House bill (H7815 Marcello) died in the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Caprio.
Something similar happened to our bills requiring posting Assembly roll-call votes where (S2434 DiPalma) passed the Senate, but died, along with its companion bill (H7202 Ruggiero) in House Finance chaired by Rep. Costantino.
Other bills OCG was interested in never made it out of Committee. They included:
- Bills for Inspector General (S2041 Raptakis, H7371 Ehrhardt);
- Abolishing the Master “Lever” (S2310 Bates, H7482 Newberry);
- Voter initiative and referendum (S2097 & 2103 Cote, H7210 & 7212 Driver); and
- Campaign finance reform (S2454 Perry, H7446 Fierro)
We also note that the “Deepwater” bills (S2819 Sosnowski, H8083 O’Neill,P.) to facilitate a demonstration off-shore wind farm passed even though OCG and many other good government and environmental organizations testified against it due to its end-run around a decision by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), an established regulatory agency. As a result of many groups testifying against the bill, a new bill was introduced and passed that would send it back to the PUC on an expedited basis with a new set of guidelines that pretty much guarantees passage by the PUC; therefore, it is still not acceptable to OCG.
OCG thanks all the above sponsors. We will try again, perhaps with new leaders and committee chairs in the next Assembly. OCG members with questions or concerns about the legislative agenda are welcome to contact the OCG Legislative Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.