The legislature at work
Credit union collapse
Trouble in the courts
Rod Driver on
Rhode Island Issues
The Legislature at Work
- New Legislator
Questions Rubber-Stamping of 150 Bills
March 19, 1987). PROVIDENCE - Freshman
Rep. Rodney Driver did the unusual yesterday.
Rules at the Assembly
(The Narragansett Times,
31, 1991). Rhode Islanders who have watched sessions of the legislature on
cable TV may have wondered why bills which come to the House floor almost
always pass - usually unanimously and without amendment.
- This Ain't
(From Rod Driver's Legislative
In high school one learns how a legislature works: A bill introduced in the
House is sent to a committee for study. If the committee approves, it then
sends the bill-possibly with amendments-to the full House for further
examination, discussion and a vote. Any bill passing all this scrutiny
goes to the Senate where the process is repeated. If passed by both the
House and Senate, the bill goes to the governor for his signature. A
similar process starts in the Senate for Senate bills. If you watch the
General Assembly on cable TV, you'll "see" this happening. Forget it! That's
not what's happening.
- NOTA Bill Gets
(The Warwick Beacon,
A bill to give voters the option of voting for "none of the above" got a cool
reception in a committee of the R.I. House of Representatives.
- The More Things
1995). IN THE "GOOD OLD DAYS" (1991 and earlier), the long and complicated
bill called the state budget was rubber-stamped by the Rhode Island House in
one session. Revisions mysteriously appeared at the last minute and were
accepted if the leaders wanted them. (Proposed amendments that were not approved
by the leaders were dead on arrival.) The Senate and the governor then promptly
added their approvals.
- General Assembly:
Deliberative, My Eye!
Providence Sunday Journal,
April 19, 1998).
The Rhode Island General Assembly recently killed voter initiative again. The
explanation as to why voter initiative is a "dangerous idea" became familiar
to me during the Constitutional Convention of 1986. We were told that bills
need to be carefully analyzed by a "deliberative body" before they become law.
You cannot trust the public to familiarize itself with complex issues and vote
- Fixing the
Legislative Downsizing Mess
(The Providence Journal,
March 28, 2000).
DOWNSIZING the Rhode Island General Assembly seemed like such a good idea
in July 1994 that both the House and Senate approved it -- unanimously!
But as the effective dates draw nearer, it has occurred to some incumbents
that downsizing could result in their being ex-incumbents after 2002. So
they want to rescind the plan.
- In the
legislature, forward to the past
August 5, 2001). ANYONE WHO SERVED in
the Rhode Island General Assembly 10 years ago should have felt right
at home with this year's proceedings. Bills unwanted by legislative
leaders died without even a vote in committee. Other bills, favored
by the leaders, appeared to come from nowhere on the last day of the
session, bypassed the committees and sailed through the House and
Senate to become law.
good guys ambushed again
April 26, 2002). LAST JUNE 28, leaders
of the Rhode Island House devised a tricky maneuver to kill a bill by
Rep. Nicholas Gorham (R.-Coventry) to begin the process of letting
Rhode Islanders vote on "separation of powers." The trickery worked so
nicely then that the leaders decided to try it again this month, on
April 10, to kill a similar Gorham bill.
- 12 more
years of one-man rule
Nov. 27, 2004). WE'D LIKE to think of the
Rhode Island General Assembly as a "deliberative body," composed of
representatives and senators from across the state. But it isn't. The
speaker of the House of Representatives controls the Assembly's
multimillion-dollar budget. The speaker determines each year who gets
$27 million in "legislative grants." And the speaker has almost complete
control over the daily legislation.
- Lackies of
July 28, 2008). THE PUBLIC has a low opinion of
the Rhode Island General Assembly and particularly its leadership. But we
generally assume that our own representative is not the problem. So we
re-elect incumbents -- or promote them to higher office -- without looking
at their records.
Credit Union Collapse
Beginning of the End for RISDIC
(Transcript from a videotape of the Rhode Island House, April 12, 1988)
One of the biggest financial disasters every to hit the state of
Rhode Island was the collapse of the credit-union system in 1991.
Apart from the damage to depositors separated from their funds, the
collapse precipitated a massive bail-out by the taxpayers through
an increase in the sales tax. This, in turn, had and continues to
have a negative impact on Rhode Island businesses.
Rules of the Game: Play Dumb
December 29, 1991). This was the year the insiders were
caught at their own game. The year the banking crisis pulled the cover
off a political system that routinely, often unconsciously, indulged
special interests -- regardless of the ultimate cost.
Trouble in the Courts
Succumb to 'Learned Helplessness'
(The Providence Journal,
April 14, 2000).
AFTER REPEATED DEFEATS, a subject in a psychological experiment may
just stop trying, concluding that nothing he or she does can make a
difference. Ten years ago Martin Seligman published his studies and
introduced the term "learned helplessness" to describe the condition.
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