RI House passes Rules with reforms: All the video

Nicholas Mattiello
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The Rhode Island House of Representatives debated the rules by which the chamber will be governed for the next two years for nearly three hours Wednesday evening, in the end passing small reforms. This is the fastest rules hearing in recent history, according to John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island.

The rules have been adopted quickly due to the dissident Reform Caucus1, 19 Democratic House members opposed to the unilateral decision making of the Speaker of the House when it comes to the movement of legislation through the committee process and to the House floor.

Under the new rules, House members and the public will have 24 hours to read a bill that has been substantially changed since its introduction.2 Also, a new section on sexual harassment has been added.

Over the course of the debate, four different amendments to the bill were proposed. All four amendments were voted down by House members.

Below is all the video of the debate.

Introduction:

Representative Arthur Corvese (Democrat, District 55, North Providence), who chairs the House Committee on Rules, introduced the legislation, H5037A, and briefly described it.

Amendment 1:

Representative Michael Chippendale (Republican, District 40, Coventry, Foster Glocester) introduced an amendment that would allow committee members to delay votes on changes to a bill if one third of the committee members vote to.

Representative John Edwards (Democrat, District 70, Tiverton) opposed the amendment.

Representative Jason Knight (Democrat, District 67, Barrington, Warren) supported the amendment.

Representative Charlene Lima (Democrat, District 14, Cranston) opposed the amendment.

Amendment 2:

Representative Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence) put forth an amendment that would change the way that discharge petitions are handled. A discharge petition is a bill seeking a floor vote that bypasses the committee process by gaining enough signatures from House members to force a vote on the House floor.

Currently, discharge petitions sit under the Speaker’s rostrum, where House members who may want to sign it must do so under the Speaker’s gaze. Representative Kislak’s amendment would allow House members to carry the discharge petition with them, and seek signatures in person.

Representative Corvese opposed the amendment.

Representative Brian Newberry (Republican, District 48, North Smithfield)

Representative Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence) supported the amendment.

Representative Joseph McNamara (Democrat, District 19, Warwick) opposed the amendment.

Representative John Lyle Jr (Republican, District 46, Lincoln) supported the amendment.

Representative Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence) supported the amendment.

Representative James McLaughlin (Democrat, District 57, Central Falls)

Representative Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport) supported the amendment.

Representative Blake Filippi (Republican, District 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly)

Representative Robert Jacquard (Democrat, District 17, Cranston) opposed the amendment.

Representative Corvese

Representative Lima opposed the amendment.

Representative Carson supported the amendment.

Representative Walsh supported the amendment.

Amendment 3:

As the Rules are currently written, the Rules may be suspended at any time when the Speaker of the House and the Leader of the minority party agree. The Rules are routinely suspended at the end of session, when there is a rush to pass many bills all at once. This makes for a chaotic and messy experience where bills can be introduced, rushed through a haphazard committee process and passed on the House floor in a matter of minutes.

Representative Knight’s amendment would change the Rules so that they may only be suspended when the Speaker and Minority Leader agree to, and with a vote of two-thirds of the House.

Representative Brian Patrick Kennedy (Democrat, District 38, Westerly, Hopkinton) opposed the amendment.

Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown) supported the amendment.

Representative Knight

Representative Lima opposed the amendment.

Representative Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence) supported the amendment.

Representative Carson supported the amendment.

Representative Walsh supported the amendment.

Representative Stephen Ucci (Democrat, District 42, Johnston) opposed the amendment.

Representative McLaughlin

Representative Carlos Tobon (Democrat, District 58, Pawtucket) opposed the amendment.

Representative Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich) supported the amendment.

Representative Jean Philippe Barros (Democrat, District 59, Pawtucket) opposed the amendment.

Representative Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence) supported the amendment.

Representative Filippi

Representative Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown) supported the amendment.

Representative Barros

Representative Deborah Ruggiero (Democrat, District 74, Jamestown) supported the amendment.

Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) supported the amendment.

Representative Terri-Denise Cortvriend (Democrat, District 72, Portsmouth) supported the amendment.

Representative Joseph Shekarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) opposed the amendment.

Amendment 4

Representative Newberry introduced the fourth amendment that would force a vote on the Rules every year, not every two years.

Representative Christopher Blazejewski (Democrat, District 2, Providence) opposed the amendment.

Representative Newberry

Representative Knight supported the amendment.

Representative Corvese opposed the amendment.

Representative Filippi supported the amendment.

Representative Ucci opposed the amendment.

Representative Filippi

Representative Shekarchi opposed the amendment.

Split the bill

After the four amendments failed, Representative Tanzi rose to object to the sexual harassment portion of the bill. She asked that the sexual harassment language be separated out so that the House could vote on the bill in two sections. First the House voted on whether or not the sexual harassment portion should stay in the bill, then the House voted on the rest of the bill.

The bill was passed with the sexual harassment language included.

Representative Camille Vella-Wilkinson (Democrat, District 21, Warwick)

Representative Knight

Representative Kazarian

Representative Grace Diaz (Democrat, District 11, Providence)

Representative Walsh

Representative Kislak

Representative Shekarchi

Representative Newberry

Representative Cassar

Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence)

Representative Carson

Representative Tanzi

Representative Chippendale

Representative Arthur Handy (Democrat, District 18, Cranston)

Representative Tobon

Here’s all of UpriseRI’s coverage on the House Rules debate to date:


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  1. The Reform Caucus consists of Representatives Edith Ajello (Democrat, District 1, Providence), Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence), Rebecca Kislak (Democrat, District 4, Providence), Raymond Hull (Democrat, District 6, Providence), John Lombardi (Democrat, District 8, Providence), Joseph Almeida (Democrat, District 12, Providence), Arthur Handy (Democrat, District 18, Cranston), Justine Caldwell (Democrat, District 30, East Greenwich), Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Kathleen Fogarty (Democrat, District 35, South Kingstown), Mary Messier (Democrat, District 62, Pawtucket), Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence), Liana Cassar (Democrat, District 66, Barrington, East Providence), Jason Knight (Democrat, District 67, Barrington, Warren), Susan Donovan (Democrat, District 69, Bristol), Terri-Denise Cortvriend (Democrat, District 72, Portsmouth), Deborah Ruggiero (Democrat, District 74, Jamestown) and Lauren Carson (Democrat, District 75, Newport).
  2. When a bill is introduced, it is assigned a number. When the bill is changed, it is assigned a n additional letter. For example, House Bill 5037, which was introduced as H5037, was passed as H5037A when it incorporated the changes noted above.

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About Steve Ahlquist 1084 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade.Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.atomicsteve@gmail.com