From a press release:
Rhode Islanders for Reform expresses cautious optimism about the floor debate and the House Rules that were adopted by the Rhode Island House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The issue of House Rules Reform has been championed for many years by a small number of Representatives and supporting organizations. And this year, the tireless work of the Reform Caucus, and other reformers both Democratic and Republican, has propelled that conversation forward immensely. We are incredibly thankful to all of the above for the work to advance common sense and urgent democratic reform.
What cannot be overstated is the value of the outpouring of public support that rose up around this issue in the past few months. This year’s effort at Rules Reform galvanized the public in a new way and in larger number than has been seen in the past. There is a growing awareness of how legislative rules diminish the voices of Rhode Island voters, and a growing desire to fix it. Rhode Islanders for Reform has worked to educate the public on the importance of this issue to the legislative process. And the public has made it very clear that they care about the creation of a better, more transparent, more accountable state government.
The work that was done, prior to the 2018 election and at the start of this term, resulted in the adoption of a 24-hour Notice rule for amendments. We consider this an improvement, and a concrete step towards a more transparent legislative process. However, we take issue with the exclusion of the budget, and the ambiguity and subjectivity in allowing the chair of a committee to deem an amendment “of technical, grammatical, or not substantive or substantial in nature” and waive this requirement.
There is still plenty of work to be done. We will continue fighting for more transparency and accountability in the legislative process and an equitable distribution of power among legislators, and therefore the citizens in each House District.
All Rhode Islanders – no matter where in the state they live – deserve a government that works for them. They deserve a legislature focused on solving real problems, and they do not want their Representatives to be unable to serve their constituents due to a legislative structure that withholds and concentrates decision-making power. Rhode Islanders for Reform will continue our work to help make this a reality.