IR Rank published on Civil liberty rankings for lawmakers in the General Assembly, and by and large the Senate and House seem to have done … Okay. RI Rank bases his score on legislative votes, not on stated positions or public statements by politicians. Therefore, there is often a big separation between how the public perceives a legislator and how the legislator actually believes.
As I explain below, RI rank is not simply a measure of a lawmaker’s positions on a conservative to progressive scale, it also takes into account a lawmaker’s loyalty to the leadership of the lawmaker. the general Assembly.
Most bills never make it to the House or Senate for a full vote. The flow of legislation is carefully controlled by the Speaker of the House Joseph shekarchi and President of the Senate Dominique ruggerio, with the help of their management teams. Executive teams are made up of second in command, whips, committee chairs and co-chairs, all handpicked by management. The job of the management teams and in particular of the committee chairs is not to make the legislation succeed, but to serve as a proxy for the management and to move or block the legislation as required by the management. Committees in this sense can be seen as a showcase in a restaurant chain, such as McDonald’s or Subway. Committee chairs are like store managers who run the business in accordance with company policy with no room for maneuver.
Lawmakers can hurt their RI rankings by participating in legislative proceedings that set aside good bills, such as “watching for further study.” What happens in this case is that when a bill goes to committee for review and advocates and opponents are given a chance to speak out on the merits of the bill – nothing happens. past. The bill disappears from view until it is reintroduced in the next legislative session – usually only to disappear once again into the deep hole of “further study”. Holding a bill for further study sounds like sound policy – it’s presented as an opportunity to determine what changes the legislation needs to pass – but too often these bills fail. never studied before and they die quietly. Inquiries about the status of the bill are met with vague promises that the work is done behind the scenes, but the truth is that too often bills simply languish, stuck in legislative limbo.
During a committee meeting or in a private conversation, a lawmaker may claim to support a bill, he may claim that the bill serves a useful purpose, and he may publicly show support for the bill. , but when the pressure arose, the committee member who voted to retain the bill for further study did so knowing that the bill would never be put to a proper vote. These lawmakers bid the leadership and kill the bill.
This policy leaves voters guessing at the position of their elected representatives on important issues – and if it’s not intentional, it’s a positive side effect, in the view of some lawmakers. I know of lawmakers who went door-to-door a few years ago, responding carefully to their constituents about their position on the right to abortion. At some doors they pretended to be pro-choice, while at others they pretended to be anti-choice.
Some of these lawmakers would quietly agree to have their names on Rhode Island Right to lifeof the annual list of anti-choice lawmakers, and tell reporters who questioned they were surprised at their inclusion. In this way, some members of the General Assembly could play both ways – until women’s rights defenders forced a vote. Many lawmakers then cast surprising votes, with some longtime abortion enemies voting for the codification of Deer vs. Wade, and others who claimed to respect a woman’s right to choose to work for no reason to prevent the legislation from being passed. Voters did not know what their elected representatives really believed until the issue was dealt with honestly by the legislature.
RI Rank rates lawmakers based on their votes. This does not mean that a legislator cannot act otherwise. Senator Cynthia Mendes, for example, pushed the state in a positive direction with its nights protest against sleeping in front of the State House draw attention and demand action on the homelessness crisis in our state. While this type of action is difficult to quantify, it’s important to note that Senator Mendes also came out on top in RI Rank’s Senate Civil Liberties Rankings, so there may be a correlation.
Some lawmakers who support leadership and therefore score lower in the RI ranking could play an indoor game, hoping to pass quality legislation at the cost of sometimes having to cast bad votes in accordance with the wishes of the RI. leadership. Bad votes, like withholding bills for further study, count against a lawmaker in the RI Rank.
What legislators who play the inside game want is to pass good legislation in a bad system. In return for their support, the leaders allow the passage of certain bills that otherwise might not have been heard fairly. But does the gain equal the cost? Has playing the inside game ever reaped rewards for Rhode Island voters equal to the continuing and devastating impacts of the cruel and classy cash bail system? Equal to the impact of the lingering evil of payday loans? Equal to the impacts of LEOBoR, which makes it difficult for the police to be accountable? Equal to the continued criminalization of sex work, or the denial of abortion coverage for pregnant women on Medicaid, or the continued denial of driver’s licenses to undocumented workers, or the continued war on drugs …
All of these things are part of a system of oppression that impacts the lives of countless Rhode Islanders, and are things our legislature could work to make fairer and less cruel. Every year we do not pass legislation to improve people’s lives, the cost of indoor play is increasing. In order to show that the inner game is worth the cost, it must be weighed against the misery of our current unmodified systems.