GoLocalProv | Why does our legislature pass the bodywork legislation but not the section veto?

Friday, December 31, 2021

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Ken Block is a former gubernatorial candidate

There have been recent stories about a possible waiver of the veto power to pass another auto body industry bill that the auto insurance industry says will increase our rates. insurance already high. President Shekarchi said the auto body industry has lobbied effectively for this bill. He said that this bill had a lot of support from members of the General Assembly.

Over the past eight years, thousands of Rhode Islanders have contacted their elected officials asking them to implement a sectional veto in Rhode Island.

These elected officials often indicate that they are generally in favor of the idea, especially during an election period. Almost all of them will do little, if anything, to veto a vote by article.

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More than 100 members of the public dragged themselves to State House for most of those 8 years and spent hours waiting to testify in person in support of a sectional veto.

Why is it so difficult to reform to make the Rhode Island government operate in a way that 44 other states have had for many, many decades, when a narrow special interest like auto body shops can apparently get bills passed at will?

A line item veto provides greater budget transparency by allowing a governor to remove items from the budget, forcing the legislature to hold a notwithstanding vote for each removed item. With the article veto, a more nuanced debate can take place within the legislature regarding the merits of each deleted article, making it very difficult to override the vetoes of particularly bad parts of the budget.

Why is our legislature against greater budget transparency?

Is it because supporters of the section veto don’t give $ 100,000 a year in political donations to General Assembly members like the Bodybuilder Gang does? Or is it because this reform will result in a change in the power structure of our government?

Either reason is a horrible reason why our General Assembly refuses to allow an article veto to even be proposed for a vote.

In every election year, it is incumbent on candidate politicians to at least generally indicate that they support a reform that nearly 70% of Rhode Island voters agree is good. The trick is to get these politicians to not only pretend to accept the idea of ​​an article veto, but to take concrete steps to support its realization.

The real problem is the speaker in the house. And by that, I do not mean only the current speaker. I mean the position of the speaker of the house. Several speakers have refused to allow legislation that allows a sectional veto in Rhode Island to advance. They do it for the worst of reasons: to protect their personal and institutional power.

The Covid has necessarily blurred the priorities of our government. There was no point in pushing for good government reform when we were all facing a serious public health crisis.

But now that our General Assembly seems poised to increase our group auto insurance rates through the lobbying efforts of a very small group of individuals, it is clearly time to renew the effort to get the Rhode Island government to operate. so that the governments of 44 other states function.

In this election year, several candidates for multiple jobs will indicate that they support a line item veto. What are they prepared to do to make it happen?

You can ask your elected officials to support the article veto here: www.lineitemveto.org.

Ken Block is the president of WatchdogRI.

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