January 6, 2005

Meeting in RI

Carroll Andrew Morse

As a result of the separation of powers legislation passed in November, legislators are barred from serving on Rhode Island's executive boards and commissions. Governor Carcieri has proposed a new slate of members for the Rhode Island Lottery commission. Senate President William Murphy, however, claims the lottery commission is exempt from the separation of powers law. To help me understand why this might be so, and what the lottery commission actually decides, I decided to look up the Rhode Lottery Commission website. I figured a record of votes, meeting minutes and meeting agendas would be publicly available.

So, far I haven't been able to find the information anywhere online, despite Rhode Island Secretary of State's Matt Brown's efforts to make information from all government meetings in Rhode Island electronically available. (Here is a Brown University Study on how well the open meetings law passed in 2003 was complied with, and a Projo summary of the report.)

Given the current state of affairs:
1. Why not amend the Open meetings law to state that any action requiring a vote that is not posted electronically within 30 days of passage shall be deemed null and void.
2. Let's suggest to the current lottery commission members -- legislators or otherwise -- that if they are too busy to fulfill the basic function of informing the public of what they do, they should resign for that reason alone.