December 18, 2009

If the Legislation Weren't So Irredeemably Stupid...

Justin Katz

... I'd wonder whether we had an effect on this issue. Governor Carcieri has vetoed the apprenticeship gift to large, union contractors legislation:

In accordance with the provisions of Section 14, Article IX of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Section 42-1-4 of the Rhode Island General laws, I transmit, with my disapproval, 2009 H 5582, "An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations."

This act would decrease the ratio of apprentices to journeymen in various fields of trade and industry.

Although I am a strong supporter of apprenticeship programs, and believe that such programs are necessary to maintain and foster a dynamic workforce in the building trades, this bill is flawed and could have some unintended consequences.

Apprenticeship ratios should provide ample opportunities for young people to enter the ranks of the skilled workforce and at the same time allow for a level of supervision and on-the-job training commensurate with their needs. It is unclear that the ratios proposed in this bill strike that delicate balance.

If the ratios allow for too few people to enter the building trades it will be nearly impossible to replenish the aging workforce in this area. It is also important to acknowledge that there is a cost to operating an apprenticeship program, and that cost must be borne by someone. Labor unions, though not exclusively, have traditionally operated many of the apprenticeship programs. In doing so, they bear a cost that other contractors and companies -- those that do not operate such a program --- do not incur.

In closing, although I am sympathetic to the concerns expressed by the proponents of this legislation, I am equally concerned that the proposed remedy may have unintended consequences that could harm many businesses and workers. I look forward to working with the various impacted parties to hopefully find some other more balanced solution.

I should also note some inside information that the legislative supporters of this bill — including House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, who proved himself unfit for public office in his passionate speech on its behalf in the special session, this autumn — wanted to make a performance of their support but didn't really want it to become law. Two lessons from that suggestion: legislation can be a dishonest business, and the unions shouldn't fall for the fake support from the recipients of their support and largess.

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"Governor Carcieri has vetoed"


Posted by: Monique at December 18, 2009 9:00 PM


It's not over until the override fails or it doesn't get brought back before the body. It still has legs despite the veto.

Call your reps (you don't have to, just everyone else) and let them know that you oppose this legislation and will be watching their vote if it comes back to the floor. Nothing is better than a vigilant constituent.

Posted by: Jay at December 18, 2009 11:09 PM

Quick civics lesson, the Assembly must meet on the first Tuesday of the year for the new session. What are the odds that this Assembly will go back into session before then, if they haven't already adjourned. I'm too lazy to check the records to find if they did adjourn after their last meeting. If they did, then the veto is final for this session. Back to square 1. And if it truly does not have the support of Gordo and Billy, the sponsor will be told, "you had your chance".

Posted by: Patrick at December 19, 2009 1:06 PM


Skip the"civics lesson". The GA has not adjourned. Until that session is adjourned the next session cannot start. The 2009 session can open on 1/5/10 do its business, adjourn and then start the new session.
H5582 did not have the support of its sponsor but still passed.
Also, I doubt this site had anything to do with the veto. There are people out there who have been working tirelessly on that since October. As I stated earlier, it's not over yet. Only when you let your guard down do these types of bills slip through...

Posted by: Jay at December 19, 2009 1:38 PM

Interesting message, that: "You had no effect, but you must be ever vigilant!" S'pose I'll go back to my knitting, now, and let you real participants do your thing... I mean, a blog with a couple thousand daily visitors, including members of government and media, couldn't possibly have the effect of a freshman legislator from a small town on the edge of the state. At least you're not one to indulge in "all must work together" nonsense.

Of course, I'll knit vigilantly, watching (among other things) for legislation that might... for example... make it easier for municipalities to raise property taxes beyond the cap.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 19, 2009 1:59 PM


Please don't take offense where none is intended. Further, you will note that I take no credit for the veto myself but, only offer it to those groups such as the Associated Builders & Contractors, RIBA and the utility contractors who pushed to have it vetoed on behalf of their members. The numerous emails and faxes to the Governor and his staff from those people and businesses that would be most effected are what I think had the most impact. My point was that your readers should do the same towards their reps and senators. Your impact is in how you can mobilize; a single post that can generate dozens or even hundreds of calls, emails and letters. I don't believe that this veto is final yet.

Coincidentally, the day after meeting with the governor on this bill, I was laid off. I'm still looking for employment and could sure use a hand knitted hat if you're so inclined! Now, off to clear the driveway...

Posted by: Jay at December 20, 2009 9:30 AM

I meant my riposte more as literary jousting than an expression of offense.

Sorry to hear about your job. Rough times in our industry. Let me know if there's anything in particular I can do.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 20, 2009 9:36 AM

Justin wrote "Of course, I'll knit vigilantly, watching (among other things) for legislation that might... for example... make it easier for municipalities to raise property taxes beyond the cap."
If I'm not mistaken, language already in the tax cap legislation allows for a municipality to increase taxes above the cap if there is a reduction in state aid. Which has already happened.

Posted by: bobc at December 21, 2009 2:53 PM
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