July 26, 2011

The Privilege of One-Party Rule

Justin Katz

Throughout the legislative session just ended, the Providence Journal has been checking in with four freshman legislators, one of them being North Kingstown Republican Doreen Costa. This snippet, from the end-of-session iteration, points to one of Rhode Island's major political problems, and the consequence of indomitable one-party rule:

Lesson number two: Don't "question or argue" with the speaker, "privately, or on the floor."

"You just don't," she said. "You know you're not going to get anywhere if you argue with the speaker."

It just isn't right, nor indicative of a healthy political culture, for legislators to feel that way.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Many years ago it was "Argumentieren Sie nicht mit dem Fuhrer" . The politics in RI is directly responsible for the state of the state. It is not a mystery. Last week in the Wall St. Journal-RI 5th worst in the country:

"5. Rhode Island
Taxes paid by residents as pct. of income: 10.7%
Total state and local taxes collected: $9.4 billion
Pct. of total taxes paid by residents: 70.9%
Pct. of total taxes paid by non-residents: 29.1%

Rhode Island is one of the smallest states and has one of the smallest revenues. Despite this, residents' tax burdens are among the highest. Each year, the average Rhode Islander pays $671 in state "sin taxes," or taxes on things such as alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. This is the second highest amount in the country, behind only Delaware. Part of the reason for this is that the state taxes each pack of cigarettes $3.46, the second highest in the country. The state's tax burden is hurting business as well. Rhode Island has an exceptionally high corporate tax rate of 9% and was recently rated as the worst state for business by CNBC."

I rest my case.

Posted by: ANTHONY at July 26, 2011 2:14 PM

I do not understand the political process particularly well; but what result if a majority, or substantial minority, "questioned the speaker"?

Posted by: Warrington Faust at July 26, 2011 2:49 PM

"but what result if a majority ... questioned the speaker"?

The result then is a new Speaker.

Posted by: Patrick at July 26, 2011 3:59 PM

"but what result if a majority ... questioned the speaker"?

The result then is a new Speaker.

Politics is a strange world. I do believe there needs to be some decorum, and arguing with the speaker, in public anyway, counterproductive. I like Patrick's answer, a quiet rally to depose the dictator. Then the next one won't be such an untouchable. Maybe.

Posted by: michael at July 26, 2011 4:20 PM

"The result then is a new Speaker."

Not if it's just on one particular issue. I imagine that the speaker pretty much directly controls who chairs the committees, so the speaker can basically 'kill all your stuff' if you mess with him too much, by way of instructing the cmte. chair to 'hold for further study' all your legislation.

On top of that, they can take it further and 'hold' anything that you co-sponsor with your 'ground-level' colleagues, which means that in addition to being powerless and losing your own hard work, you lose all your friends.

It would sort of be like a citizen going to a city council meeting and making a scene, and then finding that the zoning board feels particularly zealous about your home shortly after.

Posted by: mangeek at July 26, 2011 5:42 PM

Or, a citizen writing an OP/ED about a shakedown from The Department of Labor and Training then coincidentally having the State Health Department do a surprise inspection four days later.

Posted by: michael at July 26, 2011 7:15 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.