January 30, 2012

Coming up in Committee: Seven Sets of Bills Scheduled to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, January 31 - February 2

Carroll Andrew Morse

7. The House Corporations Committee will be considering a typically eclectic set of regulatory bills on Wed, Feb 1, on subjects such as allowing "hospitals and treatment centers located in Providence to calibrate scales within their facilities" (H7231) and requiring flashing lights on snow-removal equipment, in addition to snow plows (H7230). It's always both fun and informative to look in on the agenda of this committee, to get a sense of the things that RI government likes to regulate. However, I do wonder what problems are anticipated by H7229, which states that in civil lawsuits against the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, "any damages recovered therein shall not exceed the sum of one hundred thousand dollars".

6. S2052: A statutory "bill of rights" for homeless individuals, including "the right to fair, decent and affordable housing in the community of his or her choosing, and access to safe and proximate shelter until such housing can be attained". (S Housing and Municipal Gov; Tue, Jan 31) (Question: Could an unlimited number of people use this section of the proposed law to sue for their right to housing in New Shoreham?)

5. H7055: Changes election rules from requiring that "substantially not more than nineteen hundred voters shall be served by the same polling place", to requiring that "voting districts" shall be limited to 4,000 voters (in the absence of special approvals). (H Finance; Tue, Jan 31)

4. H7186/S2121: "With respect to police officers employed by the town of Johnston, only those police officers hired on or after July 1,2011 shall be eligible to be members of the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of the state of Rhode Island". (H Municipal Gov; Tue, Jan 31 & S Finance; Thu, Feb 2) (Question: Isn't the MERS system the pension system in Rhode Island that's considered to be in the best shape?)

3. H7225 provides for stays of foreclosure for active duty or deployed armed service members. H7274 creates a specific process for resolving child custody and visitation matters "when a parent receives temporary duty, deployment, or mobilization orders from the military". (H Veterans' Affairs; Thu, Feb 2)

2. H7272: Changes date of layoff notices for public school teachers from March 1 to June 1 (H Labor; Wed, Feb 1) (Editorial note: The date change is literally the only change in the law made by this bill).

1. H7250: Terms of teacher contracts would remain in force after they have expired, if no new contract has been ratified. (H Labor; Wed, Feb 1)

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.

" Terms of teacher contracts would remain in force after they have expired"

I think this has come up before and I think my perspective on it differed from Andrew and Justin's. If I was on a school committee, I'd just see this as a win. There is no binding arbitration, (yet), so use this law to your advantage.

Take a look at the school contracts from 10 years ago. How many towns would like to have those in effect today? Isn't that basically what this law could do? The school committee can simply never truly negotiate with the teachers and simply tell them that their old contract is still in effect and that's the rate they'll be paid. This law could let towns simply avoid giving raises to teachers.

This law also brings back the question that I have asked many people and they all either just chuckle or shrug their shoulders, what keeps a town from telling a union at the end of a contract, "your services are no longer needed" and then post every position at the school? Is that possible?

Posted by: Patrick at January 30, 2012 1:12 PM

""the right to fair, decent and affordable housing in the community of his or her choosing"

Maybe my calculations are wrong, but every time I've had to run numbers, the very rough estimate is you can "afford" a house that costs about 3x your salary. Maybe now, that's down to 2.5x.

I just looked up the median salary for RI and it was $51,000. So that means we would have the right to fair, decent housing that would cost about $125,000 to $150,000 in Barrington, East Greenwich, Newport, New Shoreham and so on? Really? Sign me up today. How many people will have the right to houses that cost that?

If I have the right to housing that costs that, do i also have the right to housing that costs that and is waterfront property?

And then what happens when the price is set at those levels and because it is so cheap, compared to surrounding states that more people want to move in than we have inventory? Clearly then, prices would tend to go up when there's more demand than supply. But with this law, they couldn't go up. You can't sell your house for more than that. So what then? We build? And end up looking like Manhattan or Tokyo with regard to open space?

Posted by: Patrick at January 30, 2012 1:17 PM

"A statutory "bill of rights" for homeless individuals, including "the right to fair, decent and affordable housing in the community of his or her choosing"

When you read the literal language of this bill it may be THE worst piece of legislation ever proposed.
{Inappropriate content snipped -- don't try to repeat} a free house in Barrington, EG, Little Compton or Block Island..
Idiocy, thy name is progressive.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at January 30, 2012 2:09 PM
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