March 13, 2013
Man Bites Dog: A House Committee Passes Ethics Bill instead of Holding for Further Study
UPDATE @ 4:30 PM: Kathy Gregg at the ProJo tweeted out:
Hear that right? Did Speaker [F]ox just publicly remove J Patrick O'Neill from house judiciary after last nights ethics bill coup. Yes.Thus does O'Neill become the object lesson for what happens when you move to vote a bill out of committee without Speakah Fox's permission. I'm sure Rep. Marcello hopes the "cloud of suspicion" doesn't cover him....
Rep. J. Patrick O’Neill got a taste of revenge on Tuesday night."Cloud of suspicion"? Generated by whom? Sheesh, even the freakin' sponsor of the bill doesn't know how to deal with the passage of his own bill without the prior receipt of the proper marching orders from leadership. I'm sure everything will settle down and we'll be back to "further study" in no time.
During what was looking to be an uneventful hearing, the Pawtucket Democrat apparently surprised House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Edie Ajello and managed to get the 13-member panel to pass a proposed constitutional amendment [pdf] that would restore the R.I. Ethics Commission’s power to police state lawmakers. Rep. Doreen Costa, R-North Kingstown, seconded O’Neill’s motion.
A spokesman for House Speaker Gordon Fox wasn’t immediately available for comment, and the vote hasn’t been posted online yet. John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island and a longtime proponent of the ethics amendment, was shocked and elated by the sudden turn of events.
“They were intending to hold this bill for further study before Rep. O’Neill made a motion to reconsider,” Marion told WPRI.com. “We were caught off-guard, but we’re delighted because now the whole House of Representatives is going to have to vote on the resolution.”
The bill’s sponsor – Rep. Mike Marcello, D-Scituate – was as surprised as anyone; he was actually out of the room when the committee voted.
“I’m happy the bill passed, but I’m somewhat concerned about the manner in which it did,” Marcello told WPRI.com. “But a pass is a pass. I just hope the manner in which it passed doesn’t leave a cloud of suspicion as to whether or not it has the true support of the House.”