March 14, 2013

Interview with House Judiciary Chair Edith Ajello, After Yesterday's Voiding of the Day Before's Ethics Vote

Carroll Andrew Morse

Yesterday's meeting of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Judiciary Committee began with the surprise move of Representative Christopher Blazejewski asking Chair Edith Ajello to void the reconsideration of a further study vote from yesterday that had resulted in a proposed Constitutional amendment on the Ethics commission being sent to the House floor. The Chair ruled that the passage of the Ethics amendment had indeed been out of order and therefore didn't count and, in response to an objection from Representative Doreen Costa, that the matter could not be discussed further at this meeting.

After the meeting concluded, I was able to ask Chairwoman Ajello what this suggested to people, about the role and process of committees at the RI legislature...

Anchor Rising: I've been writing about this subject for a few years, and a question that a lot of people in Rhode Island have is: does a Rhode Island committee in the House of Representatives have the power to pass a bill to the floor without the express permission from the leadership?
Audio: 13 sec
House Judiciary Chairwoman Edith Ajello: Yes.
AR: At the start of the day, when I woke up this morning, Representative Patrick O'Neill was a member of this committee, and it's my understanding that he no longer is. Is that correct?
Audio: 27 sec
EA: I heard that on the floor today.
AR: And as the Chairwoman of the committee, were you consulted on the decision?
EA: I was not....I did not ask that he be removed from the committee.
AR: The practice of voting for multiple bills, to hold them for further study. Do you think that's a good practice, and can the members of the committee be required to vote for all of the bills at the same time?
Audio: 1m 0 sec
EA: Nobody can be required to vote in any way. I think that holding bills for further study is a good way to keep them alive and make it very clear that bills are works in progress. We just heard a bunch of bills that all need amendments. 
The last section of the excerpt above finishes begins with a final question from me: "But might it be a better practice to hold them within the committee, rather than using what is a very unique thing to Rhode Island, to send them to the floor, to hold them for further study, rather than tabling them within the committee". In response, you can hear Richard Raspallo and Susan Pegden from the House Legal stuff jumping in to dispute the premise of my question. We'll take that issue in an upcoming post...

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.

One part that gets me is when you talk to these elected legislators, they have the lawyers right there on their hip to jump in. Why? Why can't Ajello speak for herself the whole time without interruption. If she doesn't understand the rules and process, why is she a chair of such an important committee? If these lawyers know the process so well, why aren't they elected to the seats?

Posted by: Patrick at March 14, 2013 9:13 AM

Edith Ajello has no background to chair the Judiciary Committee unless you consider being an occasional co-host on ACLU's "Rights of a Free People"on public access with Steven Brown(not a lawyer either)to be qualifying.Ms.Ajello's expertise is as a rug appraiser,however she is a reliable left wing political hack who has been hanging out in the General Assembly longer than an aged provolone.she is one of only two GA members to vote against Jessica's Law-the other being the odious Art Handy.Bob Craven is on the Judiciary-he is a former prosecutor and defense attorney-why wouldn't he make a better choice for committee chair?Oh-seniority-I get it.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 14, 2013 10:52 AM

Does she really believe that no one knows she's a lying sack of ...?

Posted by: Max D at March 15, 2013 4:54 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

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