March 30, 2005

Rhode Island Politics & Taxation, Part XIII

This posting continues a periodic series on Rhode Island politics and taxation, building on twelve previous postings (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII).

Raymond Brooks of Providence wrote a letter to the editor of the ProJo that highlights how Rhode Island Speaker Murphy's new House rules violate all sense of fair play and decency:

On March 23, I, along with many small-bar owners, attended and testified at a House Labor Committee hearing at the State House pertaining in part to House Bill H6159. This bill, after being orally amended and voted on, passing 6 to 3, would have stopped the exemptions with regard to smoking for Class C and D establishments as of June 1.

We in attendance thought the bill was headed to the House floor for a full vote, so after much applause and jubilation we went off into the night to celebrate what we thought was a great victory, but also knowing there would be much work ahead to secure the votes for equity. I got up early Thursday morning and e-mailed Governor Carcieri's office to ask that he come out publicly in support of Bill H6159. I also e-mailed a thank-you to Rep. Jan P. Malik, for introducing the bill and for making the necessary changes in it for passage. I then headed to my restaurant to start my day, and that's when my bubble burst.

I learned that after we had left and the smoke had cleared, House Speaker William Murphy rounded up five Labor Committee members who were not present for any testimony and re-addressed the bill. Please know that before Murphy's Rules took effect, this action would not have been possible. In the past you would have needed consent from a representaive of the winning side before a bill, after passage in committee, could be re-addressed. The bill now lost, 8 to 2; only two supporters remained.

The politicians played political football with our lives, and we got kicked in the teeth. I ask all concerned to please help in sending a message to Speaker Murphy, at (401) 222-2466. Let him know his rules will not stand after the next election.

The arbitrary nature of this behavior by Speaker Murphy violates the rule of law upon which a civilized society relies for justice and ongoing citizen belief in the legitimacy of their government.

Shame on Speaker Murphy.

And why do we, the citizens of Rhode Island, take this dishonorable and dangerous behavior sitting down?