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Rhode Island Tip Sheet: Power to the People?

June 29, 2011

STATE OF THE STATE: Public opinion seems to have been a significant factor in how the House Finance Committee wiped out most of Governor Lincoln Chafee’s proposed reliance on new tax revenue. Chafee’s tax plan, after all, was pilloried from the time he unveiled it last year as a candidate. The drumbeat of criticism — from hairdressers to the editorial page of the ProJo — continued after the Republican-turned-independent squeaked into office. But will people power make any impact today as the General Assembly considers binding arbitration and the controverisal I-195 legislation? Stay tuned.

THE RUNDOWN: A busy day at the Statehouse . . . .  Senate Judiciary considers civil unions at 3:30 pm in Room 313 . . . . Senate Labor mulls binding arbitration at the rise (4 pm or thereafter) in Room 212; House Labor does likewise in the House lounge . . . . House Finance weighs the I-195 legislation at the rise in Room 35 . . . . Oh yeah, the Senate is due to approve the fiscal 12 budget, too.

BINDING ARBITRATION: The Rhode Island Tea Party posits binding arb as a quid pro quo for the elimination of new longevity payments for state employees. The Tea Party is set to hold a related 3:30 pm news conference at the Smith Street entrance to the State House. The RI League of Cities and Towns will hold its own demonstration in the rotunda at 4 pm.

CIVIL UNIONS: A New York Times’ story earlier this week pointed to Rhode Island as one of two states most likely to move forward with same-sex marriage. But what of the scorched earth left by battles between Marriage Equality Rhode Island and General Assembly members? Pointing to the Corvese amendment, MERI yesterday called on Governor Chafee to veto the civil union law expected to be passed today by the Senate. MERI’s call attracted some broad support, but some others proponents of same-sex marriage perceive the group’s strategy as self-defeating.

REAL REFORM, PART I: John Marion of Common Cause of RI made the case via an op-ed in yesterday’s ProJo for an employee-classification plan for the General Assembly: “Once the classification system is complete, it would provide a blueprint for the working of the General Assembly staff. Reporters, and other members of the public, could use it to hold legislative leaders accountable for their hiring, promotion and pay decisions.”

REAL REFORM, PART II: Scott says moving to spring the primaries for state general offices (unlikely to occur) would make a lot more sense than moving back RI’s presidential primary.

DEADLINE MESSAGE: On the cusp of the deadline for Q2 fundraising, Gina Raimondo points to “great momentum” on pension reform.

DEADLINE DAVID: In his own end-of-Q2 message, David Cicilline’s campaign messages this way:  “Pundits and David’s Republican opponents will use the midyear FEC report to gauge the strength of our grassroots support. Please give today to help us meet our goal before tomorrow! But there is still more to do.  In recent weeks national Republicans have been attacking David for not going along with their ridiculous plan to end Medicare as we know it in order to continue tax cuts for billionaires and oil companies. David needs your help now to show our grassroots strength as he fights for the middle class.  And with two days left he is just $3,000 short of his goal.”

VIVA LATINO: Catherine Welch talks with Brown’s Marion Orr about his examination of Angel Taveras, Latino politics, and Providence’s 2010 mayoral election.

PAYING THE BILL: A new Brown University study says the cost of post-9/11 wars is up to $4 trillion and 225,000 lives.

BIRTHDAY: Abel Collins; Timothy Snow.

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