Common Cause concerned about transparency for considering pension bill
A rules change backed by the House Tuesday sparked a pitched half-hour debate about the adequacy of time to consider pension legislation. Common Cause of RI is now adding this concern:
It has become clear that the current procedural plan for handling the bill falls short of the level of transparency laid out in our September 30th letter to members of the General Assembly.
The Rhode Island House and Senate appear to be moving forward under their rules 40 and 10.7 respectively, which waive various measures aimed at providing adequate notice to the public. While the Assembly is meeting in a “special” session, using rules that expedite the process run counter to the stated desire of legislative leaders to handle the pension reform bill in an open and transparent fashion.
In a letter to leaders of the General Assembly sent on Wednesday, Common Cause urges the leadership to immediately make changes to the process for handling the bill. Specifically, we ask that the hearings on the bill be moved to a location that is more accessible to a greater number of members of the public and press. Likewise, Common Cause requests that all amendments to the bill be made available to the public as soon as they are submitted by members.
Common Cause is particularly concerned that the Rhode Island Senate did not follow the example of the House of Representatives in passing H 6322 which provides for a seven day period between any vote in the House Finance Committee and the full chamber’s consideration of the bill, as well as a 48 hour deadline for House members to submit amendments to the Legislative Council’s office. With billions dollars and the retirements of tens of thousands at stake, adequate transparency for this process must be paramount.
A meeting of joint Finance Committees will take up the pension legislation Monday, prior to a series of public hearings.