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Super-liberal Rhode Island? Not so much

April 24, 2012

Rhode Island might rank among the most bluest states, but you wouldn’t know it from the General Assembly:

— The Ocean State last year became a rare example of when a Democratic legislature backed a Voter ID law;

— Speaker Fox and Senate President Paiva Weed seem in tune with Chamber of Commerce types in opposing income tax increases;

And now, Bob Plain of RI’s Future reports on how state Representative Jon Brien of Woonsocket, who has a leadership role with the American Legislative Exchange Council, has signed up a bunch of fellow lawmakers:

Brien said since becoming the state co-chair of ALEC he has signed up some 10 new members from the legislature. He named Reps. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, Dan Reilly, Doreen Costa, Lisa Tomasso, and Samuel Azzinaro. He said he hopes many of them join him at the annual meeting this August in Salt Lake City.

At that meeting, he will appoint Rhode Island legislators to ALEC task forces. The task forces, he said, pairs legislative members with corporate sponsors to hammer out new model legislation.

Plain reports separately that more than one-fifth of the General Assembly is involved with ALEC.

As the RI GOP continues to struggle, Brien offers one clear example of how conservative elected officials can raise their profile. (You can hear Brien talking about his politics and why he’s a Democrat, in this conversation I recorded with him last year.)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Thomas A. Schmeling permalink
    April 24, 2012 7:50 pm

    If you have an academic bent, check out “The Ideological Mapping of American Legislatures” in the August 2011 American Political Science Review. It shows a) the RI GA is generally to the left of the US median legislature b) the RI GOP in the legislature is significantly to the left of the median GOP in state legislatures (only the NY GOP is further left) c) the RI DEMS are somewhat to the right of the median Democratic party in the state legislature and d) RI is the least polarized legislature (Dems and GOP are closer here than most anywhere else, by a long shot.

  2. Art Norwalk permalink
    April 24, 2012 9:12 pm

    ALEC is drawing heat for activities seen by some as lobbying — a no-no for non-profits.

  3. Working Stiff permalink
    April 25, 2012 3:26 pm

    “At that meeting, he will appoint Rhode Island legislators to ALEC task forces. The task forces, he said, pairs legislative members with corporate sponsors to hammer out new model legislation.”

    How can an alleged non-profit pair a legislator and a corporate sponsor without that looking like lobbying? This group is going to run afoul of the IRS rules on lobbying and Brien is going to be up to his neck in it then.

  4. Bob permalink
    May 1, 2012 8:07 pm

    ALEC has been a powerful corporate under-the-radar lobbying group making policy decisions to be instituted by their political lackies for several years- NO legislator should be connected with this group. Their best successes? The Citizens United disgrace, more restrictive voter registration, anti- union and public sector employee disparagement and “Stand Your Ground” were all strongly pushed by ALEC. Shame on RI legislators who belong to ALEC, and more shame on those who don’t even know what they have joined!!


  1. RI Progress Report: ALEC, Knuckleheads, ‘Legislation Last’
  2. RI: The Democrat in Name Only State

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