Rhode Island House Republican Caucus Offers Legislation to Restore Checks and Balances During a Declared State of Emergency
State House, Providence – Rhode Island House Republicans will submit legislation to ensure proper checks and balances on the Governor’s powers during a declared State of Emergency. These measures address the gaping holes in our emergency statutes that have been exposed by the past eight months of government by executive order with scarce legislative involvement.
The first proposed bill will establish in law a new bi-partisan Permanent Joint Disaster Oversight Committee, comprised of members from both the House and the Senate. This committee will be required to regularly meet during a declared state of emergency to review the policies and actions of the Governor. The Committee will have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents. The second proposed bill will amend the Declaration of Emergency statute (§ 30-15-9) by requiring legislative action to continue a declared state of emergency past 90-days.
The House Republican Caucus issued the following statement regarding this action:
Rhode Island has been without a legislative branch of state government for the past eight months. Rather than elected lawmakers passing laws, we are governed by a succession of executive orders issued by Governor Raimondo. Many of these executive orders are legislative in nature because they deeply affect our personal lives, including; our freedom to associate in our own homes, to practice our religion, to bury our departed loved ones, and to make a living.
Additionally, the General Assembly has failed to exercise its basic constitutional oversight function of the Governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including: for our seniors dying in our nursing homes; our children failing with remote education; our struggling over-regulated businesses, and our declining economy. Sadly, Speaker Mattiello stated last week that his secret closed-door meetings with Governor Raimondo and Senate President Ruggierio is an appropriate level of oversight, and those that disagree are “political noise” that want Rhode Island to fail for political gain. It is most unfortunate that Speaker Mattiello has failed to lead the House of Representatives during this crisis, and that he has chosen to attack the motivations of those seeking to respect basic constitutional norms.
Our proposed legislation will require legislative action during declared emergencies, rather than leave it up to the whims of legislative leadership. These proposals will return thoughtful and public engagement to the State House by providing the proper balance of allowing the Governor to respond to an emergency, while at the same time ensuring that basic constitutional checks and balances are upheld.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives Minority Caucus (Republican) is comprised of the following elected members representing constituents who live in the following districts throughout the Ocean State: Minority Leader, Blake Filippi, District 36 (Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly, New Shoreham); Minority Whip, Michael Chippendale, District 40 (Foster, Glocester, Coventry); Representative John Lyle, Jr., District 46 (Lincoln, Pawtucket); Representative George Nardone, District 28 (Coventry); Representative Brian Newberry, District 48 (North Smithfield, Burrillville); Representative David Place, District 47 (Burrillville, Glocester); Senior Deputy Minority Leader Justin Price, District 39 (Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond); Deputy Minority Leader Robert Quattrocchi, District 41 (Scituate, Cranston); Deputy Whip Sherry Roberts, District 29 (Coventry, West Greenwich).
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