Senate the roadblock on long overdue RI public records reformJune 7th, 2012 at 10:40 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
After 14 years – and innumerable scandals – are Rhode Island lawmakers finally going to fix the state’s lousy public records law before they adjourn this month?
It remains an open question, and the ever-inscrutable Senate is the holdup. On Wednesday night, the House Judiciary Committee held for further study a strong reform bill [H 7555] written by state Rep. Michael Marcello to let him continue offering concessions to the upper chamber.
“As the legislature moves toward its typical rushed ending, they still have time to do right by the people of Rhode Island and open up more information about government for the citizens,” said John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, part of a large coalition that backs Marcello’s bill.
The Senate is considering two inadequate public records bills of its own – one from Attorney General Peter Kilmartin [S 2652] and another from state Sen. James Sheehan [S 2511]. ”We remain worried that the Senate bills on public records will undermine our hard work unless they are changed substantially,” Marion said.
Tim White told the House committee Wednesday he was “stunned” to discover how many restrictions Rhode Island places on the public’s access to information compared with neighboring Massachusetts. After seeing this blacked-out North Providence police report, Rep. Charlene Lima urged her colleagues to pass the bill.
The Senate must now decide whether it will let Rhode Islanders see what’s being done in their names. Pass along your perspective to Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed (firstname.lastname@example.org, 401-222-6655) and Senator Sheehan (email@example.com, 401-885-1988).
• Related: With no info-nudists, RI needs public records laws (March 21, 2011)