constitutional convention

Bishop Tobin takes abortion off the table for convention

October 27th, 2014 at 5:01 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin says he wouldn’t push for a Rhode Island constitutional convention to tackle social issues such as abortion, potentially depriving opponents of a key argument they’ve been using to sway voters.

“If there is a constitutional convention, I don’t think it would or should deal with cultural/moral/religious issues,” Tobin told in an email sent through his spokeswoman. “These particular, discrete issues are better dealt with in the normal legislative process.”

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Mollis: Vote on constitutional convention can wait until 2016

August 6th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It sounds obvious: since the Rhode Island Constitution requires a vote every 10 years on whether there should be a constitutional convention, and the last vote was in November 2004, the next one has to be in November 2014, right?

Not so fast, says R.I. Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis.

Deputy Secretary of State John Fleming Jr. told that while Mollis himself “believes the question should be on the ballot in the 2014 general election,” Fleming and Mollis’s legal counsel both think the actual language of the constitution would allow Mollis to wait until the November 2016 election to put the question to voters.

Fleming noted that the constitution says lawmakers “may” ask voters in any general election if they want to hold a constitutional convention. It also says: “If the question be not submitted to the people at some time during any period of 10 years, the secretary of state shall submit it at the next general election following said period.”


Poll: Raimondo is favorite for gov; Chafee does best as a Dem

January 31st, 2013 at 9:22 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Democrat Gina Raimondo is the early favorite to win the 2014 governor’s race, according to a new poll released Thursday morning to

The Public Policy Polling survey [pdf] shows Raimondo would win anywhere from 32% to 46% of the vote depending on which hypothetical opponents she faces. She is the only candidate to crack 40% support in any of 10 ballot tests conducted by PPP.

If Raimondo is out of the picture, however, there’s no clear frontrunner: the leading candidates in non-Raimondo scenarios shift between Republican Brendan Doherty, Republican Allan Fung and Democrat Angel Taveras depending on the match-up. Moderate Party founder Ken Block starts out with double-digit support in most scenarios, suggesting his presence could have a major impact on the outcome.

Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee faces an unsurprisingly uphill battle to win a second term, with more than half of voters saying they don’t want him to run again. His strongest shot at re-election comes if he runs as a Democrat: running under the party banner, Chafee starts out trailing Republicans Doherty and Fung by just four points. Among voters who do want Chafee to run again, 20% say he should run as an independent and 18% say he should run as a Democrat.


AG-to-be Kilmartin suggests full-time legislature

December 10th, 2010 at 11:43 am by under General Talk

Attorney General-elect Peter Kilmartin was a guest at this morning’s taping of WPRI 12′s “Newsmakers” with Tim White, WRNI’s Ian Donnis and yours truly. I brought up Kilmartin’s proposal during the campaign for Rhode Island to hold a constitutional convention in 2012, and asked why he thought that would be a good idea.

“I believe government and the constitution is a living, breathing document,” Kilmartin replied. “And to grow as a living document – just like all of us as living beings, we need to grow, we need to change, we need to adapt. And there is nothing wrong with having a convention to look at the constitution of the State of Rhode Island.”

Pressed on a specific constitutional change he would want examined by the convention, Kilmartin – who has been a state representative since 1991 – mentioned turning the General Assembly into a full-time legislative body.

“Now I know the general public would probably vote that down [but] I really think it needs a good vetting,” he said. “I know the hours [lawmakers work] – they always say it’s a part-time legislature, but I know the hours I put in, and believe me, they weren’t part-time. Those folks work very hard.”

Rhode Island’s last constitutional convention took place in 1986, when one of its marquee changes was the establishment of the now-neutered Ethics Commission.

The state constitution requires that every 10 years voters get asked whether they want to hold a constitutional convention, although the General Assembly can try to call one without waiting a decade. The last time voters got asked was in 2004, when they rejected it 48%-52%. So that means the question has to be put on the ballot again by 2014.

Tim led off the show by asking Kilmartin about illegal immigration – specifically, his take on Gov. Don Carcieri’s 2008 executive order and his support for the federal Secure Communities program. I wrote up his comments for a new story – here’s an excerpt:

Attorney General-elect Peter Kilmartin said Friday he opposes Gov.-elect Lincoln Chafee’s plan to rescind outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri’s controversial March 2008 executive order on illegal immigration.

“I think it should be maintained – there’s no harm in it,” he said during a taping of WPRI 12′s “Newsmakers.” “It makes a statement that law enforcement is to participate and work with other agencies.” …

Kilmartin also said his decision to join a controversial federal program that checks the immigration status of people who get arrested “is not much different than what occurs now.”

Kilmartin also played to the crowd by telling the three of us he supports a state shield law for reporters. Ian Donnis has more about that on WRNI’s website.

The entire half-hour episode of “Newsmakers” with Kilmartin – plus Gary Sasse and Common Cause’s John Marion talking about their Citizens for an Accountable Legislature project – will be posted online later today and will air on TV at 5:30 a.m. Sunday on both WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. (Yep, football is still taking our regular time slot – set your DVRs.)