8. A LINE-ITEM VETO

The Rhode Island governor is one of just a handful nationwide without the line-item veto — the power to strike particularly boneheaded elements of a bill without jettisoning the whole thing.

Giving the guv the option to pick and choose, says former Brown University political science professor Darrell West, is the single most important step the state could take toward reining in the parochial impulses of a General Assembly unlikely to win any management awards.

Of course, a line-item veto would require a change to our founding document. But there are plenty of other reforms we could put in place without donning dusty wigs and repairing to a constitutional convention.

As we go to press, an unlikely alliance of labor unions and the business-backed Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council is planning to join with good government group Common Cause Rhode Island to unveil a reform package that would, among other things, ban fundraisers during legislative sessions; track legislators' votes at the committee level, where much of the real work happens; and jettison the "master lever," which allows voters to cast a straight party-line ballot without pausing to actually think about each race individually.

The group, Citizens for an Accountable Legislature, will ask candidates for the General Assembly to sign on to the platform in the coming weeks. But if the reforms are to go anywhere, the public will have to sign on, too.

So here's another big idea: pick up the phone and call your state representative.

<< first  ...< prev  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |   next >...  last >>

9 of 12 (results 12)
  Topics: News Features , Politics, Technology, Friendship Café,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY DAVID SCHARFENBERG
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LIBERAL WARRIOR  |  April 10, 2013
    When it comes to his signature issues — climate change, campaign finance reform, tax fairness — Whitehouse makes little secret of his approach: marshal the facts, hammer the Republicans, and embarrass them into action.
  •   AT BROWN, A WIN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVISTS  |  April 11, 2013
    A key Brown University oversight committee has voted to recommend the school divest from coal, delivering a significant victory to student climate change activists.
  •   HACKING POLITICS: A GUIDE  |  April 03, 2013
    Last year, the Internet briefly upended everything we know about American politics.
  •   BREAK ON THROUGH  |  March 28, 2013
    When I spoke with Treasurer Gina Raimondo this week, I opened with the obligatory question about whether she'll run for governor. "I'm seriously considering it," she said. "But I think as you know — we've talked about it before — I have little kids: a six-year-old, an eight-year-old. I'm a mother. It's a big deal."
  •   THE LIBERAL CASE FOR GUNS  |  March 27, 2013
    The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut spurred hope not just for sensible gun regulation, but for a more nuanced discussion of America's gun culture. Neither wish has been realized.

 See all articles by: DAVID SCHARFENBERG