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.
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