NEW: Fox, Common Cause Respond To Surprising Ethics Bill Decision

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


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House Speaker says he wants more time to study legislation, much to the chagrin of Common Cause.

House Speaker Gordon Fox is defending the decision by the House Judiciary Committee to nullify last night’s surprising passage of an ethics reform bill.

In a statement released moments ago, Fox spokesman Larry Berman says the Speaker stands by the call as a matter of “upholding the integrity of the House rules.”

“As Rep. (Christopher) Blazejewski and Chairwoman (Edith) Ajello have explained, House rules do not allow for the reconsideration of bills that are held for further study until they are reposted,” Berman said. “The only bills that can be reconsidered are those that are reported to the House floor. Per the rules, bills held for further study are not reported to the floor.”

Berman added that Fox wants “more time” to review the bill.

“Arguments were made in favor of it, as well as those against it,” Berman said. “He looks forward to considering the merits of the legislation in the coming weeks.”

Not to be outdone, Common Cause immediately responded with an official statement of its own, saying it is “extremely disappointed that the leadership of the House of Representatives did not let the resolution to put a constitutional amendment before the voters restoring the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission come to the House floor.”

"I believe the people of Rhode Island are due a thorough explanation from House leadership as to the legal basis for this change," said Common Cause Executive Director John Marion. "Having observed Tuesday's vote on the motion to reconsider and the motion to pass the resolution I can think of no rationale for today's reversal."

Citing Rule 12(f) of the House of Representatives, which reads "A committee member may move reconsideration of any vote taken so long as the bill or resolution which was the subject of the vote remains in the possession of the committee and that the motion is made by a member voting in the majority,” Marion said the move was fair under the rules.

“If the rules of the House of Representatives were tortured to orchestrate this change, then democracy was demeaned, if not denied,” he said.


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