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Moore: Rhode Islanders Yawn Over Legislative Summer Stalemate

Monday, July 10, 2017

 

Nicholas Mattiello

The feud between Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello makes for great drama.

But does it really impact the lives of Rhode Islanders in a tangible way that they actually care about? I think not.

If anyone walked around the crowd at the Bristol Fourth of July Parade and asked spectators what they thought of this highly publicized feud I’d venture to guess at least half wouldn’t understand the question. Another large percentage would mumble something like ‘that’s just the legislature being the legislature, who cares, you’re not going to change anything anyways.’

How do I know? I know because I’ve asked. And those are the responses I get from people who aren’t political junkies.

Unless we’re closing banks and people cannot get their hands on their own money, the average person doesn’t much care. They’d rather vote for someone they know, and don’t agree with, than someone with a stronger platform. At least they’ll feel important when their representative says hello them.

Relevant

This is Rhode Island. And no price is too high to pay to feel relevant.

We’re a little over one week past the close of the legislative session. Mattiello brought the session to a screeching halt when he sent the House of Representatives home after learning that the Senate planned to amend the state budget by changing his car tax proposal. The proposed change would have prevented the implementation of the car tax phase out in years when revenues or federal aid came in shorter than expected.

There’s obviously more to the story. The Senate’s change to the budget didn’t impact anything relative to this year. The change would have potentially impacted future years, but that battle could have been fought in the future.

And we all know that Ruggerio’s decision to amend the state budget before attempting to send it back to the house was a power play. That’s why Mattiello’s decision to end the session wasn’t totally surprising. Yet what caused the bad blood remains unknown.

Who Cares?

Rhode Islanders can sit around in coffee houses, barber shops, or bars and speculate as to what’s really divided the two most powerful men in the state legislature. Yet I don’t think most people really care all that much.

The car tax is probably the biggest impact of the feud. Of course people want a break on their car taxes. But what are they going to do if the legislature doesn’t give it to them? Probably nothing. The taxpayers didn’t do anything when the legislature broke their promise to stop phasing out the car tax last decade.

The standoff has also endangered Governor Gina Raimondo’s free college tuition at the Community College of Rhode Island. Yet the cost of the program to send students to CCRI to state taxpayers is just $3 million per semester.

Governor Raimondo has already said that she will find the money elsewhere to implement the program. Mattiello said that would be illegal. But it’s hard to believe that the Governor cannot find $3 million in a roughly $9 billion budget to fund a program that she’s so heavily relying on for good public relations headlines.

Yawn

There were other important bills lost in the shuffle, such as a bill mandating guns be seized from domestic abusers and another that would have provided working Rhode Islanders with a modicum of sick time.

Yet neither is important enough to cause an uproar from the masses. So we can expect this standoff to continue, until each side decides that ending it will make things better personally for each leader.

Yawn.

Russell J. Moore has worked on both sides of the desk in Rhode Island media, both for newspapers and on political campaigns. Send him email at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @russmoore713.

 

Related Slideshow: Spending on Lobbying at the Statehouse

Below are the lobby groups that spent the most at the Statehouse in 2014. All expenses are included. Data were obtained upon request from the Secretary of State’s office. Individual company and organization expenses were grouped together into lobby groups, such as the tobacco lobby, the gun lobby, the banking and finance lobby, and the pharmaceutical industry lobby. Lobbies are listed in order of least to most spent. For each, the lobby category or name is listed, the total amount spent, any key lobbyists or lobby firms, and the names of the individual companies or other organizations that comprise the lobby. Note: for each lobby only a representative few lobbyists or lobby firms are listed. The listing is not exhaustive. 

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#30

Lobby: Medical Services

Total Amount 2014: $70,000

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies Inc.; Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Laser Spine Institute, East Side Clinical Laboratory, Radiation Therapy Services, Inc.

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#29

Lobby: Advocacy Animal Rights

Total Amount 2014: $76,048

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Robert Goldberg

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Humane Society of the U.S., Rhode Island Society for the Prevention Against Cruelty to Animals, PETA

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#28

Lobby: Auto Manufacturing

Total Amount 2014: $76,092

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Carolyn Murray, F/S Capitol Consulting

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby:  Honda North America, Inc., General Motors LLC, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Inc.

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#27

Lobby: Wind Energy

Total Amount 2014: $76,739

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Christopher Vitale, Capitol City Group

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Wind Energy Development, LLC, Deepwater Wind, Cape Wind Associates, LLC

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#26

Lobby: Waste Disposal and Recycling

Total Amount 2014: $76,846

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Andrew Annaldo

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Sims Metal Management, Narragansett Bay Commission, Mattress Recycling Council

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#25

Lobby: Renewable Energy General

Total Amount 2014: $78,087.54

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies Inc.

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Broadrock Renewables LLC, Acadia Center

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#24

Lobby: Marijuana Industry

Total Amount 2014: $82,194

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Bradford Group

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Thomas Slater Compassion Center, MPP (Marijuana Policy Project)

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#23

Lobby: Auto Tech Industry

Total Amount 2014: $93,400

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Leonard Lopes, The Victor Group, LLC; Matthew Lopes, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, LLC

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: AudaExplore, Applus Technologies

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#22

Lobby: Car Insurance

Total Amount 2014: $95,420

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Robert Goldberg

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Progressive Insurance, Rhode Island Automobile Insurers Coalition, Allstate Insurance Company, AAA Southern New England

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#21

Lobby: Real Estate Development

Total Amount 2014: $103,250

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Zachary Darrow, Capitol Communications Group, LLC; Stephen Alves

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: High Rock Development, CV Properties LLC

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#20

Lobby: Payday Loan Industry

Total Amount 2014: $111,636

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Bill Murphy

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Advance America Cash Advance Centers, Inc.

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#19

Lobby: Charter Schools and Education Reform

Total Amount 2014: $115,470

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Bill Fischer, True North Communications; Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: RI Campaign for Achievement Now, Rhode Island Scholarship Advocates, Inc., Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, R.I. League of Charter Schools

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#18

Lobby: Supply Chain Services

Total Amount 2014: $120,000

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Leonard Lopes, The Victor Group

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: McLane Company

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#17

Lobby: Medical Professionals

Total Amount 2014: $127,533

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Advocacy Solutions

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: UEMF, RI Psychological Association, RI Medical Society, RI Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Rhode Island Radiology Society, Rhode Island Radiology Society, Rhode Island Optometric Association, The Rhode Island Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island

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#16

Lobby: Environment and Conservation

Total Amount 2014: $148,938

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Abel Collins

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Sea Research Foundation, Rhode Island Land Trust Council, Sierra Club Rhode Island Chapter, Rhode Island Association for Recreational Preservation, The Nature Conservancy, Grow Smart RI, Environmental Defense Fund, Environment Rhode Island, Clean Water Action, Audubon Society of RI

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#15

Lobby: Computer and Tech Industry

Total Amount 2014: $157,333

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; William Lynch, Adler Pollock & Sheehan

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: The Travel Technology Association, Entertainment Software Association, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard Company, Consumer Electronics Association

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#14

Lobby: Higher Education

Total Amount 2014: $157,513

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Providence College, URI Foundation, The College Board, Johnson & Wales University, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island

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#13

Lobby: Software Industry

Total Amount 2014: $174,000

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Andrew Annaldo

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Redflex Student Guardian, DRN, Inc./Vigilant Solutions, Veritec Solutions, LLC, SAS Institute Inc.

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#12

Lobby: Long-term Care Industry

Total Amount 2014: $193,550

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies, Inc.; Advocacy Solutions 

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Visionary Healthcare Network, LLC, Rhode Island Health Care Association, Leading Age Rhode Island, Community Living of RI, Inc., Alfa, Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, Atria Senior Living Inc., The Rhode Island Assisted Living Association, Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island

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#11

Lobby: Tobacco 

Total Amount 2014: $200,786

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Carolyn Murray, F/S Capitol Consulting

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: RAI Services Company, Altria Client Services Inc. and its Affiliates, Cigar Association of America, Inc.

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#10

Lobby: Power Industry

Total Amount 2014: $242,001

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions; Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: National Grid, UGI, Exelon Generation Company, LLC

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#9

Lobby: Telecommunications

Total Amount 2014: $262,593

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions; Terrance Martiesian

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: CTIA - The Wireless Association, Verizon Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, Inc., New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, Inc., DISH Network LLC, DIRECTV, AT&T Inc. and Its Affiliates

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#8

Lobby: General Business Advocacy

Total Amount 2014: $274,322

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Kelly Sheridan, Roberts Carroll Feldstein & Peirce; Dennis J. Roberts

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Portsmouth Business Association, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Newport County Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, Consumer Data Industry Association

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#7

Lobby: Construction Industry and Building Trade Unions

Total Amount 2014: $316,503

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard Sinapi; Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies, Inc.; Zachary Darrow, Capitol Communications Group, LLC

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Shawmut Design and Construction, Rhode Island Subcontractors' Association, Rhode Island Carpenters Local Union 94, Rhode Island Builders Association, American Resort Development Association, Utility Contractors Association of RI, UA Plumbers and Pipefitters - Local 51, New England Mechanical Contractors Association, National Electrical Contractors Association, Gilbane Building Company, Dimeo Construction Company, Construction Industries of Rhode Island, Civic Builders, BuildRI, Associated General Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractor, Inc.

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#6

Lobby: Insurance (All Types)

Total Amount 2014: $343,941

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Stephen D. Zubiago, Nixon Peabody LLP; Kelly Sheridan, Roberts Carroll Feldstein & Peirce

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC), RI Interlocal Risk Management Trust, Nationwide Insurance, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), MetLife Insurance, Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island, Explore Information Services, Amica Mutual Insurance Company & Its Subsidiaries, Beacon Mutual Insurance Company

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#5

Lobby: Health Insurance 

Total Amount 2014: $471,555

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Matthew Lopes, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, LLC; William Lynch, Adler Pollock & Sheehan

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: United Insurance Company of America, United HealthCare Services, Inc., Tufts Associated Health Maintenance, Cigna, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (AFLAC), Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Americas Health Insurance Plans, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI

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#4

Lobby: Mortgage, Banking, and Finance

Total Amount 2014: $528,808

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies Inc.; William A. Farrell; Stephen Alves

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: TIAA-CREF, Rhode Island Housing, Online Lenders Alliance, MERSCorp Holdings, Inc., DBA International, RI Mortgage Bankers Association, Rhode Island Financial Services Association, Rhode Island Bankers Association, Pegasus Capital Advisors, L.P., FMR LLC/Fidelity Investments, Axcess Financial Services Inc., Visa, Inc., H & R Block, Credit Union Association of Rhode Island, Bank of America Corporation, RI Student Loan Authority

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#3

Lobby: Gaming Industry

Total Amount 2014: $674,262

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Robert Goldberg, Bill Murphy, R. Kevin Horan

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: UTGR, Inc. (Twin River), Newport Entertainment and Leisure, LLC, GTECH Corporation, Newport Grand

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#2

Lobby: Pharmaceutical Industry

Total Amount 2014: $676,307

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Matthew Lopes, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, LLC; Stephen Alves

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Mylan Inc., Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and Company, RI Community Pharmacy Association, Purdue Pharma, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., Northeast Pharmacy Service Corporation, CVS Health, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP, Amgen, Alexion Pharmaceuticals

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#1

Lobby: Hospitals

Total Amount 2014: $718,354

Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Robert Goldberg, George Caruolo, William Farrell, Stephen Alves

Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Prospect Medical Holdings, Prime Healthcare Management Inc., Charter Care Health Partners, Southcoast Hospitals Group, Inc., South County Hospital, Hospital Association of Rhode Island, Lifespan, Care New England

 
 

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