Moore: Rhode Islanders Yawn Over Legislative Summer Stalemate
Monday, July 10, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
- Moore: Hotel Tax Hike is a Bandaid on a Gunshot Wound
- Moore: 38 Studios Investigation Shows Legislators Lack Courage
- Moore: Politifact’s Media Narrative Towards Russia Showed Bias
- Moore: Ruggerio’s Opportunity to Foster Compromise
- Moore: Magaziner Must Embrace Filippi’s Pension Proposal
- Moore: Raimondo, Mattiello Squabble Over Budget Giveaways
- Moore: Raimondo Badmouths Deloitte, Then Breaks Bread With Them
- Moore: Maher Should Be Ousted Over Student Protest
- Moore: Raimondo’s Free College Folly
- Moore: Raimondo’s Old School, Know A Guy Politics
- Moore: Feroce Destroys Raimondo’s Economic Strategy
- Moore: Muksian’s Outrageous Severance Package
- Moore: Time to Enact Paid Sick Leave
- Moore: Twin River’s Labor Strife Highlights Obamacare’s Weakness
- Moore: Time for a 38 Studios Special Counsel
- Moore: Rhode Island’s Budget is Bloated
- Moore: Magaziner’s Back to Basics Strategy Paying Dividends
- Moore: After Providence Scandal, Muksian Returns to Cranston
- Moore: The Pawsox Battle Rages On
- Moore: RI Should Transfer the Lottery to the Pension Fund
- Moore: Assange Prosecution Would Eradicate Press Freedom
- Moore: Community Safety Act is a Solution In Search of a Problem
- Moore: 2018 Race for Governor Heating Up Early
- Moore: Revenue Shortfall Benefits Speaker Mattiello
- Moore: Rhode Islanders Yawn Over Legislative Summer Stalemate