Ah, the legislative session, when elected officials propose ideas that really ought to expose them as unfit to hold elective office. One such bill is H5026, submitted by Democrat John Lombardi (Providence) and Democrat Carol Hagen McEntee (South Kingstown, Narragansett).
Basically, the bill would create a new committee to draw up regulations for homeless shelters based on a broad, peremptory, and abusive list of principles articulated in the “findings.” Part of what makes the bill so bad is the chintzy moral sequins that it pastes on the sponsors’ moral vanity, seeming to express charitable desires but adopting a number of the characteristics of truly horrendous legislation. Namely:
First, the destructive attitude of such legislation is that anybody who sticks a neck out to help to help our fellow man must accept the government’s putting a manacle around it to impose progressive values. Are you a Christian hoping to alleviate suffering? Well, you must deny your religion and “accept gender identity as defined by the individual rather than by the perception of staff and/or other residents.” Hoping to stretch your low budget to help as many people as possible? Well, you better stretch that budget some more to “afford an opportunity for children and youth with developmental and/or physical disabilities to develop their full potential within an environment where they can interact and socialize with other children.”
In short, Rhode Islanders are not permitted to find niches that allow charitable work within their own comfort zones. All charity is implicitly a subcontract from the government in the legislators’ view. Indeed, one gets the impression that the goal is to force everyone and every activity onto the government plantation.
In keeping with that mission, second, the legislation would forced the use of a homeless information management system (HMIS), creating yet another method for the government to tracking of people. No doubt, this HMIS will be tied in with the state’s Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) — aka RI Bridges, aka the dependency portal — to ensure that the state can maximize the number of services it provides… and revenue it collects.
Third, as long as they adhere to the guiding principles of the bill, the legislation gives the regulation committee incredibly broad authority to define their own mission. Moreover, not a single position of the committee is implicitly likely to offer opposing views. They’re all interested parties.
Finally, one can’t help but notice that there’s a Republican in the White House and wonder whether the word has gone out that homelessness is important as an issue (and newspaper headline) again. In that case, the bill is simple partisan line toeing.