Jobs and employment data allow different interpretations and come back (as every issue around here seems to do) to competing political philosophies.
Rhode Island’s “Landmark” Pension Reform Still Leaves State Pension System in “Critical Status” By State’s Own Standard
The proposed “settlement” of Rhode Island’s 2011 pension reform law (has anyone explained yet how a law can be mediated?) is currently in the hands of rank and file union members. If they give the green light (has anyone explained yet how a non-ballot can equal a “yes” vote?), it goes to the General Assembly for consideration.
But let’s go back to the 2011 pension reform itself. First, look at this three page PDF, compiled by the state of Rhode Island, which lists “Locally Administered Pension Plans in Critical Status”; i.e., municipal pension systems. See the note in the box on the bottom left of each page?
Coming up in Committee: Eighteen Sets of Bills Being Heard by the Rhode Island General Assembly, March 4 – March 6
1. H7314: Requires a photo ID when using a food stamp benefits card. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Mar 5)
2. H7100 raises the amount of time served to be eligible for parole from 20 to 30 years in cases of 1st or 2nd degree murder life sentences, and from 10 to 20 years in cases of life sentences for other crimes. It also requires convicts serving consecutive sentences to serve their minimums consecutively. H7101 requires that 50% of any non-life sentence for 1st or 2nd degree murder to be served, before eligibility for parole. (H Judiciary; Wed, Mar 5)
3. S2335: Eliminates tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, replacing the anticipated revenue with a multi-part Rube Goldberg formula requiring that fixed percentages of the total state budget be annually appropriated to a “transportation infrastructure fund”. Also, adds a temporary HAHAHAHAHAHAHA 5% surcharge to motor vehicle fees to help initially seed the infrastructure fund. Also, if a Federal internet sales tax is adopted, instead of the RI sales tax dropping from 7% to 6.5%, as is specified in current law (but which the governor would like to change as part of his budget, see #14), the sales tax would only drop to 6.625%, with the 0.125% difference going to the infrastructure fund. Also, creates a study commission to look at eliminating the gas tax. (S Finance; Thu, Mar 6)
4. H7463: “Except as required by federal law or as a condition of receiving federal funds, neither the state nor any municipality shall require an employer to use an electronic employment verification system…as a condition of receiving a government contract or applying for or maintaining a business license”. (H Labor; Tue, Mar 4)
5A. H7189: “The information contained in a portable electronic device shall not be subject to search by a law enforcement officer incident to a lawful custodial arrest except pursuant to a warrant”. (H Judiciary; Tue, Mar 4) The same bill was vetoed by Governor Chafee two years ago, which was a little surprising, since it seems like a reasonable extension of privacy law and something you’d expect a reflexive liberal like our current Governor to immediately support. This year, I’ve come across a similar bill from New Hampshire that’s been described as part of an anti-NSA surveillance movement. Is the Rhode Island version also consciously associated with NSA-related issues?
5B. H7190: Prohibits the state (or any political subdivisions thereof) from obtaining location information transmitted by a cellphone without a warrant. The bill includes procedures for obtaining the necessary warrant and a list of “emergency situation exceptions”. (H Judiciary; Tue, Mar 4)
Rhode Island’s revised employment picture for 2013 is now one of decline, and Rhode Islanders have to stop allowing that to be acceptable.
Rhode Island’s December 2013 results paint a bleak picture, and Rhode Islanders shouldn’t buy into the spin that it represented a blip in a general improvement.
The enrollment picture for HealthSource RI brightened a little as the deadline for January coverage approached, but if anything, the long-term picture for the health care reform darkened.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) spent February releasing research findings that showed the flaws of progressive policies.
The poll results put out by the Hassenfeld Institute at Bryant University are unsurprising and really don’t tell us anything new.
Former Central Falls mayor Charles Moreau is about to be set free “after serving half his two-year sentence” on corruption charges (background available from Michelle Smith of the Associated Press, here), as a result of a First Circuit Court of Appeals opinion from June of last year. Two key factors made the decision in USA vs. Fernandez directly relevant to the Moreau case.
1. Moreau was apparently convicted of accepting not a “bribe” but a “gratuity”. What’s the difference? The First Circuit quotes a 1999 Supreme Court opinion to explain…
[F]or bribery there must be a quid pro quo — a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act. An illegal gratuity, on the other hand, may constitute merely a reward for some future act that the public official will take (and may already have determined to take), or for a past act that he has already taken.
2. The court then notes the structure of Federal statute…
§ 201(b) targets (primarily) federal officials, while § 666 targets non-federal officials who happen to have a connection to federal funds. It is reasonable to assume that the federal government viewed corrupt federal officials involved in the receipt of bribes as more culpable.
…where § 201(b) makes “bribes” and “gratuities” illegal, while § 666 (yes, that’s really the number) makes only “bribes” illegal.
According to Ms. Smith’s report, with the gratuity conviction no longer valid in the First Circuit because Moreau was a local and not a Federal official, Moreau and the prosecutors have made a deal where he will plead guilty to a bribery charge, in return for a sentence of time served.
If you need one sentence to explain to your friends and neighbors the law that led to this outcome, this should do: While it’s illegal to engage in a la carte bribery of state or local officials in the US, you’re OK under Federal law if you’re able to buy them off on a retainer basis.
NEA RI representative John Leidecker has appealed his conviction for cyberstalking of former state Representative Douglas Gablinske, raising concerns that the courts may set a dangerous precedent.
Despite reports of threatened arrest, the State Police say troopers had no authority to arrest volunteers who wanted to watch child-care provider unionization elections, which turned out to have a very lopsided vote.
No law or regulation at the federal or state level requires health benefits exchange “navigators” in Rhode Island to undergo criminal background checks, and not all agencies providing the service require them on their own.
Interviews & Profiles
Justin and Bob Plain discuss legislation to force utilities to maintain customer service centers within the state, and Bob illustrates that applying economics really isn’t a priority for the Left.
Mayor Angel Taveras’ Office Neither Confirms Nor Denies that He is Contemplating Giving a City Building to a Private Organization
Ocean State Current-Anchor Rising contacted the office of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras with regard to the prospect of the City of Providence giving a city building (246 Prairie Avenue) to a private organization …
Scheduling prevented a Wingmen this week, but Justin did appear on the nightly news Wednesday, talking about allowing municipalities to borrow money without asking voters first.