It’s almost touching when representatives of that amorphous group known as “ordinary people” overcome the obstacles in order to testify before a legislative committee at the Rhode Island State House. They’ve got their notes and their passion. Sometimes they’re shaking slightly with nerves.
Or maybe that’s the fault of the air conditioning.
In some rooms, the heat runs strong well beyond its need; in other rooms, sitting in the audience is an endurance test for cold. In the hearing room of the House Finance Committee (arguably the single most important hearing room in the building), the air conditioning has regular folks wishing they’d thought to bring the gear they use for late-season football games.
Hot or cold, though, room temperature is just one way the General Assembly attempts to persuade the public that it isn’t worth their time to tell legislators what they think, intentional or not. Chilling testimony is an apparent goal written into the entire process.