Perhaps one of the most well-established ploys in Rhode Island politics is that all legislative decisions ultimately pass through each chamber’s leader while the House Speaker and Senate President maintain the right to claim they simply allow our representatives and senators to vote their conscience when they wind up having to back a politically uncomfortable position.
Such was the case when supposedly pro-life Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D, North Providence, Providence) not only allowed a vote to go to the floor of his chamber, but oversaw legislative tricks like moving the bill from a committee that was likely to block it to one that wasn’t.
The bottom line: As unhealthy as this process may be, if our legislative leaders are going to enjoy power as the single points of approval for legislation, they have to be accountable for the bills they allow to go forward. An email last week from Rhode Island Right to Life follows that principle. The group’s director, Barth Bracy, writes:
The endorsement page to which we linked on Tuesday initially contained an erroneous endorsement, which we promptly corrected when it was brought to our attention. Specifically, when I copied and pasted our list of endorsed incumbents from 2018, I forgot to remove the listing for Dominick J Ruggerio (D) – North Providence, Providence, who, of course, you will recall as the Senate President who monstrously betrayed us last year, repeatedly moving the goalposts, contorting senate rules, and using all the powers of his office to push Planned Parenthood’s extreme abortion bill to the floor of the senate for a vote even after we had repeatedly blocked it in committee. Sadly, this leaves no pro-life option in Senate District 4, other than to write-in the name of an acceptable individual.
How much difference this will make in a state where progressives are surging and our entire system of government appears designed to rig elections remains to be seen. In a state as far gone as Rhode Island, however, clarity is critical.