Republicans in Rhode Island are a contentious bunch and certainly would do well to figure out how to work together, which would mean tolerating differences in the policies they support. That said, an identity-politics bill submitted by newly elected Republican state Representative Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung of Cranston is so shockingly in-your-face in its progressivism that it’s difficult to see how conservatives could possibly consider supporting her if it isn’t a mistake or an aberration.
The bill is H5905, and in short, it would force every publicly traded corporation with its primary headquarters in Rhode Island to meet quotas for women on their corporate boards. By January of 2023:
(1) If its number of directors is six (6) or more, the corporation shall have a minimum of 12 three (3) female directors.
(2) If its number of directors is five (5), the corporation shall have a minimum of two (2) female directors.
(3) If its number of directors is four (4) or fewer, the corporation shall have a minimum of one female director.
In case you’re wondering — thinking this might be a bit of that ol’ Republican sense of fairness — Fenton-Fung apparently would be just fine with all-female boards. This isn’t a requirement for diversity or balance; it’s just a special advantage that government would give to people who share Fenton-Fung’s sex.
Naturally, there are fines. Miss the deadline to file a new form with the Secretary of State? $100,000. Fail to find enough female board members? $100,000 for the first offense and $300,000 for subsequent offenses. Each “director seat required… to be held by a female” counts as a separate violation, so a six-member board with no females after a year would incur a fine of $700,000.
Put aside the identity-politics ideology behind the bill. What sort of Republican believes government should have a right to dictate people’s affairs to this degree?
But it gets worse. To make sure the bill isn’t only an insult to those who take individual rights and limited government principles seriously, Fenton-Fung goes so far as to redefine “woman” in the law, jumping in bed with the most radical culture-warriors on the political battlefield:
“Female” means an individual who self-identifies her gender as a woman, without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.
To be fair, this is only one bill, but if it proves representative of Fenton-Fung’s approach to policy, Cranston voters will have to wonder whether her beliefs are a fit for the party she claims or the constituency she serves.