The State House Quest for Tame Shrubbery and Aggressive Government

Largely thanks to notice by Providence Journal State House reporter Kathy Gregg on Twitter, legislation by state Senator Frank Ciccone (D, Providence, North Providence) got some additional attention this year.  As my description of the bill for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Freedom Index puts it, the legislation’s effect would be “to make it a violation of state law to allow trees and shrubs and their leaves or petals to cause an abutting property owner ‘unnecessary work or costs.'”

Last year, we gave the bill (S0333) a -1 score on the Freedom Index, and the only senators to vote the right way were:

  • Marc Cote (D, Woonsocket, North Smithfield)
  • Nicholas Kettle (R, Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich)
  • Elaine Morgan (R, Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich)

But the bill disappeared in the confusion of 2015’s quick end of the session, so this year, the bill is S2103, and it’s again a -1 on our running Freedom Index tracker.  On the Senate side, the right-way “nays” added three more senators to the list of those who have not lost their minds:

  • Dennis Algiere (R, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly)
  • Paul Fogarty (D, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield)
  • John Pagliarini (R, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton)

Now it’s on to the House, with some slender hope that civic sanity can still win the day.

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