Rep. Brian Newberry on the First Bill to Come to the RI House Floor
The Republicans in the Rhode Island House or Senate don’t have the numbers to block anything on the floor or in committee on a straight party line vote, so when I read the Thursday Projo headline which read “R.I. House Republicans Hold Up Money for Jobless Call Center“, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant.
Via his Facebook page, Representative Brian Newberry (R-Burrillville/North Smithfield) has registered his objection to the headline, and explained what happened with the legislation in question…
The headline was factually inaccurate. If nothing happened, no one would lose any benefits and no one would see a jump in their waiting times. The real issue was how and when the state would pay, if it chose, to keep on extra staff at the DLT to handle unemployment claims. That’s it. Fairly simple really.(Note: Typo fixed from an earlier version, where the 1st sentence mentioned only the Senate, where it was supposed to mention the “House or Senate”).
The subtext, which was far more important and completely missed in the ProJo blog entry, is that the Administration – and while technically it was the new Chafee group the same kinds of thing happened under Carcieri – suddenly realized that if they didn’t DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW, the sky would fall. And thus in order to prevent the CATASTROPHE OF THE DAY, they needed the General Assembly to ACT NOW. The only problem was that they didn’t quite explain why we needed to act “right now”. Instead they surprised the leadership with this issue at the end of last week, which in turn required the leadership to run around like a flock of chickens with their heads cut off, which in turn forced every member of the House to vote on something few of us had the time to read and properly understand….
This is not the way to build good relations between the executive and legislative branches. And this was not a partisan Democrat/Republican issue. It was instead a struggle of power between different branches of government and a message needed to be sent. And in this instance we in the minority were in the best position to send that message by using our ability to delay proceedings by a whopping 24 hours so people had time to read the bill….