Signs of Life in Committee: Four Reps Oppose Holding the Illegal Immigration Bill “For Further Study”
A source who was at Tuesday’s night hearing of the Labor Committee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives informs me that the decision “to hold for further study” the bill that would write former Governor Donald Carcieri’s illegal immigration executive order into law passed by a vote of only 8 – 4 (one committee member was absent). Representatives Deborah Fellela (D-Johnston), Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield/Burrillville), Robert Phillips (D-Woonsocket) and Jack Savage (R-East Providence) were the votes against further study.
Let’s review exactly what it was that 8 members of the Labor committee voted for, in voting for “further study”: By voting “to hold for further study”, the majority on the Labor Committee voted against giving the full House of Representatives a definitive opportunity to vote on the illegal immigration bill, and instead voted in favor of giving the Speaker of the House the power to decide whether this bill should receive any further attention during this legislative session.
Given the committee’s disposition of the immigration bill, no one outside of the 4 Representatives who voted against “further study” can be considered amongst its supporters. Certainly some members of the House Labor Committee, such Chairwoman Anastasia Williams (D-Providence), have given unmistakable indications of opposing the bill on its merits. But it would definitely be of interest to constituents of the Labor Committee members who voted for “further study” to find out if their Rep opposed the bill because of its substance, or because they were told they were not allowed to send it to the House floor for a vote at this time, even if they did support it.
Remember, asking legislators to vote in committee for bills that they support isn’t asking for an arcane parliamentary trick. It’s simply asking legislators to do the job they were elected to do, and not give away their representation of their constituents to someone else.