Just got in front of a TV showing RI Captiol TV, showing the House Floor budget debate. We’re in the middle of Article 8, the budget article on longevity payments.
[5:58] Article 8 passed — blatantly stealing a description from Ian Donnis’ Twitter Feed…
Article 8 cutting new longevity pay for RI state workers passes, 43-27
[6:07] Article 9 is being discussed now. It involves some structural reorganization of state government.
[6:11] Charlene Lima is questioning the wisdom of placing the state’s sheriffs under the State Police, which this bill does. Helio Melo answers that they’re all under the Commissioner of Public Safety anyway.
Greg Schadone wants to vote on the provision concerning the Sheriffs separately from the rest of the bill. Speaker Fox says “we’ll get back to you”…
[6:17] Alert commenter Ken. Dan Reilly just stated that the only other state in the US with a statewide Sheriff’s Dept. is Hawaii. Also, Reilly is opposed to putting the Sheriff”s under the State police. Speaker Fox is still trying to figure out if they can vote on that part separately. Apparently, the Sheriff’s stuff is comingled with some Elderly Affairs reorganization stuff.
[6:22] Hey, RI legislators, if you actually conducted your business in the sunlight, you’d actually catch some of these problems in committee, before the floor vote.
[6:27] I think the whole article passed, including the Sheriff’s dept. reorg, but on separate votes.
[6:28] Article 10: Changes in school bus regulations and funding for Davies technical academy…
[6:30] Edith Ajello wants an amendment to make sure potential bus drivers who fail a criminal background check can discuss and/or appeal the decision. Stephen Ucci thinks this is already covered in other areas of the law, and the amendment should be rejected.
[6:34] Frank Ferri thinks this amendment should go through the committee process. Perhaps a theme emerges…
[6:39] J. Patrick O’Neill says the issue is who is responsible for explaining the details of a criminal background check, the person doing the check, or the person being checked out?
[6:45] Ajello’s amendment gets crushed, 7-63. You never would have guessed that was coming, from the preceding debate.
Article 10 passes unanimously. Article 11 is under discussion, which increases an annual assessment on insurers used to pay for children’s health services, i.e. it is literally for the children.
[6:53] Article 11 passes. We jump ahead to Article 14, which changes nursing home reimbursement.
[6:55] 14 passed. On to Article 15, which fixes Medicaid payment rates. Speaker Fox blitzes through an amendment which only James McLaughlin votes against.
[6:59] Samuel Azzinaro introduces an amendment saying don’t raise “certificate of need” requirements right now. Leo Medina says, I think, raising the CON requirement reduces the bureaucratic hurdles RI hospitals have to jump through, in order to grow.
[7:06] Teresa Tanzi thinks we may have too many hospitals in this state. Don’t you just love progressive attitudes towards healthcare? Can you even understand them?
[7:07] Nicholas Mattiello makes the same argument as Medina, let hospitals purchase equipment without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Pat Morgan, who has been on the right side of most issues since being elected to the House, is arguing that we need more central planning for our medical system, to keep costs down. Helio Melo argures this is just an adjustment for inflation.
[7:14] OK, what am I missing? Mike Chippendale, who has also been very good on many issues, argues that we shouldn’t raise the size of equipment purchases that require state permission. Leo Medina says the Massachusetts CON requirement is about $15 million. Pat Morgan says Massachusetts is not RI, because it has universal healthcare.
[7:23] Article 15 passes, with the raised limit.
[7:29] Article 16, “The department of humans services will make the necessary changes to raise the RIte Care monthly cost sharing requirement to five percent (5%) of family income”… passes 49-20.
[7:33] Article 17, relating to DCYF is up. This content of this article seems less like a budget article than some general changes in DCYF policy to me.
[7:40] Article 17 passes with two votes against.
[7:45] Article 18 paying for uncompensated care at RI hospitals is up. An amendment rejiggers the amounts specified in the initial bill. Helio Melo answers a question from Joe Trillo, as to why amounts for South County and Westerly hospitals are being adjusted — the answer is that the bureaucratic formulas for Medicaid uncompensated care unjustly punish these two hospitals.
[7:52] Article 18, with the South County/Westerly amendment, passes.
[7:53] Dinner break.