What’s Old Is New Again
Just when I started to think that maybe Speaker Gordon Fox gets it. Maybe he is going to lead in the right direction. Some recent examples included his decision to put bills to a House floor vote when they’re ready, not at the last minute. Or his decision to contact the US Justice Department and find out what steps the state needs to take to open legal medical marijuana dispensaries, even though Governor Chafee ran scared from the issue.
But then, Speaker Fox shows that he still doesn’t get it. On the very first night of session, he described his legislative priorities to Ian Donnis over at the Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) On Politics blog.
Fox told me these are his top three goals for the session:
The first thing we have to do is get redistricting done. I think the next thing we have to do is deal with the municipal situation – figure out what’s going on with that – and I think we really have to put the foundation in with the casino vote that’s coming up in November.
Wait, what? Did I miss something? Did I miss where Rhode Island’s unemployment rate was magically fixed? Did I misunderstand one of those goals to really mean “to help get Rhode Islanders back to work and create a better business atmosphere for every citizen of the state?”
Speaker Fox, where is the desire to fix this major problem? This is worse than the state pension situation was. You fix this unemployment and bad business climate then everything else falls into place.
Additionally, Donnis mentions:
It’s an election year, of course, in which some observers think the legislature will avoid controversy, steer clear of upsetting public safety unions, and make a relatively fast exit.
Very nice. No controversy, don’t upset any unions and get out fast so they can go bang on doors and serve spaghetti in the late summer and early fall.
Speaker Fox, please add this as your fourth important issue for this session. Don’t be afraid to make the hard decisions, regardless of who gets angry, because the people who will be happy are those who are still sitting home, out of a job. And I guess if you don’t do anything about the unemployment rate, more people will be home to greet the door to door campaigning.