Terrible news: the Rhode Island General Assembly recessed and they didn’t even vote on the chicken coop bill. They couldn’t agree, so what did they do they recessed before their pesky duties as law makers could interfere with any of their Fourth of July plans.
Sorry Cranston, if that Park Avenue Bridge closure is a royal pain you will just have to deal with it until after our lawmakers return from their summer vacations and can focus again. But before we can even consider discussing an infrastructure plan or a plan to keep the PawSox in Rhode Island we need to solve the most pressing issue of the day: the size of chicken coops.
Still, no comment from Nibbles Woodaway
The good news is we did get one very important thing accomplished: we now have a state bug. That’s right the American Burying Beetle can go snack on the state’s official appetizer calamari and meanwhile the Rhode Island tax payers can maneuver detours through Cranston and cross their fingers while driving on the states bridges and hope that nothing bad happens.
One thing is certainly clear after the political shenanigans over the past couple of weeks: there is trouble in paradise. Looks like the Democrats are having a hard time getting along to the point that it is now getting downright silly.
Let’s rewind and look at the truck tolling situation: First, a little history lesson, Governor Raimondo owes her gubernatorial victory in large part to local labor unions. These are private sector unions that rely on state construction projects to put their guys to work. Making solid on her commitment to putting the construction industry back to work, Governor Gina Raimondo rolls out the Rhode Works Rhode Island Plan which essentially shifts the cost of maintaining the states bridges and roads to trucking companies (who in all fairness do cause the most wear and tear to these structures). If approved the plan would allocate money immediately to road projects, while putting in place a plan to fund maintenance going forward.
After the plan was announced there was naturally backlash from the trucking industry who say this could devastate their industry. The Rhode Island Trucking Association has enlisted the help of the one and only political powerhouse Bill Fischer to handle PR, so we know they mean business.
Next, the lawmakers started to question the plan and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello slammed on the brakes (pun intended). Mattiello says he doesn’t want to rush into a plan without considering its potential affects.
A funny thing happened on the way to the law office
Meanwhile, the Senate reached an agreement with the governor to par back the trucking toll to lessen the impact on those who would be effected by it the most and so it passes the Senate but Mattiello was still not so sure.
Then a funny “coincident” happened. The Park Avenue Bridge in Cranston which Mattiello uses to get to his law office is abruptly closed by the Department of Transportation as structurally unsound. Take that, House Speaker! You don’t think we need bridge repair? What if we hit you where it hurts? Mattiello immediately called for an investigation of the DOT. But of course, they say that the bridge was just really that unsafe and it is just unfortunate timing. Nothing to do with the House Speaker stalling the truck toll, nothing to do with the power of the labor unions who would benefit from the Rhode Works project, and certainly nothing to do with the new director of the DOT hand selected by the governor (who by the way is a big proponent of unionized labor).
Mattiello stuck to his guns and didn’t cave to the pressure, he said the House will reconvene in the fall in a special session to look at the infrastructure bill. He then ended the session abruptly on Thursday night after it became clear that the House and Senate were not going to reach an agreement on just about anything…. after all they were bickering over the size of a chicken coop.
And now we are at an impasse… the roads are crumbling, the Paw Sox want to move, and there are virtually no construction projects in the state. What’s next? Who knows and who cares? Certainly the law makers don’t, they are free for the summer. The crumbling bridges will still be there…. hopefully… when they return.
By the way when asked on WPRI’s News Makers if raising the gas tax was on the table as a way to pay for the roads, Mattiello didn’t rule it out.
The stars and barred
Meanwhile the First Amendment is in some serious danger. Some people are calling for a nationwide ban on the Confederate Flag, to the point that Apple is removing Civil War games that depict the flag. This after a horrible shooting at a church in South Carolina. Not sure if people know, but it was not the flag that did the shooting. While it is ultimately disturbing that southern states would fly the flag and it makes sense for states to stop flying the flag, it is not for the government to tell individuals and private businesses that they cannot fly, carry, wear, or sell the flag.
The flag conjures a lot of feelings for people. For some it is racism, others say its southern pride, others say it shows division but whatever it makes you feel it is a part of the United States history. It may be a really ugly part of history but we can’t erase it. Burning every last Confederate Flag could never undue the fact that this nation has a deep seeded history of slavery. The states shouldn’t fly any flag other than the state flag, the American flag and the POW flag. The Confederate flag is truly a symbol of treason and abandoning a great nation but at the same time it is not for the government to say what private people can do or sell. Let the market dictate the demand.
Regardless of how people feel about the flag, they should feel more strongly about their rights. It’s called a slippery slope. When you start making excuses to justify why it is okay for the government to stifle your rights to free speech because a certain symbol or word offends people, you open the door to allow the government to infringe on the First Amendment and it does not stop there. Slowly, inch by inch you will end up giving up more of your rights, until you are eventually silenced. So be careful what you wish for.
While the Constitution is taking a bruising right now, it still had a win this week as the Supreme Court of the United States upheld same sex marriage. Just goes to show, in the end love does conquer all.
Have a great week! I’ll see you next week.