RI House GOP Offer Bills to Restore Checks and Balances During a Declared State of Emergency and Legislation for Individual’s Right to Access
State House, Providence – Rhode Island House Republicans submitted legislation to ensure proper checks and balances on the Governor’s powers during a declared State of Emergency. They also submitted a bill – Designated Support --to ensure safe, personal contact with loved ones in congregate care facilities. These measures address the gaping holes in our emergency statutes that have been exposed over the past year under a government by executive order, with scarce legislative involvement.
The first bill establishes in law a new bi-partisan Permanent Joint Disaster Oversight Committee, comprised of members from both the House and the Senate. This committee will be required to regularly meet during a declared state of emergency to review the policies and actions of the Governor. The Committee will have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents. The second bill amends the Declaration of Emergency statute (§ 30-15-9) by requiring legislative action to continue a declared state of emergency past 90-days. The third bill, Designated Support, addresses the COVID-19 mandates that denied access to individuals in hospitals, group homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and Veterans Homes. The purpose of this bill is to entitle all residents of health-care facilities and group homes the opportunity to designate a support person for regular, in-person visits. The policy is designed to balance disease transmission protocols with the benefits of having a loved one present during a lockdown.
Deputy House Minority Leader, George Nardone, is the lead sponsor of all three bills under consideration by the Rhode Island House.
“For a good part of the past year, Rhode Island has been under the unilateral control of the Governor, due to inaction of our General Assembly,” said Nardone. “The lack of oversight and transparency, normally provided by the legislative branch, fostered a level of mistrust and anxiety among our constituents -- a very bad dynamic during a worldwide pandemic. House Republican bills address some of the most egregious issues we encountered in 2020, and offer thoughtful, sound solutions.”
“Rhode Island was nearly without a legislative branch of state government for most of 2020,” said House Minority Leader Blake Filippi. “Rather than elected lawmakers passing laws, we were governed by a succession of executive orders issued by Governor Raimondo. Many of these executive orders are legislative in nature because they deeply affect our personal lives, including; our freedom to associate in our own homes, to practice our religion, to bury our departed loved ones, and to make a living.”
“The General Assembly failed to exercise its basic constitutional oversight function of the Governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including: our seniors dying in our nursing homes; our children failing with remote education; our struggling over-regulated businesses, and our declining economy,” said House Minority Whip Chippendale.
“Our proposed legislation will require legislative action during declared emergencies, rather than leave it to the whims of legislative leadership,” said Nardone. “These proposals will return thoughtful, public engagement to the State House and ensure the proper balance between the Governor’s response to an emergency, and that basic constitutional checks and balances are upheld.”
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