Fung (surprise, surprise) slams RI General Assembly

Jun 24, 2014

From the No Republican Ever Lost a Gubernatorial Primary Vote by Slamming the RI General Assembly Department: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung blasted the Assembly in a campaign press release today, saying the annual late rush to legislation created too many ``missed opportunities for Rhode Island.’’

Fung, running for the Republican nomination against Barrington businessman Ken Block, also blasted lawmakers for delaying the master lever straight voting repeal until after the 2014 election cycle is over. ``We have a critically important statewide election in five months, yet the General Assembly has decided that Rhode Islanders must wait to have fair and honest elections.’’

And Fung flogged the dead horse of legislative process and the annual rush to adjournment, during which hundreds of bills and amended bills are pushed through the House and Senate chambers at the last minute. ``This makes a mockery of our legislative process, with hundreds of critical legislative proposals languishing on committee calendars for months with only pro forma public hearings and no substantive action, until the final days or hours of a legislative session,’’ stated Fung.

This issue is as old as lawmaking. Just about every legislative body in the Western World indulges in some form of eleventh-hour maneuvers in the race to adjourn. All night sessions are common in many legislatures in the U.S., and, of course, in the U.S. Congress.

In 1907, a rookie state representative from Providence’s East Side, made a big deal out of  hammering away at the annual adjournment rush. That state rep was Theodore Francis Green, a fusty professor of Roman Law at Brown University. He would not always be so concerned about proper process. In January, 1935, Green was the Democratic governor who presided over the `Bloodless Revolution’ the closest event to a coup d’etat this state, or arguably any other (outside Louisiana) state, has even seen.

His reward for wresting control from the Protestant Yankee Republicans who had long run Rhode Island as a duchy: A long career in the U.S. Senate. And getting an airport named for him.

Of course, nothing has on Smith Hill when it comes to the final days of an Assembly session. It still resembles the mall on Christmas Eve, the post office on April 15 or the nearby super market the day before the local TeeVee weather folks have predicted a snowmaggedon.