On RI Governor’s Desk: Voter Registration, Teacher Contracts, And Prescription Database Legislation

Jul 20, 2017

Not all legislation on Gov. Gina Raimondo’s desk received her signature. Here’s a brief rundown of what Raimondo vetoed, signed, or allowed to go into law without her John Hancock.

Perpetual Contracts: Vetoed

Raimondo’s veto of the legislation that would have allowed teacher and municipal contracts to remain in effect after their expiration drew approval from the League of Cities and Towns.

“Extending a collective bargaining agreement automatically and indefinitely after its expiration date would provide greater leverage for employees at the expense of municipal officials and taxpayers,” Brian Daniels, director of the league said in a statement. “Employees would have no incentive to make concessions on wages, health care or work conditions.

The National Education Association Rhode Island released a statement of its own, urging lawmakers to override the veto.

“We are disappointed that Governor Raimondo turned her back on classroom educators and Rhode Island public employees who were seeking respect and fundamental fairness in the bargaining process,” NEARI President Larry Purtill said in the statement. “It is no surprise that a politician who made her bones on Wall Street is incapable of understanding the needs of working Rhode Islanders.”

Automatic Voter Registration: Signed 

The Ocean State is now the ninth state in the country to allow for automatic voter registration.

Eligible citizens can now register to vote at the Division of Motor Vehicles, a change intended to make it easier to vote. And according to Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, a proponent of the legislation, AVR will also help update Rhode Island’s voter rolls.

“Automatic Voter Registration will help reduce the bloat in our voter rolls resulting from unintentional, duplicate voter registrations and help increase voter participation,” said Gorbea in a statement.

Prescription Bill Database: Signed

Despite demands for a veto from medical practitioners advocating for patient privacy, Raimondo signed the legislation giving law enforcement access to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program without a warrant.

The PDMP gives doctors an overview of medications patients are on, helping avoid prescriptions of conflicting medication. It’s also used to check for patterns of prescription abuse.

In a statement, Raimondo said the bill would help law enforcement investigate illegal distribution of prescription drugs, as the state struggles to stem opioid addiction and overdoses.

"To end this crisis, we need to swing at every pitch possible. Access to data is one of the most important tools we have” Raimondo said.

Banning Youth Conversion Therapy: Signed

Conversion therapy aims to change someone’s sexual orientation. Typically, the practice is used to attempt to turn homosexual individuals heterosexual. Mental health professionals, including the American Psychiatric Association, oppose the practice, reporting results of depression and low self-esteem.

Rhode Island joins Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire in banning the practice for anyone under the age of 18.

No state monry can go towards funding for the therapy. Any medical professional found breaking the law now risks losing their medical license.