RI House approves bill aimed at strengthening ethics law

Providence, R.I. – Rhode Island voters are a step closer to deciding whether state lawmakers can face Ethics Commission prosecution for their votes at the Statehouse.

The House of Representatives has approved a ballot question authorizing the quasi judicial panel to investigate and prosecute lawmakers on the basis of their votes and other legislative acts.

The measure must still clear the state Senate before being put before voters in November. The state Supreme Court ruled last year that the state Constitution shielded lawmakers from facing ethics complaints based on their votes.

Critics said the ruling gutted the commission's authority to punish lawmakers who vote to advance their own personal interests or ignore conflict-of-interests. The proposed constitutional amendment would restore that authority.