RI Religious, Community Groups Urge Lawmakers To Get Back To Work

Jul 21, 2017

A group of more than 20 Rhode Island religious and community groups are calling on the General Assembly to return to the Statehouse to approve a state budget for the fiscal year than began July 1 and approve legislation to limit access to guns for domestic  abusers, grant earned sick time to workers and adopt other measures.

“Every day that goes by without a budget makes it harder to have a good revenue and spending plan for 2018,” said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Economic Progress Institute. “We’re glad to hear there is movement toward coming back into session and urge leaders to keep those conversations going.”

A dispute over a budget provision to begin phasing out the unpopular car tax provoked a battle between the House and Senate leadership that has not healed. House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, have begun private discussions aimed at patching up the dispute.

Mattiello told Rhode Island Public Radio that he is working on a plan to have the Senate return to the State House and approve the budget already passed by the House. The speaker also said that a legislative session could be convened after Labor Day to deal with other unfinished business, including  the Pawtucket Red Sox stadium issue.

But the advocates who issued today’s news release want the Assembly to address other measures as soon as possible, including the sick days and gun proposals, as well as criminal justice reforms, allowing workers to form cooperatives and protect health care.

``Despite popular support among lawmakers for legislation that affects thousands of state residents, change is stalled until the General Assembly can come back together to complete their work,’’ said Georgia Hollister Isman, director of Rhode Island Working Families.

The list of organizations also includes The American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island; Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights; DARE; Planned Parenthood; Progreso Latino; RI NOW; Gloria Dei Church; Fuerza Laboral; RI Council of Churches; UNAP; Step Up Center International; RI Jobs With Justice; RI Community Action Association; RI Racial Justice Coalition; RI Working Families; Sierra Club, RI Chapter; Mental Health Association of RI; Ministers Alliance of RI; RI Community Action Association; RI State Council of Churches; RIRAL;  Religious Coalition for a Violence-Free Rhode Island; and RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence.