House Reform Caucus proposes rules changes

Members of the House Reform Caucus propose rules changes. Photo by Tessa Roy, WPRO News.

By WPRO News

Arguing that current rules leave much of the legislative process in the dark, the House’s Reform Caucus called for changes.

“The legislators, and most of all the public, have little to no chance to consider what is being done to the laws we will all have to live by,” said Representative Katharine Kazarian.

Kazarian said one issue their proposed changes seek to tackle is last-minute changes to bills. The caucus wants amendments to be viewable online for 48 hours prior to any committee or floor votes.

“Often times, no one is more surprised by the changes than the sponsor of the original bill,” she said.

In addition, the reformers want to require a 2/3 vote before suspending House rules in the closing days of a session and make other changes to prevent bills from dying too soon or being held for further study for too long. Representative Jason Knight said these changes might “restore some checks and balances” on the power that Speakers of the House hold.

“What I’ve seen is that over time, the rules in Rhode Island have developed so that almost every significant decision in the House of Representatives particularly, has basically been sucked into the Speaker of the House’s office,” he said.

The caucus also recommended enacting a line item veto and creating an Office of Inspector General.