Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lynch proposes single-chamber R.I. General Assembly

Mon, Jun 14, 2010
By Randal Edgar

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Saying that state government is "completely dysfunctional" in part because state lawmakers "just cannot get it right," gubernatorial candidate Patrick C. Lynch on Monday pitched a three-part solution that would revamp the budget cycle, give the governor a line-item veto and downsize the legislature.

The state attorney general, running behind lesser-known Republicans and a fellow Democrat he will face in a September primary, said Rhode Islanders would greatly benefit from the changes, which include replacing the Rhode Island House and Senate with a single-chamber legislature that he said would bring greater accountability.

"The responsibility of the elected officials is to work for the people, not the politicians at the State House," he said in a campaign release. "The culture of inside deals, budget gimmicks, quick fixes and a complete lack of long-term planning has left us in dire economic straits."

The proposals raised eyebrows among government-watchdog groups and political observers, including those at the General Assembly.

"Over the past eight years, Attorney General Lynch has introduced many pieces of legislation," said Larry Berman, spokesman for the House of Representatives. "I do not recall that his office ever proposed any bills on this subject, nor has his idea ever been discussed by his two staffers who spend a great deal of time lobbying the legislature."

John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said there are pros and cons to a single-chamber, or unicameral, legislature. Currently, Nebraska is the only state with such a legislature.

"Advocates say it's great because it saves money it streamlines the legislative process, but those against it say we have two houses because they help balance different values in the legislature," he said.

He added: "I don't think it's a panacea for the problems of the legislature. In the end a lot of it comes down to who is in the office."

No comments:

Post a Comment