On September 30th Common Cause Rhode Island sent a letter to every member of the General Assembly requesting greater transparency and accessibility during this fall's pension reform session. On Tuesday, October 18th we saw the results of that when the House and Senate reconvened to introduce the Retirement Security Act of 2011. Both chambers of the Assembly are operating under rules applicable for only special sessions (House rule 40 and Senate rule 10.7) which skirt the normal processes for public notice.
The House of Representatives did pass H 6322 which provides a seven day waiting period between any vote in the House Finance Committee and consideration of the bill on the House floor. It also requires members of the House to submit any amendments 48 hours in advance of the scheduled consideration of the bill by the entire House. The Senate, however, has not even provided for this minimum level of transparency.
We are pleased about the creation of a new website, www.pensionreformri.com, and hope that the ability for the public to comment through that portal is used in a meaningful way.
Common Cause sent letters to the House and Senate leaders requesting further steps to make sure public participation is meaningful by moving hearings on the bill to a more accessible location. We also asked for any amendments to the bill to be made public in advance of their consideration. There is still time to make this process more transparent and accessible to the tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders directly affected, and the hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders interested in the process.