Moore: Rhode Islanders Yawn Over Legislative Summer Stalemate

Monday, July 10, 2017
Russell J. Moore GoLocal MINDSETTERâ„¢

Nicholas Mattiello
The feud between Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello makes for great drama.

But does it really impact the lives of Rhode Islanders in a tangible way that they actually care about? I think not.

If anyone walked around the crowd at the Bristol Fourth of July Parade and asked spectators what they thought of this highly publicized feud I’d venture to guess at least half wouldn’t understand the question. Another large percentage would mumble something like ‘that’s just the legislature being the legislature, who cares, you’re not going to change anything anyways.’

How do I know? I know because I’ve asked. And those are the responses I get from people who aren’t political junkies.

Unless we’re closing banks and people cannot get their hands on their own money, the average person doesn’t much care. They’d rather vote for someone they know, and don’t agree with, than someone with a stronger platform. At least they’ll feel important when their representative says hello them.

Relevant

This is Rhode Island. And no price is too high to pay to feel relevant.

We’re a little over one week past the close of the legislative session. Mattiello brought the session to a screeching halt when he sent the House of Representatives home after learning that the Senate planned to amend the state budget by changing his car tax proposal. The proposed change would have prevented the implementation of the car tax phase out in years when revenues or federal aid came in shorter than expected.

There’s obviously more to the story. The Senate’s change to the budget didn’t impact anything relative to this year. The change would have potentially impacted future years, but that battle could have been fought in the future.

And we all know that Ruggerio’s decision to amend the state budget before attempting to send it back to the house was a power play. That’s why Mattiello’s decision to end the session wasn’t totally surprising. Yet what caused the bad blood remains unknown.

Who Cares?

Rhode Islanders can sit around in coffee houses, barber shops, or bars and speculate as to what’s really divided the two most powerful men in the state legislature. Yet I don’t think most people really care all that much.

The car tax is probably the biggest impact of the feud. Of course people want a break on their car taxes. But what are they going to do if the legislature doesn’t give it to them? Probably nothing. The taxpayers didn’t do anything when the legislature broke their promise to stop phasing out the car tax last decade.

The standoff has also endangered Governor Gina Raimondo’s free college tuition at the Community College of Rhode Island. Yet the cost of the program to send students to CCRI to state taxpayers is just $3 million per semester.

Governor Raimondo has already said that she will find the money elsewhere to implement the program. Mattiello said that would be illegal. But it’s hard to believe that the Governor cannot find $3 million in a roughly $9 billion budget to fund a program that she’s so heavily relying on for good public relations headlines.

Yawn

There were other important bills lost in the shuffle, such as a bill mandating guns be seized from domestic abusers and another that would have provided working Rhode Islanders with a modicum of sick time.

Yet neither is important enough to cause an uproar from the masses. So we can expect this standoff to continue, until each side decides that ending it will make things better personally for each leader.

Yawn.

Russell J. Moore has worked on both sides of the desk in Rhode Island media, both for newspapers and on political campaigns. Send him email at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @russmoore713.

  • #30

    Lobby: Medical Services

    Total Amount 2014: $70,000

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies Inc.; Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Laser Spine Institute, East Side Clinical Laboratory, Radiation Therapy Services, Inc.

     
  • #29

    Lobby: Advocacy Animal Rights

    Total Amount 2014: $76,048

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Robert Goldberg

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Humane Society of the U.S., Rhode Island Society for the Prevention Against Cruelty to Animals, PETA

     
  • #28

    Lobby: Auto Manufacturing

    Total Amount 2014: $76,092

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Carolyn Murray, F/S Capitol Consulting

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby:  Honda North America, Inc., General Motors LLC, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Inc.

     
  • #27

    Lobby: Wind Energy

    Total Amount 2014: $76,739

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Christopher Vitale, Capitol City Group

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Wind Energy Development, LLC, Deepwater Wind, Cape Wind Associates, LLC

     
  • #26

    Lobby: Waste Disposal and Recycling

    Total Amount 2014: $76,846

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Andrew Annaldo

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Sims Metal Management, Narragansett Bay Commission, Mattress Recycling Council

     
  • #25

    Lobby: Renewable Energy General

    Total Amount 2014: $78,087.54

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies Inc.

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Broadrock Renewables LLC, Acadia Center

     
  • #24

    Lobby: Marijuana Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $82,194

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Bradford Group

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Thomas Slater Compassion Center, MPP (Marijuana Policy Project)

     
  • #23

    Lobby: Auto Tech Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $93,400

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Leonard Lopes, The Victor Group, LLC; Matthew Lopes, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, LLC

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: AudaExplore, Applus Technologies

     
  • #22

    Lobby: Car Insurance

    Total Amount 2014: $95,420

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Robert Goldberg

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Progressive Insurance, Rhode Island Automobile Insurers Coalition, Allstate Insurance Company, AAA Southern New England

     
  • #21

    Lobby: Real Estate Development

    Total Amount 2014: $103,250

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Zachary Darrow, Capitol Communications Group, LLC; Stephen Alves

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: High Rock Development, CV Properties LLC

     
  • #20

    Lobby: Payday Loan Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $111,636

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Bill Murphy

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Advance America Cash Advance Centers, Inc.

     
  • #19

    Lobby: Charter Schools and Education Reform

    Total Amount 2014: $115,470

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Bill Fischer, True North Communications; Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: RI Campaign for Achievement Now, Rhode Island Scholarship Advocates, Inc., Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, R.I. League of Charter Schools

     
  • #18

    Lobby: Supply Chain Services

    Total Amount 2014: $120,000

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Leonard Lopes, The Victor Group

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: McLane Company

     
  • #17

    Lobby: Medical Professionals

    Total Amount 2014: $127,533

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Advocacy Solutions

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: UEMF, RI Psychological Association, RI Medical Society, RI Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Rhode Island Radiology Society, Rhode Island Radiology Society, Rhode Island Optometric Association, The Rhode Island Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island

     
  • #16

    Lobby: Environment and Conservation

    Total Amount 2014: $148,938

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; Abel Collins

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Sea Research Foundation, Rhode Island Land Trust Council, Sierra Club Rhode Island Chapter, Rhode Island Association for Recreational Preservation, The Nature Conservancy, Grow Smart RI, Environmental Defense Fund, Environment Rhode Island, Clean Water Action, Audubon Society of RI

     
  • #15

    Lobby: Computer and Tech Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $157,333

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group; William Lynch, Adler Pollock & Sheehan

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: The Travel Technology Association, Entertainment Software Association, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard Company, Consumer Electronics Association

     
  • #14

    Lobby: Higher Education

    Total Amount 2014: $157,513

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Providence College, URI Foundation, The College Board, Johnson & Wales University, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island

     
  • #13

    Lobby: Software Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $174,000

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Andrew Annaldo

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Redflex Student Guardian, DRN, Inc./Vigilant Solutions, Veritec Solutions, LLC, SAS Institute Inc.

     
  • #12

    Lobby: Long-term Care Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $193,550

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies, Inc.; Advocacy Solutions 

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Visionary Healthcare Network, LLC, Rhode Island Health Care Association, Leading Age Rhode Island, Community Living of RI, Inc., Alfa, Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, Atria Senior Living Inc., The Rhode Island Assisted Living Association, Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island

     
  • #11

    Lobby: Tobacco 

    Total Amount 2014: $200,786

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Carolyn Murray, F/S Capitol Consulting

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: RAI Services Company, Altria Client Services Inc. and its Affiliates, Cigar Association of America, Inc.

     
  • #10

    Lobby: Power Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $242,001

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions; Richard McAuliffe, Mayforth Group

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: National Grid, UGI, Exelon Generation Company, LLC

     
  • #9

    Lobby: Telecommunications

    Total Amount 2014: $262,593

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Francis McMahon, Advocacy Solutions; Terrance Martiesian

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: CTIA - The Wireless Association, Verizon Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, Inc., New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, Inc., DISH Network LLC, DIRECTV, AT&T Inc. and Its Affiliates

     
  • #8

    Lobby: General Business Advocacy

    Total Amount 2014: $274,322

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Kelly Sheridan, Roberts Carroll Feldstein & Peirce; Dennis J. Roberts

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Portsmouth Business Association, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Newport County Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, Consumer Data Industry Association

     
  • #7

    Lobby: Construction Industry and Building Trade Unions

    Total Amount 2014: $316,503

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Richard Sinapi; Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies, Inc.; Zachary Darrow, Capitol Communications Group, LLC

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Shawmut Design and Construction, Rhode Island Subcontractors' Association, Rhode Island Carpenters Local Union 94, Rhode Island Builders Association, American Resort Development Association, Utility Contractors Association of RI, UA Plumbers and Pipefitters - Local 51, New England Mechanical Contractors Association, National Electrical Contractors Association, Gilbane Building Company, Dimeo Construction Company, Construction Industries of Rhode Island, Civic Builders, BuildRI, Associated General Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractor, Inc.

     
  • #6

    Lobby: Insurance (All Types)

    Total Amount 2014: $343,941

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Stephen D. Zubiago, Nixon Peabody LLP; Kelly Sheridan, Roberts Carroll Feldstein & Peirce

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC), RI Interlocal Risk Management Trust, Nationwide Insurance, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), MetLife Insurance, Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island, Explore Information Services, Amica Mutual Insurance Company & Its Subsidiaries, Beacon Mutual Insurance Company

     
  • #5

    Lobby: Health Insurance 

    Total Amount 2014: $471,555

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Matthew Lopes, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, LLC; William Lynch, Adler Pollock & Sheehan

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: United Insurance Company of America, United HealthCare Services, Inc., Tufts Associated Health Maintenance, Cigna, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (AFLAC), Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Americas Health Insurance Plans, Delta Dental of Rhode Island, Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI

     
  • #4

    Lobby: Mortgage, Banking, and Finance

    Total Amount 2014: $528,808

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Joseph Walsh, Government Strategies Inc.; William A. Farrell; Stephen Alves

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: TIAA-CREF, Rhode Island Housing, Online Lenders Alliance, MERSCorp Holdings, Inc., DBA International, RI Mortgage Bankers Association, Rhode Island Financial Services Association, Rhode Island Bankers Association, Pegasus Capital Advisors, L.P., FMR LLC/Fidelity Investments, Axcess Financial Services Inc., Visa, Inc., H & R Block, Credit Union Association of Rhode Island, Bank of America Corporation, RI Student Loan Authority

     
  • #3

    Lobby: Gaming Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $674,262

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Robert Goldberg, Bill Murphy, R. Kevin Horan

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: UTGR, Inc. (Twin River), Newport Entertainment and Leisure, LLC, GTECH Corporation, Newport Grand

     
  • #2

    Lobby: Pharmaceutical Industry

    Total Amount 2014: $676,307

    Key Lobbyists or Lobby Firms: Matthew Lopes, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West, LLC; Stephen Alves

    Organizations or Companies Included in the Lobby: Mylan Inc., Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and Company, RI Community Pharmacy Association, Purdue Pharma, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., Northeast Pharmacy Service Corporation, CVS Health, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP, Amgen, Alexion Pharmaceuticals

     

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