Rhode Islanders have lost our voice. Whether or not we approve of how our governor is responding to this crisis, we have lost our voice. Regardless of our individual opinions about reopening our economy, we have lost our voice. RI’s legislative branch – specifically the Democratic majority – chooses not to convene to provide even the semblance of oversight to our executive branch’s unchecked power, we have lost our voice.
In their letter published nearly 80 days into this pandemic, representatives Speakman (dist. 68) and Donovan (dist. 69) make it abundantly clear that they have voluntarily surrendered our voice to the governor of our state and our federal delegation. Per statute, “…no state of disaster emergency may continue for longer than thirty (30) days unless renewed by the governor.” June 8th will mark the third renewal of the governor’s original executive order – an order tacitly condoned by our state legislator’s willful refusal to meet.
The ninth amendment explicitly restrains the federal government by enumerating its powers. The 10th amendment reserves the remaining power “…to the States respectively, or to the people.” By obfuscating their responsibilities as elected representatives, our legislators have effectively given up precisely when we need them the most. They have violated their public trust and should either fulfill their duly elected responsibilities or resign their positions immediately.
They do not need to wait for “permission” from the governor or even house and senate leadership. Our general assembly and every one of its committees can convene at any time when a majority of the body is present. The minority caucus has announced they wish to convene the house committee on oversight – if not the entire body. This means, at the very least, local representatives Knight (dist. 67) and Speakman (dist. 68) who both serve on the oversight committee, represent two of the seven additional Democrat members needed to convene and provide what we need now more than ever in our state government – transparency and oversight. Get back to work!