Progressive lawmakers are once again seeking to hand out “free stuff”, this time to wealthy-out of staters, in a misguided attempt to bribe them to move to Rhode Island. The legislation, House bill H8018 is an extension of the state’s failed corporate welfare strategy.

Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week: $10K Pays The Way (H8018)

Progressive lawmakers are once again seeking to hand out “free stuff”, this time to wealthy-out of staters, in a misguided attempt to bribe them to move to Rhode Island. The legislation, House bill H8018, has been named the “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week” by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, and is an individual-level extension of the state’s failed corporate welfare strategy.

“If we have to pay families, students, and businesses to move to or remain in Rhode Island, to survive our state’s oppressive tax and regulatory climate, then something is very wrong,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Worse than the obvious face-value inanity of the bill, the ignorant belief of how an economy and family dynamics actually work is what is most troubling. The legislation openly acknowledges the negative economy in our state, yet, as with other progressive policies, it tries to band-aid the symptom rather than cure the core illness. ”

Dubbed by the Center as the #10kPaysTheWay Act, the legislation, sponsored by Representative Carlos Tobon, a progressive-Democrat from Pawtucket, pretends that taxpayer funded government hand-outs would be incentive-enough for upper-middle income people to relocate their lives to the Ocean State. It is the false premise of the progressive ideology that more government dependency is what people want; in this case, in desperate hope of increasing our state’s population so as to avoid losing one of its two U.S House of Representative seats after the 2020 national census is tabulated.

While it is unclear how much of a population increase Rhode Island might need to preclude losing a Congressional seat, the legislation seeks to pay up to 30,000 new families. The cost to state taxpayers for this program, estimated at $300 Million, at the proposed handout rate of $10,000 per family … but only to wealthier families that make over $100,000 per year.

There are so many make-believe assumptions underlying this bill that do not exist in the real world, that it is difficult to know where to begin to enumerate them:

  • Families have left Rhode Island not because of deficient government programs, but because of sub-standard job and educational opportunities. Until we can break away from the self-imposed budgetary constraints and special interest influences that impede reforms in our state, Rhode Island’s bottom-10 business climate and family prosperity rankings, will continue to make Rhode Island a relatively inhospitable place to build a career and raise a family.
  • This regressive ‘wealthy-welfare’ scheme is unfair.  Not only would all current Rhode Island residents, including low-income families, be taxed more so that wealthy out-of-state families can be given our money, but those in-state families that have worked hard to become successful will receive nothing. This is similar to how existing Ocean State businesses have to pay for corporate tax credit handouts to other companies, often their own competitors.
  • People not want to be dependent on government. Current and would-be Rhode Islanders want to live productive, soul-fulfilling, self-sufficient, and prosperous lives … even though progressives like to pretend this that more government programs define success.
  • A government hand-out is not enough to overcome the “long-term and short-term negative economic trends” that the legislation itself admits are currently plaguing our state. Already damaged by too many current job-killing progressive policies, more progressive policies cannot possibly make our state more attractive to families and entrepreneurs.
  • Rhode Island’s population would not likely increase. As with most tax schemes, progressives pretend that there will be no adverse economic impact or other unintended consequence to their simple-minded and purely emotional-based policies. In the real world, tax policy drives behavior. In this case, the increased taxes that will be heaped on every family and business will cause even more people to flee our state.
  • Most importantly, progressives pretend that the obvious solution to Rhode Island’s economic and population stagnation is not staring them directly in the face. Proving that the theoretical benefits of the tax and regulatory reductions that our Center have espoused since its inception in 2011, and which is the foundation of conservative economic policy, the recently implemented federal tax and regulatory reductions have led to unprecedented economic optimism and renewed economic growth across America.

Similarly, if Rhode Island were to abandon its government-centric corporate-welfare and wealthy-welfare agenda, and instead start working on creating a reality-based and improved economic climate, where businesses and families can thrive on their own and without costly government assistance, the Ocean State might soon be able to regain the Congressional seat that progressive policies have likely already doomed us to lose.

In February 2018, Rhode Island’s ranking on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) moved not at all, remaining 47th. Although six of the seven datapoints that changed for this iteration were positive, they were apparently driven by national trends that affected other states, as well.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), February 2018 Slow and Steady Stays in Place

As 2018 got its footing in February, Rhode Island’s ranking on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) moved not at all, remaining 47th. Although six of the seven datapoints that changed for this iteration were positive, they were apparently driven by national trends that affected other states, as well. Rhode Island’s relative position therefore stayed the same.

Employment was up from the first-reported number for January, by 528, while labor force was up 738. RI-based jobs increased by 1,200. SNAP (food stamps) also improved, with a reduction of 4,288 enrollees, although complications with the state’s Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) may be affecting this datapoint for technical reasons unrelated to the economy.

Total personal income in Rhode Island (including various forms of investment) increased 1.95%, or $852 million. However, total state and local taxation increased 2.11%, or $69 million.

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming, and Maine held its 18th position. Vermont regained the spot it lost last month, returning to 20th. Massachusetts held on to its position of 33rd, while Connecticut’s descent paused at 43rd.

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. In both cases, the Ocean State closed the gap a little. On the official unemployment rate, RI again lost ground against both regions.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI held on to 18th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

Ocular Telemedicine Ban: Progressive Bad Bill of the Week

In blocking technological innovation, by seeking a virtual ban on the emerging and promising “ocular tele-medicine” industry, Senate bill S2404 and its House companion, H7608, have been dubbed the Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bills of the Week.

One reason why Rhode Island has such a dismal business climate and reputation is precisely bills like these that stifle innovation and increase costs on patients, all because existing national and local optometry associations and practitioners are asking for protectionist policies that block competition.

Perhaps even worse, Senate committee chairman, Joshua Miller, who oversaw the hearing on the legislation, said he would “dismiss” the testimony of the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. It is a common tactic of progressives like the Honorable Senator Miller to seek to shut down open and honest debate, because they believe their views, and only their views, deserve discussion.

See Stenhouse’s video commentary here.

See the video of Stenhouse’s actual committee testimony  – and multiple interruptions – here.

Read the GoLocalProv article, where even Common Cause RI criticizes the Senator for his intolerance.

Red below for Stenhouse’s 2017 OpEd on the issue …

****

2017 OpEd: Rhode Island Should Encourage Eye Care Innovation, Not Protectionism

Every Rhode Island family should have multiple choices to select the affordable, high-quality health care that’s best for them. And as new federal healthcare laws are debated in Washington, D.C., Rhode Island needs to have its own debate about insurance mandates and other protectionist policies.

In the case of eye care, Rhode Islanders often pay above market rates for glasses and contact lenses. However, new technology has the power to change this inefficiency by lowering prices and increasing convenience for consumers – that is, unless new protectionist legislation is passed into law.

Optometrists are unique in that they are some of the only medical professionals that sell what they prescribe. Oftentimes, they conveniently forget to provide copies of vision prescriptions to patients, or they advise them to purchases lenses directly from eye care offices at inflated prices. The prescriptions that optometrists write are often brand specific – usually for Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue lenses. The reason is simple: Johnson & Johnson produces over 40 percent of the world’s contacts, and as a way of furthering a monopoly, they give eye care professionals kickbacks on every sale made within their offices.

Federal legislation has attempted to bandage the problem by making it illegal for eye doctors to hold back prescriptions, but, as we all know, there is only so much that government enforcement can do to stop cronyism.

Fortunately, the free market has recently developed a new solution whereby optometrists’ office visits can often be bypassed. New technology accurately allows consumers to measure their prescription strength from the comfort of their own homes, a process known as “ocular telemedicine,” via their smartphones or computers, whereby they can take an eye-test approved by a board-certified ophthalmologist.

Patients can then use that e-prescription to purchase lenses or glasses wherever they choose, typically at much lower prices. With this technology, healthy adults only need to visit a brick-and-mortar eye doctor once every two years for a full eye health exam (as recommended by the American Optometric Association) instead of every time a lens refill is needed, or for specific eye problems.

Although this innovation is saving consumers time and money, it is causing quite an uproar in the optometry industry. Like the hair-styling and cosmetology protectionists who are trying to block natural hair-braiders like Jocelyn DeCouto from practicing their harmless trade, the vision industry is hoping to see through a usage ban on this new technology.

Washington lobbying groups like the American Optometric Association (AOA) are pressuring state legislatures to introduce bills that will ban most uses for ocular telemedicine. On the national level alone, this group is spending nearly $2 million a year in lobbying.

In banning a technology that can provide affordable, high quality eye care for Rhode Islanders – particularly for poor and rural residents – these two bills are an assault on the free market, innovation, and common sense.

Thankfully, this type of legislation has fared poorly in other states. In the past year, similar protectionist bills that kill competition and cost eye care customers more time and money have been shot down across America; New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez issued a veto as did then-Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley, who stated the bill, “uses health practice mandates to stifle competition for the benefit of a single industry … putting us on the leading edge of protectionism, not innovation.”

Rhode Island lawmakers need to see through the optometry cartel’s attempts to kill innovation and competition. At-home vision testing technology can empower Rhode Island families and individuals to get the prescription vision-aids they need at lower cost and with more ease than ever before.

 

The new year did not bring any change in Rhode Island’s ranking of 47th place on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s January 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). The five of 12 datapoints that changed for this iteration split between positive and negative developments.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), January 2018: Year Not Off to an Auspicious Start

The year 2018 did not bring any change in Rhode Island’s ranking of 47th place on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). The five of 12 datapoints that changed for this iteration split between positive and negative developments.

Employment was up from the revised number for December, by 330, while labor force was up 334. RI-based jobs increased, from their pre-revision number, by 400. Medicaid enrollment worsened, however, adding 2,380 enrollees, while SNAP (food stamps) also increased,
by 804.

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming. At 18th, Maine remains ahead of Vermont, which slipped a spot, to 21st. Massachusetts held on to its position of 33rd, while Connecticut fell one spot again, to 43rd.

January 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index Race To First

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. In both cases, The Ocean State gained slightly on the U.S. average but slipped slightly against New England. On the official unemployment rate, RI lost ground against both regions.

2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index New England And US

2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index New England And US Unemployment

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI held on to 18th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.
Once again unions are pushing for legislation that would give them even more leverage when it comes to negotiating Collective Bargaining Agreements for government workers. House bills 7198, 7633, and 7634 would grant all or some public employee unions underhanded perpetual contracts.

Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week: Perpetual Contracts

They’re back!

Once again unions are pushing for legislation that would give them even more leverage when it comes to negotiating Collective Bargaining Agreements for government workers.

House bills 7198, 7633, and 7634 would grant all or some public employee unions an unfair advantage by keeping in place all existing collective bargaining provisions until a new contract has been agreed to by the parties – we call these “perpetual contracts” … and thus these three bills qualify as our “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bills of the Week”.

In recent years, government worker unions and progressives have banded together to promote a centralized-government-control and high tax political environment. These bills exemplify this relatively new union-progressive partnership.

In living in this fantasy world of perpetual contracts, unions would never have to bargain in good faith, even in the worst of possible economic times, as they would be able to just sit back and continue to reap in their overly-generous benefits. In other words, your local taxes could never ever go down.

But wasn’t this issue decided last year? Yes it was. Despite the opposition from dozens of mayors and town leaders, the union-controlled House and Senate passed perpetual contract legislation in 2017. Thankfully, Governor Raimondo, who understands the real world when it comes to this issue, seemingly put the issue to rest by vetoing the perpetual contracts legislation.

But, the Rhode Island perpetual contracts legislation is back again this year! Why? What has changed?

In my opinion, unions are increasingly worried about how they will preserve their power, if the US Supreme Court rules against them in the Mark Janus case, which was heard by the Supremes in late February. In the expected June decision, the Supreme Court could grant government employees – such as teachers, police, and firefighters – the freedom to choose whether or not they can be compelled to join a union or pay union fees. Right now, public employee unions enjoy a negotiating monopoly and can force workers to financially support the unions’ political agenda.

Conventional wisdom believes the Supreme Court will rule against the union position. But what does this have to do with perpetual contracts? As it turns out … a lot.

Under one speculated Supreme Court ruling scenario, designed to lessen the financial impact on unions, forced dues and fees might be allowed to continue for those government workers under an existing collective bargaining contract. And that such employees could only opt-out once those existing contracts expire. But if contracts are “perpetual” – and would never therefore expire – then employees would never have the chance to opt out.

This means unions could continue to force people to have dues and fees automatically deducted from their paychecks.

This is a brilliant, yet devious maneuver. And this is how unions and their political cronies in statehouses across the country work: Finding every possible way to continue to extract money from taxpayers – and their own members – so that their financial and political power can be maintained.

As taxpayers and voters, everyone of us should be outraged that unions, and their legislative friends, conspire to devise such underhanded ways to pre-emptively evade what might be a landmark Supreme Court decision.

In our state’s progressive land of make believe, there is little doubt that the House and Senate, spurred by the desperation of public employee unions, will once again pass and send “perpetual contracts” legislation to the Governor’s desk.

It’s an election year, and the political pressure on her will be enormous, but once again, we must hope that the Governor, rooted in reality, will not be fooled or persuaded by this overt money grab by unions.

The Janus case could provide right-to-work protection for all public employees in the country. Right-to-work means a union cannot get a worker fired for not paying dues or fees.

Janus Public Policy Backgrounder

Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31

Mackinac Center for Public Policy Backgrounder

F. Vincent Vernuccio and Patrick Wright

WHAT IS THE JANUS CASE?

Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 is a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court filed by Mark Janus and two other Illinois state workers. If the justices rule in favor of Janus, the decision could:

  • Provide right-to-work protection for all public employees in the country. Right-to-work means a union cannot get a worker fired for not paying dues or fees.

BACKGROUND

All workers, whether they are in a right-to-work state or not, have the right to leave their union.

In non-right-to-work states like Rhode Island, however, employees can only opt out of paying the political portion of their dues, and many unions require them to submit paperwork to this effect annually. These workers are called “agency fee payers.”

Unions charge agency fee payers close to the same amount they charge regular members for dues. In California, for example, teachers are required to pay around 70 percent of their dues as agency fees, and in other states this amount can be even higher.

For most labor unions in Rhode Island, the amount of agency fees is left to each union and employer to negotiate, but they are often equal to dues. The exception to this contract-by-contract flexibility is for employees of the state, who are required by law to pay agency fees equal to dues even if they do not join their respective unions (RIGL 36-11-2). Rhode Island is one of only three states in the country that requires agency fees for state employees.

The right not to pay for a union’s political agenda through dues comes from the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public sector workers have a First Amendment right not to be forced to pay for union politics. Private sector workers are granted the same right through a different court decision.


Rhode Islanders need a credible alternative to the status quo and its destructive progressive ideas. You can help.

Click here to find out more >>>

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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Many states give government unions a monopoly over representation. The Abood case allowed unions to force all workers covered by the collective bargaining agreement to pay for the expenses incurred for representation, regardless of whether the employee wanted such representation or not. The argument in Abood was that, if workers were given a choice, an insufficient number of them would offer financial support to the union, making it difficult for the union to bargain effectively on their behalf.

As of 2018, workers in 27 states can exercise right-to-work rights and are not forced to pay dues or fees to the union organized in their workplace. In right-to-work states, however, only about 20 percent of unionized workers exercise these rights, meaning that unions in these states still have the financial support of about 80 percent of workers, on average. This suggests that the fears that rationalized the Abood decision were likely overstated.

Similar Rhode Island Case

In the Ocean State, five police officers in the town of Westerly sued the city over a requirement that they pay almost 15% of their salaries to the local union. The Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights, a Rhode Island–based nonprofit legal entity, litigated this case to defend non-union reserve police officers from being forced to contribute $5.00 of their $35.00 hourly pay to the union local.

Hopkins Center chairman Giovanni Cicione writes: “This was foisted on them without their consent, and these good public servants, many of whom are part-timers and retirees, are being forced to subsidize an organization they do not support and from which they receive no benefits.”

MAIN ARGUMENTS OF JANUS

Mark Janus and the other plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Abood decision. They argue collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political, and government unions devote more resources to their political agendas than just the small portion of dues that goes to directly support political candidates or causes.

On its Web page for a similar case covering teachers, the Center for Individual Rights explains, “Whether the union is negotiating for specific class sizes or pressing a local government to spend tax dollars on teacher pensions rather than on building parks, the union’s negotiating positions embody political choices that are often controversial.” Therefore, the plaintiffs say that by being forced to fund collective bargaining, they are being forced to fund political activity they might not necessarily agree with.

MAIN POINTS

  • Government workers would still be able to remain in their unions, and those unions would still be able to collectively bargain. Janus would simply give workers a choice and prevent them from being fired for not paying a union.
  • Giving workers a choice can make unions stronger. Unions would need to prove their worth to their membership, giving members better representation and more-responsive leadership.
  • All collective bargaining by government unions is inherently political. Workers have a First Amendment right not to be forced to pay for political spending they disagree with. Therefore, workers should not be forced to support government unions.
  • Unions should not have the power to get workers fired for exercising their First Amendment rights.
  • While the case would essentially mean right-to-work for public employees across the country, practically it would only apply to the 22 states in which government workers are not already right-to-work and paying agency fees.
  • Only about 20 percent of workers in right-to-work states exercise their rights, so the practical effect of the case will likely only affect about 20 percent of government workers in the 22 states that do not already provide these rights to workers.

KEY DATES

February 26, 2018 — The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Friedrichs case

End of June 2018 — Likely decision by the court

About the Authors

F. Vincent Vernuccio is Director of Labor Policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Patrick Wright is the Mackinac Center’s Vice President for Legal Affairs Affairs and authored the Center’s two briefs in the Friedrichs case.
The Mackinac Center is located in Midland,
Michigan.

 

State net neutrality legislation would result in Rhode Island consumers being left fewer choices, higher prices, and deteriorating service. The Center has named Net Neutrality proposals the Progressive Bad Bills Of The Week.

NEW VIDEO: “Net Neutrality” legislation named the Progressive Bad Bill of the Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 20, 2018

Progressive Net Neutrality Bills Seek to Remedy Problems that Don’t Exist

Government control over the Internet would lead to fewer choices and higher prices for Internet users

Providence, RI — The legislative onslaught by progressive-Democrats against free-markets continues. This time, they are pushing for government control of yet another important aspect of the lives of Rhode Islanders – the Internet – via new proposed “net neutrality” mandates. State net neutrality laws would result in Rhode Island consumers being left fewer choices, higher prices, and deteriorating service. The Center predicts, if passed, this legislation could also trigger costly “interstate commerce” lawsuits.

Tabbed as the “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Weekin a new post by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, two related bills, S2008 and H7422, would put unnecessary regulations on Internet Service Providers in Rhode Island.

In the real world, free-market forces, not overly burdensome government regulations, are the best way to ensure ISPs do not harm consumers and do not engage in anticompetitive behavior.


Rhode Islanders need a credible alternative to the status quo and its destructive progressive ideas. You can help.

Click here to find out more >>>

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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“The proper role of state and federal governments should be to deter fraud, enforce contracts, and arbitrate disputes. Clear, consistent, and limited government maximizes innovation and competition,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “Reliable internet access encourages and accelerates economic growth and development. New government mandates will likely lead to costly litigation because the internet is inherently interstate commerce.”

Stenhouse’s new Youtube interview with Katie McAuliffe of Americans for Tax Reform, led by Grover Norquist, can also be viewed on the post.

The bills, sponsored by Senators Jeanine Calkin and Gayle Goldin, and Representatives Aaron Regunberg and Deb Ruggiero among others, would reimpose unnecessary regulations on Internet Service Providers in Rhode Island, in response to the federal government’s repeal of similar regulations in 2017. The bills would also prohibit state and local governments from purchasing any broadband or internet service from any service provider who does not comply with now defunct federal net neutrality principles.

Other Bad Bills: An interactive table of other progressive bad bill candidates, as well as posts and video commentary on previously tabbed “progressive bad bills of the week” can be found at RIFreedom.org/Bills.

House Bill H7150 is the epitome of how the irrational emotions of the progressive-left are now finding their way into actual legislation and how they are attempting to legislate morality. This discrimination bill would criminalize anti-political correctness.

MEDIA RELEASE: Center derides “school discrimination” legislation as the Progressive Bad Bill of the Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 12, 2018

Poorly Written Bill Leaves Serious Issue of Discrimination to Make Believe Judgments

2nd grader play could be criminalized by those who anoint themselves as judge and jury

Providence, RI — The legislative onslaught by progressive-Democrats continues, this time using school children in a dangerous attempt to enshrine their non-mainstream values on society.

Tabbed as the “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Weekin a post this weekend by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, H7150, which will be heard in committee this Wednesday, is a poorly written bill that would likely cause nothing but harm by further dividing the educational community.

In attempting to impose their elitist and politically-correct view of morality on the state’s entire school system, the vaguely worded bill, deceptively entitled the “Health and Safety of Pupils”, avers that no student should be discriminated against for a number of politically-correct and other defined reasons.

“The bill makes no attempt to contemplate what real discrimination might consist of, by who, and what the consequence might be,” claimed the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “It is unnecessary and it is pure pandering to their base. It is divisive and it is dangerous to pretend to be able to interpret and control people’s thoughts and intentions, especially when they anoint themselves as judge and jury.” Stenhouse’s video commentary on the bill can also be viewed on the post.

The bill, sponsored by Representatives Grace Diaz and Aaron Regunberg among others, is a direct affront to social conservatives and has outraged the religious community. Such groups, who are organizing a presence at the House Committee on Health, Education & Welfare hearing, claim the bill seeks to put “transgender affirmation into law.”

Other Bad Bills: An interactive table of other progressive bad bill candidates, as well as posts and video commentary on previously tabbed “progressive bad bills of the week” can be found at RIFreedom.org/Bills.

House Bill H7150 is the epitome of how the irrational emotions of the progressive-left are now finding their way into actual legislation and how they are attempting to legislate morality. This discrimination bill would criminalize anti-political correctness.

Imaginary Discrimination Bill “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week”

Pretend Discrimination Bill H7150

This week’s bad bill is a thorny issue; but one that highlights yet another danger of the progressive-left’s agenda to control our lives via a government driven by political correctness. In our American society, this means a direct threat to free speech and free thought.

House Bill H7150 is the epitome of how the irrational emotions of the progressive-left are now finding their way into actual legislation … and how they are attempting to legislate morality. In fact any attempt to criminalize anti political correctness or immorality, will inevitably cause more societal harms than it seeks to prevent.

Sponsored by Representatives Grace Diaz and Aaron Regunberg among others, this poorly written discrimination bill, in its entirety, states:

“No pupil attending public or private schools of elementary and high school grades inclusive of kindergarten shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status or mental, physical, developmental, or sensory disability, or by association with an individual or group who has, or is perceived to have one, or more of such characteristics.”

Conceptually, of course, who would disagree?

But we judge this discrimination bill to be of the “make believe” variety, first because of it’s purposely misleading title, “Health and Safety of Pupils.” Putting this purely emotional plea into written legislation, ostensibly to protect students, is unnecessary … as all Americans and students are already protected by other existing state and federal civil rights laws. This legislation is nothing more than a meaningless ploy to advance mainstream acceptance progressive-left values.

Also a progressive fantasy … is the belief that discrimination, or any other emotionally driven action … can be legislated away. Should a bill be likewise submitted requiring that all students should always be made to feel happy?


Rhode Islanders need a credible alternative to the status quo and its destructive progressive ideas. You can help.

Click here to find out more >>>

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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Further, this discrimination bill, because it is so vague and subjective … pretends that there will be no resulting unintended and adverse consequences.

In the bill, there is no definition of what discrimination “is” … or by whom such offense might be committed. It is one thing if a teacher or administrator systematically ostracizes or bullies a student. But are we at the point in our society where we want “2nd-grader on 2nd-grader play” to now be considered as criminal? Would not selecting a student in the first-round of a kick-ball game at recess, when choosing sides, now mean someone should be sent to the principal’s office? If a teacher doesn’t immediately call upon a particular student who raised his or her hand, is that an offense?

Who’s interpretation of what discrimination “is” becomes the standard? Who will be the judge?

Then there’s the “or else what” question? What is the consequence? If someone does commit some person’s version of discrimination, what will happen to them? Will they be suspended from school? Reported to the school board or to their parents? Put in the public stockade?

These unanswered questions that this frivolous legislation would artificially create, are important. If one person’s free and harmless-intended actions can be judged to be discriminatory by someone else, and then backed by the force of law … our free society will be taking a major step backwards.

Bottom line, there is no universally objective way to interpret and enforce this kind of fantasy legislation; no single piece of legislation can possibly attempt to categorize the motivations and intentions of a population as diverse as Rhode Island’s. Yet progressives keep trying, and society will keep losing.

In one vision of a free society, our noncriminal actions should not be judged by some arbitrary special interest agenda. Conversely, in the progressives’ make believe vision of a politically-correct society, and as we did see – and still see – in many communist countries, our own thoughts and actions would be policed by some vague and subjective standard – set by the elitists in power … who will put themselves in a position to be judge, jury, and executioner.

Which vision of society do you prefer?

Click here to see the media release

Rhode Island remained in 47th place on RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) for December. December jobs were down again, 372 from the previously recorded number, while labor force edged up 172.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), December 2017: Dependency Is a SNAP

Rhode Island remained in 47th place on RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) for December. The eight of 12 datapoints that changed for this iteration were a mixed bag, but overall, the implications aren’t good.

Employment was down again, 372 from the previously recorded number, while labor force edged up 172. RI-based December jobs slipped by 400. However, alternative measures of employment improved: 400 fewer long-term unemployed, 600 fewer marginally attached workers, and 800 fewer people employed only part time unwillingly. Medicaid enrollment also improved, decreasing by 3,701 enrollees, but that improvement in welfare was inverted by a 7,699 jump in SNAP (food stamps), probably resulting from resolution of the state’s backlog of applications.


Rhode Islanders need a credible alternative to the status quo and its destructive progressive ideas. You can help.

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The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

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The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming. Maine overtook Vermont, however, as the the states exchanged their prior places of 18th and 20th. Massachusetts fell two slots to 33rd, while Connecticut fell one spot deeper into the bottom 10, now 42nd.

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. In both cases, RI’s gap eased a little. Switching to the official unemployment rate, RI’s gap also narrowed.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI improved to 18th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.