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.

 

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.

To find the balance between protecting civil rights and the public when it comes to solving the puzzle of how to prevent mass shootings or excessive gun control, we advises a multi-level solution--- including a cultural discussion of the breakdown of the family.

Center Cautions Against Gun Control Focus of Pending Legislative Hearings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 6, 2018

Center Recommends Comprehensive vs Narrow Approach to Mass Shootings Puzzle

Cultural Implications of the Breakdown of the Family Must Be Part of the Conversation

Providence, RI — In seeking to find a balance between protecting civil rights and protecting the public when it comes to solving the puzzle of how to prevent mass shootings, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity advises that such a multi-level problem requires a multi-level solution, including a cultural discussion of the breakdown of the family.
“It is obvious that the slate of bills to be heard today are largely intended to restrict the capacity of – and access to – certain firearms,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “If we are truly interested in protecting the lives of students, rather than advancing an extreme political agenda, such a focus on guns will not solve the puzzle.”
While the it supports common-sense reforms as well as the underlying concept of proposed new “red flag laws” in Rhode Island, the Center is concerned that civil rights protections may be far too lax and that the bar for the seizure of private property are being set too low, and that cultural considerations are being ignored.
Any new law must set a high enough bar to justify the nullification or restriction of an enumerated constitutional right. “The clear agenda of the progressive-left is for firearms to be regulated as much as possible and confiscated from as many people as possible. This approach will solve little, and they should be called out for seeking exploit recent tragedies to advance their extreme political agenda.”
The Center suggests that a rigorous and comprehensive public debate ensue. It recommends a multi-phase approach that includes:
  • Securing school buildings and classrooms.External and internal physical security should be funded, potentially by public and private dollars, as well as armed personnel, whether professional law enforcement professional or teachers who volunteer. To lessen the burden on tax-payers, the Center recommends consideration a tax-credit program for corporations or individuals that wish to donate money or security devices to public and private schools.
  • Family Prosperity Angle: One clear takeaway from national Family Prosperity Index is that family stability impacts economic and criminal outcomes. What must be openly debated is how the social and cultural implications of a lack of family structure and paternal influence, may lead too many unstable young men free to roam in our society. As a society, how the family unit has become so marginalized, and how we medically or psychologically care for troubled young people, must be re-analyzed.
  • Limiting Access to Firearms for Unfit citizens. Many individuals who suffer from mental illness or who have a criminal background should be permanently or temporarily stripped of their right to legally own a firearm. “Red flag” laws can help to address one aspect of this issue, so long as fair due-process provisions are co-established. Transparency and penalty provisions should be strengthened to discourage individuals from presenting false or overtly frivolous evidence during the process of filing of the petition.
  • Intensified background-check process. A more thorough background-check and permitting process should be conducted when purchasing certain firearms by certain people. Some police reports that do not result in an arrest or conviction should be flagged to appear on such background checks. Similarly, government agencies must be made to share related information with each other.
  • Medical “red flag” Process. Mental health professionals should also be able to “red flag” patients, for background-check purposes only, who are deemed to be a potential risk to themselves or to society, without fear of violating doctor-patient confidentiality laws. State and federal governments should also consider if the re-institutionalization of certain mentally ill patients should be revisited.
  • “Green Light” provision for law enforcement. Law enforcement officials should be afforded greater latitude to preemptively investigate, question, and potentially detain individuals who have threatened to perpetuate public harm, without fear of civil rights violations.
  • Restriction of certain firearms accessories. Devices such as “bump-stocks”, or other devices that gratuitously increase the firing capacity of any firearm, should be  banned.
  • Media Lionization of Murderers. While no new law is suggested, public pressure should encourage media outlets to voluntarily agree not to inadvertently glorify mass murderers by pasting their name and image all over their news feeds.
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.

 

Rhode Island progressives make believe that new net neutrality mandates by the government will not harm interstate commerce. In the real world, free-market forces are the best way to ensure ISPs do not harm consumers.

Progressive Bad Bill Of The Week: Make Believe Net Neutrality

This week we highlight yet another issue where the progressive-Democrats want government to control another aspect of our lives … this time, the Internet … with the issue being Net Neutrality.

Two related bills, S2008 and H7422, introduced by progressive-left Democrats attempts to solve what is nothing more than a make believe problem. Sponsored by Senators Jeanine Calkin and Gayle Goldin, and Representatives Aaron Regunberg and Deb Ruggiero – among others –  the legislation, collectively would:

  1. Reimpose unnecessary regulations on Internet Service Providers in Rhode Island, in response to the federal government repealed such regulations in just last year 2017
  2. Prohibit state and local governments from purchasing any broadband or internet service from any Service Provider who does not comply with now defunct net neutrality principles.

To the left, our access to the internet is at stake. “It is almost impossible for most of us to imagine getting through the day without using the internet. Open and equal access has been an essential cornerstone of this medium, and the FCC’s actions to the contrary amount to a grave threat to online free speech,” said the RI ACLU. “This legislation is an important step in protecting Rhode Islanders from the threats of censorship that the repeal of net neutrality can bring.” Of course, this attitude is pure fantasy.

Other reasons why Net Neutrality proponents are living in a land of make believe:

  • Progressives believe they believe they can see into the future via their “crystal ball” approach. We consider this Make Believe because the left is concerned about what MIGHT happen. These state net neutrality bills, filed in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent vote to overturn Title II, would result in a number of negative consequences for residents of RI. What is needed is a vs “light touch” approach, where until systematic abuse is documented, the Internet is allowed to continue to expand on its own, with as little government interference as possible.
  • Progressives also pretend Title II Net Neutrality regulations achieved their purported goals, It did not: The now defunct Obama-era federal regulations did not stop any Internet blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization The D.C. Circuit Court said that the Title II internet order did allow ISPs to offer filtered Internet access. Proponents of a public utility-style internet have been inappropriately conflating the principles of net neutrality and Title II, painting the latter, a 1930’s copper wire regulatory scheme in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, as a way to ensure Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not able to filter data or advantage themselves over their competitors. In reality, Title II would have done nothing to address those dramatized concerns. The D.C. Circuit Court explained that Title II would not have prevented ISPs from offering filtered internet access, and that they are not doing so anyway out of fear that they would lose subscribers.
  • Progressives pretend that other protections don’t exist. The left can have the peace of mind of understanding that existing state and federal laws (the Clayton and Sherman Anti-Trust Acts, for example) already allow Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to police ISPs. Bad actors would be in violation of federal anti-trust law, which protects against discriminatory conduct, as well as a host of other federal and state consumer protection laws.
  • Progressives also make believe that new net neutrality mandates by the government will not harm interstate commerce: So-called net neutrality state laws are not only unnecessary, they would be a huge mistake. As w Title II would have made it much more costly and complex for new ISPs to enter the market and for existing ISPs to remain in business, build out their networks, and invest in new technology. Similarly, a patchwork of different state net neutrality laws would result in the same consequences, and would deter ISPs from remaining and expanding in states with such legislation.

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. Reliable internet access encourages and accelerates economic growth and development. New government mandates will only lead to costly litigation because the internet is inherently interstate commerce.


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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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. A state net neutrality law would only result in RI consumers being left fewer choices, higher prices, and deteriorating service.

Folks, only in the progressive land of make believe are Net Neutrality regulations actually needed and effective.

***

Read more about this issue from from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In summary, Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Brent Skorup released new commentary in The Technology Liberation Front titled “Net Neutrality State Laws Are Doomed To Fail.” Highlights include:

  • Splitting the internet into dozens, or even hundreds, of “splinternets,” each with a different local or state regulator will lead to vastly different stances on identical Internet Service Provider (ISP) conduct.
  • Most proposed state and local internet regulations are doomed to fail in courts as they are in violation of well-established law which prohibits regulators from imposing common carrier obligations on non-common carriers.
  • Net neutrality regulations violate ISPs’ First Amendment rights. See a short summary of Skorup’s public comment to the Federal Communications Commission.
In response to a call from the Rhode Island Speaker of the House, and following the lead of the executive branch, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in a new report, calls on lawmakers to enact regulatory reform to the state's overburdensome mandates.

Center Answers Speaker’s Call; Suggests Major Regulatory Reforms in New Occupational Licensing Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 6, 2018

The Right to Earn a Living Should Not Require Government Permission

Speaker of the House and Governor on Right Track

Providence, RI — In response to a call from the Rhode Island Speaker of the House, and following the lead of the executive branch, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in a new report released today, calls on lawmakers to enact reforms to the state’s onerous regulatory regime. Such reforms would provide more workers with the #RIghtToEarn a living without government permission and improve the overall climate for small businesses.

The report, RIght To Earn a Living, lays out the case why many of Rhode Island’s regulatory and occupational licensing mandates should be reformed or repealed, after the Ocean State received yet another bottom-10 national ranking in a late 2017 Institute for Justice report.

“Millennials and many other Rhode Islanders dream, too. The future of our state’s workforce and our capacity to attract commerce is at stake,” warned Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Increasingly, ‘gig’ and ‘shared’ economies will be the basis on which individuals and families will seek to cobble together a living, yet our state and municipal governments continue to discourage such work with a heavy-handed, overly burdensome regulatory approach. This must change.”

In response to a call from the Rhode Island Speaker of the House, and following the lead of the executive branch, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in a new report, calls on lawmakers to enact regulatory reform to the state's overburdensome mandates.

In his prepared remarks to open the 2018 Rhode Island General Assembly session, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, in recognizing that the business community is “the engine that drives the economy,” called for “more progress made in the area of regulatory reform,” because our state “can and must be more friendly to businesses.”

The Center concurs. In its report it recommends specific steps that the legislative branch can take, effectively following the lead of the executive branch’s Office of Regulatory Reform (ORR), under Governor Raimondo, which itself is in the process of implementing aggressive new reforms that deal with regulations promulgated by state agencies.


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 RIght To Earn a Living report, which provides a philosophical overview of proper and improper occupational licensing practices, also:

  • Highlights the often dubious motives behind specific regulatory mandates
  • Makes a connection to our state’s poor ranking on the Family Prosperity Index
  • Describes many specific examples of over-regulation
  • Includes is a sortable table of Rhode Island’s rank in 102 low-to-moderate-income licensed occupations
  • Summarizes the positive steps that ORR is taking
  • Recommends a number of broad and specific legislative solutions

Additional links to compelling videos and other pertinent information about regulatory reform can be found on the Center’s home page for the occupational licensing issue: RIFreedom.org/RIghtToEarn.

It is a lower minimum wage that will make our state more competitive with our neighbors. We should be in a competition for employers.

Progressive’s “Fair Pay Act” Could Lead to $125/mo Lower Earnings. Expansion of “Training Wage” and EITC Recommended by Center.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 31, 2018

Resulting Reduced Earnings Would Harm Low-Wage Workers, Employers, and Economy

Expansion of “Training Wage” Recommended to Give Teens a Leg Up to Earn Vital Work Experience

Providence, RI — With the legislative onslaught from the progressive-left against employers and job growth now in full gear, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity counters the misinformation put forth by supporters of the misguided “Fair Pay Act,” while offering more productive alternatives.

With the Ocean State already suffering from one of the worst state business climates and family prosperity rankings in the nation, the Center has published ample research over the years that demonstrates that the very people progressives seek to aid are the people who will most likely be hurt by new wage mandates. The Center’s research concluded:

    • Job losses, or a cut in hours worked, for many of the same people the legislation is intended to help
    • The vast majority of minimum wage workers are not heads-of-household, who need to earn a living wage for their family
    • It is a lower minimum wage that will make our state more competitive with our neighbors. We should be in a competition for employers.
    • Increased minimum wage mandates decrease job growth and economic activity
    • The often overlooked “wage-differential” factor will harm many employers with regard to massive increased costs for their non minimum wage workers

The Center’s findings have recently been backed up by actual results from the city of Seattle’s own findings, following its disastrous rush to force job-producers to pay a $15 minimum wage. The University of Washington study concluded that employment losses associated with the $15 mandate actually reduced total employee earnings, lowering the average earnings of low-wage employees by $125 per month.


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, as Rhode Island employers already voluntarily engage in fair-pay practices, the attempt by progressives to mandate gender pay equity cannot be fairly enforced and would also lead to unintended adverse consequences, .

“When employers are faced with high financial or legal risk when making employment decisions, they will naturally avoid such decisions and resort to less risky employment practices,” commented the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “The result will inevitably be that fewer women, fewer low-skilled job-seekers, and fewer teens will be hired.”

To give teens a leg up in obtaining vital work experience and spending money, and as a counter to the adverse impact of higher minimum wage mandates, the Center suggests that Rhode Island’s existing “Training Wage” provisions be expanded to provide for a greater wage differential, to more teens, and in a greater number of work environments for the allowable “exceptions” to the minimum wage laws (www.dlt.ri.gov/ls/minwage.htm). Such reforms would make hiring seasonal and part-time workers a win-win situation for employers and teens, and should be designed so as not displace more experienced or full-time employees.

And, as it has advocated in recent years, the Center also recommends expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), as a more effective way to bolster incomes for low-wage family workers. EITC tends to be an incentive to work more hours and, as opposed to most other public assistance programs, can put families on a path to economic independence, without risking opportunities for work. Combined with other
public assistance programs, more families can more quickly rise out of poverty when family members are actually working.

The Governor's budget for FY2019 stands in stark contrast to the successful path to prosperity blazed by the federal government via tax and regulatory reductions in the past year.

Center Critical of Governor’s “Wrong Direction” Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 18, 2018

“Keep Going” Strategy Headed in Wrong Direction

Recent Federal Reforms Demonstrate the Path to Prosperity

Providence, RI – The Governor’s proposed “Keep Going” FY2019 budget stands in stark contrast to the successful path to prosperity blazed by the federal government via tax and regulatory reductions in the past year.

“In perpetuating a stagnant economic status quo for Rhode Island, this budget includes a number of new revenue schemes, even while the Administration claims there are no broad based tax hikes,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.”Treading water simply is not good enough for a state that ranks in the bottom-10 in multiple broad, national indexes: business climate, Family Prosperity Index, Jobs & Opportunity Index, and in regulatory burdens.”

Already spending significantly more per capita than its more prosperous neighboring states, the proposed budget irresponsibly proposes $135 million in new spending, including the planned hiring of hundreds of new government workers. The budget also seeks to extract significant new revenues from the public via a bevy of narrow tax and fee increases, such state sponsored sports gambling and increased marijuana usage, and “scoops” from other agencies. Additionally, the projected $41 million in new trucker toll receipts will inevitably lead to higher prices for grocery and other consumer products.

With a highly successful 180 degree opposite approach, and less than one month after becoming law, the recently enacted federal tax reforms prove that bold reductions in personal and corporate tax burdens, when combined with meaningful regulatory reforms, will lead to real and immediate economic growth. Further, as the nation has witnessed by the hundreds of companies that have recently announced employee bonuses and pay increases, such growth directly benefits workers at all levels.

The $350 BILLION investment plan announced by Apple this month, and the expected $38 BILLION in new federal taxes it will pay, clearly demonstrates – as the Center has consistently advocated, and as America also saw during with Reagan era tax cuts – that lower tax rates that spur economic growth can actually lead to increased revenue flows to the government.


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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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“Sadly, per Amazon’s announcement this, we find again that Rhode Island’s political class was fooling itself into believing that our Ocean State was in the running for a new Amazon corporate campus,” continued Stenhouse. “As we have maintained for years, until RI takes serious steps to improve our dismal business & educational climate, we will continue NOT to make Top-20 lists, and we will continue to hemorrhage from small business shutdowns and transplants to other states.”

Instead of even more taxpayer money dedicated to fund crony corporate welfare handouts, this money could be used to fund broad-based tax cuts that can spur economic growth. If Rhode Island were to work towards a pro-growth, lower tax and regulatory business climate, there is no reason to believe our state could not share in the same dynamic economic growth that we are now seeing across America. With national jobless claims at 40 year lows, with record low African American unemployment, and with Hispanic unemployment also approaching historic lows, it is a win-win situation for Rhode Island to consider meaningful tax cuts and regulatory reforms.

As with last year’s budget, the Center criticizes the ledgerdemain in the budget regarding the deceptive process referred to as “scooping.” Scooping creates the appearance of more general state revenue receipts, by moving off-budget funding from specific state agencies or quasi-publics (e.g., $5 million from the Student Loan Authority) into the general fund. Over time, these agencies may seek to recoup lost funds by shifting the burden to municipal taxpayers or by other increased fees.