This week’s “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bills of the Week” are the so-called Fair Employment Practices legislation; House bill 7427 and Senate bill 2475. The legislation that could impose the most extreme employment burdens on Rhode Island businesses than in any other state in the nation.

Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bills of the Week: The So-Called Fair Employment Practices Legislation H7427 & S2475.

Once again, legislation is being advanced in the General Assembly based on a progressive-contrived myth; legislation that could impose the most extreme employment burdens on Rhode Island businesses than in any other state in the nation.

This week’s “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bills of the Week” are the so-called Fair Employment Practices legislation; House bill 7427 and Senate bill 2475.

The Rhode Island business community is comprised not just of good business people, but also generous and fair employers. However, in the progressive land of make believe, Ocean State employers regularly practice discriminatory and bigoted compensatory practices against women and other politically-protected groups.

Progressive lawmakers and activists pretend that a multitude of state and federal protections against wage discrimination, enforced by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), do not already exist.

Currently, Rhode Island law clearly prohibits wage discrimination for “equal work” on “the same operations”. Who can disagree with this? However, the proposed legislation would blur this clear language and change the standard to “comparable work” under “similar working conditions”.

These fuzzy and divisive new regulations would be harmful to businesses, leading to frivolous complaint after frivolous complaint filed by employees against employers. Already with one of the most hostile business climates in America, Rhode Island should not impose more burdens on its valued job-producers.

Without documenting any evidence of systematic discrimination, not covered by existing law, this #Unfair2Employers legislation would set new, highly subjective wage-discrimination standards that are wholly unfair to job-producers. With ridiculous new definitions of acceptable wage determination practices, severe employer penalties will be devised and meted out by unelected government bureaucrats at the Department of Labor and Training.

Supporters of the legislation also pretends this is a “women’s rights” issue, when in fact a whole litany of politically-correct groups, favored by progressive politicians, are included in the new definitions. Existing laws cover these groups as well.

In the real world Rhode Island does not need more job-killing regulation … we simply need more education and better enforcement of existing laws.

 

Just because it conforms with politically-correct hysteria, does not make it good public policy. Case in point, the poorly-thought-out proposed cigarette tax.

Politically-Correct Cigarette Tax Named “Bad Bill of the Week”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2018

Politically-Correct Cigarette Tax Denies Reality of Unintended Consequences

Would impose further financial burdens on low-income families, while harming retailers and fueling an under-ground economy

Providence, RI– Just because it conforms with politically-correct hysteria, does not make it good public policy. Case in point, the poorly-thought-out proposed cigarette tax.

The legislation, which would again raise state taxes on cigarettes (to $4.50/pack), as proposed in Article-4 of the Governor’s proposed 2019 budget, has been named the Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which has long advocated for lower overall sales and excise taxes.

The Center’s full post, which includes a video commentary, points-out many real-life drawbacks to the tax-hike, including:

  • the “regressive” nature of the tax, which will disproportionately harm low-income families
  • the loss of retail and convenience store sales to other states and to the underground economy, costing jobs and tax revenues to our state
  • the history of uncertain state revenue receipts from the higher tax

“Understandably, many people have strong beliefs about tobacco related products. But pretending that there are no unintended consequences to this anti-personal-choice and anti-commerce legislation, the progressive-left is committed to limiting or denying the right for consumers to buy ‘legal’ products, despite negative economic impacts and potential harm-reduction benefits,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO, who recently penned a Providence Journal oped on the topic. “General Assembly lawmakers still have time to put some real thought into this.”

The post also points-out that other proposed taxes on vaping products would provide a disincentive for a 95% less-harmful lifestyle for smokers seeking to quit the habit.

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.

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 …

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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.

 

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.

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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.
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.

This ordinance drips with typical elitist RhodeMapRI arrogance, where town planners believe they know what's best for town farmers.

Statement on Exeter’s Mini RhodeMapRI Proposed Ordinance; Public Hearing Tonight

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 26, 2017

Exeter Planners Plan to Restrict Property Rights?

Farmland Sustainability Cannot be Achieved via Regulation

Providence, RI – Tonight, residents and farmers in the town of Exeter will once again turn out en masse to speak out against a proposed new ordinance that would restrict property rights for landowners. According to the nonpartisan Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, the Ocean State’s leading pro-family, pro-business research and advocacy organization, the ordinance comes directly out of the RhodeMap RI playbook.

“This ordinance drips with typical elitist RhodeMapRI arrogance, where town planners believe they know what’s best for town farmers,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center, which years ago led the public protest against the anti property-rights statewide scheme. “The planners’ radical vision for a sustainable and bucolic environment directly countermands the rights and freedom that farmers need to operate a sustainable business.”


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 ominously named ordinance, the Exeter Farm and Forest Accessory Business Overlay, would arbitrarily restrict normal business activities of farmers and could lead to future property-rights infringements on other property owners, and could create a precedent that might spread to other cities and towns.

While the Center believes that land-use decisions should be made locally, as opposed to via state or federal mandates, it is also important that residents and policymakers understand that ordinances such as these are part of a larger, anti-business, anti-family radical green agenda.

The Center encourages property rights advocates to attend this evening’s 7:00 p.m. public hearing at the Metcalf School cafeteria, located at 30 Nooseneck Hill Road in Exeter.

Earlier this month, this same ordinance was temporarily pulled after hundreds of concerned citizens over-flowed the town council chambers in opposition. But the town-planners apparently were not to be deterred: As former President Ronald Reagan famously said, “The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.”


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!

Many myths exist about Minimum Wage

MINIMUM WAGE TESTIMONY: Misperceptions & Myths; EITC Recommended by the Center

March 30, 2017  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Providence, RI – The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity published the full written testimony its CEO will submit to the House Committees on Finance and Labor, the latter of which will today hear multiple bills seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage rate.

“Every Rhode Islander who strives to work hard should be able to earn enough income to support themselves and their families,” writes Mike Stenhouse, who holds an Economics degree from Harvard University. “Yet lawmakers must act on the facts and not on the many myths that cloud this emotional topic.”


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!

show less


After pointing out many of the Ocean State’s poor business and family prosperity rankings, Stenhouse’s testimony cites research and raises concerns about a number of issues, including:

  • Job losses for many of the same people the legislation is intended to help
  • Myth about who is and who is not the typical minimum wage worker
  • Myth about a wage hike keeping our state competitive with our neighbors
  • Myths about increased minimum wages stimulating jobs and economic growth
  • The “wage-differential” factor that will harm employers who do not employ minimum wage workers

Union angle? The testimony also raises questions about a little-discussed issue … how special interest unions might benefit from a minimum wage hike.

Finally, the testimony makes a recommendation on behalf of the Center … that expanding the state’s EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) is a superior alternative to hiking the minimum wage. “Directly assisting low-income families without risking job losses and without further burdening business owners is a much better path for our state,” concluded Stenhouse.


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!