Stop the HPV Vaccine Mandate & Preserve Parental Rights

REGULATORY DESPOTISM? To view our press conference videos, photos, media links, and for more info …

Go to our HPV home page

Governor’s BOND & TOLL plan will waste over $650 million

PAY-AS-YOU-GO a Superior Approach.

The plan under consideration would more than double the cost of the project and would enrich special-interests without any added benefit for Rhode Islanders. The Center’s new report shows how to make RhodeWorks “work” for Rhode Island.

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/2015/07/making-rhodeworks-work-for-rhode-islanders/” target=”_self” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ] Read the PayGo Report here [/button]

BREAKING: New Federal HUD Rule Validates Center’s RhodeMapRI Claims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2015

As Forewarned, HUD Finalizes Rule in Effort to Desegregate Local Neighborhoods via Plans like RhodeMap RI
State Planning Officials Denied True Agenda and Federal Connection

Providence, RI — Following weeks of speculation in national news stories, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week has finalized a new housing rule that confirms the federal connection and hidden agenda of the controversial RhodeMapRI plan, as forewarned almost 9 months ago by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity

“Despite denials by officials from the RI Division of Planning, it is now fully apparent that RhodeMap RI is nothing more than a Trojan Horse to implement a federal agenda,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “RhodeMap RI is a social-engineering tool of the federal government that will supersede the sovereignty of municipalities and will infringe upon the rights of private property owners … all in the name of the HUD’s warped vision of how to achieve social equity.”

Rhode Island administration officials have continually denied any connection with this federal agenda, yet recent developments belie their claim. The stealth advancement of the true agenda behind the RhodeMap RI plan, as the Center has maintained from day one, was further validated at a recent forum conducted by the nationally renowned Brookings Institution, a major supporter of the Obama administration’s anti-suburban ‘regionalist’ policies. In a video of the event, one supporter of the new HUD rule stated in effect, that keeping the purpose of the rule “obscure” may be the best political strategy to “get it through” (1:23:43 mark). Similarly, the Center has suggested that this type of intentional deception is how RhodeMap RI was able to become an official part of the state guide plan without any approval of the RI General Assembly.

This revelation is important, as two critical pieces of related legislation are now in legislative limbo due to the abrupt closure of the 2015 legislative session:

House bill H6107-A, which stealthily passed the House Finance Committee in an eleventh hour suspended-rules maneuver, would provide RhodeMap RI proponents with a vital tool to advance its agenda … namely, to expand a dual-tiered property tax system that would likely raise property taxes on single-family homeowners; but could also reduce overall revenues to municipalities by dramatically reducing property taxes on a multitude of loosely defined affordable housing units. Potentially unconstitutional in Rhode Island, a similar policy in the town of Barrington is being challenged in a citizen-initiated lawsuit now in the state’s Superior Court.

Conversely, House bill H6040-A, which passed the entire House, would restore some measure of sovereignty to municipal governments by allowing them to opt out of some of the more burdensome housing mandates of the RhodeMap RI plan.

Neither bill had the chance to be officially considered in the Senate.

Rhode Islanders are encouraged to contact their legislators to reduce the negative impact of RhodeMap RI via an easy-to-use online tool at The Gaspee Project, a partner organization.

The Center has published multiple reports and related analysis pieces on RhodeMap RI, which can be viewed at RIFreedom.org/PropertyRights.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise think tank. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

2015 Legislator Scorecard – Now Live!

HOW DOES YOUR REPRESENTATIVE OR SENATOR RANK?

Preliminary ratings show RI General Assembly turns state in the wrong direction once again!

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/rifreedomindex/” target=”_self” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ] Interactive Scorecard Here [/button]

STATEMENT: Childcare Subsidies Will Enrich Labor Unions

STATEMENT
June 16, 2015

Childcare Subsidies Will Enrich Labor Unions
Non-transparent process leads to added taxpayer burden

As the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity predicted in 2013, the non-transparent process surrounding union negotiations for childcare subsidies will enrich labor unions while adding to taxpayers’ burden. In another budget cycle during which the state government is hunting for every dollar it can find, Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly have made dues to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) a priority.

As Katherine Gregg has reported in the Providence Journal, the budget on which the Rhode Island House will vote tonight includes $2.15 million in raises for independent childcare providers whose clients receive state subsidies. The expense to taxpayers is the only indication that the state has given that it has a first-ever agreement with the SEIU local representing the private providers.

In 2013, the General Assembly and Governor Lincoln Chafee changed state law in order to allow the childcare providers, who are not government employees, to unionize in order to negotiate rates with the state. In a short time frame, and through a process tainted with controversy, the SEIU won the right to represent the approximately 540 providers.

Despite a related ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity believes renders the state law unconstitutional, the Chafee and Raimondo administrations continued negotiations. Now, at the conclusion of the completely non-transparent process, elected officials are poised to pass the costs on to the heavily burdened people of Rhode Island.

“With our unhealthy economy and projections of government deficits on into the future, Rhode Islanders have to start catching on to the game, here,” said Justin Katz, Research Director for the Center. “If needy families are having trouble finding providers because the subsidies are too low, the General Assembly could have increased the rates without the involvement of an expensive labor union.”

Details of the agreement still have not been made public. Based on budget numbers provided by the House Speaker’s office and the Center’s review of similar contracts in other states, the amount of the increase going entirely to the labor union could be around $1 million – about half of the total raise.

The state should immediately release details of the agreement so the people of Rhode Island and their elected officials can make informed decisions prior to budget votes.

Media Contact:
Justin Katz, Research Director
401.835.7156 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise think tank. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

MEDIA RELEASE: 2015 Legislative Scorecard Update: Overall GA Index falls to (-58)

Freedom Index “Live” Update

Overall Legislative Index Once Again Pointing in the Wrong Direction

Providence, RI — As 2015 bills receive floor votes, an updated interactive scorecard of legislator voting records can be viewed live online, published by the nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. The near real-time RI Freedom Index – Live rates individual pieces of legislation, according to whether or not they preserve or infringe upon the freedoms of Rhode Islanders, then scores General Assembly legislators based on how they voted for each bill.

While not all 2015 bills have been evaluated, to date 155 bills have been rated as qualifying for the Freedom Index scorecard; 92 with a negative rating, 59 with a positive rating and 4 yet to be rated, with an aggregate negative rating of (-58) (down from (-29) last week), meaning once again, the General Assembly is on a path to do more harm than good when it comes to legislation that preserves the freedom and, therefore, the prosperity of our state’s residents.

Not a single Senator scored above (0) on the Freedom Index, in a chamber which has see many more full-floor votes than has the House, which has a number of Representatives tentatively with positive scores.

With the online tool, voters can monitor the scorecards – as votes occur – for all legislators, and can sort and filter by party, district, bill category, and legislator score. The tool also includes separate interactive district maps for the House and Senate.

For more information about current and prior year Freedom Index posts, please visit RIFreedom.org/FreedomIndex.
About the Center

The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise think tank. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

MEDIA RELEASE: 2015 Legislative Scorecard NOW LIVE

Freedom Index “Live” Rates Legislators as they Vote
Preliminary 2015 Ratings Indicate Legislative Track Once Again Sending
Ocean State in the Wrong Direction
 

An interactive scorecard of 2015 legislator voting records is now live online, announced today by the nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. The new, near real-time RI Freedom Index – Live rates individual pieces of legislation, according to whether or not they preserve or infringe upon the freedoms of Rhode Islanders, then scores General Assembly legislators based on how they voted for each bill.

While not all 2015 bills have been evaluated, to date 103 bills have been rated as qualifying for the Freedom Index scorecard; 58 with a negative rating and 45 with a positive rating, with an aggregate negative rating of  (-29) … meaning once again, the General Assembly is on a path to do more harm than good when it comes to legislation that preserves the freedom and, therefore, the prosperity of our state’s residents.

To date, only 9 bills (7 Senate, 2 House) that qualify for the RI Freedom Index have received actual floor votes, apparently leading up to yet another stampede of end-of-session committee and full-chamber votes.

Based on initial votes and preliminary bill ratings:
  • Marc Cote (D, Woonsocket) earned the highest score in the Senate. He and Nicholas Kettle (R, Coventry) were the only Senators to receive positive scores. Cynthia Coyne (D, Barrington) was the lowest rated Senator.
  • Scores for Representatives will be highlighted when more Freedom Index bills receive floor votes in the House

With the online tool, voters can monitor the scorecards – as votes occur – for all legislators, and can sort and filter by party, district, bill category, and legislator score. The tool also includes separate interactive district maps for the House and Senate.
For more information about current and prior year Freedom Index posts, please visit RIFreedom.org/FreedomIndex.

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise think tank. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

Delegation from Warren Ranks Last in Freedom Index

Go to Freedom Index Home page
Warren Last, East Greenwich First
In 2013-14 Freedom Index Rankings

Based on the Freedom Index scores of the General Assembly delegations from each of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island, Representatives and Senators from the town of Warren, as a group, scored the lowest; indicating that this group voted on legislation that most infringed the individual, economic, or educational freedoms of Rhode Islanders. Conversely, and despite scoring a negative number itself, the delegation from East Greenwich ranked at the top of the list, meaning votes from its legislators least infringed on our freedoms.

TownFreedomIndex

Freedom Index: Description and Methodology

Go to main Freedom Index page.

The index examines legislators’ votes in terms of their likely effect on the free market, the size and scope of government, the balance of residents’ interests against those of public employees and beneficiaries, and the constitutional structure of a divided government with limited power over the people whom it represents. The Center reviewed every bill that received a roll-call vote by the full membership of either chamber and selected 96 that fit its understanding of these criteria. (Companion bills only count once.)

The resulting scores give a detailed sense of each legislator’s priorities beyond a few high-profile issues.

The Center further divided the bills into five categories:

  • Tax & budget:  bills that affect the tax structure in Rhode Island and/or that relate to government expenditures, just driving or relieving the pressure on taxation
  • Regulatory environment: bills that make it more or less difficult to live and do business in the state by imposing regulations
  • Constitutional government: bills that affect the structure of the government, as well as the scope of government in its authority over residents’ lives
  • Public sector labor: bills related to the relationship between its employees and itself and the electorate
  • Education reform: bills that advance or impede the reform of the state’s public education system, in terms of both cost and quality

Most legislation has implications for more than one of these categories.  For the purposes of this index, we applied our subjective sense of the area of core effect and sorted the bills accordingly.  If, for example, a bill having to do with education seemed to us intended to secure the role of public employees, we classified that bill as Public Sector Labor, not Education Reform.

The Center selected legislative bills for inclusion in the Freedom Index if they were deemed to have an effect on free-market, small-government, or constitutional principles, with each bill assigned a positive or negative weighting based on the criteria listed below. Weighted points for each bill were given to each legislator based on his or her roll-call vote on it.

Each legislator’s final Freedom Index was calculated as his or her score’s percentage of the total possible points. A positive score indicates a voting record that generally protected individual and economic freedoms, while a negative score reflects the opposite.

Disclaimer: It should be noted that the total Freedom Index score generated for each legislator is a direct reflection of the perspective of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity when it comes to the weighting of each bill. The Freedom Index is not an absolute measure of a legislator’s merit and does not constitute any endorsement or individual criticism. The Freedom Index is a tool designed for general research and for accountability, giving voters some quantitative metrics for their own assessments as to their elected legislators’ performance. 

Methodology

1) Determine weighting: Each selected bill received a weight ranging from +3 to -3, as determined by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. Negative weights indicate legislation that creates or expands an agency, government program/function, or tax; creates new regulatory burdens; is hostile to constitutional principles; or otherwise conflicts with the principles that guide the Center. Positive factors were assigned to bills in line with those principles. Companion bills in the House and Senate were weighted identically. To determine the weightings, the Center requested reviews of all chosen legislation from a half dozen engaged Rhode Islanders with similar principles and combined the range of results for a final weighting.

2) Determine vote: Each legislator received a +1 or -1 vote factor, depending on whether he or she voted FOR or AGAINST a particular bill, respectively. If a legislator did not vote on a bill, he or she received a +0.25 if the bill passed or a -0.25 if the bill failed. Legislators who abstained from voting received a +0.75 or a -0.75 vote factor depending on if the bill passed or failed.

3) Calculate weighted vote: Multiplying the weighting factor and the vote factor produced a weighted vote score for each legislator for each bill.

4) Calculate the legislator score:  The cumulative score for all bills for each legislator determined that legislator’s overall score.

5) Calculate Freedom Index: Dividing each legislator’s total score by the maximum possible for the appropriate chamber provided his or her Freedom Index, or a percentage of the best possible score he or she could have achieved. In 2014, the “perfect” scores are 99 for the House and 117 for the Senate.

For example, consider a bill that would increase the regulatory burden significantly in Rhode Island and that the Center therefore weighted as a -2. Legislator A voted for the bill. His or her weighted vote would be calculated as follows: -2 x 1 = -2. Conversely, the weighted vote for Legislator B, who voted against the bill, would be: -2 x -1 = 2.

If Legislator A, in the House chamber, earned a total legislator score of -33, his or her Freedom Index would be calculated as: -33 ÷ 143 x 100 =  -23.1.  If Legislator B in the Senate had a total score of +23, his or her Freedom Index would be calculated as: 23 ÷ 133 x 100 = 17.3.

To rank the legislators, the Center sorted them by their Freedom Index scores and then, in the cases of ties, by their scores in each category, in the following order: Regulatory Environment, Tax & Budget, Constitutional Government, Public Sector Labor, and Education Reform. When legislators’ results were still identical, the Center adjusted them in order of their apparent stature and power within their chambers.

Criteria

In determining each bill’s weighting, the following questions were considered:

  • Does the bill create or eliminate an agency, program, or function of government?
  • Does it give the government new or expanded power to prohibit or restrict activities in the free market? Examples may include licensure and other restrictions on legal business practices.
  • Is it unconstitutional or does it do violence to our concepts of federalism or separation of powers? Does it restrict property, speech, gun, or other constitutionally recognized rights or freedoms? Conversely, does it restore balance between the state and federal government, resume state authority over an issue under the 10th Amendment, or remove restrictions on constitutionally protected rights?

Other considerations were also brought into question:

  • Does the bill redistribute wealth or use tax policy or other incentives to reward specific interest groups with special favors or perks? Conversely, does it eliminate special favors and perks in the tax code or public policy?
  • Does it perform a function that can and should be performed by the private sector or restore functions to the private sector?
  • Does it grow or shrink the regulatory scope of an agency?
  • Does it directly or indirectly create/reduce taxes, fees, or other assessments?
  • Does it increase or decrease control of the private sector through rules, regulation, or statute?
  • Does it increase or decrease long-term debt or override or restore statutory or constitutional protections against long-term debt?
  • Does it give or reduce special benefits for government employees or politicians?
  • Does it promote government transparency and openness or does it restrict access to information that should be in the public domain?

It should be noted that the complexity not only of the law but of political theory in general can make assessments of the sort described above subjective and very difficult. People reviewing the index should consider the results to be the best judgment of the Center, given our collected experience and expertise.

Each legislator received a +1 or -1 vote factor, depending on whether he or she voted FOR or AGAINST a particular bill, respectively. If a legislator did not vote on a bill, he or she received a +0.25 if the bill passed or a -0.25 if the bill failed. Legislators who abstained from voting received a +0.75 or a -0.75 vote factor depending on if the bill passed or failed.

Go to main Freedom Index page.

2014 Legislative Scorecard

See how your Representative or Senator ranked in our 2014 General Assembly Freedom Index, as the state’s public policy continues to drift away from the principles of the free enterprise system.

[button url=”http://www.rifreedom.org/freedomindex” target=”_self” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ] See legislator scores here [/button]

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