BEST & WORST BILLS of 2016; Energize RI Carbon Fee Among Worst

April 12, 2016
Carbon Tax Would Punish Fossil Fuel Companies and Increase Costs for Families, While Rewarding Special Interests

Providence, RI — Despite Rhode Island having some of the highest energy rates in the nation, a bill that would impose a new fee on carbon-based energy, resulting in even higher energy costs for most families and businesses, ranks among the worst bills yet to be voted on according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which today updated its list of the BEST and WORST bills of the 2016 General Assembly session.

Yet another anti-business and anti-family piece of legislation, H 7325, sponsored by Representatives Regunberg, Handy, Carson, Tobon, and Bennett, would redistribute wealth by punishing companies that sell low-cost fossil fuels and by establishing a complex rebate system as well as a special “fund’ geared to reward other special interest companies. Energy taxes and fees are highly regressive in that low-income families bear a disproportionate burden of the costs.

On a broader level, once again General Assembly lawmakers in 2016 are on track to continue a multi-year, negative trend of public policy that will reduce economic justice for Rhode Islanders. This according to the 2016 General Assembly Freedom Index, an interactive, live tool published by the nonpartisan Center.

Also of note, 13 individual lawmakers currently have scores above zero, while in 2015 not a single Representative or Senator earned a positive score.

Lawmakers and the public are encouraged to visit the “Legislation” tab on the 2016 Freedom Index to determine the bill rankings for the majority of bills that have been rated, but not yet voted on. The “Summary” tab displays individual lawmaker scores.

Summary: As of April 8, of the 261 bills that have qualified for the index:
  • 190 bills are rated negatively, with only 68 bills receiving a positive score, and 3 yet to receive a rating
  • The negative bills would total a (-296) cumulative score, if all were to be voted on, while the positive bills would produce a +100 score, resulting in a net (-196) overall General Assembly rating
  • Led by Representative Jared Nunes (D, Coventry) just 13 of 113 lawmakers can currently boast a positive individual score, consisting of 2 Democrats, 10 Republicans, and 1 Independent; with 2 in the Senate and 11 in the House (see Summary tab)
Although not all 2016 bills have received final ratings, it is clear that the few positive pieces of legislation are massively outweighed by the much greater number of negative bills, resulting in a net negative impact, as has occurred in all prior years evaluated. The Center notes that not all bills have received final reviews and that the public should check back regularly for updated bill ratings and legislator rankings.
Additional resources are available on the main RI Freedom Index page, including a number of online and interactive tools and information for users, with links to scores from prior years:
Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The nonprofit Center is funded entirely by private tax-deductible donations and never accepts public funding. The mission of the 501-C-3 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.