BEST & WORST BILLS of 2016: Big Brother Prescription Bill Among Worst

June 1, 2016

Bill Continues Disturbing Trend of State Collection of Personal and Private Information of RI Residents

Providence, RI — Big-brother intrusion into the private medical records of Rhode Islanders would be advanced by a bill that has already passed the Senate. The bill is ranked as one of the worst bills of the 2016 session by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which today updated its list of the BEST and WORST bills of the 2016 General Assembly session.
Under the guise of seeking-out potential controlled-substance abuse, S2946A, sponsored by Senator Louis DiPalma (D, Middletown), would authorize the state Department of Health to compile and combine its database of drug prescription patients with other databases, including out of state sources, so that it can analyze the behavior and personal connections of patients and pharmacists.
Considering that two other bills (H7321 and S2231) would monitor where and when Rhode Islanders drive (a contemplated use of the trucker toll gantries), it is a growing and disturbing trend that the Rhode Island government is pro-actively seeking to collect such personal and private information about its residents … creating an almost unlimited potential for abuse.
At a higher 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, 14 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 May 27, of the 352 bills that have qualified for the index:
  • 256 bills are rated negatively, with only 93 bills receiving a positive score, and 3 yet to receive a rating
  • The negative bills would total a (-398) cumulative score, if all were to be voted on, while the positive bills would produce a +131 score, resulting in a net (-267)overall General Assembly rating
  • Led by Senator John Pagliarini (R, Portsmouth) just 14 of 113 lawmakers can currently boast a positive individual score, consisting of 1 Democrat, 12 Republicans, and 1 Independent; with 3 in the Senate and 11 in the House
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:
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