Legislation that placed a tax on the legal use of opioid perscriptions in Rhode Island has resulted in unintended consequences and should be repealed.

Center Calls for Repeal of Opioid Stewardship Act in Open Letter to Leadership

Letter Cites Unintended Consequences of Opioid Tax
Center’s Chairman Predicted Such in 2019 Opinion Piece

Providence, RI – As was predicted by the Center’s Chairman last year, the 2019 Opioid Stewardship Act, enacted legislation that placed a tax on the legal use of pain-killers, has resulted in unintended consequences that have disrupted supply chains and placed additional financial burdens on patients. 

Today, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity sent an open-letter to General Assembly leadership, calling on them to repeal the Act. 

Cited in the letter from his 2019 Providence Journal opinion piece, Dr. Stephen Skoly, a maxillo-facial surgeon, with long experience in prescribing legal pain relief medications, wrote – “when developing policy, Rhode Island legislators need to acknowledge the importance of protecting the affordability and accessibility of necessary medications for our state’s patients and their families.” 

The Center believes the time is now to correct last year’s mistake.

occupation licensing

Center Submits Testimony on Omnibus Occupational Licensing Reform Bill

Written Testimony on Bill to Reduce Regulatory Burdens On Occupation Licensing Law
Commends Leadership from Department of Business Regulation

Providence, RI – Encouraged that reforms continue to move forward based on its 2018 report on the heavy burdens of “occupation licensing” laws in the state, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity yesterday submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Small Business.  

The omnibus legislation, H7892, seeks to reduce occupation licensing burdens across multiple occupational areas, and in passing this bill, Rhode Island would join the increasing national trend – both at the state and federal level – to reduce roadblocks that may prohibit certain individuals from engaging in meaningful work. 

“I would like to commend the Department of Business Regulation, led by Elizabeth Tanner, for their leadership in crafting this legislation, which will help to improve our state’s poorly-ranked business climate,” commented Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “There is much more we can do to make Rhode Island a more hospitable state to build a career.”

Last year, another recommendation from the Center’s Right To Earn report, common-sense legislation long-time supported by the Center, to remove onerous regulatory burdens for natural hair-braiders … was finally passed by the General Assembly and enacted into law. 

In the testimony, Stenhouse offered committee members to review the Center’s list of other occupational licensing reform solutions that can enhance Ocean Stater’s right to earn a living of their choice.

A PDF of this testimony, the Center’s report on licensing reform, and other related information can be found at RIFreedom.org/RightToEarn.

issue advocacy lawsuit

Update on Lawsuit Against Unconstitutional State Campaign Finance Law

Brief Filed Against State’s Motion to Dismiss the Lawsuit

Pro-liberty Attorneys Press Forward With Strong Defense of 1st Amendment

Providence, RI – As part of its new strategic litigation initiative, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity announced today that the attorneys at its partner firm, the Liberty Justice Center (LJC), filed a response brief to the State’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit the Center helped bring last year against an unconstitutional donor disclosure law in the Ocean State, described by LJC as “among the most stringent, invasive, disclosure requirements in America”. 

The lawsuit challenges a Rhode Island law, R.I.G.L. § 17-25.3-1, which requires information about donors who support nonpartisan, issue advocacy organizations to be disclosed to the government when the group engages in issue-advocacy during certain time periods.

The Attorney General of Rhode Island, representing the defendant, the Rhode Island Board of Elections, last month filed a motion to end the case currently pending before Judge Mary S. McElroy in federal district court. Attorneys for the Gaspee Project and Illinois Opportunity Project, two nonprofit organizations challenging the law, are pushed back with a strong defense of the First Amendment in their response, filed yesterday.

“The attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center pressed the case for a federal judge to vindicate the free-speech rights of nonprofit groups in Rhode Island,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Issue-advocacy is a private and protected First Amendment right, regardless of when that money is spent. This invasive and unconstitutional law exposes citizens to possible retaliation and harassment for simply exercising their free speech rights.”

In their brief, the LJC attorneys looked at the historical tradition of our nation, which respects the right to speak in the public square without government registration and regulation, starting with the founding fathers and the Federalist Papers.  The brief also draws on several U.S. Supreme Court cases from the Civil Rights era establishing that nonprofit organizations enjoy a constitutional guarantee of privacy for their members and supporters. Taken together, LJC attorneys trust their arguments have a strong foundation for success with the judge.

Per the brief, politicians are unconstitutionally seeking out “sensitive, private donor information, knowing there are those who will seize upon it to target, embarrass, and harrass citizens and corporations that engage in or support issue advocacy.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are The Gaspee Project, a 501(c)4 nonpartisan advocacy organization in Rhode Island, and the Illinois Opportunity Project, a 501(c)4 social-welfare organization. The Gaspee Project et al. v. Mederos, was filed in November 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. 

Similar disclosure requirements in other states have faced considerable scrutiny. As a result of challenge brought by the Liberty Justice Center in New Jersey, the state is currently blocked from enforcing the measures.

View the brief and the original complaint and to learn more about this lawsuit and the Center’s strategic litigation initiative at www.RIFreedom.org/Litigation.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), December 2019: Signs of Growth Foretell a Revision

The final report for 2019 of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) found Rhode Island still with its overall ranking of 47th in the country. Data for all 12 datapoints of the index except federal taxes were updated for this iteration, and the only negatives, compared with September, were a slight increase in marginally attached workers and a more-significant increase in state and local taxes.

Employment and labor force were up about 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively, since the first-reported numbers for September, and RI-based jobs increased 0.5%. With the national economy continuing to improve, Medicaid enrollment fell 3.2%, while TANF (cash welfare) rolls shrank by 24.0%. SNAP enrollment was down 0.3%. The Ocean State had 16.5% fewer residents who counted as long-term unemployed and 7.8% fewer who were working only part time because more work was not available. However, the number counting as marginally attached increased 2.1%.

When it comes to money, personal income was up a modest 0.3% on an annualized basis, which amounted to $161 million more income. However, state and local taxation increased 1.4%, or $50 million, resulting not only from the increased income, but also increases in taxation after recent legislative sessions.

The first chart shows RI remaining last in New England on JOI, at 47th. New Hampshire held the 1st spot, nationally. Maine improved its standing two spots, to 17th, while Vermont continued to slip, to 21st. Massachusetts moved up a step to 36th, and Connecticut advanced to 37th. The second chart shows the gaps between RI and New England and the United States on JOI, and the third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI advanced five spots, to 27th.
  • 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.

Click here for the corresponding employment post on the Ocean State Current.

Virginia Valentine: TCI Compact Crumbling as Virginia Gives Love, Says No to New Gas Taxes

Virginia Gives Some Valentine’s Day Love to Old Dominion Motorists

Providence, RI – Families and businesses in the state of Virginia were given a dose of Valentine’s Day love this week, when political leaders announced that the state would not join the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) compact this year, saving Old Dominion motorists from paying up to 17 cents more per gallon of gas.

Additionally, because of the work of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity and its partners in the #NoTCItax regional coalition to raise awareness in their respective states, New Hampshire had previously withdrawn from the compact, while the governors of Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont have also expressed opposition to new carbon taxes. In Rhode Island, the Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello, along with 24 other lawmakers, have publicly stated their opposition to the TCI Gas Tax cap-and-trade system. In Massachusetts, lawmakers are reported as considering less intrusive alternatives.

And now in Virginia, its Secretary of Natural Resources, Matt Strickler, is on record saying his state won’t even consider joining TCI for at least another year. Yet despite the crumbling support from northeast states, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondodoes not appear ready to give up on this unpopular scheme. 

“The Governor will instigate a major political and legal fight if she attempts to impose a major new gas tax by bypassing the General Assembly by taking unauthorized executive action,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Ocean State families and businesses should not be punished for driving their personal cars and business vehicles.”

In December, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity joined 17 other free-market organizations in sending an open letter to Governor Raimondo and Ocean State lawmakers asking them to reject this TCI gas tax scheme. In January, the entire group met in Boston.

Last month, the Center published a TCI Question & Answer document on the proposed TCI gas tax. The TCI Q&A, the TCI Open Letter, the TCI Gas Tax policy brief, and other related information can be found at RIFreedom.org/NoTCITax.

Center’s Work with Regional Coalition Has Backed TCI Proponents Into a Corner

Center Participates In Regional Meeting Involving 10 States to  Oppose the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI)

Providence, RI – It is not by accident that the proposed Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is losing support among many of the states it has targeted … to the point where some proponents are considering a Plan-B.

Last week, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, traveled to Boston to meet with other organizations from east coast states who oppose TCI, a regional compact targeting 12 states and Washington DC that seeks to impose a 5 to 17 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, with the intent of forcing Rhode Island to drive less often and into more costly and less convenient electric vehicles and public transportation options.

Because of the work of the #NoTCItaxcoalition to raise awareness in their respective states, New Hampshire has already withdrawn from the compact, while the governors of Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont have also expressed opposition to new carbon taxes. In Rhode Island, the Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello, has publicly stated that he is opposed to the TCI Gas Tax. In Massachusetts, lawmakers are reported as considering less intrusive alternatives.

Alongside our New England colleagues from the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, Ethan Allen Institute, Maine Heritage Policy Center, Yankee Institute, Americans for Prosperity New Hampshire, and Maine Policy – as well as a number of organizations in other northeast states – Stenhouse participated in a downtown Boston press conference where each organization  had the opportunity to outline why TCI is a bad idea for their state and why we believe it will ultimately fail. 

Check out the Boston Herald’s coverage of the press conference here.

At the event, covered by about 8 members of the Massachusetts media, Stenhouse stated that Rhode Islanders should not be purposefully punished for for driving their personal autos or business vehicles in the normal course of their lives.

In December, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity joined 17 other free-market organizations in sending an open letter to Governor Raimondo and Ocean State lawmakers asking them to reject this TCI gas tax scheme.

Last week, the Center published a TCI Question & Answer document the proposed TCI gas tax. The TCI Q&A, the TCI Open Letter, the TCI Gas Tax policy brief, and other related information can be found at RIFreedom.org/NoTCITax.

Rhode Island Transportation cost could be going up.

Ahead of State of the State Address, Center Publishes TCI Gas Tax Q&A

What Every Rhode Islander Should Know About the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI)

Providence, RI – With Governor Raimondo expected to address climate change in her annual “State of the State Address” this evening, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today published a Question & Answer document about the carbon tax “cap and trade” regional compact she is advancing – the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI).

With four of the six New England state Governors publicly stating major concerns about TCI, if not outright rejection, and with Speaker Mattiello also expressing opposition, Governor Raimondo remains stubbornly committed to a scheme developed by radical environmentalists that purposefully seeks to make gasoline so expensive that Rhode Island motorists will be forced to drive less often.

Titled, ‘What Rhode Islanders Should Know About the TCI Gas Tax’, the Q&A document answers commonly asked questions about the objectives of TCI, how it works, and how it will impact Ocean State families and businesses. Initial details of the regional Transportation & Climate Initiative gas tax plan were released in December.

“The Governor may try to sugar-coat TCI in her address this evening, but Rhode Islanders should not be fooled; this is a crushing new tax on the budgets of families and businesses,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “Hard-working Rhode Islanders should not be purposefully punished for driving their kids to school, going to work, visiting family, going shopping, or delivering goods and services.”

With opposition mounting among state lawmakers, it is unclear if Governor Raimondo, who says TCI is necessary to “save our planet”, may seek to unilaterally impose the TCI gas tax on Ocean State motorists and truckers, or if she will seek legislative approval. The final TCI plan is expected in the early spring of 2020, when executive or legislative action could initiate.

The Center, part of a 12-state #NoTICtax coalition that will meet this Friday in Boston, signed an Open TCI Letter in December along with partners from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia, Vermont, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Washington, DC.

The Center’s policy brief released last month, the TCI Tax, lays out the ‘diabolical’ goals of TCI, a green-new-deal type program whose goal is to make gasoline so expensive that it will “go away”. Like all far-left contrivances to reduce carbon-gas emissions, the TCI gas tax will harm economic growth and will take money out of the pockets of residents, while failing to meet its stated environmental goals. The policy brief discusses in detail the many reasons why our Rhode Island should not join the TCI compact, including:

  • In Rhode Island, with its already dismal business climate and exodus of people to lower-cost states, families and businesses cannot afford a significant new gas tax
  • The failure of a similar regional scheme on electricity, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, has driven up consumer costs; has resulted in no added greenhouse gas reductions; and has caused economic harm. There is every reason to believe TCI will also produce a negative cost vs. benefit result. 
  • The Governor should not try to bypass the Constitutional authority of the General Assembly by unilaterally seeking to impose this new gas tax
  • Rhode Island could gain a significant competitive advantage in the region by refusing to sign-on to the TCI tax scheme by being able to offer lower-priced gasoline products
  • There are many less disruptive and more efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • State and national legal challenges may result, along a number of potential Constitutional angle

The TCI Q&A, the TCI Open Letter, the TCI Gas Tax policy brief, and other related information can be found at RIFreedom.org/NoTCITax.

Center Signs Coalition Letter to Oppose Regional TCI Gas Tax

18 Regional Advocacy Groups Issue Open Coalition Letter Opposing TCI Regional Gas Tax Plan

Providence, RI – The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today joins with a dozen-and-a-half other pro-freedom groups in northeast states to co-sign a regional coalition “open letter” that opposes the regional carbon tax “cap and trade” compact that will significantly raise gas prices at the pump, known as the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI)

The TCI Open Letter discusses how the TCI gas tax is “the equivalent of a sin tax – a penalty for engaging in bad behavior” (driving), as defined by radical environmentalists.

“Hard-working Rhode Islanders should not be purposefully punished for driving their kids to school, going to work, visiting family, going shopping, or delivering goods and services,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “We are proud to stand with our coalition partners in opposing this stealth tax on gas. Our coalition letter points out how the TCI Gas Tax will especially harm low-income and rural families.”

Initial details of the regional TCI gas tax plan, openly supported by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and being considered in 11 other New England and mid-Atlantic states, are expected to be released later today; however the TCI framework has been previously made public. The TCI gasoline tax scheme will be similar to the regional electricity tax cap-and-trade compact already in existence, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), in which Rhode Island has been a member since 2007.

It is unclear if Governor Raimondo will seek to unilaterally impose the TCI gas tax on Ocean State motorists and truckers, or if she will seek legislative approval. The final TCI plan is expected in the early spring of 2020, when executive or legislative action will take place. 

In addition to Rhode Island, the Open TCI Letter was co-signed by #NoTCITax regional and national coalition partners from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia, Vermont, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maine, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Washington, DC. 

The Center’s policy brief released earlier this month – The TCI Tax – details the ‘diabolical’ goals of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), a green-new-deal type program whose goal is to make gasoline so expensive that it will “go away”. Like all far-left contrivances to reduce carbon-gas emissions, including RGGI, the TCI gas tax will harm economic growth and will take money out of the pockets of residents, while failing to meet its stated environmental goals.

The policy brief discusses in detail the many reasons why our state should not join the TCI compact, including:

  • In Rhode Island, with its already dismal business climate and exodus of people to lower-cost states, families and businesses cannot afford a significant new gas tax
  • The failure of a similar regional scheme on electricity, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, has driven up consumer costs; has resulted in no added greenhouse gas reductions; and has caused economic harm. There is every reason to believe TCI will also produce a negative cost vs. benefit result. 
  • The Governor should not try to bypass the Constitutional authority of the General Assembly by unilaterally seeking to impose this new gas tax
  • Rhode Island could gain a significant competitive advantage in the region by refusing to sign-on to the TCI tax scheme by being able to offer lower-priced gasoline products
  • There are many less disruptive and more efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • State and national legal challenges may result, along a number of potential Constitutional angle

The TCI Open Letter, the TCI Gas Tax policy brief, and other related information can be found at RIFreedom.org/NoTCITax. #NoTCITax 


The prices for gasoline could soon rise dramatically for your family through a new stealth carbon-tax scheme – the TCI Gas Tax.

POLICY BRIEF: Why Raimondo Administration Should Not Impose New TCI Gas Tax

The Stealth TCI Gas Tax

Why the Governor Should Not Sign-on to the Transportation & Climate Initiative

Providence, RI – If the Raimondo administration gets its way and coerces the General Assembly to sign-on to a new carbon-tax regional compact, a scheme devised by climate alarmists, Rhode Island motorists are about to see a major tax increase at the gas pump. 

A new policy brief released today – The TCI Tax –  by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity details the ‘diabolical’ goals of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), a green-new-deal type program that will necessarily increase the price of regular and diesel fuel. 

Like all far-left contrivances to reduce carbon-gas emissions, and like the Regional Greeenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that preceded it, the TCI gas tax will harm economic growth and will take money out of the pockets of residents, while failing to meet its stated goals.

The Center’s policy brief discusses in detail the many reasons why our state should not join the TCI compact, including:

  • In Rhode Island, with its already dismal business climate and exodus of people to lower-cost states, families and businesses cannot afford a significant new gas tax
  • The failure of a similar regional scheme on electricity, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, has driven up consumer costs; has resulted in no added greenhouse gas reductions; and has caused economic harm. There is every reason to believe TCI will also produce a negative cost vs. benefit result. 
  • The Governor should not try to bypass the Constitutional authority of the General Assembly by unilaterally seeking to impose this new gas tax
  • Rhode Island could gain a significant competitive advantage in the region by refusing to sign-on to the TCI tax scheme by being able to offer lower-priced gasoline products
  • There are many less disruptive and more efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • State and national legal challenges may result, along a number of potential Constitutional angles

“We are already suffering through a great Ocean State Exodus because of the worst business climate in the nation,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “The Governor cannot unilaterally force motorists to pay higher gasoline taxes if there is zero resulting environmental benefit?”

Additional related information can be found on the Center’s home-TCI-page at RIFreedom.org/NoTCITax. #NOTCITAX

Stenhouse to speak at Roger Williams Univ. class; will promote 1st Amendment Institute

RWU Professor Practices Intellectual Diversity-
University Supporter Floats Concept for Free-Speech Institute

Providence, RI – The CEO of the conservative think-tank, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, Mike Stenhouse, will speak at a Roger Williams Universitypolitical-science class this afternoon, taught by Professor June Speakman, as part of her long-time effort to provide alternative views on various political topics. 

“I commend the professor for encouraging civil discourse by presenting her class with a diversity of philosophical and intellectual viewpoints,” said Stenhouse. “I also commend DeWolf Fulton, who has a dream of forming a 1st-Amendment Institute on the campus, to further promote civil free-speech. If successful, his bold idea could set a new national trend.”

Fulton, whose family provided the land for the Fulton Campus at Roger Williams University, has recently been working to build support for a 1st-Amendment Institute that he hopes will be erected on recently acquired land by the university. 

Speakman, a member of the faculty of Roger Williams’ Department of Politics, is also the House Representative for the towns of Warren and Bristol in the Rhode Island General Assembly

Stenhouse will address the topic of interest groups in American politics at Speakman’s political-science class of approximately 30 students. Fulton is expected to monitor the class.

Given the recent history of uncivil political discourse in our state and across our country, especially on college campuses, the Center applauds both Prof. Speakman and Mr. Fulton for advancing the concept of open, honest, and rigorous discussion on the important issues of our time … which happens to be a core objective of our Center.