Rhode Island Governor Emergency Powers

Legal Paper: Governor’s Emergency Powers are Not Unlimited and Unchecked

Legal Limits on Emergency Executive Powers in Rhode Island General Assembly Designed to be a Check

Providence, RI – The General Assembly has the absolute authority to end a declared state of emergency, especially when the Governor may not be acting with “restraint and moderation and with strict regard to the rights of the people.” This according to a legal analysis released today by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center).

The six-page analysis, conducted by the new Flanders Legal Center for Freedom, an initiative of the Center, takes a close look at the Rhode Island General Laws that vest emergency powers with the Governor. In examining the statutes under RI General Laws § 30-15, those powers are neither unlimited, unchecked, nor intended to be exercised with unbridled discretion. 

Important legal questions are raised in the analysis, as to whether or not the Governor has exceeded her legal authority in issuing executive orders and other edicts:

  • Did the Governor exceed clear time limitations when she effectively shut down mid-to-large sized summer events and activities?
  • Did the Governor illegally reschedule the June Presidential Primary, with arbitrarily imposed new voting and voter-ID rules?
  • Did the Governor infringe on religious rights by limiting church crowds, while allowing larger gatherings in other, secular settings?
  • Do the Governor’s arbitrary limitations on the number of people who are permitted to peaceably assemble violate our First Amendment rights?

“It is vital that a balance of power be maintained and that the General Assembly seriously consider its important role,” advised Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Many Rhode Islanders feel that the Governor prematurely shut-down our summer fun. She may also have done so illegally. The General Assembly can be heroes and give us our summer back.”

This legal analysis is the first publication of the Flanders Legal Center for Freedom, which is led by Robert Flanders, a board member of the Center, a practicing attorney, and former Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Operating under the auspices of the Center, the nonpartisan Flanders Legal Center expects to provide ongoing legal commentary, submit friend of the court briefs, and potentially engage in select litigation cases.

The media is invited to contact the Center to arrange for interviews with former Judge Flanders.

Center launches PSA campaign

PSA Campaign Encourages Workers to Re-Enter the Workforce Despite High Unemployment Benefits

Providence, RI As the Ocean State begins the re-opening of its economy, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity today launched a Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign, encouraging workers to re-join the workforce, instead of collecting unemployment benefits. 

The PSA campaign is themed on the iconic war era “Victory Garden” and “Uncle Sam Wants You” concepts. The Center expects radio-spots to begin running on-air this week.

“Your state needs you. It is vital for every employer and worker .. and consumer … possible to re-engage in commerce in order to help our state recover economically from this pandemic,” advised the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “If your former or prospective employer is authorized to offer work to you, it is vital that you help re-build our state economy.”

Flooded with calls from employers who are unable to re-hire or hire workers laid-off because of the corona-virus crisis, it is clear that, for many, the recently approved federal unemployment benefits, in combination with state unemployment benefits, has created a disincentive to return to the workforce. 

The Center believes it is the patriotic duty of every Rhode Islander to do what they can to restore prosperity to our state, even if that might mean forgoing overly-generous government aid, a condition that could persist through much of the summer. 

For each person who returns to work, in addition to helping rebuild GDP and state and federal revenues through employee and employer taxes, the state can save paying-out unemployment benefits. “Also, at the individual level, working is a soul-fulfilling act,” added Stenhouse.

The Center’s PSA campaign will consist of recordings for radio, pre-taped by Stenhouse, along with a social media push. 

The Center has created a 0:15 second and a 0:30 second radio spot, the audio files of which can be made available to interested media entities, with the following content:

0:15. This is Mike Stenhouse with the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity encouraging you to plant your own Victory Garden by re-joining the workforce as soon and as safely as you can. Every employer and worker is needed to grow-back a prosperous Ocean State economy.

0:30. This is Mike Stenhouse with the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity encouraging you to do your part in helping our state win the war against this pandemic by planting your own Victory Garden … by returning the workforce as soon as you can … and to practice safe-health protocols. While it may seem attractive to collect unemployment for a while, your state needs you now: Every employer and every worker is necessary to grow-back a prosperous and healthy Ocean State economy.

Climate change radicals run amok! CEO Stenhouse and attorney activist Chris Horner discuss the bogus scheme of the RI DEM head Janet Coit to get more money.

In The Dugout: Chris Horner on RI DEM Head’s Scheme for Revenue In “Climate Change” Lawsuit

transparency COVID 19

Call for More Transparency re. Criteria to Transition Back to Work

Center Calls for Public Transparency re. Criteria for Transitioning Rhode Islanders Back to Work

Commending the Governor for planning to respond later today to calls to make publicly known the modeling data and tools her administration is utilizing to project how the corona-virus pandemic is expected to play out in the near future, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity is calling for further transparency. 

On Thursday morning, Mike Stenhouse, chief executive officer of the Center, called on the Governor to outline the specific process, data, and criteria she will use to determine how and when Ocean Staters can safely return to work. 

There are many issues and questions the public should be made aware. Further Ocean State employers need advance notice to be able to effectively plan for a safe reopening of their businesses. By transparently sharing her plans with the private sector, she can help build trust among the business community and enhance public confidence in her future actions.

Some of the questions that should be publicly answered are:

  • Will the Governor make these decisions unilaterally or in conjunction with the General Assembly?
  • What corona-virus metrics and benchmarks does the Governor plan to set … or will the decision be arbitrary?
  • What regulations and other restrictions will be put in place? Will these be imposed via executive or legislative action?

“I encourage the General Assembly to find a way to get back to work and help ensure that a reasonable and transparent get-back-to-work process is undertaken.”

The Center’s list of 20 policy ideas to ease the transition back-to-work can be viewed here.

Recovery for Rhode Island

10 More Rescue Policy Ideas To Aid Recovery From The COVID-19 Crisis

Lawmakers Can Help Pave the Way for Economic & Health Recovery

Elected officials do not have to sit helplessly by and rely on federal aid

Providence, RI – Suggesting multiple reforms that are being enacted in other states, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, the state’s premiere free-market research and advocacy organization, offers state lawmakers 10 more proactive policy ideas that can help Ocean State businesses and families survive the Covid-19 crisis, while also paving the way to economic and health security.

With the crushing impact on our state’s business community, and over 100,000 Rhode Islanders out of work and suffering anxiety about both their medical and financial well-being, the Center updated its prior Covid-19 Public Policy Solutions brief that provides lawmakers with positive legislative ideas that can help provide relief.

“By giving individuals and businesses a little more freedom and flexibility, state lawmakers can provide rescue legislation as counter-measures to the crisis,” suggested Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Our political class must not sit helplessly by and rely solely on federal aid. Other states are taking proactive action; our Ocean State must not fall further behind.”

While Rhode Island may benefit in many ways from various federal rescue packages, the Center recommends that state lawmakers must also do their part and focus on what they can control as well as to find a way to fulfill their legislative responsibilities for recovery during this crisis.

Adding to its #GovernmentDistancing initiative, the Center has added 10 new  “emergency” policy ideas to its original March 25 list, designed primarily to keep more Rhode Islanders at work and financially solvent and healthy in the coming recovery months. Included in the 10 new suggested measures are:

  • Allow businesses to fully expense capital investments to encourage recovering businesses to invest in machinery and equipment
  • Institute reciprocal licensing to make it easier for professionals licensed in other states to work in RI
  • Freeze all state and municipal taxes to ensure already distressed individuals and business are not further burdened
  • Temporarily suspend prevailing wage laws to decrease pressure on government budgets and lessen the need to increase taxes
  • Expand access to tele-medicine services

The full-list of 20 policy ideas and brief explanations can be viewed here.

One of the Center’s ideas was enacted last month, when the Governor ordered that alcoholic beverages could be sold by restaurants as part of take-out orders. Another idea of the Center, to temporarily suspend Internet sales taxes, was previously highlighted in a separate policy brief.

The Center expects to regularly add to its growing list of rescue policy ideas, many of which have been implemented legislatively or by executive order, or are being actively considered in other states.