A pro-family, pro-business agenda that advances cultural and an economic well-being, both from the perspective of public policy positions and civil society advocacy perspective, is the goal.

2018 Policy Positions

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in seeking to advance a more prosperous society, finds it unacceptable that our Ocean State ranks so poorly in so many critical national indexes. A pro-family, pro-business agenda that advances cultural and an economic well-being, both from a both public policy and civil society advocacy perspective, is the goal. Rhode Island must adopt stronger policy positions on the issues that relate to our families well-being.

Related values, according the national Family Prosperity Index, include family self-sufficiency, marriage, and work. The Center’s policy positions on various issues are below:


A 3.0% SALES TAX- superior to car tax repeal and free college tuition.

A 3.0% SALES TAX- superior to car tax repeal and free college tuition.

As taxpayers continue to be asked to fund generous corporate subsidy programs, lawmakers are now dueling over two new spending ideas – reimbursing localities to phase-out the car tax and public funding for free college tuition – each of which would likely further raise taxes and fees on Rhode Islanders. A more innovative and bold policy concept of cutting the state sales tax to 3.0% to help families become more self-sufficient is being called for by the Center. A 3.0% sales tax reform would help working Rhode Islanders and businesses much more than other proposals by having more money directly in the pockets of Rhode Island families.

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM - keeping families together and productive.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – keeping families together and productive.

As part of its Family Prosperity Initiative, the Center, in written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, has joined with with advocates from the left in generally supporting the reforms being advanced by our state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative package of legislation, in the hopes that more people can become more productive members of their families and of society, instead of becoming or remaining unnecessarily embroiled in the criminal justice system. The Center recommends that the gratuitous anti-gun sentencing provisions in H5115 and S0011 be removed.

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So-Called “Domestic Violence” Bill Is An Ambush On Second Amendment Rights.

So-Called “Domestic Violence” Bill Is An Ambush On Second Amendment Rights.

Imagine losing your 2nd Amendment rights by exercising your constitutionally guaranteed 1st Amendment rights? This is the untold secret of legislation that appears likely to pass state’s General Assembly this month.

The General Assembly will consider voting on some version of H5510 & S0405, the so-called “Domestic Violence” bills. These bills would ostensibly remove the Second Amendment rights of people against whom domestic violence restraining orders have been issued. However, it has been under-reported that these bills would also remove the Second Amendment rights of individuals convicted of a variety of misdemeanor charges, such as cyberstalking or disorderly conduct. This hidden provision has not been subject to proper public debate, and should be of deep concern to center-right and left lawmakers who are being misled by the radical progressive agenda. This legislation goes far beyond domestic violence issues.

With the ill-defined and likely unconstitutional nature of cyberstalking and disorderly conduct laws, the Center is concerned that by exercising their First Amendment rights individuals will be targeted to have their Second Amendment rights restricted. This bill is in reality an ambush by the progressive-left on the firearms community in the Ocean State.

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FREE COLLEGE TUITION - morally unjust.

FREE COLLEGE TUITION – morally unjust.

The Center opposes the concept of providing two-years of free tuition for Rhode Island students on a number of grounds. It is a regressive program that would force low income families to pay for tuition for higher-income families. Morally, it runs against the spirit of self-sufficiency and merit that should be encouraged in our society by encouraging a more of a “nanny state” mentality. Practically, the state should first focus on getting K-12 right. From a budget perspective, the Ocean State does not have the luxury to spend taxpayer money on yet another entitlement program. The market-disruption to Rhode Island’s private universities and vocational institutions has not been evaluated. The free program would cheapen the value of a degree at our state run institutions of higher education. The program would not be an economic stimulus that would attract employers and create jobs, as it would not overcome the many reasons why Rhode Island has the WORST-ranked business climate in the nation. 

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THE CARBON TAX SCHEME - further harming families, businesses, & competitiveness.

THE CARBON TAX SCHEME – further harming families, businesses, & competitiveness.

Already paying some of the highest energy and gasoline rates in the country, Rhode Island families and businesses could see an increase of up to 15 cents per gallon if proposed legislation passes in 2017, according to Americans for Tax Reform. The Center opposes this progressive-government interference in the market.  These increases will drive up energy rates for every Rhode Island family and business, and are one of the major reason’s why Ocean Staters suffer from the 50th ranked business climate and the 48th rank in family prosperity. Whether via carbon taxes, green energy mandates, or restrictions on cheaper fossil-fuel based energy production, higher energy costs are a major drag on economic growth. 

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FAIR SHOT AGENDA - is really a job loss agenda!

FAIR SHOT AGENDA – is really a job loss agenda!

One reason why our Ocean State has the WORST business climate in the nation is exactly this kind of persistent meddling in in the free-market, which advances a radical social justice agenda which promotes ‘extreme individualism”, by demanding employers pay for mandated handouts to their employees. The progressive Fair Shot Agenda would further harm the Ocean State’s 48th rank in family prosperity and 50th rank in business climate. Its two anti-business mandates – a minimum wage hike and mandatory paid sick days – would impose even more burdens on an already over-taxed and over-regulated private business sector … with the inevitable result being a loss of jobs and a loss of opportunity for meaningful work for Rhode Island families who are struggling to improve their quality of life.

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MINIMUM WAGE - union driven transfer of wealth?

MINIMUM WAGE – union driven transfer of wealth from low-income to middle-income families?

The Center believes that every Rhode Islander who strives to work hard should be able to earn enough income to support themselves and their families. However, decreasing our state’s overall business competitiveness and risking loss of jobs via minimum wage mandates is not the right approach. There are many myths about who minimum wage earners are, and there may be ulterior motives by unions that the Center has discussed in its prior research. In fact, a minimum wage hike will likely harm many of the same low-income or minority primary family breadwinners it is intended to help, as most of the raises would go to white, middle-income secondary earners. Also, certain union wages for middle- and high-income rank and file may be pegged to the minimum wage. The Center recommends increases to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as a superior alternative to aid working families, and  avoids all above risks.

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HAIR BRAIDER LICENSES UNFAIR- should enjoy freedom to pursue work.

HAIR BRAIDER LICENSES UNFAIR- should enjoy freedom to pursue work.

We support regulatory reforms that would free natural hair braiders from the occupational licensing mandates currently imposed on the harmless practice. This licensing burden is especially harmful to many people who would prefer to start new careers and earn paychecks instead of receiving welfare checks. Unfair and unreasonable occupational licensing restrictions must be repealed if we want more Rhode Islanders to have a chance to improve their quality of life and engage in entrepreneurial commerce. Only, 14 states, along with the District of Columbia, require hair braiders to acquire a specialized license. In Mississippi and Iowa, hair braiders have to register with the state. Specialty licenses require 600 hours of classes and can cost thousands of dollars.

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In its current form, House bill H5343 could readily be interpreted to prohibit the State of Rhode Island from exercising reasonable oversight over abortion practices. The Center argues this radical approach does not represent the mainstream thinking of Rhode Islanders. The Center maintains that the public generally opposes gruesome “partial birth” and other late-term abortions; opposes state taxpayer funding of abortions to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers; and opposes women in vulnerable circumstances from submitting to an abortion without informed consent … all of which could become rampant in Rhode Island if the proposed legislation were to become law. Further, we also call for a retraction of attacks against the Catholic Church and for a respectful public debate.  

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UHIP EPIC DISASTER - big-government at its worst.

UHIP EPIC DISASTER – big-government at its worst.

The Center was the first group in the state – way back in 2012– to challenge the core premise of UHIP. The recent revelations that the broken state-run computer system is causing some Rhode Islanders to turn to prostitution should come as no surprise. The planned “dependency portal” aspects of UHIP, or a central computer system that would seek to control people’s lives, is big-government at its worst. “This is an extreme case of misguided public policy. The expansion of government and special interest control over our personal healthcare decisions, along with the culture of dependency being freely advocated … should be viewed as an assault on our deeply held American value of self-reliance,” said CEO Stenhouse in 2012. It is no wonder that this ill-advised attempt at obvious government over-reach has turned into such an epic disaster. 

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38 STUDIOS AND RI SHEEPLE SYNDROME- legislators compelled by leadership.

38 STUDIOS AND RI SHEEPLE SYNDROME- legislators compelled by leadership.

While the Center joins with other Rhode Islanders in demanding all 38 Studios documents be made public, the troubling revelations from the few documents that were released should cause concern about our state’s legislative process. With members of the House stating they should not challenge the Speaker, and with Senators stating that there’s no need for Senate debate for bills passed in the House, we now can understand why so many lawmakers vote in lock-step with leadership, as documented in the Center’s Sheeple Index published in 2016 that showed over 35 members of the General Assembly voted exactly the same as leadership over 98% of the time. “In a healthy democracy, there should be a rigorous debate of diverse policies. Sadly, and conversely in Rhode Island, it seems that when leadership authorizes bills to move forward, legislators feel compelled to automatically support them,” commented Stenhouse. 

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How would any family benefit from increased use or abuse of any substance? It would be reckless and anti-family to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state this year, as sufficient analysis has not been independently conducted. While public discussion has focused on revenues, underground markets vs regulated markets, incarceration rates, and forms of strict regulation, the Center believes that the potential impact on families and on society have been a glaring omission in the statewide debate. Rhode Island must put the interests of minors, families, and overall society above all other considerations. As a more prudent approach, and in order to better understand these and other issues, we support the concept of a legislative study commission to properly vet data from other states and to evaluate the potential impacts of legalization across the board. 

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