LWV logo

LWV logo


Thursday, March 28, 2013

The LWV Newport's Coffee with the Legislators Part

If you missed the LWV Newport's Coffee with our Legislators, you can view the event on the Web site of the Jamestown Record.

Thanks to the Jamestown Record for this great service.
Patty MacLeish, LWV Newport County

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Newport County has Coffee with Legislators

Representative Linda Finn, who represents parts of Middletown and Portsmouth, helped the LWV of Newport County attract a standing-room only crowd at its "Coffee with Your Legislators" event on March 23. Rep. Finn has proposed legislation that would require registration of guns in Rhode Island. The Newport Rifle Club had sent an email blast to its members about the meeting; the house was full.

We had designed the event to cover as many topics as possible. The good planning paid off, and as moderator I only had to explain that there would be no signs and no applause or shouting out when others were speaking. Everyone was pretty well behaved.

Gun control was only one of the topics, however.

The legislators—Senators Paiva-Weed, Ottiano, and DiPalma and Representative Abney, Finn, Martin, Canario, Edwards—answered questions on the master lever, ethics, marriage equality, taxation of veterans benefits, and agriculture. Senator Ottiano was among those who had participated in the all-nighter at the State House on marriage equality. Representatives Martin and Canario both serve on the house judiciary committee. On April 12, Representative Martin was one of the members  who had voted the ethics bill out of committee (the vote was 8-0). The next day Rep. Edith Ajello, chair of the judiciary committee, declared the vote null and void. Read more about the whole brouhaha, which resulted in  Rep. Canario replacing J.Patrick O'Neill on the committee, in the ProJo  -->http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2013/03/former-challenger-binder-appalled-by-foxs-torpedo-of-ethics-billready.html. The paper also editorialized about the situation in today's (March 27) paper (http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/ProJo/), "Fox's ethics-bill bomb," suggesting that the speaker should get the bill back on the floor for a vote. Common Cause RI has set up a Web site www.ethicsheldhostage.com that shows a ticking clock counting the time since the bill was sent back to the Judiciary committee. Read more about the issue in the most recent issue of the LWVRI Voter.

President of the Senate Paiva Weed was not enthusiastic about doing away with the master lever. She said that the main argument she had heard against it was that it was confusing and people did not know what they were doing when they voted using the master lever. She thought that voters do know what they are doing and that the criticism was insulting to the voters.

One might consider, however, that 44 voters chose the Moderate Party via the master lever in the 2012 election in Jamestown. However, there were no Moderate Party candidates running in Jamestown. Read more about the Master Lever at MasterLever.org.

Overall, the event was a great success. After the Q&A many the of the legislators stayed to take additional questions. Thanks to the Potter League for letting us use its facilities.
Patty MacLeish
LWV Newport County

From Left: Reps. Canario, Martin, Finn, and Edwards (standing) with LWV moderator Patty MacLeish


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Education Finance Committee Sets Plans

The LWVRI's Financing Education Committee met recently to set plans for the year. The new RI funding  formula is in its second year of a 10 year phased in implementation.  The RI Department of Education (RIDE) has a comprehensive section on the formula at its website, http://www.ride.ri.gov/, if you want to learn more about how it works. (Click on "funding formula" then click on "Formula Presentation" for an introduction to the formula.)
Keep it Simple. Don't be surprised if you have to read through the introduction more than once to get the gist of what's going on. In fact, that's one of the problems the committee we see with the formula. This lack transparency  is cause in particular by the quadratic mean adjustment.  This complexity makes it difficult to evaluate the formula's adequacy in providing equalization of local taxable wealth resources.

The committee also discussed the adequacy of using the federal free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility as the way of determining where funds should go to provide additional resources to children who need them.  In the past, additional funds were provided for Special Education and English as a Second Language children.  RIDE says it uses FRPL instead because eligibility is simpler to determine and many the Special Ed and ESL children also qualify for FRPL.

The FRPL. We all agreed that we have to start now to see if the FRPL is indeed the best means to use to give additional funds to districts whose students are poorer, non-English speaking or handicapped in some way.
We plan to develop an interview  about the use of FRPL or Special Education and ESL as the  determinants to distribute additional funds. These interviews would be carried out by League members with local district business manager or financial officer.

If you would like to join the committee please contact Joanne DeVoe. We will be meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2, at Anna D's Cafe on East Main Road in Portsmouth.
Patty MacLeish,
Committee Member

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Take Action with the League--Check out our Action Priorities
If you haven't already done so, go to the LWVRI web site (www.lwvri.org) and read about the League's advocacy priorities for 2013. We are tracking election and voting issues, including Voter ID, early voting, and eliminating the "master lever." You can, by the way, learn a lot about the so-called master lever and how it affects elections, especially at the local level, at MasterLever.org.
Also on our legislative agenda are women's health (Thank you to Mary Chace for following this issue for us), gun  control, and merit selection of magistrates.
If you haven't received your Voter yet, you can download it from the web site. (It's on the right side of the page--scroll down.) I think it's a great issue (if I must say so myself)--chock full of information about our advocacy issues.
Patty MacLeish
Editor, LWVRI's Voter