For committees in the General Assembly “held for further study” is the procedural equivalent of “we’re taking the cat to a nice farm in the country.” Bills held for further study tend to disappear. One bill in particular — H 5498, letting voters decide whether to amend the R.I. Constitution to restore the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction over complaints against members of the General Assembly for alleged violations of the Code of Ethics — has met this fate after having first been approved by the House Judiciary Committee. It’s a complicated chain of events and House Speaker Fox doesn’t come off very well. Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau did an excellent job of sorting things out today in “Common Cause keeping count.” In response to these shenanigans,
Common Cause launched a website — www.ethicsheldhostage.com — “to commemorate this unprecedented seizure of the House and its committee process by Speaker Fox and to call for a reversal of the nullification of the committee vote,” [Common Cause director John] Marion said.
Apparently Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed is not anxious to see this bill passed by the House and sent on to her chamber. Coming out against ethics reform is always so . . . awkward.