Bill enhancing transparency of I-195 Commission gets nod
STATE HOUSE – With a vote in the House today, the General Assembly gave its approval to legislation sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi to increase transparency of I-195 Commission meetings. The bill would result in more meetings and discussions being held in public, and it mandates that commission members must participate in ethics training. The bill will now be forwarded to the governor.
“I sponsored legislation creating the commission back in 2011 because I believed it was critical to have an entity fully devoted to developing the former highway land. In recent years, my disappointment has grown in the manner in which the commission has conducted itself. Decision-making based on secrecy has not served Rhode Island well historically. Rhode Islanders deserve to know that the commission is acting in good faith, in the interest of the public, and in a transparent manner to ensure the best development projects possible are being considered and properly vetted,” said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).
Said Leader Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), “Like all public bodies, the I-195 Commission has an obligation to conduct its business in public, so Rhode Islanders know that their interest is being protected. Particularly since this board controls the fate of millions of dollars’ worth of valuable public property, it should be open to public scrutiny to ensure there are no questions about the integrity of its work.”
The legislation (2017-S 0850A, 2017-H 6300) requires that all meetings shall be open to the public and the bill narrows the scope of when the commission can go into executive, or closed, session.
According to the bill, any closed sessions will need to be audio recorded, and the recording will be publicly available upon a vote of the commission. The legislation mandates that commission members must participate in ethics training. The bill also states that the commission must abide by the provisions of the Open Records Act. Common Cause Rhode Island assisted in drafting the bill.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903