NewsRadio 920 and the Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Senate is delaying consideration of legislation designed to restore ethics commission jurisdiction over Rhode Island lawmakers amid criticism from good government groups that say it's "hopelessly compromised."
The bill proposes a constitutional amendment to clarify language in the state constitution. The state's highest court in 2009 interpreted the "speech in debate" clause to mean lawmakers are protected from ethics commission prosecution for core duties, including voting.
The measure would apply to conduct beginning in 2015 and provide for a wholly new jury trial for anyone found guilty of an ethics violation. Republican Sen. Dawson Hodgson wants to remove the provision granting immunity before 2015 and limit the allowance for a new trial.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael McCaffrey says the sponsor is trying to address critics' concerns.