GA Notes: EG Legislators Submit Fire District Takeover Bills
It's unclear whether Fire District Commissioners will support the legislation.
The next chess piece has been moved: legislation to abolish the East Greenwich Fire District and establish a town fire department was submitted to the General Assembly last week.
State Sen. Dawson Hodgson (R-N.K., E.G., S.K., Narr.) and Lou Raptakis (D-Coventry, EG) introduced bill S-0739 on Wednesday, March 13. The intro of the bill – which was referred to the Senate Finance Committee – reads, "Authorizing the Town of East Greenwich to acquire the property, assets and personnel of the East Greenwich Fire District."
State Rep. Anthony Giarrusso (R-E.G.) has also submitted a EGFD bill. According to Chuck Newton of the House Minority Office (and also the chair of the EG GOP), the bill is "in the hands of the Clerk of the House" and should be posted this week.
In November, two-thirds of voters passed a referendum calling for the Fire District to be merged with the Town of East Greenwich. Since then, some members of the Fire District have called for further study of the issue, in particular to showcase any financial benefits that could result. As of now, they have said, there is no indication money would be saved.
Several members of the Town Council, alternatively, have argued that the voters have spoken and it's the duty of the town to move forward to create a municipal fire department.
Because the Fire District was established by state charter, it can only be abolished by the General Assembly.
Fire District Chair Bill Daly said Friday the Commissioners hadn't scheduled a vote on their support of the legislation. Commissioner Mark Gee, who also sits on the Town Council, is the only member of the five-person panel to publicly endorse the legislation.
Four out of the five members of the Town Council support the legislation; Councilor Michael Kiernan does not.
In other GA news, Rep. Anthony Giarrusso (R-E.G., W.G.) last week urged his colleagues to support term limits.
Giarrusso threw his support behind a resolution, H5105, that would put the term limits question before voters in the 2014 elections.
Two-year legislative terms are established in the Rhode Island Constitution, and a constitutional amendment must be submitted to and approved by voters for terms to be changed.
House Resolution 5105, sponsored by Democrat John Lombardi of Providence, would change legislative terms from two years to four, and prohibit any legislator from serving more than three consecutive terms.
“There is good sense in this proposition,” said Giarrusso.
“It allows legislators sufficient time to become proficient in legislative procedures, and time for them to develop deeper expertise on the issues facing government in Rhode Island. But it also sends a strong signal that public service in the General Assembly is not a career. These are all good things."
Looking ahead, The big news this week looks to be the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on same-sex marriage on Thursday.