Assembly override session may wait until after Nov. 4 election4:12 PM Wed, Oct 01, 2008 | Permalink
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Will lawmakers return to the State House for a veto-override session before or after the November 4 election?
Put another way, will the state's lawmakers be able to wait until after they face the voters to decide whether to overturn one or more of the four dozen bills vetoed by Republican Governor Carcieri, including a bill to "quash and destroy'' scores more criminal records, speed up the release of other government records and set the stage for the election of future presidents of the United States by national popular vote?
The answer? Senate president Joseph Montalbano issued a statement that said: "No decision has yet been made regarding whether there will be a Senate session called to consider overriding vetoes, what bills might be taken up at such a session, or when such a session might be held.''
Through a spokesman, House Speaker William Murphy said he too had not decided whether there would be an override session and which vetoed bills might come up. So it appears now that the lawmakers won't face an override vote until after the November 4 election.
The legislative ranks are already filled with lame ducks. In addition to the lawmakers who lost their bids for reelection to primary challengers, there are three senators and 10 members of the House of Representatives who announced that they were not seeking reelection.
One would have shortened from 10 days to seven the time frame for releasing public records. Another would have made Rhode Island one of the states pushing for selection of the president and vice president of the United States by popular vote, rather than by the Electoral College.
One of the more controversial of the vetoed bills -- even as it moved through the General Assembly -- would have guaranteed a 3-percent bonus payment to National Grid for entering into long-term contracts with alternative energy suppliers.
The vetoed criminal-records bill called for the automatic destruction of the record of any crime for which an admitted criminal has been given a "deferred" sentence, regardless of the nature of the crime and the age or criminal history of the offender as long as he or she stays out of trouble for five years.
In recent years, the kinds of criminals receiving such sentences included: accused stalkers, embezzlers, an admitted accomplice to a gunpoint robbery in Waterplace Park who traded testimony for a reduced sentence, one of the admitted coconspirators in the Lincoln bribery scandal and a child molester.