Senate panel to vote on new ethics measure

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Senate panel is expected to vote on a new version of legislation that takes a step toward restoring the state ethics commission’s jurisdiction over Rhode Island lawmakers.

Senate spokesman Greg Pare said the Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday. The measure proposes a constitutional amendment that would give the ethics panel exclusive oversight authority over lawmakers. Voters would have to approve it.

In 2009 the state Supreme Court interpreted the state constitution’s “speech in debate” clause to mean lawmakers are immune from ethics commission prosecution for their core duties, including voting and speaking. Efforts to close the loophole have stalled.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello had expressed concern about an earlier version. A spokesman said Thursday Mattiello has pledged to review the new version if it passes.

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