- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 4, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Several groups say an amended bill to restore the Rhode Island ethics commission’s jurisdiction over lawmakers has been “hopelessly compromised.”

Common Cause Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Taxpayers and the League of Women Voters asked the Senate on Wednesday to withdraw the new version.

The resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to clarify the “speech in debate” clause of the state constitution. In 2009 the state Supreme Court interpreted it to mean lawmakers are shielded from ethics commission prosecution for core duties, including voting and speaking.

The new bill maintains immunity for debate and provides for a jury trial for anyone the commission finds guilty of a violation.

Common Cause says the measure’s original purpose to fix the loophole has been hijacked and that the new version doesn’t serve the public interest.



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