- Associated Press - Friday, May 30, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s spokesman says he’s “receptive” to the Senate’s amended version of legislation to restore state ethics commission’s jurisdiction over Rhode Island lawmakers.

Larry Berman said Friday the measure looks reasonable but Mattiello is reviewing it. Mattiello expressed concerns over an earlier version.

The legislation proposes putting a constitutional amendment before voters that would 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. Efforts to close the loophole have stalled.

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

A full Senate vote is expected next week.

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