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By William Hamilton
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Common Cause Rhode Island says scores in its legislative scorecard measuring state lawmakers’ support of Common Cause-backed bills “fell to an all-time low” for the 2009-2010 sessions.
On average, state senators sided with the open-government watchdog group in key legislative votes 51 percent of the time, while House members’ votes aligned with Common Cause’s positions a “dismal” average of 48 percent of the time, the group said.
In a note to the group’s supporters, Common Cause Rhode Island Executive Director John Marion credited the General Assembly for making several “positive reforms” in statutes governing campaigns and elections in the last two years.
And he applauded other changes, such as the “creation of a school funding formula, and changes to the tax structure.”
But “the government reform agenda, unfortunately, took a back seat,” Marion said. “Notably, the state Senate did not take up a Common Cause initiative to let the voters decide whether lawmakers should be subject to the jurisdiction of the state’s Ethics Commission.
“It was our hope that with new leadership in both chambers, the General Assembly would have taken up the issue of government reform more vigorously,” he continued. “Instead we continued to see backsliding on three key constitutional reforms Common Cause has supported in the last 40 years; the Ethics Commission, judicial merit selection and separation of powers.”
Common Cause said it based its report card on 17 House votes and 18 Senate votes. And the group weighted votes differently, depending on the importance of the issue to Common Cause.
This is the ninth time the nonprofit has released a scorecard, but this year the performances of individual lawmakers are available on a dedicated website, www.commoncausescorecard.org. By Monday afternoon, however, the group had issued an advisory that it was working to fix some technical programs by later in the day.