RI lawmakers mull amendment to boost ethics rules


Rhode Island lawmakers are reviewing a proposed constitutional amendment that would make their legislative actions subject to ethics oversight.

A Senate panel reviewed the amendment Tuesday.

It would restore the state Ethics Commission’s power to investigate lawmakers who push legislation for personal gain. A 2009 state Supreme Court decision ruled lawmakers are immune to ethics complaints regarding votes or legislative activities. The court relied on a constitutional provision protecting lawmakers from harassment for votes or legislative debate.

If lawmakers endorse the amendment it would go before voters next year.

The measure died last year when critics in the Senate raised concerns that lawmakers could be investigated for merely speaking. A spokesman for Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said she will work to find consensus to ensure lawmakers are subject to ethics oversight.

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