However, Rhode Islanders are not content to merely wait for politicians in Washington, D.C. to take action. Thus an affiliate of the Move To Amend (MTA) coalition has sprung up to push RI to take the next logical step and amend its own Constitution. Representative Art Handy of Cranston (18) has introduced legislation on behalf of the new grassroots group that would put the question of whether to amend Rhode Islands Constitution on next years ballot (H6051) for the people to decide.
Everyone knows that a corporation is not a person. How could unlimited corporate money in politics benefit real human people? Rhode Islanders have a powerful desire for independence and we have overwhelming popular support for overturning Citizens United. Its time to take a stand for common sense and democracy, said Representative Handy.
MTA RI started an online petition in support of the bill on May 3rd that has already surpassed 500 signatures. The massive public support shown in less than a week and the consistent national polling that shows the Citizens United decision is deeply unpopular plus the general assemblys resolution calling for a US Constitutional amendment last year may give the legislation the push it needs to get out of House Judiciary Committee. The bill is scheduled for hearing on Thursday, May 9th.
Abel Collins, who chairs the fledgling MTA RI affiliate and who ran a grassroots campaign for Congress in Rhode Islands 2nd District with a prominent call for getting the money out of politics, said Rhode Islanders know that corporate money is drowning out our voice in government, and we want an opportunity to reclaim our democracy. The general assembly should give us that chance by passing the bill.
If the bill is passed and voters approve of the We The People amendment, Rhode Island lawmakers would once again have the ability to regulate corporate and other special interest spending in elections. Its a good first step in the fight to end the cronyism that results in policies like taxpayer funded bailouts, unwarranted subsidies, and massive no bid contracts, continued Collins.
The ultimate fate of the RI amendment is hard to predict, as it might face a court challenge. If it is brought before the Supreme Court, MTA hopes that the justices will use the opportunity to reverse the mistake they made in Citizens United. If not, more fuel will be thrown on the fire and there will be more and louder calls for a national amendment.