Interest and Group Representation
This bill is about unions … anyone who doesn't think it's about unions is denying reality…. The real worry about this bill is that it is going to open up low-cost alternatives and provide better results. This [bill] has to do with protecting a [unionized] system that has become indefensible.
House Majority Leader George Caroulo, in a floor debate about authorizing charter schools, 1998
The so-called captains of industry in Rhode Island have proposed something which they feel is a jobs bill…. They're going to have to come in and do a heck of a selling job.
State Senator Charles Walton, commenting on a proposal to cut the state income tax for upper-bracket wage earners, 1999
In addition to the influence exerted by the parties, the primary means by which various groups and interests in the state express their policy concerns is through lobbying. This supplement to the formal electoral-representational process involves a variety of methods of making contact with legislators and other state and local officials to influence their decisions. Lobbying is as old as the republic, probably older. Not until the twentieth century, however, did it become a matter of official concern. Reformers see these backdoor approaches and informal pressure tactics as a threat to democratic processes, threats that should be exposed to public view and regulated by law.
As early as 1912 Rhode Island had enacted a lobbying regulation. It called for registration of lobbyists, a listing of the bill or bills with which the registrant was concerned, a post-session filing of expenses incurred during the session, and it specified penalties for violating the law. This act was obviously passed in response to national reform impulses of the Progressive