In a meeting with constituents last night in Cranston, Rhode Island Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello gave candid answers to many questions on hot button issues. For instance, though the Speaker avoided commenting on President Donald Trump’s revocation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) when it happened, last night the Speaker stated unequivocally that, “I support DACA.”
[DACA is an Obama-era program that granted protected status to undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.]
Though I did not attend the meeting, notes taken by participants were made available to me. The Speaker was accompanied at the meeting by Deputy Director of House Policy Kristin Dart.
Here’s a breakdown of the meeting:
On minimum wage, Mattiello is working to bring $15 in five years for healthcare and home-care workers. As for the rest of the low-wage workers in the state, the Speaker doesn’t want to chase businesses out of state or give businesses a reason to replace jobs with automation. The Speaker noted that if neighboring states raised their minimum wage to $15, he would be more inclined to follow suit.
The Speaker believes that climate change is real, but worries that drastic restrictions on businesses, implemented to combat the problem, might drive them out of state.
The Speaker will not go on record about abortion rights and codifying Roe v Wade until the ruling is overturned by the United States Supreme Court. Mattiello noted that any time bills have been introduced to limit Roe v Wade, the legislation has gone nowhere. He also expressed a worry that taking too strong a stand on the issue now might galvanize opposition to Roe v Wade in the state, ironically causing the very problem proponents of choice are trying to prevent.
The Speaker does not support raising taxes on those who earn over $250,000 a year to fund health care and education for fear of losing such people to other states. Mattiello feels that Rhode Island is too small and that we already struggle to keep wealthy business owners living in state.
On the PawSox deal, Mattiello said that he was undecided and asked those in the room for their opinion on whether tax money should be spent on the stadium. The room was split on public moneys being used to build the stadium.
On guns, the Speaker does not support an assault weapon ban or a ban on large capacity ammunition magazines. Mattiello said he will not take away a constitutional right from a law abiding citizen. Bad guys, said the Speaker, make their own high capacity magazines if they need to. Though he supported the recently passed bill taking guns away from domestic abusers, the Speaker indicated that taking guns away for misdemeanors was possibly excessive. He is very supportive of victim’s rights though, and that seems to have swayed his perspective.