For example: Last night, All In with Chris Hayes (incidentally, a fantastic show) displayed a map showing the states that with photo ID laws in effect and the states where laws are going into effect in upcoming elections. Rhode Island was missing. We should have been on the list of states with photo ID beginning in future elections.
Hayes attributes the information to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but the NCSL confirms what we already know–the photo ID portion of the Ocean State’s voter ID law phases in in 2014.
According to legislative spokesman LarryBerman, the 2012 non-photo voter ID rules will apply in Woonsocket’s November election, but the 2014 election will require a photo ID unless the General Assembly repeals the law during the 2014 session.
To be honest, I have a lot of sympathy for Hayes and his team. In the midst of working flat out to deliver some truly stunning reporting on the government shutdown, I can understand how All In might not think to check whether a deep blue state like Rhode Island would have passed such a Republican law.
Also understandable is Rachel Maddow’s April segment on gun control in Rhode Island:
Nine bills that include a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and improving the reporting of mental health information to the state’s background check systems. It’s fairly comprehensive package, these nine bills.
Now, in terms of whether or not this fifth state is likely to pass the legislation they’re considering, it may helpful (sic) to consider the partisan background of what the legislature looks like in Rhode Island.
Yes, do not adjust your television sets. It really is that lopsided. There are eight Republicans for the 29 Democrats in the state Senate. And there are six Republicans for the 69 Democrats in the statehouse. Wow.
Rhode Island will have a debate over these measures and some may be changed by virtue of the debate, but this partisan breakdown in the state means these measures will likely pass.
Maddow’s bold prediction was wrong. The bills failed spectacularly. The assault weapons ban and even the patch that would have closed a loophole that helps minors access guns never even got a vote. The only bills that moved were two token bills to increase penalties for having a stolen gun or a gun with the serial numbers shaved off and a third to set up a study commission. As tea party Rep Doreen Costa (R-North Kingstown) said in her floor speech on the bills that did move, “we’re all really happy.”
Maddow’s prediction was not so absurd. In any other state, she would have been completely correct. But not in Rhode Island, where the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the House Majority Leader, and the Senate Majority Leader–all Democrats–have each taken thousands of dollars from the NRA. And I believe those contributions were illegal. (The Board of Elections is still deliberating on my complaint.) As Doreen Costa put it, Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence) was “very, very kind to us gun folks.”
See Costa’s speech here:
I should note that there are two small errors in Maddow’s piece. Her party numbers for the Senate seem to be the old breakdown from before the 2012 election, with the one Independent left out for some reason. The second error had to do with the package itself. There was no bill to fix mental health information reporting in the package. Instead, there was a bill to set up a committee to think about maybe putting in a bill to do the reporting. It’s a pretty important difference.
I hope MSNBC will issue a correction. But what I really want is for them to cover the real story, the story of right-wingers taking over the Rhode Island Democratic Party.