The testimony on Cale Keable’s bill, H8240, which if passed will give voters in Burrillville the ability to approve or reject any tax treaty with potential power plants in their town, pitted town residents and environmental activists against business and labor concerns. In all 56 people testified on the bill during the five hours of testimony, 43 in favor and 13 in opposition.
Below is all the testimony, in order, separated by speaker.
01 Representative Cale Keable, who represents Burrillville, introduced the bill.
02 Jeremy Bailey, Burrillville resident
03 Lenette F. Boisselle, representing the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, opposes the bill. Earlier in the day, Loiselle was at the Kirkbrae Country Club for the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce breakfest. At that event, all the questions for guest speaker John Niland, director of development for Invenergy, the company that wants to build the power plant in Burrillville, were submitted in writing. It was Boiselle who carefully sorted the questions, allowing Niland to only answer softball questions.
Boiselle took some tough questions regarding her opposition to the bill. The Chamber of Commerce, says Boiselle, “has a history of opposing any type of referendum… as a fundamental principle, the Chamber of Commerce believes that these types of issues are extremely complicated, that’s why we elect people to be in a position to be able to take the time to study the pros and the cons and determine whats in the best interest of whether it be the town or whether it be the state.”
Boiselle said that the Chamber has “no position on the power plant one way or another” and that if this bill is passed, whoever spends the most amount of money to advertise their positions will likely win.
The legislation, said Boiselle, in response to a question from Representative Michael Marcello, “could kill [a project] just by making it wait” until the next general election for the voters to decide.
Representative John Lombardi asked “what would be wrong with the town and the council having the last say in this. Is there a problem with that? You say you oppose that?”
Boiselle said that the time it takes to understand the pros and cons of complex issues is too great for voters. That’s why we elect representatives.
“I think its always good to engage the people,” said Lombardi.”It’s supposed to be a representative government, but sometimes it doesn’t end up that way. They don’t seak on the behalf of the people. I think this is a good process.”
“I’m just curious,” asked Representative Aaron Regunberg, “Money plays a big role in pretty much every election, do you think we shouldn’t have any elections?”
04 Jerry Elmer, senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation is strongly in favor of the bill.
05 Mike Ryan of National Grid opposes the bill, at least in part. They have no position on the part of the bill concerning voter approval of negotiated tax treaties.
06 Meg Kerr, of the Audubon Society, is for the bill.
07 Elizabeth Suever representing the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill. She seems to think that granting more democracy to Burrillville might make other municipalities want more democracy as well, which may slow down growth. Of course, Suever never uses the word democracy, because that would make her argument sound anti-American.
08 Paul Bolduc is a Burrillville resident.
09 Greg Mancini – Build RI
10 Paul Beaudette – Environmental Council of RI
11 Michael Sabitoni -Building Trades Council
12 Lynn Clark
13 Scott Duhamel – Building Trades
14 Peter Nightingale – Fossil Free RI
15 Roy Coulombe – Building Trades
16 Adam Lupino – Laborers of NE
18 Paul McDonald – Providence Central Labor Council
19 Paul Lefebvre
20 George Nee AFL-CIO
21 Jan Luby
22 Richard Sinapi – NE Mechanical Contractors Association
24 Doug Gablinske Tech RI, The Energy Council