Social action groups urge Assembly to return for veto override session

// Published December 1, 2008 in The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE -- Several organizations -- including DARE, Environment RI, FairVote RI, RI Jobs with Justice and Ocean State Action -- will have a news conference at the State House on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to return for a veto override session before time runs out.

All of the groups had backed bills that were passed by the House and Senate and then vetoed by Governor Carcieri.

One would have eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for drug-crimes. Another would have automatically erased the criminal records of people after they have served out a suspended sentences after pleading guilty to a crime. Another would have allowed 16-year-olds to preregister to vote and for Rhode Island to join other states seeking to elect future president by popular vote, instead of the electoral college.

Some were pitched as money-saving measures for a state in a financial crisis.

In a statement this afternoon, the coalition described the bill to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences -- and another to free probation violators who are acquitted of the alleged violation -- as ways to save money and "restore justice to innocent people.''

"We are aware that Senate and House leaders have meetings scheduled this week to talk about RI's fiscal crisis. The high unemployment rates facing our state along with the budgetary shortfalls make it imperative that the legislature pass these bills," said Sara Mersha, executive director of DARE.