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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Rep. Justin Price steps in it

Price’s outhouse bill creates shit-storm
By Will Collette

Image result for Rep. Justin PriceRep. Justin Price (R-Hopkinton) may well be the General Assembly’s most far rightwing member. 

He has reliably brought the fringe right agenda into the State House pushing conspiracies such as “chem-trails” and calling statewide planning a communist plot

He opposes mandatory vaccination, taking guns away from domestic abusers, LGBT rights, and animal protection.

He has publicly praised the domestic terrorist Three Percenter movement. He proposed legislation to allow motorists to kill protesters if they block traffic.

Given Price’s reputation as a right-wing nut, there was notable surprise when he introduced legislation to eliminate outhouses from Rhode Island’s backyards. His lead co-sponsor was leading liberal environmental activist Rep. Art Handy (D-Cranston) who chairs the House Environment Committee.

Has Price gone soft, some wondered? Who would have expected a guy like Price to want to actively promote indoor plumbing? Who would have ever expected Price to work with a pinko like Art Handy.

Image result for outhouse
Price told the Providence Journal he introduced the bill because of the experience of a young Warwick couple who moved to Exeter, which is part of Price’s district, to raise chickens and goats. 

Apparently, their next door neighbor still used an outhouse and they didn’t like the smell.

I can’t say that I blame them, but I’m surprised the smell of the chickens and goats didn’t at least partly mask the odor of the outhouse.

Anyway, Price introduced the bill to end the use of outhouses by 2019, calling for them to be plugged and filled and for the surface structure to be removed.

In the hierarchy of bad waste management practices, outhouses rank below the odious cesspools that were banned through the efforts of our former state Representative Donna Walsh.

But, as it turned out, Price’s anti-outhouse bill stirred up a shitstorm.

Publicly, there was some dotty opposition from people who thought outhouses represented a part of our history that ought to be preserved. 

The most prominent opponent is self-described “Queen of Outhouses” Virginia Williams, wife of retired RI Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams.

She told the Providence Journal:
"That would break my heart to see outhouses destroyed. I started photographing them years ago, in the ’80s, because it is an important part of our history and vernacular architecture.″
Price’s bill would have allowed outhouses to remain on historic properties provided they are non-functional and for display only.

Price’s bill was supposed to come up for a public hearing on March 15. But before that hearing could take place, Price withdrew the legislation, saying in an e-mail statement “The bill has been removed because this should be addressed by local municipalities, not the state” something he apparently didn't think of when he introduced the bill.

So now we are left with unanswered questions. Did someone tell Price that Swamp Yankees like their outhouses? Was Price told that he made a big mistake siding with those carpetbaggers from Warwick against an Exeter local?

Was Price paid off by the national outhouse lobby? After all, here's his motto as it appears on his official website:

As Sarah Palin loves to say, "You betcha."

Price has got to be worried that the stink surrounding this debacle won’t go away before the November election.