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Monday, June 27, 2022

Shakeup coming for South County General Assembly representation

Decisions by Republican leaders Algiere and Filippi make up-coming election more intriguing

By Will Collette

Blake, in bovine bliss
Generally, legislative elections in South County don’t produce a lot of surprises. Legislators tend to get elected and stick around for a while.

The last major surprise came with the 2014 right-wing coup that saw Rep. Donna Walsh, Rep. Larry Valencia and Sen. Cathy Cool Rumsey lose to a trio of Trumplicans Blake “Flip” Filippi, Justin Price and Sen. Elaine Morgan.

Eight years later, Filippi is not running for re-election. Neither is Westerly Republican and
Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere, a 22-year State House veteran. Justin Price will hopefully receive his well-deserved visit from the FBI for his role in the January 6 storming of the Capitol. And I think three time’s the charm for Democrat Jennifer Douglas to take out right-wing nut Elaine Morgan.

Elaine Morgan, addressing gun nuts
The deadline for filing Declarations of Candidacy is 4 PM Wednesday. After that, we will know exactly who is officially seeking a place on the ballot and who is not.

Meanwhile, we can take a look at who produced for their constituents in the 2022 General Assembly session taken from the General Assembly’s legislative data base HERE.

This legislative session produced lots of media coverage for Blake “Flip” Filippi but no actual legislative achievements. That’s been the story of Flip’s eight years in the House.

Of a total of 15 bills he introduced, he managed to get three bills passed for the Block Island Town Council as well as H-8311 that will “exempt from taxation the real and tangible personal property of Manissean Tribal Council, a Rhode Island nonprofit corporation.” 

The tribe is indigenous to Block Island. It is not federally recognized and does not appear to have any major assets and reports revenue of less than $50,000. There is no property listed in their name on the tax assessor's database.

In addition to botching the shoreline access bill, Flip again failed to advance Charlestown’s bills to give it authority to regulate mining and blasting. Flip ends his legislative career as he began it: promising but failing to deliver on rogue quarries like the infamous Copar Quarry.

Sen. Dennis Algiere wrapped up his career by introducing only 7 bills, of which three (all on behalf of the Westerly Town Council) passed.

Sen. Elaine Morgan (R-nut) who represents northern Charlestown and a large swath of South County had a spectacular failure rate. She introduced 14 bills and lost them all.

Rep. Justin Price (R-armed militia) who’s district is adjacent to Charlestown introduced 6 bills. All of them lost except for a resolution of condolences over the death of gun nut and former Representative for the same district Frank Maher.

At this writing, it looks like both Filippi and Algiere will be replaced by Democratic women. Tina Spears of Charlestown is Flip’s likely successor and Dennis Algiere will probably be replaced either by Victoria Gu of Charlestown or Sharon Ahern of Westerly. I have heard a Republican has filed a Declaration of Candacy to replace Filippi.

If you want to see what productivity looks like, just look across to South Kingstown and check out the track record of its all-woman legislative team. I do acknowledge that both Flip Filippi and Dennis Algiere represent a small chunk of South Kingstown’s southwest corner but they have contributed nothing so I am not including them.

Senators Sue Sosnowski, Bridget Valverde and Alana DiMario and state Representatives Teresa Tanzi, Carol Hagan McEntee and Kathy Fogarty, in total introduced over 170 pieces of legislation, not counting resolutions. Of those, 71 bills passed. While some of these were municipal bills requested by town councils, most were substantive, such as Teresa Tanzi’s two gun control bills.

Delegation dean Sue Sosnowski was the prime sponsor of 42 bills, with 22 passing, many significant environmental laws.

On several bills, the SK delegation teamed up. For example, Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) and Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown).that would make it easier for senior citizens to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee and Sen. Alana M. DiMario teamed up to get new legislation passed that increases the age of children who are able to utilize recorded forensic interviews when testifying before grand juries in cases of child sexual abuse.

If you take the time to look at the records of each of these women, you can see for yourself the depth and breadth of the issues they took on. Then take a look at the records for Justin Price, Elaine Morgan and the departing Flip Filippi.

Anyone who thinks that party doesn’t make a difference just isn’t paying attention.