FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 17, 2020
The Womxn Project is leading an effort with a robust set of organizations to ensure that the General Assembly updates procedures to ensure safe, open, and accessible public participation.
(Providence, RI) – Statement by Jocelyn Foye, The Womxn Project, on an effort to urge the General Assembly to develop specific policies and procedures to improve openness, accessibility, and transparency in the legislative process:
“Through The Womxn Project’s experience mobilizing Rhode Islanders to engage their legislators at the State House, we have observed first hand the barriers to access many Rhode Islanders face when engaging in the legislative process. The pandemic has only compounded these barriers.
The Womxn Project is proud to bring together a diverse and robust set of organizations to call on ALL members of the General Assembly to update their processes and procedures in order to ensure an open and accessible process that comports with public health safety measures when the 2021 General Assembly convenes.
Every Rhode Islander has had to rethink how they live their lives and to adapt to the pandemic’s challenges—juggling education, work, healthcare, and familial responsibilities. Some have had the luxury to work remotely while others have had to face the daily risk of in-person, public-facing work due to their work being classified as essential.
The public bodies that govern our state—from city and town councils and school committees, to state boards and commissions—have found ways to continue their work while maintaining openness, accessibility, and transparency. The General Assembly can learn from these Rhode Island public bodies as well as other state legislatures around the nation that have continued to meet and serve the public during the pandemic. Is not governing as essential as educating children, delivering mail, and stocking grocery shelves? In light of public health concerns, the General Assembly must rethink and adapt its approach to legislating.
We have the opportunity and the obligation to reimagine how participatory democracy works in our state. Now is the time to ensure the legislative process is inclusive of all voices, and that the people who are the most marginalized – Black, Indigenous, and people of color, disabled people, low-income families, immigrants – are centered in these discussions about how the General Assembly should conduct business.
We cannot dismantle systematic and institutional racism if we exclude people from the legislative process. Current legislative processes do just that. We must use this extraordinary moment in our history to rethink how our institutions function and make them better to meet the needs we have now and improve participation and engagement in the future.
We have come together to make sure that rather than just using the pandemic as an excuse to rush legislative work and carry out big decisions with little or no public input that our lawmakers work now to create a plan that allows for meeting and public engagement of the General Assembly while following public health guidelines.
The legislative process will be improved with more voices and engagement, and Rhode Islanders will benefit from a more open, accessible, and transparent process.”
The list of organizations joining this call to action continues to grow.
- Anti-Racist CPSED
- ARISE (Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education)
- Black Lives Matter RI PAC
- Brown College Democrats
- Carpenters Local Union 330
- Chapel Street UCC
- Coalition for a Multilingual Rhode Island
- Coyote RI
- DARE (Direct Action for Rights & Equality)
- Feinstein Institute for Public Service
- Formerly Incarcerated Union of Rhode Island
- Gen Z: We Want to Live
- Humanists Of Rhode Island
- LGBTQ Action RI
- Mental Health Recovery Coalition of RI (MHRC-RI)
- North Kingstown Neighborhood Action for Black Lives
- Our Journ3i
- Our Revolution RI
- Parents Leading for Educational Equity
- Physicians for a National Health Program – RI Chapter
- Reclaim Rhode Island
- Refugee Dream Center
- Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement
- Rhode Island Democratic Party LGBTQ+ Caucus
- Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus
- Rhode Island Healthcare Access and Affordability Partnership
- Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty
- Rhode Island State Council of Churches
- Rhode Island Wellness Society
- Sierra Club of Rhode Island
- SISTA FIRE
- South County Huddle
- Sunrise Providence
- Swing Left Rhode Island
- The Womxn Project
- UUCSC (Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County)
- Women’s Fund of Rhode Island
Jocelyn Foye and other TWP leaders are available for an interview upon request.