The Womxn Project (TWP) is a statewide organization focused on building a strong, feminist and community organizing based movement working to further the human rights of Rhode Islanders. We harness the power of art and activism to identify and meet the needs of womxn and families in our state and work to advance social, cultural and policy change
We are writing to strongly urge you to oppose the House rules bill, which includes a proposal that purports to address issues of sexual harassment. We need to look at how to develop not only a policy for independent investigation, but also how true accountability will be created and the overall culture improved.
This is about making sure that the rooms of our homes, our public squares and the halls of power in our state – the place where our lives are lived and the policies are made that impact our lives – are not places where harm is done to women or to anyone. This is about making sure that the contributions and the expertise of women are not erased because they were scared or shamed into silence or pushed out of opportunities if they dared to speak out. We need to ensure we are doing all we can to dismantle a culture where violence is done by people with power and authority.
In addition to ensuring a thoughtful and intentional response based on best practices when it comes to allegations of harassment, we are also concerned that the proposed rules do not do enough to make sure that the process within the House allows for robust debate and full consideration of all proposals. We should make sure that power is not so centralized that the opinions and political stances of only a small group of people are truly given the opportunity to be heard and advanced.
There is work that can be and should be done to reform the operations within the General Assembly and the House rules. We believe this should focus on requests by lawmakers to ensure that their bills get a real chance, as well as any ongoing efforts to make sure that the process is more accessible to the general public.
We support the Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus in their proposals that the rules be changed to allow for:
- 48 hours notice of all amendments
- Bills to stay alive for two years of session
- 2/3rds vote (and no unanimous consent) to suspend the rules
- Discharge petition can be walked around the floor by sponsor for signature
By supporting these very reasonable changes to the rules, we are taking important first steps. We urge you to support these recommendations and to continue to strive for a more fair and open process. Thank you.
Submitted by: The Womxn Project (TWP), PO Box 335, Wakefield, RI 02880, [email protected]