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Common Cause Rhode Island Timeline

Common Cause Rhode Island has played key roles in passage of many constitutional amendments (in red) that transformed all three branches of Rhode Island‘s state government and have strengthened the foundation of representative democracy.  Common Cause also worked with many organizations and coalitions to win passage of laws that make Rhode Island government more open and accountable to the people.

1970 The Rhode Island chapter of Common Cause was founded by Rhode Island businessperson Natalie C. Joslin.

1986 Create one of the strongest ethics commissions in the nation.

19892002 Improve voter registration and other election procedures.

19912006 Prohibit nepotism by government officials.

1991 End “revolving door” jobs for state appointed and elected officials.

1992 Strengthen the executive branch through four-year terms for statewide general officers.

1992 Reform campaign contribution disclosure and limits.

19922002 Make the process of legislative redistricting more open and accountable to the public.

1994 Establish an open system for merit selection of state judges.

1994 Modernize and downsize the General Assembly.

1994 Create online access to legislative information.

1995 Protect citzens from SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) when they petition government.

1998 Strengthen public access to government meetings and records.

2001 Require online filing and disclosure of campaign finance reports (fully operational.

2004 Establish separation of powers that ends long-standing legislative control of executive boards.

2004 Establish stringent new disclosure requirements for lobbyists.

2005-2006 Repeal or reconstruct 65 public or quasi-public boards to comply with the 2004 Separation of Powers Amendment.

2006 End “revolving door” jobs for municipal elected officials.

2006 Close the loopholes and gaps in reporting by public officials, lobbyists, and state vendors.

2006 Secure a new ballot advocacy process that allows grassroots groups to campaign for or against referenda.

2006 Create a new ballot advocacy process that enables grassroots groups to campaign for or against referenda.

2009 Provide for a special election in the instance of a vacancy for U.S. Senate.

2009 Allow 16 & 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote if they will be 18 by Election Day.

2012 Update the state’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA) to include a balancing test based on the federal Freedom of Information Act.

2012 Create a new regimen for disclosure of independent expenditures in elections post Citizens United.

2012 Require disclosure of travel by public official paid for by third-parties.

2012 Amend Providence City Charter to include more open redistricting and reapportionment process.

2013 Create online video of General Assembly sessions and committee hearings.

2014 Eliminate use of the “master lever” on the ballot.

2014 Negotiate the first People’s Pledge to reduce outside spending during the Democratic primary for governor.

2016 Restore the full jurisdiction of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission over members of the General Assembly.

2016 Enact legislation to create a system for online voter registration and to join the Electronic Registration Information Clearinghouse (ERIC).

2016 Rewrite the entire executive and legislative lobbying statutes to make them clearer and more easily enforced.

2017 Create a system for automatic voter registration at the DMV and other state agencies.

2017-2020 Pass and implement legislation requiring Rhode Island to require risk-limiting election audits.

2020 Litigate successfully to lift barriers to voting by mail during the pandemic.

2018-2021 Led efforts to create and run Rhode Island’s first statewide Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census.

2022 Led coalition effort to pass the Let RI Vote Act, the largest expansion of voting rights in Rhode Island in a generation.



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