Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
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July 18, 2000


In accordance with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws Section 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 2000-S 2645, "An Act Relating to Public Officers and Employees."

This Act would change the longstanding "advice and consent" framework by eliminating any requirement of Senate action to reject appointments made by the Governor. Under the Act Senate rejection of cabinet directors and all other appointments by the Governor (except judicial) would take place simply by Senate inaction for thirty legislative days after the Governor notifies the Senate of the appointment.

This bill is bad government. In 1998, over my veto, the law was changed to enlarge the time within which the Senate could consider appointments from thirty calendar days to thirty legislative days {i.e., days when the Senate is in session). This allowed the Senate a prolonged multi-month window within which to vote on gubernatorial appointments. To provide now that even after this extended period the Senate need not take any action on any appointment comes dangerously close to conferring appointment power on the Senate. It does so by effectively eliminating any time limitation on Senate action at all. Since the ramification of Senate inaction would be rejection, the Senate could simply wait until a candidate of its choosing is nominated by the Governor before taking any public action to confirm.

The public deserves and expects that the Senate take a position to confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments. Public policy requires Senate consideration - including open debate and a vote - of all appointees. Refusal even to consider appointments would be grossly unfair to the many Rhode Islanders who wish to perform public service on state boards and commissions. It also has the potential of harming efforts to recruit the best and the brightest available talent.

If gubernatorial appointments are important enough to require Senate advice and consent, they are important enough to require Senate action up or down in a timely manner. Under existing law the Senate has more than ample time to provide advice and consent to appointments by the Governor. There is simply no sound policy served by allowing the rejection of a nominee through Senate inaction.

For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond