Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
2002 Veto
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June 11, 2002


In accordance with the provisions of Rhode Island General Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith with my disapproval, 2002-S 2740, Substitute B, "An Act Relating to Public Property and Works - Public-Private Redevelopment Initiative Act."

This bill would create an 1-195 Redevelopment Board which would be responsible for supervising the replanning, replotting, redevelopment and improvement of certain State-owned properties that will become available by the relocation of Interstate Route 195 and its on and off ramps. The Board is empowered to sell or lease the subject state-owned property and "execute, administer and enforce comprehensive agreements" with private entities for the redevelopment of the project area through "qualifying projects."

All land transactions entered into by the Board are exempt from the State Purchasing Act, the Management and Disposal of Property Act and the Municipal Award Act. The Board would be composed of nine (9) members: two public members to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; two public members to be appointed by the Majority Leader of the Senate; two members to be appointed by the Governor; two public members appointed by the Mayor of Providence; and one member to be appointed by the Providence Foundation.

I veto this bill on separation of powers grounds. The power to affect the disposition, whether by lease or sale, of State-owned property paid for by the taxpayers, is rightfully the province of the executive branch of government. Legislators make the law. Neither they nor their appointees should be executing the law by sitting on boards and commissions that do so, never mind mandating four legislative appointments with only two gubernatorial appointments.

This bill would also allow the Board to mandate that all applicable state and local agencies permit a "qualifying project" on an accelerated basis. In this way, the Board would have the power to alter and control the timing and tracking of the permit process for all executive agencies. This Board is another unwarranted intrusion into functions of the executive.

Tellingly, at the same time the General Assembly creates this special board to control certain State-owned property and staffs it with its own appointees, it also removes many of the safeguards already in place for the disposition of State property - safeguards that ensure that valuable state assets are not being transferred in special deals. The disposition of State property is currently governed by rules and regulations that promote the best and highest use of valuable state assets as well as integrity and accountability in the disposition process. This Board would be given the power to decide, unilaterally, to whom and under what terms the subject State-owned property shall be sold, leased or subject to a "comprehensive agreement" - completely sidestepping competitive bidding pursuant to the State Purchases Act. It removes the requirements under the present system that any suspected collusion be reported to the Attorney General. This legislation further eliminates the approval of the Department of Administration as to the substance of any transaction, and diminishes the present Attorney General role by replacing it with a nonbinding Attorney General advisory opinion requirement.

This Administration has continued to demonstrate its support for economic and civic development and the improvement of public education, public services and infrastructure. These ends are not met by a special board heavily weighted with legislators lacking sufficient controls to prevent abuse.

For all these reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond