Letter: How Portsmouth tax stabilization bill came to be

Posted 6/23/16

To the editor:

Poorly drafted legislation plagues the General Assembly: including the Portsmouth Tax Stabilization bill introduced in February.

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Letter: How Portsmouth tax stabilization bill came to be

Posted

To the editor:

Poorly drafted legislation plagues the General Assembly: including the Portsmouth Tax Stabilization bill introduced in February. 

The bill (S-2268) submitted, at the request of the town, was nine sentences in total. It treated Portsmouth unlike any other community and had few limitations on the requested powers of granting tax stabilizations; was open-ended on duration; had no requirement of creating jobs; or prohibition from taking jobs from other Rhode Island communities. And, it had no requirement of authorization by the voters of Portsmouth, as required by law. For these reasons, I refused to sponsor the bill and it was submitted by others. 

The bill laid idle until earlier this month when Senate Finance heard the bill. Mr. Seveney, and others, attended and testified in support of the bill. I objected to the bill for the reasons stated above. The committee (eight Democrats and two Republicans) requested the bill be redrafted. The town produced a new version that was much better and closely resembled other similar statutes. At the same time, my research found that the vote of the electors’ language was stricken by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, but not removed from state law. With the removal of my main objection, and the revisions made, I took the draft and made further changes. 

I presented those changes to the Town Council who adopted most, only removing the language I requested prohibiting stabilization agreements on land already receiving benefits from the Farm, Forest and Open Space program. The next day I shepherded the revised bill through Senate Finance, twice more correcting drafting errors, and, two days later, I seconded the motion for approval the amended bill on the Senate floor.

My interests were always to protect the rights of the voters to authorize the legislation, and upon determining that their consent was not required, I worked with my Democratic colleagues on Senate Finance to quickly make the bill better. All the residents of Portsmouth need understand is that the original nine sentence proposed legislation ended up being 72 sentences. 

As I said last year, a state senator is a statesman, works well with others, and passes laws that treat all communities equally. Bad legislation helps no one. While I still maintain more global tax reductions better serve existing and new businesses, Portsmouth now the authority to create a tax stabilization ordinance that will hopefully attract new businesses.

Sen. John A. Pagliarini, Jr.

Tiverton

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