2021 RI General Assembly Civil Liberties Rankings

See which elected officials have voted to protect your rights and civil liberties here in Rhode Island

Summary of Our Findings

This year's Civil Liberties Rankings showed remarkable improvement over 2020. While not a single legislator scored above 62 in last year's rankings, an overwhelming majority did so this time around with several legislators scoring into the 90s. Nearly every legislator improved on their 2020 scores, and newly-elected progressive members delivered on their campaign promises of improved civil liberties, taking 4 of the top 6 spots in the Senate, with their counterparts in the House all achieving "excellent" overall scores.  Surprisingly, the most conservative members of the General Assembly, who consistently campaign on a pro-civil liberties message, performed poorly in relation to the overall body.

While a slight majority of civil liberties legislation introduced in the Senate made it to a floor vote this year, leadership in that chamber continued to thwart many important bills, including:

  • A bill to end the state's use of private prisons.
  • Multiple bills to curtail or end the controversial Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.
  • A bill to prohibit questioning of a juvenile who is suspected of delinquent or criminal behavior without their parent present.
  • A bill to significantly curtail civil forfeiture (a practice that permits police departments to steal a suspect's possessions regardless of guilt). 
  • A bill to decriminalize sex work.
  • A bill to include abortion coverage in the state's Medicaid program.

In the House, leadership put civil liberties in the back seat with just 22 of 78 bills being allowed a floor vote.  Though the majority of the bills that did make it to the floor ended up favoring the RI ACLU's position, a substantial number of important bills were killed by the Speaker. Besides nearly-identical House companion bills to those listed above, the House also refused a floor vote on these important bills:

  • A bill to allow the expungement of crimes that have been decriminalized since they were committed.
  • A bill to permit the release of a person charged with a misdemeanor without having to post cash bail.
  • A bill that requires the GA to tally the prison costs associated with any new law that includes incarceration.
  • A bill to reclassify simply possession of any prohibited drug as a misdemeanor. 
  • A bill that repeals the law that declares a person serving a life sentence civilly dead.
  • A bill to create a statewide body camera program for all police departments.
  • A bill to require net neutrality principles by internet service providers.
  • A bill to provide driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
  • A bill to prevent police departments from interfering with cellular communication using Stingray devices.

2021 By the Numbers

House

78

Civil Liberties Bills Introduced 

22

Received a Floor Vote

20

Final Vote in Support of RI ACLU Position

Senate

48

Civil Liberties Bills Introduced

25

Received a Floor Vote

19

Final Vote in Support of RI ACLU Position

How We Ranked Civil Liberties Voting Records

We evaluated the 126 civil liberties-related bills with assigned Senate and House bill numbers in which the RI ACLU publicly supported or opposed during the 2021 legislative year.

Members were awarded a point for floor votes that supported RI ACLU's position, and zero points if they opposed their position, abstained, or were absent from the vote. If a member recused themselves due to a conflict of interest, the bill was not counted on their record. Those serving on committees that voted on an applicable bill were awarded a point for a vote that aligned with the ACLU position, and zero points for a vote opposing the ACLU position. An absence or abstaining from a committee vote was not counted at all, since legislators are more likely to miss committee votes than floor votes due to outside obligations.

If a committee voted to hold an applicable bill for further study, and it was never taken up again in that session, the bill is considered dead and all members of the committee that voted to hold it for further study were recorded as opposing the bill.

Senate Civil Liberties Rankings

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Excellent OK Poor

#SenatorDistScoreCivil RightsCriminal Justice1st AmndPrivacy RightsWorker & Student Rights
16Goodwin, M17386712567100
30Quezada, A2589346293375
13Goldin, G3758871606783
28Ruggerio, D4619446334475
4Bell, S5831007125100100
2Mack, T6851007160100100
21Ciccone, F77110071206783
16Cano, S87310071256778
32Burke, J9579442253386
8Felag, W1076100712567100
16Seveney, J117310071256778
16DiPalma, L127310071256778
26Euer, D136588583333100
8Lawson, V1476100712567100
7Kallman, M1577100714067100
6Acosta, J1680100715067100
25Paolino, T17666371257578
1Mendes, C18881007175100100
21Pearson, R19718671256786
23Picard, R2070100713333100
36Rogers, G21496046431780
32Archambault, S225781462933100
30de la Cruz, J23587060603357
8Murray, M2476100712567100
27Lombardo, F25645771406783
32Lombardi, F26578846253386
14Gallo, H277410071406778
5Miller, J2882100715080100
14McCaffrey, M2974100712550100
N/ACalkin, J30N/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
3Anderson, K31841007150100100
28Coyne, C326194463333100
32Raptakis, L335773465033100
37Morgan, E34381443206775
8Valverde, B3576100712567100
8DiMario, A3676100712567100
20Sosnowski, S377210071336783
24Algiere, D386886712533100

How We Rank

Score is the percentage of the senator's floor and committee votes that supported the RI ACLU position (committee votes were only counted if the senator was present for the vote).

A minimum of 3 votes were required per category and 6 votes were required in total for a senator to be given a total score, otherwise the senator was given a score of N/A.

Senators with scores above 80 are considered "Excellent" civil liberties advocates, scores between 50 - 79 are "OK", and scores below 50 are considered "Poor". The maximum possible score is 100. The lowest possible score is 0.

Bills Scored

All bills are taken from the RI ACLU's legislative agenda, in which they lobbied for or against each piece of legislation. Underlined bills were opposed by the ACLU (a "no" or absent floor vote is scored positively). A = Sub A

Civil Rights
S-3A, S14-B, S-190A, S-539, S-561, S-563, S-645, S-664, S-669, S-755, and S-990

Criminal Justice
S-251, S-309, S-333, S-393, S-399, S-505, S-518, S-536, S-541, S-670, S-729, S-732, S-771, S-773, S-797, S-865, S-954, and S-1001

1st Amendment
S-196, S-342A, S-404, S-502A, and S-803

Privacy
S-16B, S-62A, S-267, S-421, S-495A, and S-775

Worker & Student Rights
S-32, S-86, S-152, S-205, S-270A, S-323, S-456, and S-936

House Civil Liberties Rankings

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Excellent OK Poor

#RepresentativeDistScoreCivil RightsCriminal Justice1st AmndPrivacy RightsWorker & Student Rights
1Lima, S4994100100N/A80100
2Blazejewski, C293100100N/A80100
2Potter, B1693100100N/A80100
2Solomon, Jr., J2293100100N/A80100
5Fogarty, K359110091N/A80100
5Speakman, J689110091N/A80100
7Kislak, R48992100N/A8089
7Ackerman, M458910092N/A73100
9Morales, D788100100N/A8083
9McLaughlin, J578810091N/A8086
9Donovan, S69889391N/A8091
12Giraldo, J56879291N/A8091
12Carson, L7587100100N/A8083
14Williams, A986100100N/A8070
14Cardillo, E4286100100N/A8070
14Phillips, R518683100N/A8089
14Kazarian, K6386100100N/A8070
18Fellela, D4385100100N/A8070
18Hawkins, B538510088N/A6088
18Henries, B6485100100N/A8070
18McGaw, M718510090N/A6783
18Abney, M73859290N/A67100
23Biah, N3848382N/A8990
24Ranglin-Vassell, M5837386N/A100100
24Lima, C14839086N/A6083
24Fenton-Fung, B158382100N/A8078
24McNamara, J198392100N/A8071
24Shallcross Smith, M46839291N/A6780
24Casey, S508310092N/A7073
24Cortvriend, T7283100100N/A6083
31Slater, S10829180N/A67100
31Marszalkowski, A52829290N/A50100
31Cassar, L66829180N/A8083
34Shanley, E248110090N/A5083
34Kennedy, B388110091N/A6771
34Ruggiero, D74819290N/A6783
37O'Brien, W54808382N/A6780
38Hull, R6798682N/A7183
38Serpa, P27799075N/A8080
38Azzinaro, S377910080N/A5686
38Amore, G65798690336780
42Baginski, J17788575N/A67100
42Tanzi, T34789190N/A6771
42Alzate, K607877866710069
42Messier, M627810080336770
42Edwards, J70789390N/A5067
47Diaz, G11747580N/A50100
48Handy, A18729078N/A5760
48Barros, J59728680N/A5063
50Nardone, G28706969N/A7183
51Newberry, B48697380N/A6764
52Filippi, B36686071N/A60100
52Knight, J676810050605671
54Price, J39674271N/A100100
55Bennett, D20669147605888
55Tobon, C58667570N/A6067
57Ajello, E1649047805071
57Lombardi, J8649044605683
57Shekarchi, J23648354635663
57Caldwell, J30648646605670
57Place, D476440783367100
62Casimiro, J31638541606783
62McEntee, C33639044675664
64Quattrocchi, R41625860N/A50100
65Batista, J12618642806367
65Chippendale, M40617063N/A6067
67Noret, T25608641673378
67Craven, R32609044604457
69Vella-Wilkinson, C21598643603083
70Roberts, S29573571256473
70Felix, L61577140756071
72Perez, R13548043N/A4040
72Corvese, A55549038603050
74Morgan, P26493056N/A7833
75Costantino, G44466043N/A2040

How We Rank

Score is the percentage of the representative's floor and committee votes that supported the RI ACLU position (committee votes were only counted if the representative was present for the vote).

A minimum of 3 votes were required per category and 6 votes were required in total for a representative to be given a total score, otherwise the representative was given a score of N/A.

Representatives with scores above 80 are considered "Excellent" civil liberties advocates, scores between 50 - 79 are "OK", and scores below 50 are considered "Poor". The maximum possible score is 100. The lowest possible score is 0.

Bills Scored

All bills are taken from the RI ACLU's legislative agenda, in which they lobbied for or against each piece of legislation. Underlined bills were opposed by the ACLU (a "no" or absent floor vote is scored positively). A = Sub A

Civil Rights
S-3A, S-14B, S-561, H-5034A, H-5037/H-5582, H-5224A, H-5238, H-5257, H-5305, H-5552, H-5579, H-5605, H-5652, H-5699, H-5763, H-5865, H-5868, H-5996, H-6215, and H-6222A

Criminal Justice
H-5040, H-5083A, H-5103, H-5140, H-5144, H-5245A, H-5250A, H-5270A, H-5291, H-5307, H-5312, H-5367, H-5384, H-5390, H-5397, H-5599, H-5613, H-5617, H-5748, H-5749, H-5845, H-5859, H-5860, H-5875, H-5880, H-6029, H-6104, H-6122A/S-13, H-6152, H-6153, H-6154, and H-6438

1st Amendment
H-5001, H-5054, H-5614A, H-6070, H-6147A, H-6269, and H-6352

Privacy
S-16B, S-495A, H-5021, H-5245, H-5370A, H-5572, H-5734, H-5787, H-5866, H-5869, and H-6210A

Worker & Student Rights
S-86A, H-5079A, H-5083A, H-5234, H-5262, H-5261A, H-5263, H-5266, H-5354, H-5421, H-5467, H-5473, H-5700, and H-5827A