2021 RI General Assembly Open Government Rankings

See which elected officials have voted to ensure state government transparency, fair elections, and proper ethics.

Summary of Our Findings

Last fall when a not so insignificant number of progressive, open-government friendly legislators were elected to office, we expected noticeable improvement in our Open Government scores. While some of these legislators did end up at the top of the rankings, the  overall scores of the General Assembly were disappointing. In the Senate, six open government bills were allowed by leader Dominick Ruggerio to reach the floor. Of those, the Senate voted alongside Common Cause/ACLU only twice. One bill, which blocks Rhode Island residents from learning which town their police officers reside in (S-671), was supported by every member of the Senate that was present for the vote, including every member who supported police reform and transparency during their 2020 campaigns. For the House's version of this same bill, a little over 10% of members voted against it - however, as in the Senate those who campaigned for police transparency and reform all voted in favor of the bill. In total, the House Speaker let 8 out of 28 open government related bills come to the floor, and overall half of those ended up with a vote that matched CC/ACLU's position.

The implications of some open government bills are not always clear right away, leading many legislators to vote in a way they may not have if they better understood its effects and legality. For example, bill S-57 would require a special election to fill a vacancy in the office of secretary of state, attorney general or general treasurer if more than one year is left in the term of office. The bill seems pro-democracy on its face, but Common Cause RI testified that it violates the RI constitution, which spells out how the vacancy is filled. Another bill, H-6004 would entitle disabled and military voters to utilize electronically transmitted ballots. While it is common that legislators want to support the disabled and the military, Common Cause, the RI Board of Elections, and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea all came out against the bill, citing the ability for these votes to be hacked/changed without any paper trail to back up the results. Nonetheless, an overwhelming majority of the House voted in favor of the bill.

Leadership in both the House and Senate continued their tradition of blocking the most important open government bills from reaching a floor vote. Some of these bills shot down by leadership included:

  • A bill to count prisoners as residing in the town where their residence is located, rather than the prison.
  • A bill to collect data on police traffic stops.
  • A bill to make police internal affairs investigations for misconduct a public record.
  • A bill to make a fair and balanced redistricting commission to ensure districts are created without political bias.
  • A bill to repeal the state's voter id law.
  • A bill to improve public records law and better ensure compliance.

2021 By the Numbers

House

28

Open Government Bills Introduced 

8

Received a Floor Vote

4

Final Vote in Support of CC/ACLU Position

Senate

20

Open Government Bills Introduced

6

Received a Floor Vote

2

Final Vote in Support of CC/ACLU Position

How We Ranked Open Government Voting Records

We evaluated the 48 open government-related bills with assigned Senate and House bill numbers in which Common Cause of Rhode Island and the RI ACLU publicly supported or opposed during the 2021 legislative year. In past years, the Open Government Rankings solely used bills highlighted by Common Cause, however due to the very small number of these bills that reached a floor vote, we moved the ACLU's open government and elections related bills from the Civil Liberties Rankings to the Open Government Rankings.

Members were awarded a point for floor votes that supported these organization'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 CC/ACLU position, and zero points for a vote opposing the CC/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.

Senate Open Government and Ethics Rankings

Swipe left to see ratings

Excellent OK Poor

#SenatorDistScore
N/ACalkin, J30N/A
1Bell, S571
2Mack, T667
3Acosta, J1650
3Mendes, C1850
3Anderson, K3150
7Goldin, G343
7Valverde, B3543
9Seveney, J1138
10Cano, S833
10Felag, W1033
10Pearson, R1933
10Picard, R2033
10Murray, M2433
10Gallo, H2733
10Sosnowski, S3733
17Quezada, A232
18Burke, J930
18Archambault, S2230
18Lombardi, F2630
18Coyne, C3230
18Raptakis, L3330
23Goodwin, M129
23Ciccone, F729
23Lawson, V1429
23Kallman, M1529
23Paolino, T1729
23Miller, J2829
23DiMario, A3629
23Algiere, D3829
31Euer, D1327
32DiPalma, L1225
32de la Cruz, J2325
34Ruggerio, D424
35Rogers, G2122
35McCaffrey, M2922
37Morgan, E3417
38Lombardo, F2513

How We Rank

Score is the cumulative total of the Senator's floor and committee votes that support the Common Cause RI or RI ACLU position divided by the total number of votes the Representative could have participated in (committee votes were only counted if the Representative was present for the vote). We then multiply the score by 100 to create a scale from 1-100.

A minimum of 6 votes were required for a Senator to be given a total score, otherwise the Senator was given a score of N/A.

Senators with scores above 85 are considered "Excellent" open government and ethics advocates, scores between 60 - 84 are "OK", and scores below 60 are considered "Poor". The maximum possible score is 100. The lowest possible score is 0.

Bills Scored

Bills in bold taken from Common Cause RI's legislative agenda. All others taken from RI ACLU's legislative agenda. Underlined bills were opposed by these organizations (a "no" or absent floor vote is scored positively). A = Sub A)

S-57, S-60, S-122, S-125, S-141, S-181, S-334, S-336-A, S-516, S-537, H-5887, S-603-A, S-620, S-624, S-671-A, S-738, S-799, S-800, S-807, and S-860-A

House Open Government and Ethics Rankings

Swipe left to see ratings

Excellent OK Poor

#RepresentativeDistrictScore
1Place, D4773
2Serpa, P2767
2Roberts, S2967
4Kislak, R463
4Ranglin-Vassell, M563
4Costantino, G4463
4Hawkins, B5363
4Alzate, K6063
4Henries, B6463
10Fenton-Fung, B1557
11Giraldo, J5656
11Speakman, J6856
13Blazejewski, C250
13Biah, N350
13Morales, D750
13Perez, R1350
13Bennett, D2050
13Solomon, Jr., J2250
13Filippi, B3650
13Chippendale, M4050
13Quattrocchi, R4150
13Fellela, D4350
13Lima, S4950
13Tobon, C5850
13Barros, J5950
13Cassar, L6650
13Donovan, S6950
13Cortvriend, T7250
13Abney, M7350
13Ruggiero, D7450
13Carson, L7550
32Ajello, E148
32Hull, R648
34Lombardi, J844
34Batista, J1244
34Potter, B1644
34Noret, T2544
34Caldwell, J3044
34McEntee, C3344
34Fogarty, K3544
34McLaughlin, J5744
42Nardone, G2842
42Tanzi, T3442
44Felix, L6141
45Shalcross Smith, M4639
46Lima, C1438
46Baginski, J1738
46Morgan, P2638
46Price, J3938
46Cardillo, E4238
46Marszalkowski, A5238
46Messier, M6238
46Amore, G6538
46Edwards, J7038
46McGaw, M7138
56Ackerman, M4537
57Diaz, G1136
58Shanley, E2433
58Craven, R3233
58Azzinaro, S3733
58Casey, S5033
58Knight, J6733
63Newberry, B4831
64Williams, A929
64Slater, S1029
64McNamara, J1929
64Phillips, R5129
64Kazarian, K6329
69Casimiro, J3127
70Kennedy, B3826
71Handy, A1825
72Shekarchi, J2324
73O'Brien, W5421
74Vella-Wilkinson, C2120
75Corvese, A5517

How We Rank

Score is the cumulative total of the Representative's floor and committee votes that support the Common Cause RI or RI ACLU position divided by the total number of votes the Representative could have participated in (committee votes were only counted if the Representative was present for the vote). We then multiply the score by 100 to create a scale from 1-100.

A minimum of 6 votes were required for a Representative to be given a total score, otherwise the Representative was given a score of N/A.

Representatives with scores above 85 are considered "Excellent" open government and ethics advocates, scores between 60 - 84 are "OK", and scores below 60 are considered "Poor". The maximum possible score is 100. The lowest possible score is 0.

Bills Scored

Bills in bold taken from Common Cause RI's legislative agenda. All others taken from RI ACLU's legislative agenda. Underlined bills were opposed by these organizations (a "no" or absent floor vote is scored positively). H = House originated bill. S = Senate originated bill. A = Sub A.

H-5003, H-5004, H-5006, H-5007, H-5008, H-5011, H-5285, H-5289, H-5417-A, H-5600, H-5653, H-5743, H-5753, H-5859, H-5861, H-5868, H-5887, H-5889, H-5892, H-5983, H-5999, S-60, H-6003, H-6004-A, H-6009, H-6180, H-6282-A, and S-671-A