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Speaker Says Lottery Commission Exempt from Separation of Powers (posted December 12, 2004)

Rhode Island House Speaker William Murphy says that legislative representation on the Lottery Commission is exempt from the recently passed voter referendum mandating separation of powers in state government. Appearing on the WPRI-TV show "Newsmakers" with Jack White and Scott MacKay, Murphy indicated that "it is my feeling that the Lottery Commission should have representation from the House and Senate." When asked why lawmakers had a right to stay on this board despite the voter action removing legislators from boards and commissions, Murphy explained "the Constitution is pretty clear that the General Assembly controls lotteries." If this position is upheld by the state judiciary, lawmakers will be allowed to remain on the Lottery Commission and control that revenue-generating function. Currently, legislators have a majority of seats on the Lottery Commission.

Senate President Joseph Montalbano appeared with Murphy on this show and extended Murphy's argument to the Judicial Nominating Commission. According to Montalbano's interpretation of state statutes, the General Assembly has a role to play on this commission. Murphy said he did not know what the governor's position was on lawmakers retaining seats on the Lottery Commission and other state boards and had not discussed the issue with him.

In other news, the Speaker expressed confidence that he held votes "in the mid-40s" in his race to retain the Speakership. Thirty-eight votes are required in the 75 person chamber to be elected Speaker. Murphy is being challenged by Representative John DeSimone for the speaker's position.

Both Murphy and Senate President Joseph Montalbano said they expected issues other than the casino to dominate the 2005 session. According to Murphy, "it will not be the number one priority on the House side." And Montalbano indicated that "I am not sure the General Assembly will spend as much time debating that issue."
Copyright 2000 Karen Martin Media Services