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Transparent and Effective Government is Good For Business

By Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea

After weathering a prolonged and challenging recession, Rhode Island is poised to enter a new era of economic growth and opportunity. As I speak with small business owners across the state, from Bristol to Burrillville, I hear a renewed sense of optimism and confidence that we are finally turning the corner. Business owners also tell me that they want their government to run effectively and transparently, and that it offers a level playing field for everyone. That is why I have made reforming our lobbying system a top priority.

Rhode Island’s current lobbying laws are well-intentioned, but lack the clarity that’s needed for compliance and enforcement. Furthermore, our lobbying laws need reasonable penalties to deter improper activity and the authority to enforce the law.

Earlier this month, I presented legislation that will strengthen and clarify Rhode Island’s confusing and cumbersome lobbying laws while ensuring full transparency in government. The Lobbying Reform Act of 2015 (S 904 and H 6178) will accomplish this by clarifying the definitions of lobbyist and lobbying.

For example, a business owner who goes to the State House to represent her or his own company’s interests at a legislative hearing or at an executive agency meeting will not be considered a lobbyist. However, if the business owner hires an attorney or consultant to lobby regarding a proposal, that

company’s lobbyist needs to register that relationship, and the contract’s value, with the Department of State within 7 days. This makes it clear that anyone who is being paid to lobby or who is the engaged representative of another person must register as a lobbyist.

The legislation was developed with input from a diverse task force of experts and citizen advocates. It replaces existing legislative- and executive-branch lobbying statutes with a single comprehensive statute. This enables us to simplify the reporting requirements – cutting red tape for compliance with the law.

The proposed legislation will also provide a solid framework for investigations and hearings, granting the Secretary of State the same subpoena power currently available to other state agencies that regulate industries – such as the Department of Environmental Management and Department of Business Regulation. Finally, it will strengthen penalties to reflect the severity of the violations. In short, it provides the tools necessary to ensure that Rhode Island’s lobbying laws are taken seriously.

I am deeply appreciative to the legislative leaders that have sponsored my lobbying reform proposal:  State Senators Erin P. Lynch and Maryellen Goodwin, and State Representatives Robert B. Jacquard, Jared R. Nunes, Raymond A. Hull, Arthur J. Corvese and Anastasia Williams. These legislators have joined me in making sure that Rhode Island strengthens, clarifies and ensures transparency around lobbying.

Businesses, particularly small businesses, need effective and transparent government in order to succeed. This legislation is a critical and necessary step in that direction. I urge you to contact

your legislators and ask them to support and pass the Lobby Reform Act of 2015. Let’s make Rhode Island known nationally as a place that values transparency and effective government.


Voter Resources Provided by the Secretary of State’s Office

PROVIDENCE, RI – The 2014 general election is Tuesday, November 4th, and as Secretary of State, I am committed to making it easier for Rhode Islanders to vote.

The Office of Secretary of State has many resources available to help inform and educate the general public about the election process and referenda questions.

To learn who your elected officials are, check your voter registration, locate your local board of canvassers, view sample ballots for upcoming elections and find out where your polling place is, please visit our online Voter Information Center at
It’s also important to note, that poll workers will ask you to show a current and valid photo ID when you vote at your polling place this year.

Poll workers will accept the following valid and current Photo IDs:

• RI driver’s license
• U.S. passport
• ID card issued by an educational institution in the United States
• U.S. military identification card
• ID card issued by the U.S. government or State of Rhode Island like a RIPTA bus pass
• Government issued medical card
• RI Voter ID

Registered voters who don’t have an acceptable current and valid Photo ID can get a free Voter ID at our office in Providence at 148 West River Street during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.). We will also come to your community. To invite us to provide free Voter IDs at your organization or event, contact us at 222-2340, TTY 711 or

Our office is also pleased to remind voters about RI VIC, Rhode Island’s mobile voter application, which delivers voter information to Rhode Islanders with the touch of a button.

RI VIC is the name of the new mobile application, and it’s designed to assist Rhode Island voters from mobile devices such as cell phones, and tablets. This APP is FREE, offered in English and Spanish, and is available for online download for Apple devices at the Apple store, and for android devices at Google Play.

A video demonstration of RI VIC is available on our website at:

This year will see election contests for many municipal offices, General Assembly seats, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and statewide general offices, including all five General Office seats (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, General Treasurer, and Attorney General).

To learn more information on this year’s election, and for a complete list of resources for voters, or to view our 2014 Voter Information Handbook, please visit our online elections page at

As in 2008 and 2012, which saw record-setting voter turnout, my hope is to once again see an historic number of voters come to the polls to make their voices heard on Election Day. Thanks to so many wonderful partnerships with local schools through our office’s Voters in the Classroom initiative as well as workplace registration efforts, our state has more registered voters than at any other time in Rhode Island history.

The right to vote is a privilege. I urge all Rhode Islanders to make their voices heard on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4th, 2014.

Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis

Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis wants Rhode Island companies to host voter registration drives leading up to the November 6 elections.

“Our ‘Voters in the Workplace’ initiative meets the needs of employers and workers by moving voter registration to the factory floor and the main office,” said Mollis.

In addition to targeting first-time voters, the campaign gives voters who have moved or changed their names a convenient way to update their records as required by state law.

“This is simply another way for employers to respond to the needs of their associates. “Employees no longer have to take time

out of work to register or update their voter registration at town hall. We come to them,” said Mollis.

Companies like Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cox Communications and TACO have hosted drives since the initiative was rolled out in 2008. Tens of thousands of employees were encouraged to register to vote, to update their voter registration and to turn out to vote.

First launched in 2008, “Voters in the Workplace” encourages Rhode Island companies to host voter registration drives, post links to voter registration forms on their intranets, display voter- registration posters and distribute broadcast email to their employees.

“It’s easy for Rhode Island companies to host a voter registration drive on their job site – just invite us. We supply everything. Most of the voter registration drives are held in conference rooms, cafeterias or other gathering spaces in the workplace,” said Mollis.

In order to register to vote, you must be at least 18 years old by Election Day, a resident of Rhode Island and a U.S. citizen.

“Voters in the Workplace” will also make voters aware of the state’s new Voter ID law. Beginning this year, poll workers will ask voters to show ID when they vote. A wide range of common photo IDs – including R.I. driver’s licenses and employee ID cards – will be accepted at the polls.

Voter ID will be phased in over two election cycles. In 2012 and 2013, voters can also use a variety of non-photo IDs including a Social Security card, bank statement or any government-issued document. Beginning in 2014, only photo ID will be accepted.

Most importantly, no eligible voter will be denied the right to vote. Voters who do not bring an acceptable ID to the polls can vote using a standard Provisional Ballot. If the signature they give at their polling place matches the signature on their voter registration, their ballot will be counted.

Companies that are interested in more information about “Voters in the Workplace” should contact Chris Barnett of the Secretary of State’s office at 222- 4293 or

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