In the latest episode of Ray-ality TV, Rhode Island Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, Burriville, Glocester and North Smithfield) weighed in on a range of topics. Some of the subjects covered include the push to reform the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBOR), term limits for state legislators, and her key priorities heading into the 2022 legislative session.
de la Cruz wants to see the influx of federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act be spent properly and for taxpayers not to be overpaying anymore, saying, “What I’d like to see [the General Assembly] address is we have a lot of money coming into the state. So we have the ARPA money, [and] we have a surplus. When we have that surplus it’s because we overtaxed the people. So I’d like to see that money go back to the people — when you take too much [money], it’s time to give it back.”
Other priorities that will be on the General Assembly’s radar are the legalization of marijuana and taking a serious look at LEOBOR. For the legalization of marijuana, de la Cruz wants to see it done correctly.
“I think it has to be done right. Because if we’re going to allow corporations or selected individuals to profit from dispensaries and other sectors the marijauna industry will undoubtedly be in, I don’t want to see [only a select] few individuals profit from that.”
de la Cruz continued, “I also think that individuals that have their own in their home that they continue to be able to do that obviously on a small scale, we don’t want to see any drug dealers or anything of that sort. But I do think [the legalization of marijuana] is inevitable, but it has to be done right.”
In addition, she is in agreement with an expungement of criminal records for those disproportionately affected by the infamous War on Drugs.
The issue of LEOBOR will be present in not only the 2022 legislative session, but also in the election cycle. de la Cruz is in favor of reforms such as body cameras for police officers, saying, “I would love to see [the implementation of] body cameras. The video isn’t going to lie, we’re not going to have a he said she said [situation]. The video is going to either exonerate the individual or the police officer, or show that there was blame on both sides.”
Line-item veto power for the governor is a popular proposal amongst Republicans in the General Assembly. Currently, when the governor analyzes the state budget, they can only veto the whole budget or sign it into law. Line-item veto power allows the governor to veto specific line-items they disagree with. Like her Republican colleagues, de la Cruz wants to see this power given to the governor.
“The truth of the matter is that the governor in Rhode Island doesn’t have as much power as the Speaker of the House. The legislative body is actually more powerful than our governor. [Line-item veto] would be giving the governor a little bit more power. But I do like that extra check on spending that maybe isn’t prudent and you want to cross it off.”
de la Cruz further explained, “But in order to do that, we need to have a transparent budget, and so we actually need line-items. We currently have line-items, but they’re not very transparent. So we need a transparent budget and then allow for the governor to say ‘you know what, this is pork spending’ and use that line-item veto.”
Term limits for state legislators, an issue that some Democrats and Republicans agree on, is another proposal de la Cruz is on board with.
“I think [term limits] should be across the board. We should have term limits in Congress, the U.S. Senate, we have term limits for the president, [there] should be term limits here at the State House as well.”
Three four-year terms is how long she wants to see set as the term limits for state legislators.
Additionally, de la Cruz and I spoke about non-political topics such as what characteristics she thinks Rhode Island is best known for.
To view the full interview, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMFSie5LVBY.