Chris Chirino, Chair, suggested that each person mention three issues of importance to Libertarians in RI.
Brian Stack mentioned the legalization of gay civil marriage, the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries and the privatization of the University of RI (URI) as the three issues he felt he would like to see the LPRI work on. He cited Governor Chaffee’s initiative to legalize gay civil marriage. He stated that he is involved with groups who will be manning phone banks to promote the legalization of gay civil marriage, and he urged people to write their RI state senators and representatives. Regarding medical marijuana, he mentioned that the RI State Department of Health will be holding hearings on the opening of dispensaries, and that there will be a public forum held on February 7, 2011. Brian also said that he has been in conversation with Bob Weygand, Vice President of URI, and that Mr. Weygand is in favor of the privatization of URI, that is URI becoming a private, for-profit college.
Gary Whitney mentioned, as his issues of importance, the repeal of various RI taxes, or at the very least, using the revenue from specific taxes for the use that the taxes are supposed to be used for. An example of this misuse of tax revenue is the gas tax. The gas tax was implemented as a means of raising money to maintain state roads and highways. However the money collected from this tax more regularly goes into the general fund, leaving the state roads and highways bereft of maintenance monies. Another revenue misuse he mentioned was the check-offs on the RI State Income Tax form. Those citizen contributions are designated for specific uses (wildlife preservation, childhood disease research, etc.) but are not used for these purposes. Instead, the monies collected from the check-off contributions are put into the state general fund. Another issue the RILP should involve itself with, possibly joining with the RI Tea Party, is voicing objection to Governor Chaffee’s proposed 1% sales tax on items not previously taxed.
Beth Richardson agreed that the aforementioned issues were important and also stated that she was trying to raise citizens’ consciousness of the libertarian point of view on the local level. An issue she is working on is the repeal of an ordinance in Charlestown, RI, that regulates the frequency of and requires permitting for yard sales.
Tony Jones viewed one of the most important issues, in addition to those mentioned above, was the decriminalization of marijuana. He feels that the time is ripe for this, especially as a legal drug it could be taxed, providing much-needed income to the state of RI. Mention was made of the upcoming Hemp Fest (April 30) put on by The Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.
Christian Chirino agreed that the previously mentioned topics were of importance, and added to that list his opposition to the use of traffic cameras in Providence, and his opposition to the RI State Police having an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to check on the immigration status of arrested Rhode Islanders.
The ExCom went on to discuss how the above issues could be incorporated into a platform for the RILP. The following platform came out of this discussion:
RI Libertarian Party Platform for 2011
- Marriage— The RILP believes that the government should not be involved in regulating marriage. To this end, the government should particularly refrain from making regulations based on sexual orientation or gender. The RILP firmly supports the separation of church and state, along with the right of churches to define religious marriage in any terms they choose.
- Education— The RILP supports ending the government monopoly on education. The separation of education and state is crucial for the development of a well-educated public. A first step in this direction would be implementing a school choice program, such as the use of vouchers, for the state of RI.
- Economy— The RILP believes that minimizing taxes is important to fostering a strong economy. At the very least, taxes raised with a nominal use, such as the gasoline tax’s purported use in maintaining state and highways, should be actually used for their nominal use rather than being absorbed into the general fund to be used for whatever political expediency dictates.
RILP believes that the state should help ensure the success of businesses by reducing the regulatory climate. RI’s excessive regulations are a hindrance to starting businesses in RI and keeping them here.
4. Marijuana— The RILP support the rights of states to determine their own marijuana laws. To this end we support policies that work to decriminalize marijuana and ensure the right of medical marijuana patients to obtain and use marijuana.
(Note: The following item in the Platform was added after an email conversation among members of the ExCom during the week following this meeting.
5. Military— The LPRI backs the immediate and complete withdrawal of all military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, we favor the withdrawal of US military personnel from countries all over the world, where those countries can and should assume the role of providing for their own defense. This will leave our military ready and able to perform its necessary role of defending our country in case of attack. )
The final item discussed at the January 16, 2011, meeting was the idea to hold Meet and Greet events to facilitate networking between members of the RILP, the Tea Party, and other interested persons. It was determined that April would be a good month for this as the snowy weather would be passed and it would be before the May RILP convention.