AP NEWS

GOP at odds with Democratic senator over labor contract bill

May 6, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island Republican Party says a state senator shouldn’t have voted on legislation about public employee contracts, but the lawmaker says she followed guidance from the state ethics commission.

The party said Monday Democratic Sen. Valarie Lawson should’ve recused herself because she’s a teachers’ union official. It filed a complaint with the ethics commission.

Lawson, of East Providence, said in a statement she sought and received guidance from ethics commission staff and followed it.

She’s a teacher and vice president of the National Education Association Rhode Island. The state Senate passed a bill last week to automatically extend expired municipal worker and teacher contracts.

NEARI says Lawson could debate and vote on the bill because it equally impacts all public sector employees.

The GOP says NEARI, directly, would benefit financially from its passage.