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Carcieri vetoes domestic partner bill

Following last week's special session at the General Assembly, Gov. Donald Carcieri '65 issued a number of vetoes this week, canceling bills that would have allowed domestic partners to plan each other's funerals and provide for special elections to fill Senate vacancies.

The bill to allow domestic partners to claim the bodies of their loved ones required that the partners be in an "exclusive, intimate and committed relationship," evidenced by requirements such as living together and financial interdependence.

Carcieri also vetoed bills that would have mandated special elections to fill Senate vacancies and stripped the governor of his ability to appoint an interim senator. Under current law, the governor's appointee serves until the next general election or the following general election if the vacancy occurs within 70 days of Election Day.

Carcieri wrote in a veto message that special elections close to a general election would cost the state money and result in low turnout and confusion. The state would also be without representation in the Senate during the wait for a special election, he wrote, noting that Massachusetts recently changed its law to allow its governor to appoint an interim replacement for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

A bill to create "compassion centers" to dispense medical marijuana also met with the governor's veto. While medical marijuana is legal in Rhode Island, patients currently need to grow their own or buy their medicine on the street. Carcieri had originally vetoed the bill legalizing medical marijuana but was overridden by the state legislature.

"The General Assembly should be passing stronger drug laws, not passing laws that condone the growth, manufacture and sale of a drug that is deemed illegal by the federal government," Carcieri wrote in an explanation of his veto.

Writing that "well-intentioned legislation (often) has unintended consequences," Carcieri also took his veto pen to a bill requiring lenders to notify borrowers at least 75 days before a foreclosure.

The bill "represents a piecemeal approach to a complicated problem and makes Rhode Island a less attractive lending environment," he wrote in his veto message.

Carcieri also vetoed a bill — as he did in 2006, 2007 and 2008 — which would have allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote. The governor wrote in his veto message that people under 18 can already register to vote if they will be old enough by the next election, and he called adding thousands of names of ineligible voters to voter rolls "counter-intuitive and counter-productive."


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