Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Bill Mandating Polygraphs at Fishing Tournaments?

The Associated Press reports that Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri has vetoed a bill that would have required polygraph “testing” of fishing tournament participants in the state:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Governor Carcieri vetoes a bill that would force participants in fishing tournaments to take a polygraph test.

Carcieri says the government shouldn’t be involved in managing fishing tournaments, which are popular sporting events in Rhode Island. The bill would force fishermen to take a polygraph either during the tournament or soon after it ended. It would apply to all tournaments which charge participants a fee.

Actually, it appears that the Associated Press got this story wrong. The bill, H 6419 Substitute A, would not have required the organizers of fishing tournaments to polygraph participants, but rather would have regulated the use of polygraph “testing” when organizers choose to employ this pseudoscientific procedure. The bill would have required, among other things, that “[i]f a fishing tournament uses polygraph tests…[t]he use of polygraph tests shall be conducted in the state of Rhode Island at a time and place that all participants can reasonably make at the time of the tournament or within several hours after the end of the tournament.”

Update: The Providence Journal gets the story right in “Polygraph tests, prizes not state’s business” (6 June 2007):

Fishing tournaments sometimes go to great lengths to distinguish between a “fish tale” and a true big fish.

In some cases, state Rep. Jon D. Brien claims, those measures are so drastic that they may mean the true winner of a tournament doesn’t get the prize.

Brien, D-Woonsocket, sponsored a bill to place restrictions on tournaments’ use of polygraph tests. The bill would have required that ads for a tournament explain the rules clearly and that the rules “not make it unreasonably difficult” for the person who catches a prize-winning fish to claim that prize.

Brien’s bill was passed by the House on June 14 and the Senate on June 21. Governor Carcieri vetoed it yesterday along with 35 other bills, many on weightier topics such as mandatory minimum sentences for drug charges, and domestic-partner benefits for state employees.

In his veto message, Carcieri called Brien’s bill “a classic case of overregulation.”

“I am concerned that this legislation will have a chilling effect on tournaments offered to Rhode Islanders,” the governor wrote. “If persons are not satisfied with the management of a private tournament, they are not required to participate. The state should not be in the business of micromanaging this type of sporting event.”

The bill would have required that if tournaments use polygraph tests, they conduct the test “according to accepted and customary polygraph standards and procedures,” that “polygraph experts” be “certified” and sign affidavits “to confirm that they will conduct an objective test and have not been asked to influence the outcome.”

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