I was pleased to get two pieces of COVID-related legislation across the finish line this session. One ensures that no one in RI will have out-of-pocket costs for COVID testing or vaccination, which is an important public health measure as well as a health equity measure. The other gives businesses such as our local restaurants that have made modifications due to COVID restrictions (e.g. takeout windows, outdoor dining) more time to get those changes through their local planning boards if they choose to make them permanent. They have invested a lot of money in these changes, and people like them!
I also sponsored a bill making sure that all cases of suspected child sexual abuse get referred to the Child Advocacy Center, which is a "one stop shop" of professionals from the Attorney General's office, law enforcement, social services, and the medical and mental health community who are specially trained to make the process of reporting and investigating these issues as supportive and streamlined as possible for children and families.
Finally, I sponsored a bill that enables the planning and building departments in all coastal cities and towns to be trained on and use the CRMC STORMTOOLS application for building and modification that happens beyond the direct coastline (CRMC is already involved on the direct coastline). This tells the property owner at the point of building or modification what effects climate change and sea level rise might have on their inland property over the next several decades, empowering (not mandating) them to make more resilient building choices to avoid a future loss.
I also passed several bills through the Senate that did not make it through the House (yet!), such as the TEAM Community Act that would allow RI to join a coalition of states to generate revenue from fossil fuel distributors to help us wean off of fossil fuels and reduce emissions in the transportation sector by capping and reducing allowable emissions. I look forward to continuing work on that next session, along with bills that help increase access to health care and specifically help address the mental health care provider shortage.
Also on my priority list are
• the Let RI Vote bills,
• improving childcare infrastructure,
• continuing to improve gun safety, and
• anything else Sen. Valverde says!
Please reach out with any questions on these and other issues.
For Amenity Aid [an upcoming joint project with Rep. Casimiro], we will be collecting shampoo and conditioner (including specifically products for textured and natural hair) as well as accepting online monetary donations. They don't provide items directly to people, but since these hygiene items aren't covered by SNAP or other benefits, Amenity Aid packages them and they are distributed through Amos House, House of Hope, food pantries, Operation Stand Down RI, and others.