Senator DiMario worked through Feb. Break!
The following message arrived via email during the Feb. 25 snowstorm:
Hello Neighbor -
I hope this finds you safe and well in yet another Friday weather event! For this week's quick 3 updates I have redistricting news, tips for getting in touch with me, and a recap of the hearings I had before we recessed for February break. (I'm also keeping the info about Mortgage and Rental Assistance right up top to make sure anyone who needs it can access the applications.) Thanks for reading!
Mortgage and Rental Assistance Available Now
From RI Housing: "The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Rhode Island homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage and housing costs. Fortunately, there is good news for Rhode Island homeowners with today’s launch of a new statewide mortgage assistance program, Homeowner Assistance Fund Rhode Island (HAF-RI), which provides mortgage and housing assistance for eligible families negatively impacted by the unprecedented loss of jobs and income due to COVID-19.
For many, owning a home represents the American Dream and is likely the greatest source of economic and social stability for owner households. The HAF-RI program provides vital resources for struggling Rhode Island homeowners and is a critical tool to help ease the pain of the pandemic felt by families and individuals across our state. We look forward to working with you to ensure Rhode Island homeowners have the tools, resources and information they need to stay stably housed." Applications are now open, follow the links to see if you qualify. If you a renter in need of assistance, RentReliefRI is still available via this link. Please reach out to me at email@example.com if I can help!
1. New Districts Are Official
Every ten years after the Census is completed, Rhode Island's district lines for representation in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the Rhode Island State Senate, and the US House of Representatives get redrawn to ensure they are all equal to one another in population size. This year was a redistricting year, and last week the General Assembly approved the newly-drawn maps.
What this means for our area: Narragansett was one of the towns that lost population according to the Census, and so the districts in this area needed to spread out a bit. In the finalized map, North Kingstown will be evenly split roughly down the middle vertically between District 35 (currently represented by Sen. Bridget Valverde) and District 26 (currently represented by yours truly). Narragansett will now be represented by Senate District 36 alone, and District 36 will also add Block Island (New Shoreham). These new districts will be in effect for the election this fall, meaning I will have the chance to get to know thousands of new Rhode Islanders when I head out to knock on doors this spring!
The new District 36 has one main feature in common: coastline. This means that issues regarding coastal resiliency, coastal access, offshore wind, ports from Davisville down to Galilee, and fishing and maritime trades will all be important ones for our district. To see the Senate districts, check out this map. House districts can be found here.
2. Tips For Getting In Touch
With session underway I have been receiving a large volume of emails and calls, which is great! I appreciate hearing from people about the things that matter most to them. It is important to know that my primary responsibility is to the constituents who live in my district, so when emailing me please be sure to include your address. Some other tips:
Using my Senate email for issues related to bills is always best: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a campaign-related question, email@example.com is the one to use
If you are sending an email on an issue via an online form, please know that sometimes those forms do not allow me to email you back. If you would like a response, please make sure to include your email address as well as your mailing address in your signature
Also regarding those form emails: they get sent to junk mail/"other" mail frequently, I do my best to find them and respond
If you are able, please include the Senate Bill Number in your email. We will hear about 1000 bills in the Senate this session, so it helps me to understand the issue you are contacting me about if you can point me to the bill in question
This week I've been hearing from many people around a few issues:
Standalone speech services in schools for children over 9 - I support this!
The Let RI Vote Act (modernizing election practices) - I support this!
Banning Gas-Powered Leafblowers - While I support the overall goals of reducing emissions and also protecting the health of landscaping workers, I have questions and concerns about the costs and feasibility of the transition to electric equipment.
Keep the questions coming!
3. Tracking My Work in 2022
So far this session I have had hearings on four of my bills:
S2134 Extends the zoning moratorium for outdoor dining until April 1, 2023 - this one was passed and signed into law by Governor McKee last week, great news for our local restaurants and patrons!
S2123 Includes General Assembly races (both Representatives and Senators) in the elections that can have risk-limiting audits, which would increase the security of and confidence in our election results (Heard in Senate Judiciary 02/15/2022, held for further study)
S2216 Would put a question on the ballot in 2022 asking if we should remove the 30 day in advance registration requirement for voting in an election and allow us to move toward same-day voter registration. This would preserve the 30 day residency and identification requirements for registering, but would allow us to use the technology we have and already use for same-day registration for voting for President and extend it to local and state elections as well. (Heard in Senate Judiciary 02/15/2022, held for further study)
S2266 Would exempt bicycles from sales tax. Why? To encourage more people to ride bikes and make them more cost-accessible. Did you know that if 10% of people replaced one car trip per day with a bike trip, we would reduce transportation emissions by 10%? Every bit helps for the health of our communities! (Heard in Senate Finance 02/15/2022, held for further study)
I also want to highlight the introduction of S2337, which directs a council under RIPTA to develop and pilot a program that better meets the needs of Rhode Islanders with disabilities statewide. Here is a recent article on the subject, I'm looking forward to working on this one this year.
See Photo of the Week Below: Even though we are in recess, we are still working! Rhode Island's continuum of care for children has been lacking an appropriate residential treatment facility for girls. This week a group from the General Assembly traveled up to Massachusetts to see a model of what we could build here in Rhode Island to provide appropriate care for those girls. A place where the central focus is the children, staff are supported, and the physical environment tells people they are welcome and valued from the moment they step foot on the campus. For more context, read our op-ed from December on this issue. I'm confident that 2022 is the year we make this happen in Rhode Island.
Our mailing address is:
47 Tupelo Trail
Narragansett, RI 02882
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