Senate approves bill to allow child care as election expense


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin to codify into law a provision to allow candidates for office to use campaign funds for child care while they are participating in campaign or officeholder activities.

The Senate passed the bill in 2019 and 2020 as well, and last year the Board of Elections adopted regulations allowing the practice. The bill (2021-S 0060) will enshrine the practice in state law.

“Rhode Island is better served when our elected officials truly reflect the people they represent, and that includes parents of young children. Child care expenses are a roadblock that excludes people from running for local or state office and participating in the political process,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), whose own children are now teenagers who do not require child care. “You shouldn’t have to be wealthy to run for office.”

In 2018, the Federal Elections Commission issued a decision concerning New York congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley that determined that childcare expenses that result from running for office are an allowable campaign expense. Rhode Island law currently allows campaign funds to be used to purchase gifts of nominal value, meal expenses, communication access, expenses and travel.

The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown), Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) and Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield).

The legislation will now go to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) is sponsoring companion legislation (2021-H 5989).


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