Assembly approves bill to allow child care as election expense
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin and Rep. Justine A. Caldwell 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, 2021-H 5289), which now goes to the governor, 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). “You shouldn’t have to be wealthy to run for office.”
Said Representative Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), “While child care can be a concern for potential candidates of any gender, it is a consideration that can deter many women from running for office. Guaranteeing the legitimacy of using campaign funds in this way can help to encourage more women to run, bringing valuable perspective to state and local government. Child care that enables a candidate to perform their political or officeholder activities is a necessity, so of course it should be recognized as a valid campaign expense.”
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 Senate 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). House cosponsors include Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth) and Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).
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