Rhode Island Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus announces legislative priorities


            STATE HOUSE – The Rhode Island Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus (RIBLIA) have announced their legislative priorities for the 2023 General Assembly session.

            The caucus is chaired by Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) and Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket).

            “Rhode Islanders, particularly residents of color and the vulnerable, are facing significant challenges in their daily lives and RIBLIA’s legislative priorities focus on improving the quality of life for these residents while also addressing the systemic barriers and problems that affect Rhode Islanders on the bottom end of the state’s economic and social fabric.  We look forward to working with our colleagues in the General Assembly to pass these bills that will have a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of countless Rhode Islanders,” said RIBLIA co-chairs Senator Acosta and Representative Felix.

            Co-chairs Acosta and Felix note that RIBLIA’s 18-bill priority list is among the over 2,000 pieces of legislation introduced in the General Assembly this session.

            RIBLIA will be focusing their attention and advocacy on the following pieces of legislation:

·         2023-S 0311 / 2023-H 5580, sponsored by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) and Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence), prohibits rental application fees.

·         2023-S 0315 / 2023-H 5525, sponsored by Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence) and Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence), requires all property owners of rental property to file with the Secretary of State notice of their name, address, telephone number, email address and other information.

·         2023-S 0911 / 2023-H 6062, sponsored by Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Rep. June S. Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol), creates a Tenants Bill of Rights.

·         2023-S 0232 / 2023-H 6148, sponsored by Senator Murray and Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls), imposes a tax on Rhode Island taxable income in excess of $417,500, to be adjusted for inflation, annually.

·         2023-S 0144 / 2023-H 5748, sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) and Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), increases the minimum requirement awarded to minority business enterprises to 20 percent and of that, a minimum of 10 percent be awarded to minority owned businesses and a minimum of 10 percent be awarded to women owned businesses.

·         2023-S 0424 / 2023-H 5371, sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) and Representative Felix, allows individuals employed in domestic service or in or about a private home to be included as an employee, for purposes of minimum wages law.

·         2023-S 0237 / 2023-H 5793, sponsored by Senator Acosta and Representative Giraldo, requires that the school housing aid ratio be increased by five percent for projects that ensure Rhode Island based minority business enterprises reach a minimum of 20 percent of the dollar value of the bid.

·         2023-S 0068 / 2023-H 5639, sponsored by Senator Cano and Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), requires free lunches and breakfasts to be provided for all elementary and secondary students attending public schools.

·         2023-S 0549 / 2023-H 5777, sponsored by Senator Cano and Representative Felix, creates a dual language program fund to be administered by the Department of Education.

·         2023-S 0131 / 2023-H 5142, sponsored by Sen. Linda L. Ujifusa (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol) and Rep. Michelle E. McGaw (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton), provides for a prohibition on any new high-heat waste facility.

·         2023-S 0685 / 2023-H 5361, sponsored by Senator Acosta and Representative Felix, further delineates the definitions of felony, misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor.

·         2023-S 0617 / 2023-H 6161, sponsored by Senator Acosta and Representative Felix, establishes the Restrictive Housing Oversight Committee for the purpose of monitoring the use of solitary confinement, as well as disciplinary and administrative confinement at the Department of Corrections.

·         2023-H 5924, sponsored by Rep. Brianna E. Henries (D-Dist. 64, East Providence, Pawtucket), prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles.  Senator Mack will introduce the bill in the Senate.

·         2023-S 0032 / 2023-H 5006, sponsored by Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, South Kingstown) and House Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence, Pawtucket), provides for abortion coverage in the Medicaid program and repeals the abortion coverage exclusion for state employee insurance plans.

·         2023-S 0871 / 2023-H 5350, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and Representative Morales, limits the copayment or coinsurance requirement on specialty drugs to $150 for a 30 day supply.

·         2023-S 0109 / 2023-H 5474, sponsored by Senator Ujifusa and Rep. Joseph J. Solomon, Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), requires the Auditor General to oversee an audit of Medicaid programs administered by managed care organizations.

·         2023-S 0444 / 2023-H 5380, sponsored by Senator Mack and Representative Henries, establishes June 19 as a state holiday to be known as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day.”

·         2023-S 0527 / 2023-H 6110, sponsored by Senator Acosta and Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), directs the budget officer to include in the annual state budget an explanation of how the budget furthers efforts to ensure equity in the state.

In addition to Senator Acosta and Representative Felix, the caucus includes Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown); Representative Alzate; Rep. Jose F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence); Rep. Nathan W. Biah (D-Dist. 3, Providence); Rep. Cheri L. Cruz (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket); Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence); Representative Giraldo; Representative Henries; Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence); Representative Morales; Rep. Ramon A. Perez (D-Dist. 13, Providence, Johnston); Rep. Enrique Sanchez (D-Dist. 9, Providence); Rep. Jennifer Stewart (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket); Sen. Robert Britto (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket); Senator Cano; Sen. Victoria Gu (D-Dist. 38, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly); Senator Mack; Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) and Senator Ujifusa.

The RIBLIA Caucus represents and advocates for the interests of disadvantaged people throughout the State of Rhode Island. It seeks to increase a diverse participation and representation in all levels of government. The goal is to close, and ultimately to eliminate, disparities that still exist between white and non-white Americans in every aspect of life.