“Rhode Island’s community of color is still being severely distressed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the caucus has reintroduced many of the same bills we prioritized last year because our residents are in need of crucial supports that are still lacking right now. This legislative package will address the struggles and hardships that too many of our residents of color are sadly experiencing, and we believe that these bills will address these and many other concerns and hopes shared by the community of color on a daily basis,” said Chairwoman Alzate.
The caucus highlighted the following bills:
· 2022-H 7442, sponsored by Rep. Liana Cassar (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), provides for abortion coverage in the Medicaid program and repeals the abortion coverage exclusion for state employee insurance plans. Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown) has introduced the legislation (2022-S 2549) in the Senate.
· 2022-H 7484, sponsored by Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence), expands the Rite Track Program to provide health care coverage to children up to age 19 funded by federal funds, if available, or if not available, by state funds. Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), has introduced the legislation (2022-S 2187) in the Senate.
· 2022-S 2243, sponsored by Senator Cano, increases the amount of parental or family leave available to an employee from 13 weeks to 24 weeks in any two calendar years. Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) has introduced the legislation (2022-H 7717) in the House of Representatives.
· 2022-H 7353, sponsored by Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), prohibits the courts from setting cash or surety bail on any misdemeanor offense, but would permit the court to set reasonable non-monetary conditions of bail to assure the defendant’s presence in court as required and to protect the community.
· 2022-H 7938, sponsored by Rep. José F. Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence), specifies and restricts the use of excessive physical force by peace officers and creates a civil action for constitutional rights violations, as well as, imposing a duty to intervene on officers on scene. Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) has introduced the bill (2022-S 2379) in the Senate.
· 2022-H 7741, sponsored by Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), requires that the state use the actual residences of persons in government custody for redistricting purposes. Such information would be collected by the Department of Corrections and forwarded to the Secretary of State to be utilized for redistricting. Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) sponsored the legislation (2022-S 2257) in the Senate.
· 2022-H 7931, sponsored by Representative Williams, amends the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights to provide greater accountability in the disciplinary process over law enforcement. Senator Quezada has introduced the bill (2022-S 2718) in the Senate.
· 2022-S 2399, sponsored by Senator Quezada, provides for release of misdemeanor arrestees without financial conditions, except for domestic violence, flight risk or obstruction of justice risk. Representative Williams has sponsored the bill (2022-H 7691) in the House of Representatives.
· 2022-H 7708, sponsored by Representative Williams, creates an alternative ID driving license for applicants without a social security number who are able to establish proof of Rhode Island residency. Senator Frank A. Ciccone (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence) has sponsored the legislation (2022-S 2006) in the Senate.
“With so much division and uncertainty plaguing our lives today, these bills will provide a positive step in the right direction toward progress for so many individuals, especially those of color, who are simply trying to provide for themselves and their families or are facing the systemic injustices that are unfortunately still too prevalent in our state We urge our colleagues to support these important bills that will have a tremendous impact on the lives of countless Rhode Islanders,” said the members of the caucus.
The caucus also includes Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown); Rep. Jean Phillippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket); Rep. Nathan W. Biah (D-Dist. 3, Providence); Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence); Rep. Brianna E. Henries (D-Dist. 64, East Providence); Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence); Rep. Ramon A. Perez (D-Dist. 13, Providence, Johnston); Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence); Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket); Sen. Tiara T. Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence); and Sen. Cynthia Mendes (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket).
The Rhode Island Legislative Black and Latino Caucus (RILBLC) 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.