House Majority Leader
K. Joseph Shekarchi (D) has served the residents of District 23 in Warwick since first being elected in November 2012. He was chairman of the House Labor Committee until his Democratic colleagues elected him as the House Majority Leader in November 2016.
In 2019, Leader Shakarchi sponsored new laws requiring pension plans managed by religious organizations to send updates on the financial health of the pensions to their plan participants, just as other pension plans do. He also sponsored new laws creating a state program dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease and streamlining regulations for companies using blockchain financial applications.
His 2018 legislation created laws requiring health insurers to cover mastectomies without copays or deductibles, and prohibiting them from not covering any off-label drug used for the treatment of disabling or life-threatening chronic disease as part of their prescription drug coverage. Legislation he introduced expanded the state Victims’ Compensation Fund to help children who witness homicide or domestic violence. AAA New England honored him with its 2017 Traffic Safety Leadership Award for laws he sponsored requiring children under 2 to ride in rear-facing car seats and establishing a brief class for the parents of new teen drivers.
He was the sponsor of the 2014 law eliminating the “master lever” option on the ballot.
During his time as chairman of the House Committee on Labor, Leader Shekarchi sponsored the Qualified Jobs Incentive Act, which provides tax credits to companies that hire new full-time employees with a salary of at least 250 percent of the state’s hourly minimum wage, and the Premium Jobs Initiative, which links Rhode Island’s insurance premium tax rate to the number of jobs created by companies. Another one of his bills created Unified Development Review, which expedites the local zoning review of development projects. He reformed the state’s Workers’ Compensation system, including allowing for the use of electronic fund transfers to deliver weekly workers’ compensation benefits, and managed approval of two successive increases to the state’s minimum wage in 2014 and 2015. In 2017, he sponsored a job-creation law eliminating needless delays in the regulatory process for developments and subdivisions.
Leader Shekarchi has been a leader in protecting animals, receiving the Golden Paw Award from Animal Rescue Rhode Island in 2018 for his advocacy. He sponsored the law that gave the R.I. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals custody of seized dogs, and another that makes individuals guilty of animal abuse responsible for the cost of care of those animals by the RISPCA. A law he sponsored in 2018 prohibits the sale or transfer of unweaned puppies. He also authored a law banning possession of shark fins.
He is a graduate of Mount St. Charles Academy, Class of 1980, and graduated from Suffolk University in 1984. He returned to Suffolk to earn his law degree in 1990. In addition to his duties as a legislator, Leader Shekarchi is an attorney at the Shekarchi Law Office. He has been the legal counsel to the Warwick Housing Authority for over 20 years and is a former Warwick solicitor.
He served as the former chairman of the R.I. Auto Dealers Hearing Board and is a former member of both the R.I. Judicial Tenure and Discipline Board and the Coastal Resource Management Council. Born on May 17, 1962, Leader Shekarchi is a life-long Warwick resident.
State House, Room 323
Providence, Rhode Island 02903