Representative John G Edwards
Majority Floor Manager
Member, House Committee on Finance
Member, Labor Committee
Member, House Municipal Government and Housing Committee
Member, House Oversight Committee
John G. “Jay” Edwards (D) represents District 70 in Portsmouth and Tiverton. First elected in November 2008, he has served as both the House Majority Whip and the Senior Deputy Majority Leader before being named the Majority Floor Manager in January 2021. He is a member of the House Finance Committee, the House Labor Committee, the House Municipal Government and Housing Committee, and the House Oversight Committee.
In 2019, Representative Edwards was selected as a 2019 Opioid Policy Fellow for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which focuses on health policies and programs being addressed throughout the country. When he returned, he sponsored a law that allows hospitals to contact the patient’s emergency contact and a certified peer recovery specialist in certain situations. The change will improve support for those hospitalized for drug overdoses and mental health emergencies by increasing the likelihood that their families or others wishing to assist them with treatment are aware of their hospitalization.
He also introduced a law cracking down on bridge toll violators, reducing the number of infractions for a person to be considered a “toll violator” from 20 to 10. The act also reduces the number of infractions for a person to be considered a “toll evader” from one 100 to 20.
During the 2018 session, he took aim at Rhode Island’s outdated and antiquated laws, sponsoring the repeal of several statutes that hampered business or created inconsistencies in the law.
He also sponsored the Rhode Island Market Stability and Reinsurance Act, which stabilizes health insurance rates and premiums in the individual market and provides greater financial certainty to consumers. Another law he sponsored requires each public institution of postsecondary education to establish a plan for addressing the mental health needs of its students, requiring policies aimed at identifying a student exhibiting suicidal behavior or tendencies.
He also worked to ensure that the state budget includes language that mandates an annual flat fee of $100,000 each to the towns of Tiverton and Lincoln in compensation for serving as the host communities for sports wagering.
In 2017, Representative Edwards sponsored laws that require both municipalities and the state to use a qualifications-based selection process for the procurement of certain professionals. He also successfully sponsored legislation that allows all minors to accompany their parents into a voting booth.
In 2016, Representative Edwards sponsored legislation regulates transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. The law creates regulatory provisions for operators and drivers to be administered by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers. It also requires them to obtain permits, and certain background checks, and sets minimum insurance requirements.
He also sponsored legislation that increases the accountability of the campaign finance law by clarifying language as it pertains to advocating for the approval or rejection of any question presented to voters at a financial town meeting, financial town referendum, or local election involving charter amendments.
In 2015, Representative Edwards sponsored legislation that creates a tax exemption for incomplete or unoccupied dwellings, a move that was strongly supported by the Rhode Island Builders Association. The law encourages construction and development.
Representative Edwards led the East Bay delegation’s efforts in the House to halt tolling on the Sakonnet River Bridge in 2014. He played a crucial role in the General Assembly’s final compromise, which initiated the dismantling of the tolls and created a special infrastructure fund to support Rhode Island’s roads and bridges. His bill aiming to prevent foreclosing owners from evicting tenants in one- to four-family units without just cause also became law in 2014.
The representative’s legislative accomplishments prior to 2014 include laws to strengthen safety standards for constructing schools on former industrial properties, decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and requiring any group or PAC working on charter-amendment questions to disclose contributions of more than $100.
Representative Edwards served on the Tiverton Town Council from 2006 to 2008 and the Tiverton Zoning Board from 1996 to 2006. He served as vice chairman of the town’s Elementary School Building Committee from 2004 to 2008 and as chairman of Tiverton’s Landfill Sub-Committee from 2006 to 2008.
An outspoken advocate of blood donation, as well as an active platelet donor, Whip Edwards has donated more than 100 gallons of blood.
A 1983 graduate of Northeastern University, he works as a senior project manager for Site Specific, a Providence construction company. He was the director of Caritas RI, a former member of the Rhode Island Builders Association and the former chair of the Rhode Island branch of Associated Builders and Contractors. He has also been involved in the Tiverton Land Trust, Save the Bay, Maine Island Trail Association, the Sierra Club, the Tiverton Democratic Town Committee and the National Eagle Scout Association.
Edwards was born on April 7, 1958. He resides in Tiverton with his wife, Donna. The couple has three children: John, Kelsey and Mae, and two granddaughters, Amelia and Sloan.
69 South Avenue
Tiverton, RI 02878