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7/27/2021 Successful session for Rep. Diaz sees in-state tuition for immigrants, child care funding in state budget
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence) says she is elated that so many of her proposals have been enacted into law this session, especially her Student Success Act (2021-H 5238), which grants in-state tuition rates to all Rhode Islanders, regardless of immigration status.

“This is an issue that I am extremely passionate about. As someone who came to this country with very little, I know first-hand the opportunities that a good education can bring to someone who is willing to work hard,” said Representative Diaz. “With limited skills-based jobs, improving college affordability is becoming a bigger priority for everyone. And we have so much untapped potential that has come into our state from all over the world.”

Under the legislation, students would be eligible if they attended high school for three or more consecutive years; continue to reside in the state, graduated from high school or received a high school equivalency diploma from Rhode Island; and filed an affidavit stating that the student has filed an application for lawful immigration status.

Representative Diaz, who serves on the House Finance Committee, was also gratified that the state budget includes a $6.9 million increase in federal funding for the Child Care Assistance Program in addition to the $67.3 million base funding for a total of $74.2 million. 

Also, the budget keeps the emergency rate being paid to providers during the pandemic for the next six months, even if the emergency order expires. New CCAP rates for infants and toddlers in 5-star centers will meet the 2021 federal equal access standard, family copayments are permanently capped in statute with no family being required to pay more than 7 percent of family income as a copayment, and a new one-year pilot program will allow low-income college students to qualify for CCAP.

In addition $57 million in federal ARP funding was authorized to be used for stabilization grants to child care providers, the state’s paid family leave program will be expanded to six weeks of leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member, and office holders and people running for office may use campaign funds to pay for child care expenses incurred as a result of campaign activities or office holder responsibilities.

 “I am very proud of that legislation, and I look forward to building upon it until high-quality child care and pre-kindergarten learning is accessible to every Rhode Islander,” said Representative Diaz. “As we discover more about the impact of early learning, the importance of its place in public policy cannot be overstated.”

She also sponsored a new law that requires the posting of notices in hotels with a number to call when witnessing signs of human trafficking. The Human Trafficking Prevention Notice Act (2021-H 5270A) requires the signs to be posted in a location conspicuous to their employees.

“Traffickers especially target vulnerable children who suffer from abuse,” said Representative Diaz. “It’s difficult to find statistics, but some estimate between 100,000 and 2 million children are trafficked in this country. This law will not only give victims an extra layer of protection by promoting awareness among hotel employees, it will also encourage greater awareness of the dangers of trafficking in the community.”

She also sponsored a new law (2021-H 5571A) that raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

“Addiction to cigarettes begins in the teenage years,” said Representative Diaz. “This law will deny young people access to tobacco products and curb the number of lifelong lethal addictions that continue to plague our medical system.”

Diaz also supported many initiatives that were included in the state budget, including historic investments in affordable housing, support to sustain Rhode Island’s COVID‐19 response and recovery, economic development programs, support for low-income families, 

support for the Department of Children Youth and Families, investments in a Statewide Body Worn Camera Program and protecting the state’s natural resources.

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903