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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Successful session for Diaz sees funding for early childhood programs in budget, courts and prison reform
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Grace Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence) says she is elated that so many of her proposals have been enacted into law over the 2023 legislative session, especially her hard fight for funding for early childhood programs in the state budget, and laws that change the way business is done in the courts and prison.
Though not included in the original state budget, Representative Diaz fought for additional funding, which led to a budget amendment that added $7 million for early childhood programs from unspent federal funds. This includes $3 million to preserve for Head Start and Early Head Start seats and $4 million for a pilot program to expand eligibility for child care, at no cost, to certain child care workers.
“I am very proud that this money was included in the budget, and I would like to thank Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi for his support in its inclusion,” said Representative Diaz, who has been a leading advocate of child care and early learning in the General Assembly. “As we discover more about the impact of early learning, the importance of its place in public policy cannot be overstated.”
Continuing her work in child advocacy, she sponsored a law (
) that transfers jurisdiction of child endangerment offenses from the Family Court to the Superior Court. She also sponsored a law (
) that ensures that communications between court appointed interpreters and limited-English-proficient individuals involved in legal proceedings in the courts are confidential in nature and only disclosable by consent of the person making the communication or by court order.
Representative Diaz also focused on prison reform, sponsoring a new law (
) that directs the Department of Corrections to collect from individuals entering its custody information on sex, race, nativity (country of origin), ethnicity, and level of education, and to publish a summary of such information on an annual basis. Another corrections law (
) sponsored by Representative Diaz provides additional earned time for good behavior or program participation or completion for prisoners not serving a life sentence who have faithfully engaged in institutional industries.
Also, to facilitate communication between the Department of State and the Board of Elections, she sponsored a law (
) to designate a liaison position within the Secretary of State’s office, and add accessible voting devices to the equipment maintained by the Secretary of State.
Concerned about the rights of renters, Representative Diaz sponsored a law (
) that directs the Secretary of Housing to create a consumer guide that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords as they are enumerated in the law. The guide, which will be updated biennially, will be published in English and Spanish, both in print and on the Department of Housing website.
“This handbook will include critical information for both landlords and tenants so they will both better understand their rights and responsibilities and avoid situations where they are inadvertently breaking the law,” said Representative Diaz. “As these laws continue to be updated, it is imperative that the guide be updated as well, so landlords and tenants can keep up with changes in the law.”
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request