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7/5/2023 Sen. Kallman celebrates progress during this year’s legislative session
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Meghan Kallman is celebrating the successes of the 2023 General Assembly session and looking forward to continuing her work in the future.

“On the issues important to Rhode Islanders, health care, housing, supporting workers and protecting our environment, we made real progress this year,” said Senator Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence). “I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate, Senate President Ruggerio, and all my constituents who put their faith in me to stand up for our state.”

Senator Kallman cosponsored legislation (2023-S 0032), sponsored by Sen. Bridget Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, South Kingstown), to expand abortion coverage. That bill, known as the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, extends abortion coverage to individuals on Medicaid and state employee health insurance.

She was the lead sponsor on a law (2023-S 0103Aaa) that allows trained pharmacists to prescribe many hormonal contraceptives. At a time when many Rhode Islanders are struggling to find a primary
care provider, this will help expand access to birth control.

Senator Kallman also supported three other important laws that will improve health care for Rhode Islanders. One (2023-S 0563Aaa), sponsored by Sen. Melissa A. Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), requires insurance plans to cover, at no cost, treatments to prevent HIV infection. The law also enables trained pharmacists to prescribe both treatments. That can be especially impactful for post-exposure prophylactic treatments which are highly effective if taken within 72 hours of a potential exposure to the HIV virus.

Another new law (2023-S 0023B), sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), enshrines into state law all of the consumer protections Rhode Islanders currently enjoy under the Affordable Care Act. That ensures Rhode Islanders cannot be discriminated against based on pre-existing conditions and preventative care and contraception will continue to be free for patients, regardless of what happens on the federal level.

A third health care law (2023-S 0871A) sponsored by the late Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) caps the monthly cost for specialty prescription drugs at $150 for a 30-day supply. Specialty drugs, which are used to treat complex conditions such as many cancers, can currently cost up to $2,500 per month.

Much of Senator Kallman’s work this year focused on the crisis in housing affordability. A law (2023-S 1052A) she sponsored will incentivize the construction of mixed-use, mixed-income housing near transit-hubs such as the Pawtucket/Central Falls Train Station. This transit-oriented development allows people to get around without relying on a car, which means cleaner air, less traffic, fewer potholes and lower emissions. Pawtucket is well-positioned to take advantage of this program.

Another new law (2023-S 1035A) Senator Kallman sponsored will improve housing affordability in Pawtucket, Providence and throughout the state. The bill allows, as a permitted use, the adaptive reuse of commercial structures, such as mills, factories, hospitals, malls, churches and schools, into high density residential developments without the need to go before a municipal planning board for a zone change. The legislation does not take away the municipal review and permitting process for such developments.

Senator Kallman also strongly supported a bill (2023-S 0002B) by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) to fund lead water-pipe replacement and a bill (2023-S 0311A) by Senator Murray to ban rental application fees.

She was the lead sponsor of a law (2023-S 1079Aaa) that toughens penalties for wage theft, the most prevalent and costly form of theft in the United States.

“When the powerless steal, they are punished,” said Senator Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence). “But when the powerful knowingly steal from hardworking Rhode Islanders, they have been getting away with it. I’m so glad we were able to get this done to show all the hardworking Rhode Islanders building the housing, clean energy and infrastructure we so desperately need that we have your back and will ensure you get paid what you’re owed.”

Senator Kallman also helped the state take big steps to reduce emissions and protect the environment. She cosponsored legislation (2023-S 0684A) by Sen. Alana DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) to expand solar development while protecting core forests and ratepayers. She also cosponsored a law (2023-S 0014B) by Senator Miller that will ban restaurants from handing out polystyrene foam, commonly called Styrofoam. And she supported a law (2023-S 0988aa) by Sen. Frank S. Lombardo III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston) to better prepare Rhode Island for the rapid growth of electric vehicles on the state’s roadways.

She is also applauding increased funding in the state budget for education. The budget increases support for multilanguage learners, special education students and high poverty districts. Importantly, the budget extends deadlines for school construction projects which will help Pawtucket, and other municipalities with pending projects, secure crucial state financing. It also fully funds the Hope Scholarship (2023-S 0077aa), a pilot program proposed by Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), to cover the cost of two years of tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students during their junior and senior years at Rhode Island College.

On the subject of criminal justice reform, Senator Kallman says, there is much more work to do.

She had sponsored a bill (2023-S 0411) to reform a rule known as 32F that results in upwards of 85% of probation violators being denied bail, even for accusations  of nonviolent offenses. She cosponsored a bill (2023-S 0617) by Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) to reform solitary confinement and another bill (2023-S 0360) by Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) to improve accountability among police officers by repealing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR).

None of these bills passed this year, nor did a bill (2023-S 0089) she had sponsored to help Rhode Islanders save for retirement.

But Senator Kallman is committed to continuing the push next session.

“We got a lot done this year, and we have a lot more to do in 2024. I appreciate everyone who contacted me to share your ideas and hope you will stay involved. I know together we can build a better Rhode Island for all of us.”

For more information, contact:
Fil Eden, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903