Grace Diaz (D) has represented the people of District 11 in Providence
since first being elected in November 2004. She was named the Democratic
Caucus Chair in January 2015, which makes her a member of the House
Leadership Team. She is the first vice chair of the House Special
Legislation Committee and is a member of the House Finance Committee,
the House Conduct Committee, the House Rules Committee and the House
Small Business Committee. She is the co-chairwoman of the Legislative
Commission on Child Care in Rhode Island.
During the 2023 session, Representative Diaz fought for
additional funding for early childhood programs, which led to a budget
amendment that added $7 million for those programs from unspent federal
funds. This includes $3 million to preserve 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.
Continuing her work in child advocacy, Representative Diaz sponsored a
law that transfers jurisdiction of child endangerment offenses from the
Family Court to the Superior Court. She also sponsored a law
which 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.
Concerned about the rights of renters, she 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
In 2022, she introduced a new law that allows classified state employees to
seek the nomination of or to be a
candidate for elective state office, provided that position is not fully
funded by federal loan or grant money. She also championed a law that
requires that janitors and security guards employed through state contracts
paid a standard compensation rate, tasking the director of the
Department of Labor and Training with determining the standard compensation
rate and its wage, benefit, and leave components.
In 2021, Representative Diaz sponsored the
Student Success Act, which grants in-state tuition rates to all
Rhode Islanders, regardless of immigration status. 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.
During the 2019 session, she worked to restore a program that provides
fare-free bus passes to low-income seniors and elderly Rhode Islanders,
making the program permanent. She also introduced a law that allows a
person to make arrangements for the payment of motor vehicle fines or
costs, and permit a person to request an ability-to-pay hearing before a
license is suspended for failure to pay such fines or costs.
Highest among Representative Diaz's priorities has been an overhauling
of the Rhode Island Child Care Assistance Program, which helps
low-income working families pay for child care. In 2022, she supported a
state budget that adds $3.6 million from federal funds for the
Department of Human Services to increase payments to center-based child
care providers across all age groups.
The child care assistance rates in Rhode Island were well below the
recommended levels to ensure equal access to high-quality child care.
Representative Diaz submitted legislation to establish a tiered child
care reimbursement rate system. In 2018, it was included in the state
budget and signed into law.
During that same session, she introduced a law requiring insurers to
behavioral health counseling and medication maintenance visits the
same as primary health care visits when determining patient
cost-sharing. The legislation is aimed at better achieving parity
between mental health coverage and primary health coverage for Rhode
In 2017, the General Assembly passed a law she introduced that requires
physicians to discuss the
potential of addiction with patients before prescribing opioids. She
also successfully introduced the All Students Count Act, which requires
the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to use separate
collection categories and tabulations for specified Asian ethnic groups
in every demographic report on ancestry or ethnic origins of residents.
For several years, every November 14, Representative Diaz has hosted the
World Diabetes Day celebration at the Rhode Island State House to
spread the word about how to take control of the disease. She has also
hosted the State House’s Child Care Awareness Day annually for the past
Representative Diaz holds both bachelor and master’s degrees from
Springfield College, which she earned in 2008 and 2010, respectively. A
native of the Dominican Republic, she graduated from Los Angeles
Custodios High School in 1977.
Representative Diaz is the MBE/WBE Outreach Director for the Office of
Economic Opportunity at the City of Providence.
Representative Diaz is a member of the National Association of Latino
Elected Officials (NALEO), Women in Government, National Hispanic State
Legislators and the Rhode Island Black and Latino Caucus.
Rep. Diaz has five children: Maria, Gisselle, Ruben, Felix and Cristian,
and six grandchildren: Nehemiah, Kariana, Xavier, Anelle, Zoe and Amaih