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D - District 11
(401) 575-3641
43 Adelaide Avenue
Providence, RI 02907

Representative Grace Diaz

Democratic Caucus Chair

First Vice Chair, House Committee on Special Legislation

Member, House Conduct Committee

Member, House Finance Committee

Member, House Rules Committee

Member, House Small Business Committee

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 Housing website.

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 be 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 treat 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 Islanders.

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 several years.

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 Gracemarie.​​