Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D) represents District 19 in Warwick and Cranston. First elected in November 1994, he is the chair of the House Education Committee. He also serves as a member of the House Labor Committee, the House Rules Committee, and the House Conduct Committee.
2022 was a productive session for McNamara, with many of the bills he introduced being signed into law, including four education bills. The first created a joint study commission to examine the
governance structure of Rhode Island’s public education system. The second allows
speech therapy services to be provided in school to children who need them, regardless of age. The third requires the attorney general to publish
information on school resource officers. A fourth addresses the unique educational challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated by providing that in developing alternative-learning plans, consideration would be given to the
unique difficulties and interruptions that many students have experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also saw several health-related bills pass, including one that increases public access to professional psychological services by allowing for
telepsychological practice across state lines as well as temporary in-person, face-to-face services in a state where the psychologist is not licensed to practice psychology. Another law
creates a way to redistribute unused medication to aid people who cannot access or afford their prescriptions.
In the 2021 session, the General Assembly passed a law sponsored by Representative McNamara to allow school committees to budget funding for school field trips. The new law guarantees that all students have the same ability to attend those trips and allows schools to raise money to supplement the funding.
He also sponsored legislation calling for a a statewide electric vehicle charging station infrastructure. The law requires the Department of Transportation, along with the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Office of Energy Resources, to develop a plan for a statewide electric vehicle charging station infrastructure in order to make those stations more accessible to the public.
In 2019, he sponsored a package of education reform legislation, including a law that requires the Commissioner of Education to develop statewide academic standards and curriculum frameworks for the core subjects of mathematics, English language arts, and science and technology.
That same year, he sponsored the Student Loan Bill of Rights Act to protect student loan borrowers and establish oversight of student loan servicers operating in Rhode Island.
In 2016, he worked in conjunction with the governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force to craft a package of legislation aimed at addressing the opioid overdose crisis. The bills were signed into law by the governor.
Representative McNamara is the chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. He serves as chairman of the New England Board of Higher Education. He is a founding board member of College Unbound. He is a member of the Irish Social Club, the former President of the Governors Golf League, a member of the Warwick Firefighters Association, and a board member of Friends of Salter’s Grove. He also previously served as an Explorer Advisor for the Boy Scouts of America and the Committee Chairman of Pack 4. Additionally he is involved with Save the Bay, the Gaspee Day Committee, the Wyman P.T.A, and the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scouts.
Representative McNamara is a retired educator, previously serving as the director of the Pawtucket School Department’s Alternative Learning Program. He received his Master of Education degree from Providence College. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Boston University and graduated from Pilgrim High School in Warwick.
Representative McNamara was born on September 7, 1950. He is married to Diane and they have two children, William and Katie.