Patricia A. Serpa (D) has represented District 27 in West Warwick, Coventry and Warwick since first being elected in 2006. She is the chair of the House Oversight Committee and serves as a member of the House Conduct Committee, the House Corporations Committee and the House Rules Committee.
As chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight since May 2016, Representative Serpa has continuously investigated several prominent failures within multiple state agencies, including the botched rollout of the Unified Health Infrastructure (UHIP) project. Under Representative Serpa’s leadership, the committee has heard testimony on the UHIP computer system failures from public officials, nursing home and child care administrators, and citizens affected by the rollout. The committee has learned of two warnings from the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, delayed payments to long-term care providers, an action plan to improve the project, and a report from the auditor general.
She has also led the charge for answers on topics of public importance such as the deaths and near-deaths of several children under the care of the Department of Children, Youth and Families in the wake of a report by the child advocate.
Representative Serpa’s probe of the Division of Taxation, which revealed rampant delays in tax refunds in 2016, led to sweeping changes in the Department of Revenue to rectify the problem the following year.
The committee’s investigation of the Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative led to DCYF cutting off ties with the organization. The report uncovered drug and alcohol abuse and violence by residents, the use of banned aversion therapy, and that the cooperative neglected to monitor residents and provided false documents.
In 2018, she received the Thomas A. Lamb Home Care Advocacy Award, the highest honor given by the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, in recognizing her advocacy efforts as House Oversight Committee chairwoman.
A tireless advocate for animals, Representative Serpa has introduced several animal protection laws and has been awarded by numerous animal rights organizations, including the Humane Society, for her legislative efforts. In 2018, her legislation now prohibits mistreatment of animals, specifically the failure to provide adequate water, shelter or veterinary care, and prevents exposure for a period of more than 15 minutes whenever a weather advisory or warning has been issued.
In 2018, she was presented the Golden Paw Award by Animal Rescue Rhode Island and the Mario Hilario Animal Compassion Award by the Friends of Providence Animal Care & Control Center.
In 2017, Representative Serpa introduced a law that requires physicians involved in the delivery and care of infants to report cases of infants born with or affected by substance abuse. She also successfully sponsored legislation that mandates insurance coverage for medically necessary fertility services when a medical treatment may cause iatrogenic infertility.
In 2016, she co-sponsored legislation that led to a constitutional amendment restoring the Ethics Commission’s jurisdiction over the General Assembly.
She also introduced legislation that makes freestanding emergency care facilities subject to the same regulatory requirements as other health care facilities, a law that allows pharmacies to dispense biological products, a law expanding coverage for substance abuse treatment, and a law laying down tougher penalties for animal abuse that leads to death.
During the 2015 session, Representative Serpa’s proposal to eliminate the business fuel and electricity tax was included in the state budget. She also sponsored a law that provides coverage for seven days of residential or inpatient services for opioid treatment to be included within the appropriate classification. She also introduced legislation that authorizes pharmacists to perform limited function clinical laboratory tests. Representative Serpa also sponsored a bill that increases the time convicted murderers must serve of their sentences before they are eligible for parole.
In 2014, the General Assembly passed a bill she sponsored, requiring insurers to provide coverage for the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders under the same terms and conditions as coverage provided for other illnesses and diseases.
She also sponsored laws regulating the use of epinephrine auto-injectors to treat allergic reactions, increasing penalties for texting while driving, protecting the physical well-being of animals, and making changes to teacher tenure laws in order to give educators the opportunity to gain administrative experience with an unpaid leave option.
Representative Serpa spent six years on the West Warwick School Committee from 2000 to 2006. She is an associate member of the West Warwick Democratic Town Committee and is involved with the Sons of Italy, Vince Lombardi Lodge, Defenders of Animals and the West Warwick Lions Club.
A retired public school educator and admissions officer, she holds a master’s degree in education from Providence College after earning her bachelor’s degree in the same study at Mount St. Joseph College. She lives in West Warwick.
CONTACT INFORMATION: 194 Kimberly Lane West Warwick, RI 02893 (401) 828-5687