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 and the House Rules Committee.
2023 was a productive session for Representative McNamara, with several
education-related bills he sponsored becoming law. He introduced the
Hope Scholarship pilot program, which provides the cost of two years of
tuition and mandatory fees for eligible students during their junior and
senior years at Rhode Island College. He also sponsored a law that
improves access to school-based psychological services by including
services provided by school social workers and certified school
psychologists as health care-related services eligible for federal Medicaid
reimbursement. He also introduced a new law that requires the state’s public
higher education institutions to establish ways of
awarding academic credit for students’ participation in registered
Several bills he sponsored in 2022, including four education bills, also
became law. The first created a joint study commission to examine the
governance structure of Rhode Island’s public education system. The
speech therapy services to be provided in school to children who
need them, regardless of age. The third requires the attorney general to
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.
Representative McNamara also saw several health-related bills pass in
2022, 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.
Representative McNamara is a member of the Education Commission of the
States, a nonpartisan think tank that consists of governors, educational
commissioners, and legislators from all 50 states.
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
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, and two grandsons.