It is a great privilege to represent extremely thoughtful and informed individuals like you. You have listened when I’ve taken positions that may have seemed surprising or disappointing. Thank you for supporting me while I’ve challenged the status quo and questioned legislation that, though well intended, could have unintended consequences.
In 1993, during my first year in office, I began the quest to repeal RI’s sodomy law. At the time, I received negative feedback, snickers and leers, but residents of this district believe that all of us have, as consenting adults, the right to privacy in our own bedrooms. You understood that the sodomy law had the potential to ruin the lives of members of the LGBTQ community.
During my first term, legislation was introduced (in response to a scandal regarding a highly paid teachers’ union executive), to eliminate the state pension eligibility of all employees of the teachers’ unions. Many people who had worked for the union for years stood to lose the pensions on which their retirement plans depended. Because I had sworn to uphold our constitution and believed this bill was an unconstitutional taking of personal property, I voted in the small minority against it. In RI Federal District Court, Judge Raymond J. Pettine ruled the law unconstitutional.
For the last 2 years, I’ve sponsored the Lila Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act, often referred to as an assisted-suicide bill. The intent of this legislation- modeled after laws passed in California, Washington, Vermont and Oregon-is to allow terminally ill individuals to have some control over the way they die. The bill would allow an individual to self-administer a drug prescribed by their doctor in order to avoid prolonged, extreme pain or drug-induced coma at the end of their life.
In 2015, a bill was introduced aiming to protect children from sex offenders, requiring offenders to live more than 1000 feet from schools, an increase of 700 feet. It did not distinguish between levels of offense or take into account victim’s age. The legislation did not prevent sex offenders from being near a school. In the Judiciary Committee hearing, I asked whether there were maps showing the proposed boundary lines around schools; there were none. I voted NO because the bill offered no increased protection for children but complicated community re-entry for offenders. After the bill became law, a Providence Journal article showed there are “just a few slivers of the city left” where ex-offenders could live. Only one shelter in RI could accept ex-offenders who are homeless. The law is presently held up in RI Federal Court.
In the past legislative session, I voted alone against the “revenge porn” bill. The bill did not contain any requirement that the material that had been made public had caused harm or was published with the intent to cause harm. Under the bill, anyone who shared an image of nudity or explicit sexual conduct could be prosecuted. When Governor Raimondo vetoed the bill, she encouraged legislators to do better at crafting a law to punish and discourage revenge porn. I’m with her.
I’m also with you. I want to again thank you for the opportunity to represent you. Thank you for listening when I question legislation that sounds good on its face. We may not always agree, but I will always listen. Please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at home at 274-7078.
I want to continue listening and fighting the good fights. Please vote for me on November 8th.