As we wrap up another beautiful summer in Newport, I reflect on the accomplishments of this session in the Rhode Island legislature. I am proud of all that was accomplished on behalf of my constituents, but I am especially excited about what was done for my senior neighbors. 

To start, I was happy to support a legislative grant to the Edward King House for its continued service to Newport’s older citizens under the terrific leadership of Carmela Geer. 

The 2023 budget, signed into law in June, provides a robust increase in services and resources for older Rhode Islanders. Such benefits include increasing funding for senior centers, improving the quality of healthcare in nursing homes and community-based services, ensuring that Meals on Wheels can continue to serve healthy and culturally appropriate meals to participants, making military pensions exempt from state income tax, increasing the amount of regular pension income exempt from income tax from $15k to $20k, and increasing the “circuit breaker” tax credit for qualifying elderly and disabled residents. These are huge accomplishments for improving the lives of older citizens. 

On the housing front, the legislature increased access and utilization of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), providing opportunities for age-friendly living options; as well as doubling the funding for the Livable Homes Modification Program to support home modifications and accessibility enhancements to allow individuals to remain in community settings. We also passed the Let RI Vote Act, which makes voting easier for all. 

Even with these great advancements, there is still much more to do. In the 2023 session, I will work to pass my legislation elevating the Office of Healthy Aging to full department status, which would consolidate and expand senior resources – and other policies to increase minimum wage for aging workers, help with rising housing costs and inflation, and address the healthcare workforce crisis that is endangering the health and wellbeing of our neighbors. I am optimistic about the future for our older Newport residents and will keep fighting for them at the State House.

Lauren Carson

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