Legislators on Rhode Island’s South Coast are focusing on climate change, shoreline access, funding for education, and veterans, among issues they hope to address during this legislative session.

What’sUpNewp reached out to several South Coast legislators, as we did with Aquidnick Island legislators (published earlier), to learn their legislative priorities. We also realize that this is early in the session, and priorities may change and likely will expand.

Of the legislators we surveyed, only Tina Spears, D-Block Island, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Westerly, did not respond. Spears won the seat previously held by Republican Blake Filippi, who did not run for reelection.

Here are the responses from the other legislators:

Brian Patrick Kennedy

Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy, D-Westerly and Hopkinton. Kennedy is Speaker Pro Tempore. – In 2023, I’ll be working on ensuring that the categorical transportation funds for regional school districts remain in the annual state budget. I will be watching again this year to see the recommendations brought forth by the Department of Administration and the Department of Education.

This session, I’ll be seeking to further address the issue of diabetes care by capping the amount payable for a 30-day supply of equipment/supplies for insulin administration/glucose monitoring. This is a follow up on the previous success that I had in capping the price of insulin in Rhode Island to $35 a month.

I have sponsored legislation in the past for the Department of Business Regulation and data security issues. With the number of breaches in the past year, I’d like to get legislation passed to provide more security for consumers throughout Rhode Island.

Rep. Sam Azzinaro, D-Westerly, chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee – Some of the things I will be working on are these, and not necessarily in this order 

  • Making sure Westerly gets its fair share of the educational fund formula. 
  • There are a number of Veterans’ bills I will be introducing, including no cost PT at the Veterans Home in Bristol and other benefits for veterans.
  • I will work with other Representatives and the Governor’s office to try and solve this homeless problem in our state.
  • I will always look to make sure Westerly is not forgotten in the state of Rhode Island.

Rep, Megan Cotter, D-Richmond, Hopkinton, and Exeter. She was elected to the legislature for the first time in November:

Protect Our Environment

  • Improve Rhode Island’s current renewable energy siting programs. We need to preserve our forestry while moving forward with renewable energy.
  • Create further incentives to decarbonize our energy system, and make the transition to renewable energy accessible to all people regardless of income, and save taxpayers money.
  • Use state funds to invest in solar on rooftop, landfill, gravel pit, brownfield, commercial/industrial and carports.

Invest in Education

  • Fix the broken public school funding formula without raising property taxes on everyday working families.
  • Improve access to quality public education for all children.
  • Stand up for the needs of our students, schools, and educators.
Victoria Gu

Senator Victoria Gu, D-Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown. She was elected to the legislature for the first time in November – Passing the shoreline access bill that passed the House unanimously last year.

Getting the ball rolling on housing construction or renovation projects so that we can help long-time resident and seniors from getting priced out.

It’s rare that states get a major infusion of dollars from the federal government. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and the Inflation Reduction Act give us a chance to invest in housing, infrastructure, etc. at a much larger scale than before. So I want to make sure we take full advantage of the $250 million that Rhode Island committed last year to housing, largely because of ARPA funds. We also need to take full advantage of the incentives that are becoming available through the Inflation Reduction Act including tax credits for clean energy and electric vehicles solar panels, and heat pumps. Many of these incentives are available directly to households and will help families lower their utility bills.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal....