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Working Families


Maryellen is a champion of working families. She was the driving force behind enactment of the state’s Paid Family Leave law, which entitles Rhode Island workers to paid time off when they get sick. She voted to increase the minimum wage in seven of the last eight years. Maryellen sponsored the new law prohibiting non-compete agreements for low-wage workers, which unfairly traps them into low wage jobs.

Protecting Seniors


Maryellen shepherded into law legislation providing enhanced home care options for seniors who need some nursing care but want to stay in their homes. In July she won Senate passage of legislation to require minimum staffing to ensure safe and nurturing care in nursing homes, as well as legislation requiring insurers to pay for preventative prostate and colorectal cancer screenings. She is also a leader in the effort to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. She was presented the national AARP Capital Caregivers Award this year in recognition of her efforts.

Domestic Violence Prevention


Maryellen has been at the forefront of efforts to prevent domestic violence throughout her public service and has been recognized by the Coalition Against Domestic Violence for her work. She created the state’s Domestic Violence Prevention Fund, ensured protection orders extended to all children in the household, and outlawed tracking devices on vehicles for stalking purposes. She sponsored the law to prohibit domestic abusers from possessing firearms. 

Public Safety


Maryellen was the prime sponsor of the Red Flag law, which removes firearms from individuals who present a clear danger to themselves or others. She sponsored the law requiring defibrillators be on hand for all large events of more than 300 people, and added protections to address the opioid overdose crisis. She also increased penalties for graffiti crimes.

Protecting Children


Children can’t always speak up for themselves; we need to be sure state law protects them. Maryellen closed the legal loophole that had allowed some abuse in schools to go unreported. She passed legislation providing stiff penalties for DUI with a child in the vehicle. She also sponsored the law to prevent underage tanning to protect against skin cancer. 



Nothing is more important to the future prosperity of our state and its people than quality education. Maryellen has consistently voted to invest in education, including passing a $20 million school repair bill for Providence schools and increasing annual state aid for city schools, which this year was more than $265 million. She also fought for and secured additional funding for English Language Learners. She supported historic reforms enacted last year to raise curriculum standards at public schools and improve accountability.

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