Dear District 28 Neighbors,

As your State Senator in District 28 (Cranston/Providence), I am writing to update you on progress I have made during the last legislative session.

As the appointed Senate representative on Governor Gina Raimondo’s Task Force on Overdose Prevention & Intervention, I was able to help propose and develop legislation and policies related to addiction, prevention, treatment, and recovery. Many of these bills passed into law, including the Opioid Stewardship Fund, limitations on first-time opioid prescriptions, a requirement for the posting of opioid warning signs at all Rhode Island pharmacies, and requirements for all schools to provide and maintain naloxone (Narcan). I was also the sponsor of S139, which helps streamline and expedite access to recovery coaches and clarifies procedures for notifying family members and/or emergency contacts when someone is hospitalized for overdose, addiction, or mental health emergencies.

As a member of the Health Insurance Market Stability Workgroup (MSW), I participated in a process that lead to the recommendation of Article 11 (formerly Article 14), which passed as part of Governor Gina Raimondo’s budget. This package of legislation includes a reinsurance program and a shared responsibility payment (individual mandate requiring insurance for all Rhode Islanders). The MSW also recommended passage of my bill S738 Sub A, which would have codified many components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ten essential benefits and protection of access to health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. This bill passed the Senate but did not pass the House. This legislation continues to be one of my highest priorities, and I will introduce similar legislation during the 2020 session.

During the 2019 legislative session, I sponsored a number of other bills to improve the lives of Rhode Islanders.  The Reproductive Privacy Act (H5125 Sub B) passed into law, preserving the current protections for reproductive rights, including those codified by Roe v Wade. As Chair of the Health & Human Services Committee, I am honored to have helped move this historic bill to the Senate floor, after it was transferred into committee from Senate Judiciary. As a member of Governor Gina Raimondo’s Task Force to Tackle Plastics, I will continue to advocate for a statewide plastic bag ban, which passed the Senate in 2019. During the 2020 legislative session, I plan to propose legislation to ban the use of styrofoam in Rhode Island.

Unfortunately, there are many important bills that did not pass, and I will continue to work on these issues and move toward progress in the areas of healthcare and homelessness, gun safety, climate change, education and improvement of Providence Schools, consumer protection, advancement of Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program and legalization of recreational marijuana use, and the environment.

 As we move forward toward the 2020 legislative session, I thank you for your continued support.

Please feel free to contact me via the form on my website, www.joshuamiller.org, or via email at sen-miller@rilegislature.gov. I look forward to hearing your comments and concerns. You can read more below about priority legislation that I introduced or sponsored in 2019.

Sincerely,                                                       
Senator Josh Miller
District 28, Cranston/Providence


Overview of 2019 Legislation

Environment/Consumer Protection

  • SB19 - This was my bill to expand UPASS to RI College, URI, and CCRI. UPASS allows students and staff to use their college ID as a RIPTA bus pass. This did not pass as legislation but due to a year long effort,it is now being implemented by RIPTA, beginning with RIC this coming school year. STATUS - Did not pass, but is being implemented.

  • S268 - As Senate Appointee of the Governor’s Task Force to Tackle Plastics , I introduced legislation to ban the single-use plastic bags and most styrofoam products used in the food service industry. The plastic bag legislation passed the full Senate, and I look forward to introducing and passing legislation that will implement a statewide ban on plastic straws, single use bags, and food service single use styrofoam. STATUS -legislation banning bags and straws passed the Senate, but the styrofoam bill did not pass out of committee.

  • S759 - This bill would have established requirements and a bill of rights for consumers who are purchasing residential solar systems. STATUS - bill was held for further study.

Healthcare & Homelessness

  • SB24 - This bill would have created the Pathways Project, an initiative to use Medicaid funding to pay for housing for the chronically homeless population with mental illness or addiction. Similar programs have been approved and enacted in seven other states, resulting in an average savings of 50k per person yearly. I am committed to pursuing additional housing solutions for the homeless in 2019. STATUS: passed full Senate, did not pass the House.

  • SB139 SUBA - This bill is a revision of Comprehensive Discharge Planning act, and it requires "combined consent", so that if patients are admitted as a result of an overdose, their recovery coach is immediately notified. Additionally, it clarifies that HIPPA allows for notification of emergency contacts in these situations. STATUS: passed into law.

  • Similarly, 307SUBA would have removed insurance barriers to appropriate inpatient and outpatient addiction services. STATUS: passed the full Senate.

  • S576 SUBA as amended - Massage & S215 SUBA - Acupuncture - I introduced these bills to improve access to alternative treatment methods. I believe It is important to clarify the licensing procedure so that patients can have awareness of both acupuncture and massage practitioners who are practicing in RI.STATUS: massage legislation passed into law, acupuncture legislation passed the full Senate.

  • SB297 - This bill would have established a study group, which would propose implementation mechanisms for a safe injection site. This would help combat the high fatality rate, high incidents of fentanyl use,and other health risks associated with the use of injectable drugs. STATUS: The legislation did not pass, but there are stakeholder groups who are going forward with this work without the legislature.

  • S680 SUBA- This bill would have removed barriers to coverage and access and would have created a comprehensive approach to substance abuse disorders. STATUS: This bill passed the full Senate.

  • S683 - This legislation would have established a reinsurance program, and it passed as a component of the Governor’s budget in Article 11. I was the Senate representative on the Market Stability Workgroup with OHIC, HealthSource RI, and other community stakeholder groups. STATUS: passed in the Governor’s budget as part of Article 11.

  • S738 SUBA - This was my priority legislation in 2019, and it would have enshrined in law the most important parts of the Affordable Care Act. STATUS - passed full Senate.

Gun Safety & Schools

  • S635 - This year I supported several pieces of sensible gun safety legislation, including S635, which I sponsored. I look forward to advocating for comprehensive gun control that mirrors the work being done by March for Our Lives. STATUS: did not pass.