An ambitious package of legislation, the “Rescue Rhode Island Act,” has been introduced in both chambers of the Rhode Island General Assembly. The legislation seeks to create thousands of well-compensated jobs, build thousands of units of affordable green housing, invest in our local farms and urban community gardens, and clean up pollution in our most overburdened communities.
The legislation, designed to tackle the interconnected crises of mass unemployment, racial and economic injustice, a severe shortage of affordable housing, widespread food insecurity, and climate change, is supported by a coalition of 21 racial justice, labor, faith and environmental organizations called Renew Rhode Island.
The primary sponsors of the legislative package are all freshman legislators:
- H5674, S0540 – The Green Justice Zones Act from Representatives Morales, Henries, Batista, Potter, Cassar, and Kislak, in the House and Mack, Mendes, Acosta, Quezada, Calkin, Anderson, Bell, Kallman, DiMario, and Valverde in the Senate, would establish the first Green Justice Zone, a model that may be replicated in future years to ensure that all communities throughout the state have clean air and clean water.
- H5955, S0219 – The Food Security & Agriculture Jobs Act from Felix, Henries, Potter, Alzate, McGaw, Batista, Kazarian, Barros, Ranglin-Vassell, and Giraldo in the House and Acosta, Mack, Calkin, Anderson, Kallman, Bell, and Mendes in the Senate, would create agricultural jobs and opportunities with the goal of creating food security. The act would employ several mechanisms to do so, including the creation of the agriculture jobs bureau, to be located within the division of agriculture.
- H6074, S0468 – The Housing Justice Bill from Henries, Morales, Lombardi, Kazarian, Cortvriend, Ranglin-Vassell, Felix, Alzate, and Amore in the House and Anderson, Acosta, Bell, Calkin, Mack, Mendes, Kallman, and DiMario in the Senate, creates the housing jobs department and a series of other initiatives designed to create jobs in housing construction, specifically affordable and low income housing, green and solar energy jobs and programs for low income individuals.
“Over the last year, our majority BIPOC led coalition drafted the Rescue Rhode Island Act to achieve racial, economic, and climate justice in our communities,” said Monica Huertas, co-chair of the coalition. “Frontline communities, racial justice organizations, faith leaders, youth groups, labor organizations, and climate activists from across the state have come together to ask the General Assembly to pass the Rescue Rhode Island Act. Our legislators must listen.”
“I campaigned for a Green New Deal because people in my district and across Rhode Island need good jobs, clean air, and drinkable water,” said Senator Tiara Mack. “The Rescue Rhode Island Act will not only slash our state’s carbon emissions, but it will create thousands of good jobs and prioritize racial and economic justice every step of the way.”
“We need a Green New Deal to guarantee a livable and just future for all Rhode Islanders,” writes Sunrise Providence, a coalition member organization. “The Rescue Rhode Island Act – Rhode Island’s Green New Deal – will be a tremendous leap forward towards achieving that future. We expect every legislator who is truly committed to addressing the climate crisis to support it.”
The Renew RI Coalition includes Black Lives Matter New England PAC, Carpenters Union Local 330, Climate & Development Lab – Brown University, Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Environmental Justice League of RI, George Wiley Center, Groundwork RI, Providence Racial and Environmental Justice Committee, Rhode Island Food Policy Council, Rhode Island Political Cooperative, Rhode Island Sierra Club, RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty, RI Interfaith Power and Light, RI Women in the Trades, Roots 2Empower, South Side Community Land Trust, Sunrise Providence, Sunrise RI Youth, The People’s Port Authority, The Womxn Project and Gather Together United As 1.
The legislation is endorsed by an additional 17 organizations beyond the coalition including Black Lives Matter New England PAC, Childhood Lead Action Project, COYOTE RI, Demand Progress, Gasbusters RI, Hope’s Harvest RI, Movement Education Outdoors, Never Again Action RI, Nonviolent Schools RI, Our Revolution Rhode Island, Poor People’s Campaign Rhode Island, Reclaim RI, Showing Up for Racial Justice RI, South Providence Neighborhood Association, SunRise ForeverInc, Washington Park Association and Young Farmer Network of Southeastern New England.