Last evening, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I sat and listened to several hours of testimony regarding several bills that dealt with gun-control. In particular, I engaged with several individuals testifying in favor of banning CCW holders from carrying their firearms on school grounds. I asked for the reasoning for this legislation since licensed concealed weapon holders are not the individuals committing gun violence at our schools, mentally deranged criminals are the perpetrators of these horrific acts and I doubt these criminals will abide by this law.
As an elected-representative, our job is to vet all consequences and facts before passing a bill, and our job is not to pass “feel good” legislation that will have no practical effect on our society. As I asked for proof of the effectiveness of this legislation, not one supporter of the bill could offer me any evidence or a compelling reason to support this legislation and strip away constitutionally supported rights of law-abiding citizens.
We must face the fact that these horrific school shootings are happening in “gun-free zones” because these criminals know that there isn’t another lawful gun owner present to stop them from committing their carnage on our children and school staff.
The executive director of the RI Coalition Against Gun Violence, Linda Finn, accused me of ignoring the gun violence problem in our society. As a life-long law enforcement officer, I take great exception to her accusation and I can guarantee you that I have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of gun violence far more than Ms. Finn would care to admit. And it is from these experiences as a police officer and detective that leads me to my decision not to support this legislation.
Rhode Island already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, I do not see how this piece of legislation will do anything but leave our children unprotected as sitting ducks in the school setting. The RICAGV are pumping out misinformation and playing to people’s fear and emotions and simply put, their arguments lack factual reasoning, evidence, and common sense.
I will always have an open mind about tackling gun violence, especially in regards to the safety of children, but I will not be manipulated into stripping constitutional rights due to a lack of factual evidence. Lots of “what if’s” were spoken at the hearing, except for this one: “If a school shooter goes to your child’s school, would you rather have the shooter able to freely roam the halls because the school is a gun-free zone, or would you rather have a lawfully armed individual who may be able to stop the carnage present?
As a retired law enforcement officer living in this dangerous world of ours, I’d rather not strip any possible school-shooting protections from our schools in the event the unthinkable occurs in Rhode Island
To my friends, family, and constituents,
I write to you today to explain why I voted in support of the “Reproductive Privacy Act” which codifies in state law the privacy rights and reproductive freedoms guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court in the case Roe v. Wade.
First, I know this is a very deeply passionate issue on both sides of the abortion debate. It was an issue that was very difficult to navigate but my decision to vote in favor of this legislation became clear to me leading up to the vote in the House Judiciary Committee and then later on the House floor.
I came to my decision to vote in favor of this bill in committee and in the full House session due to many different factors in my role as a state representative. I considered the testimony I listened to during the hours long committee meeting, the legal opinions on both sides of the issue, the four and a half hour House floor debate, and most importantly as a representative, the overwhelming constituent input I have received during this process. I took all these factors into consideration while also trying to put aside the widespread misinformation and propaganda that has been put forth during the legislative process.
To be completely honest and truthful, the decision to support this legislation was the hardest vote I have ever taken in my seven year career at the State House due to the issue’s complexity and my own personal views regarding abortion in our state.
The purpose for writing this letter is because I am well-aware of the differing passions on this issue, and while everyone may not all agree, and some may be very disappointed in my decision, please know that I understand and respect everyone’s view point on this divisive issue. I spent hours discussing the issue with close family members who are ardently pro-life, as well as, family members who are pro-choice. My decision to support this legislation came to be because in the end, after taking into consideration so many different arguments and factors, I believe that women should have complete autonomy over their own bodies. That is their right, just as I expect to have the ability to make my own decisions regarding my own body.
This was not an easy decision for me, but it is a vote I will stand by and I wanted to share with you my reasoning for this difficult decision.
Dennis M. Canario
RI Representative – District 71
Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) is calling the new fees and taxes in the governor’s FY 2020 budget proposal “an economic assault on all Rhode Islanders” and a troubling trend of taxing everything that needs to end.
“At this rate, the air we breathe will be subjected to a fee in the next budget proposal,” said Representative Canario.
After calling out the governor’s proposal to raise beach and camping fees last week, Representative Canario has heard from countless constituents reacting in complete anger to new fees and taxes in the governor’s budget proposal.
“We are already one of the highest taxed states in the country, yet the governor feels we still have yet to take every single nickel and dime out of our resident’s pockets. Our residents are watching their bank accounts shrink, our small businesses are closing and everyone is sick of being assessed a new fee on almost every aspect of their daily lives. It’s time the governor proposed her budgets as every Rhode Islander is forced to live – within our state’s economic means,” said Representative Canario.
The budget proposal includes new taxes on services such as Netflix, pest control services, landscaping, firearm and ammunition purchases, and mandatory medical insurance penalties.
“Taxing everything under the sun is not a path toward economic growth and development. No new resident or business is going to make the decision to move to Rhode Island because of our excessive fees and taxes. If we need more revenue for state operations, perhaps a better way to accomplish this is by growing our tax base and not through picking the pockets of our already stretched-thin current residents and businesses,” concluded Representative Canario.
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) is calling the newly proposed increased beach and camping fees ridiculous and devastating to low-income families and tourism in Rhode Island.
“This fee increase proposal is outrageous and will negatively affect not only Rhode Island residents who use and enjoy our beautiful natural resources but also the tourism industry that relies heavily upon our beach and park system. Especially concerning is the impact that these fee increases will have on our low-income families who camp with their families because it is much more affordable than traveling out of state for much-needed vacations. The camping fee increases are particularly egregious because the rate of increase is far more than the beach fee proposal. In some cases, camp site costs will increase 100%, for customers, which is not right and unreasonable. This will hurt our residents, tourists looking to enjoy our beautiful parks, and the small businesses that surround and rely upon tourists and residents using the camp grounds. This is simply bad policy and these proposals will not have the effect that is hoped and the fee increases will restrict access to some of our state’s most valuable and accessible resources,” said Representative Canario.
“All of these different fee increases add up for the normal hard-working Rhode Island families and I will fight against these fee increases during the legislative session just as I did in the past when the General Assembly lowered these fees during the 2016 session,” concluded Representative Canario
Rep. Canario introduces bill to impose $300 assessment for DUI conviction to fund substance abuse programs.
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) has introduced legislation (2019-H 5293) that would impose a $300 substance abuse education assessment for any conviction of driving under the influence or refusal to submit to a breathalyzer.
“As a retired police officer, I have seen the devastation that substance abuse causes countless times, especially in regard to driving while under the influence. I have also seen the positive effects that substance abuse education and prevention programs can have so I feel that linking funding for substance abuse programs with DUI convictions is a logical and proper course of action to take to combat substance abuse,” said Representative Canario.
The funds collected through the assessment would be allocated to the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals to be used to fund substance abuse prevention programs and student assistance programs.
Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton) has submitted the companion legislation (2019-S 0238) in the Senate.
Representative Canario’s bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
Inauguration day today at the State House. It is a distinct honor and privilege to represent district 71. Thank you Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Little Compton voters in your confidence in me to continue representing you. I am extremely grateful.
Congratulations to all those who won their election to the General Assembly. I also want to extend my thank you to those who ran for office but didn't quite make the finish line. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to take on such a task. No matter what side of the isle you are on, running for office is a huge task and I commend your efforts. I am deeply honored and sincerely grateful to continue serving as your State Representative. I look forward to working with everyone.
The Sogkonate Garden Club recently obtained a new sign for the Burchard Triangle garden on West Main Road in Little Compton. The Garden Club designed and maintain this garden thanks to the efforts of club members Kate Kelley and Reine Horowitz. The Tiverton Sign Shop assisted in creating and placing the sign.
Kate Kelley and Shirley Hardison applied for a state grant which was facilitated by the support of State Representative Dennis Canario. Pictured above left to right are Diane Moore, Rhea Brooks, State Rep. Dennis Canario, and Sue Talbot. Beautification and maintenance of the Burchard Triangle continues thanks to this grant.
“Bowties Against Bullying” Day at the State House. We also recognized two individuals from the Samaritans of Rhode Island; Executive Director Denise Panichas and new Board member, Mr. Ken Walsh.