K. Joseph (Joe) Shekarchi (D-SH023)
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Capitol: 401.222.2466
FAX: 401.222.4795
District: 401.639.9950
Representative
Room 323 State House 82 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02903-1105

District Office:
3524 West Shore Road
Warwick, RI 02886
Elected: 2012    Next Election: 2022
DOB: 5/17/1962
Committee Assignments
ChairmanJoint Committee on Legislative Services
Counties Representing
Kent

Bio

A life-long resident of Warwick, Rhode Island, Joe Shekarchi attended Randall Holden Elementary School, Hoxsie Elementary School, Mount St. Charles Academy, Suffolk University, and Suffolk University Law School.

Joe has served the residents of District 23 in Warwick since first being elected in November 2012. He was elected Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives in January 2021. From November 2016 through 2020, he served as House Majority Leader; previously, he was Chairman of the House Labor Committee.

As Speaker, Joe has pledged to make housing issues his top priority. Within this first two months as Speaker, Joe introduced a seven-bill package of legislation aimed at tackling the state's housing crisis from multiple angles by encouraging development while reducing barriers for people to find homes. Legislation he successfully enacted into law in 2021 includes the creation of Rhode Island's first-ever dedicated funding stream for affordable housing; the establishment of a new position for a state "housing czar" to serve as the state's lead official to coordinate and facilitate housing production; a ban on housing discrimination against individuals who receive government assistance to pay their rent; and the elimination of regulatory barriers that deter development. Also in 2021, Joe supported a pilot program to create permanent supportive housing for 125 chronically homeless Rhode Islanders. During his time in public office, Joe has focused on creating jobs, improving education, the health and welfare of individuals, advocating for senior citizens, government transparency, and many other issues. Joe sponsored several major economic development initiatives- he played a key role in negotiating the agreement between the State of Rhode Island, IGT, and Bally's Corporation, which resulted in a $250 million economic development plan, secured 1,100 well-paying Rhode Island jobs, and proactively protected Rhode Island's third-largest source of revenue. Previously, Joe sponsored the Qualified Jobs Incentive Act, which created more than 3,000 new well-paying private sector jobs with no fiscal impact to the state. In 2021, Joe championed the passage of landmark pay equity legislation, the passage of which had been sought by the bill's sponsors and supporters for years. The legislation comprehensively addresses wage discrimination based on gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

Joe also was instrumental in the passage of the Act on Climate, which is one of the most influential environmental bills approved by the General Assembly in decades. The Act updates Rhode Island's climate-emission reduction goals and makes them enforceable, positioning the state to boldly address climate change and prepare for a global economy that will be shifting to adapt to clean technology.

Under Joe's leadership as Speaker, legislation was enacted into law in 2021 which set safe minimum staffing levels for Rhode Island nursing homes while providing funding to raise wages for direct care staff to help recruit and retain a stable and qualified workforce; made the Rhode Island Promise program permanent, which provides up to two years of free tuition at Community College of Rhode Island for eligible graduating high school seniors; and continued the phase-out of the state car tax as part of the budget that was enacted with no broad-based tax increases.

Joe has also sponsored laws requiring health insurers to cover mastectomies without copays or deductibles, and prohibiting the denial of coverage for any off-label drug used for the treatment of disabling or life-threatening chronic disease as part of an individual's prescription drug coverage. He was also the sponsor of several good government reforms, including a long sought-after law to eliminate the "master lever" option on the Rhode Island ballot.

Joe has been a leader in protecting animals, receiving the Golden Paw Award from Animal Rescue Rhode Island for his advocacy. He was presented the National Council for Behavioral Health's Excellence in Advocacy Award for the passage of legislation he sponsored that requires training for law enforcement officers on mental health and substance abuse emergencies. He was also honored by the Hospitality Association as Ambassador of the Year, by the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, by AAA New England with a Traffic Safety Leadership Award, and by the Rhode Island Society for Human Resource Management with an Outstanding Public Servant Award for his significant contributions and advocacy for positive changes in the workplace and promoting an open and transparent government. In addition to his work in the House of Representatives, Joe has been very active in both the legal and business community for almost three decades. As an attorney, he practices law at his firm, Shekarchi Law Offices, located in Warwick. Joe served as the former chairman of the R.I. Auto Dealers Hearing Board and is a former member of both the R.I. Judicial Tenure and Discipline Board and the Coastal Resource Management Council. As a businessman, he contributed to the expansion of Warwick's tax base, creating jobs and fueling the city's economy. Joe Shekarchi- an honorable, caring and competent man who loves working tirelessly for the people of District 23 and Rhode Island!