At a ceremonial bill signing at the State House, Governor
Raimondo, joined by sponsors and supporters of the legislation, signed several
bills relating to Rhode Island’s veterans
STATE HOUSE –Governor Raimondo signed several pieces of
legislation involving Rhode Island’s veterans at a ceremonial bill signing held
in the State Room of the State House this week.
“There is no doubt in our minds that we – as a government,
as a state, as a people – owe an extraordinary debt to those who have served
and are serving in our nation’s military and defending the freedom and rights
we all enjoy. With that said, we cannot do enough to assist our veterans,
active duty military and their spouses for they are truly a valuable asset to
our community,” said Sen. Walter S. Felag, Jr., Chairman of the Senate
Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs (D-Dist. 10, Warren,
“Our veterans have bravely sacrificed so much for us all and
they deserve to be treated as the heroes they are, with dignity, gratitude, and
respect. I will never stop fighting for veterans’ rights up at the State
House because they deserve nothing less after fighting for us all,” said Rep.
Samuel A. Azzinaro, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
(D-Dist. 37, Westerly).
The first bill (2017-H 6061aa
/ 2017-S 1000),
sponsored by Chairman Azzinaro and Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11,
Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton), designates October 23rd as a day to
commemorate the nine Rhode Island marines killed in the 1983 terrorist attack
in Beirut, Lebanon.
“These nine heroes from Rhode Island committed the ultimate
sacrifice to defend the principles and ideals that America so cherishes.
They deserve our commemoration and our respect and this day will memorialize
their honor and duty to our country that these brave marines so thoroughly
deserve,” said Senator Seveney.
The second bill (2017-H 5280A
/ 2017-S 0085A),
sponsored by Rep. Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket) and Sen. Marc A.
Cote (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), gives veteran-owned small
businesses a preference in the state purchasing process, akin to the benefit
that is awarded women-owned and minority-owned businesses. The legislation sets
a goal that at least 3 percent of the total value of all state contracts
available to businesses in each fiscal year be awarded to those owned by
“A veteran’s preference is a way to use the power of state
contracts in a way that upholds our state’s values of supporting our veterans.
But we think it’s also a smart investment for the state. Veterans have already
proven themselves disciplined, hard workers who are committed to the job.
That’s exactly what we should be looking for when we sign contracts,” said
“Rhode Islanders are very appreciative of veterans. I’m sure
our citizens will be proud that the state contracts that their tax dollars fund
will have the additional benefit of supporting veterans under this bill,” said
Senator Cote, who has been pushing for the bill since 2014. “One of the best
ways our state can thank veterans for the sacrifices they made for our country
is to help ensure they are employed after they are discharged. A veterans’
preference in state contracts is a way we can leverage the state’s buying power
to do just that and help veteran-owned businesses succeed.”
The third bill (2017-H 5766A
/ 2017-S 0540A),
sponsored by Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) and
Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), expands the eligibility
of Gold Star license plates by making the plate available to not only the
parents of deceased military members killed in action, but also to other family
members who are eligible to receive a gold star lapel button, which include
widows or widowers, step or adoptive parents, children or stepchildren, and
siblings or half-siblings.
“It is important that we not only recognize our brave men
and women of the armed forces, but also their family members who sacrifice just
as much as their fallen kin. These license plates will serve as a
reminder of the true cost of freedom we enjoy in this country,” said
“This is a small token to honor not only our brave men and
women who have committed the ultimate sacrifice in battle, but also to their
family members who have lost their loved ones while they defend and fight for
our country and our freedoms abroad,” said Senator Lynch Prata.
The fourth bill (2017-H 6315
/ 2017-S 0816),
sponsored by Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and Chairman
Felag, provides for amendments to the veterans' services strategic plan
advisory committee to provide effective support for veterans and to collaborate
and coordinate existing state, federal, and private veterans' services to meet
and exceed the needs and expectations of Rhode Island veterans and their
The fifth bill (2017-H 6342
/ 2017-S 0984),
sponsored by Chairman Azzinaro and Chairman Felag, names one of the two
conference rooms in the new Rhode Island Veterans Home as the "1st
Sergeant P. Andrew McKenna US Army 7th Special Forces Group Memorial Conference
Room." First Sergeant Peter Andrew McKenna, Jr., a seventeen year
veteran of the Army and a Bristol resident, was killed in August of 2015 while
serving his country in Afghanistan.
The last bill (2017-H 6341
/ 2017-S 0985),
also sponsored by Chairman Azzinaro and Chairman Felag, names the other of the
two conference rooms in the new Rhode Island Veterans Home as the "S.
Michael Minutelli Memorial Conference Room.” S. Michael Minutelli was a Bristol
resident, veteran, and a Veterans Advocate for Vietnam Era Veterans Association
of America up until his death in 2012.