Representative Dennis M. Canario
Deputy Majority Leader
First Vice-Chairman, House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare
Member, House Committee on Judiciary
Member, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Dennis M. Canario (D) has served the residents of Portsmouth, Little Compton and Tiverton in District 71 since first being elected in November 2012. He was named a Deputy Majority Leader in April 2014. He serves as the first vice-chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education, and Welfare and is a member of the House Committee on Judiciary and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
During the 2016 legislative session, Representative Canario continued his advocacy on behalf of patients in state care by passing a law that prohibits the use of prone restraints at certain state licensed facilities. In response to several cases involving the controversial restraint, he also sponsored legislation to create a commission to study restraint reporting requirements at those same facilities.
Representative Canario’s also introduced successful legislation in 2016 that incorporates the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's school bus driver in-service training series into the state’s annual training of bus drivers. He also passed legislation to allow for the production of raw milk cheese in accordance with US FDA standards and under a permit issued by the director of the Department of Health. Representative Canario sponsored legislation to establish a 13- member commission to develop recommendations for streamlining new business startups in Rhode Island.
During the 2015 legislative session, Representative Canario sponsored two bills that became law. The first authorizes the Department of Labor and Training to recover overpayments made due to fraud committed by a claimant to certain individuals. The second limits the amount of bail that may be forfeited upon a defendant’s violation of terms of bail to an amount set as surety and it prevents the Attorney General from filing a petition to forfeit bail until 45 days after the entry of the arrest warrant into the court’s database.
In 2014, Representative Canario worked with his East Bay colleagues to eliminate a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge and replace it with a comprehensive plan for road and bridge maintenance. He also co-sponsored legislation, now law, that requires political parties, political action committees and any person or entity advocating for a town or city charter-amending question to file a report of all expenditures in excess of $100 with the local board of canvassers. Another bill he sponsored that became law aims to crack down on graffiti by increasing penalties and holding perpetrators responsible for the damage they cause. He also sponsored bills to review how the state taxes retirement income and to create a registry for felony animal abusers.
Born on Aug. 18, 1960, he is a 1978 graduate of St. Andrew’s School in Barrington. He received an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Roger Williams University in 1988.
Representative Canario previously served six years on the Portsmouth Town Council, from 2004 to 2010, and held the position of Council President for two years. He is a retired Portsmouth police officer.
A founder of the Portsmouth Police Cadet Explorer Program, he also was the Portsmouth Senior Citizens Advocate from 1997 to 2001. He is a past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Rooney Council.
He resides in Portsmouth with his wife, Amy. He is the father of three children: Dennis, Olivia and Jonathan.
64 Birchwood Drive
Portsmouth, RI 02871