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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, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and the Special Legislative Commission on Defense Economy Planning.

During the 2018 legislative session, Representative Canario’s legislation to remove firearms from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others, the Red Flag bill, became law. He also sponsored legislation that became law which increases the penalties for bad contractors. He sponsored a bill to exempt disabled residents from ID card fees.

Representative Canario saw three pieces of legislation he sponsored become law during the 2017 legislative session. The first bill created a 19-member special legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, and he co-chaired the commission. The second bill, to address the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, strengthened the penalties for fentanyl analogs and synthetic opioids. Another of his bills that became law requires medical treatment facilities to provide discharge plans for patients with nonsubstance abuse-related mental health disorders.

Representative Canario 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.

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, and four grandchildren.


64 Birchwood Drive
Portsmouth, RI 02871
(401) 683-4926