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Representative Joseph M. McNamara

Chairperson, House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare

Member, House Committee on Rules

Member, Joint Committee on Healthcare Oversight


Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D) represents District 19 in Warwick and Cranston. First elected in November 1994, he serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare Committee. He also is a member of the House Committee on Rules.

In 2016, Representative McNamara introduced the successful Rhode Island Family Home Visiting Act, which calls for the Rhode Island Department of Health to work with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to develop and coordinate the standards for a system of early childhood home visiting services that would meet the needs of the state’s most vulnerable families with young children.

Representative McNamara also worked with the governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force to craft a package of legislation aimed at addressing the opioid overdose crisis. The bills were signed into law in 2016.

In 2015, Representative McNamara sponsored legislation that establishes regulations and standards for distance learning educational programs. Distance learning is a method of delivering education and instruction, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting, such as a classroom. He also spearheaded legislation that increases from 300 feet to 1,000 feet the distance within which a registered sex offender may not reside near a school.

Representative McNamara sponsored several bills during the 2013-14 session that became law, including the “Medical Technology Innovation Act.” The legislation addressed problems with the state’s certificate of need process and increased opportunities for the state’s medical tourism industry. That same session, Representative McNamara sponsored numerous other bills that became law, including increased protections for homeowners on leased land, improved career and technical education, and another that declared Rhode Island-style calamari as the state’s official appetizer.

In 2012, Representative McNamara sponsored legislation to require background checks for people seeking to participate in mentoring programs. That same year, his Statewide Virtual Education Act was signed into law to promote the use of virtual courses as part of public education.

He was one of two House members to receive the RI Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Legislator of the Year Award in 2013. In 2013, he also received the CCRI Foundation - Education Champion Award and the RI State Nurses Association Legislator of the Year Award. In 2012, Representative McNamara received the Tracey A. Kennedy Leadership in Advocacy Award from the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Heart Association, and he was recognized by the American Cancer Society for Lifetime Achievement in Tobacco Control.

Representative McNamara is the chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. He is a member of the Irish Social Club, the former President of the Governors Golf League, and is a member of the Warwick Firefighters Association. He also previously served as an Explorer Advisor for the Boy Scouts of America and the Committee Chairman of Pack 4. Additionally he is involved with Save the Bay, the Gaspee Day Committee, the Wyman P.T.A, and the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scouts. He is a member of the New England Board of Higher Education.

Representative McNamara is a retired educator, previously serving as the director of the Pawtucket School Department’s Alternative Learning Program. He received his Master of Education degree from Providence College. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Boston University and graduated from Pilgrim High School in Warwick.

Representative McNamara was born on September 7, 1950. He is married to Diane and they have two children, William and Katie.

23 Howie Avenue
Warwick, RI 02888
(401) 941-8319