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Representative Joseph M. McNamara

Chairperson, Health, Education and Welfare Committee

Member, House Labor Committe

Member, Environment and Natural Resources Committee

Member, Joint Committee on Healthcare Oversight


Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D) represents District 19 in Warwick and Cranston. First elected in November 1994, he is the Chairman of the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee. He is also a member of the House Labor Committee and the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

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.

Several bills he sponsored during the 2013-14 session have become law, including the “Medical Technology Innovation Act,” which addressed problems with the state’s certificate of need process and opened the door to the medical tourism industry. Another new law establishes steps the state will take to overhaul and energize career and technical education in the state. He was also the prime sponsor of a bill, now law, that offers protections for owners of homes on leased land, and another that declares Rhode Island-style calamari as the state’s official appetizer.

In 2012, he was the sponsor of successful legislation which requires a background check for people seeking to participate in mentoring programs. His Statewide Virtual Education Act was signed into law in 2012 to promote the use of virtual courses as part of public education in the state. Rep. McNamara is a member of the New England Board of Higher Education.

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

Representative McNamara is also 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.

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