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Biography

Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi

House Majority Leader

K. Joseph Shekarchi (D) has served the residents of District 23 in Warwick since first being elected in November 2012. He was chairman of the House Labor Committee until his Democratic colleagues elected him as the House Majority Leader on November 10, 2016.

In 2016, Leader Shekarchi continued his efforts to improve Rhode Island’s economy for businesses and workers. He sponsored the ‘Premium Jobs Initiative,’ which is a revenue neutral growth incentive for the insurance industry. The new law links Rhode Island’s insurance premium tax rate to the number of jobs created by companies in the industry.

Leader Shekarchi also introduced the overhaul of the state’s Administrative Procedures Act to streamline regulatory processes for small businesses. He created a Unified Development Review, a law which helps local boards expedite the zoning review of development projects. Also, Leader Shekarchi introduced successful legislation that gives employees additional avenues to collect their unpaid wages from employers.

Leader Shekarchi also fought to increase public health and animal welfare during the 2016 session. He sponsored legislation that prohibits health insurers from not covering any off-label drug used for the treatment of disabling or life-threatening chronic disease as part of their prescription drug coverage. Leader Shekarchi also authored a new law to ban the possession, sale or trade of shark fins by those without a permit.

In 2015, as chairman of the House Committee on Labor, Leader Shekarchi authored the successful “Qualified Jobs Incentive Act.” The law, intended to increase the number of high-paying jobs in the state, provides tax credits to companies that hire new “qualified” full-time employees with a salary that is at least 250 percent of the state’s hourly minimum wage. This has already delivered results for the Rhode Island economy with the recent announcement by General Electric (GE) that the company will bring 100 high-paying tech jobs to Rhode Island and plans to bring hundreds more in the coming years, bringing the total number of approved jobs through the act to 218 jobs so far.

During his time as chairman of the House Committee on Labor, Leader Shekarchi also managed two successive increases to the state’s minimum wage in 2014 and 2015. He also reformed the state’s Workers’ Compensation system, including allowing for the use of electronic fund transfers to deliver weekly workers’ compensation benefits. In 2014, Rep. Shekarchi authored the elimination of the “master lever.” That year, he also sponsored a law that expanded opportunities for communities and developers to conform to municipal ordinances regarding the construction of affordable housing units in a community.

During his first two sessions in the House, Leader Shekarchi sponsored four animal rights’ bills that were successfully enacted into law. In 2015, his bill gave the R.I. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals custody of seized dogs. In 2014, he authored a law that makes individuals guilty of animal abuse responsible for the cost of care of those animals by the RISPCA. He is a graduate of Mount St. Charles Academy, Class of 1980, and graduated from Suffolk University in 1984. He returned to Suffolk to earn his law degree in 1990. In addition to his duties as a legislator, Representative Shekarchi is an attorney at the Shekarchi Law Office. He has been the legal counsel to the Warwick Housing Authority for 16 years and was a former Warwick solicitor.

He served as the former chairman of the R.I. Auto Dealers Hearing Board and is a former member of both the R.I. Judicial Tenure and Discipline Board and the Coastal Resource Management Council. Born on May 17, 1962, Representative Shekarchi is a life-long Warwick resident.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
3524 West Shore Road
Warwick, Rhode Island 02886
(401) 827-0100