Unopposed, Shekarchi to nonetheless campaign
State Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi isn’t facing a challenger in his bid for re-election, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t campaigning.
In formally announcing his intention to seek re-election in House District 23, Shekarchi said he will nevertheless run an “aggressive campaign” and will be visible and active during the campaign season.
“I was very pleased to have a great many of my bills passed into law during my first term,” Shekarchi said in a release. “I will continue to focus on improving the state’s economy and job climate. We took two major steps in that direction this year by reducing the corporate tax rate to the lowest in New England and raising the exemption on the state estate tax.”
Shekarchi, who declined the state-paid health insurance coverage, thereby saving taxpayers thousands of dollars, had a perfect attendance record during his first term. He didn’t miss a single vote on the House floor. He also supported raising the state’s minimum wage in an effort to help move the economy forward and voted for the 2014-15 state’s FY budget, which included an additional $10 million in state aid to URI, RIC and CCRI to extend the education tuition freeze.
“One of my proudest accomplishments was introducing and then securing support and ultimate passage of the legislation that eliminated the so-called Master Lever,” said Shekarchi.
The Shekarchi bill will eliminate the Master Lever for the 2016 elections.
“This issue has been debated and tabled for several decades, but the House unanimously passed the bill this year. The Master Lever has truly outlived its usefulness,” he said.
Earlier this year, Shekarchi was named the chairman of the House Labor Committee, a rare appointment for a member still serving in his first term. Shekarchi was a strong supporter of Nicholas Mattiello to succeed Gordon Fox after his resignation as House Speaker.
Shekarchi is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Shekarchi considers his bill, which makes major reforms to the worker’s compensation laws to save taxpayers’ money and give injured workers their payments on a more expedited basis, a major success.
Another Shekarchi bill that was enacted provides local municipalities relief from the state mandates regarding the construction of affordable housing.
Shekarchi also worked closely with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin on the passage of a bill that increases penalties for unscrupulous employers who take advantage of their workers in the payment of wages.
Shekarchi also continues being a strong advocate for animal rights’ issues. One of his successful bills now makes abusers of animals financially responsible for the cost of the care related to their mistreatment and strengthens the authority of the Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), while another new Shekarchi law gives inspectors additional authority with cases of diseased animals.
“While I had a very gratifying and rewarding first term, there is certainly much more that needs to be accomplished,” said Shekarchi. “I look forward to continuing my fight to gain passage of my bill offering tax incentives to businesses willing to locate and grow in Rhode Island, and I am energized to continue to push for my legislation to reform the unfair auto excise tax.”