At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilman John Goncalves proposed a resolution endorsing and urging the passage of Rhode Island House Bill 2021 H-5442, an act that would prevent the termination of utility services during periods of a declared emergency, including the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic. This resolution was co-sponsored by Councilors Helen Anthony (Ward 1), Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), and Kat Kerwin (Ward 12).
“Rhode Island unemployment rates remain at astoundingly high due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, so many hardworking men and women lost their job or were forced into dire economic situations. Nobody should have to choose between buying groceries and keeping their heat on. This bill would provide some relief for those who have found themselves faced with these difficult circumstances,” stated Councilman John Goncalves.
House Bill 2021 H-5442 would impose a moratorium on the termination of utility services throughout a limited period of any emergency declared by the Governor of Rhode Island, with particular guidelines in place in the event of a public health epidemic. Customers would be protected for the duration of the emergency and for 90 days after the emergency has ended.
“One year into the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is time we begin to think about what systems we can put in place to protect the financial and physical well-being of Rhode Islanders if we are faced with another crisis like the one we are currently fighting through. House Bill H-5442 will provide immediate relief while also building a long-term crisis response framework. I commend and support the members of the General Assembly who have worked to put this bill together,” added Councilman Goncalves.
The resolution will be sent to the Special Committee on State Legislative Affairs for further discussion.