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+ − Biography
Brian Patrick Kennedy (D) represents District 38 in Hopkinton and Westerly. First elected in November 1988, Representative Kennedy is the senior ranking member of the House of Representatives. He is Speaker Pro Tempore and the former long-time chairman of the House Committee on Corporations, of which he is still a member. He also serves on the House Committee on Oversight, the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, and the House Committee on Rules. He also is a member of the Joint Defense Economy Planning Commission.
During the 2018 session, Representative Kennedy introduced a law that tightens the regulatory controls on automobile airbags, comprehensively expanding their registration to prohibit the manufacture and importation of substandard airbags. He also sponsored a pro-business law to make things easier for food truck owners. The new law standardizes the business registration process for trucks or carts that sell food, ice cream or lemonade by creating a state mobile food establishment registration, and explicitly exempts such establishments from laws regulating hawkers and peddlers.
In 2017, he introduced an elderly-protection law that provides persons under limited guardianship with rights designed to protect them from mental, physical and financial abuse by guardians. He also successfully sponsored consumer-protection legislation that criminalizes residential mortgage fraud.
A strong advocate of business and consumer protections, he introduced legislation in 2016 that prohibits patent trolls, which prevents a person or company from making bad faith assertions of patent infringement against a Rhode Island business or individual. He also sponsored legislation that prevents unintentional lapses in insurance coverage by requiring insurers to offer a designation of an alternate contact.
He also introduced the Telemedicine Coverage Act, which requires health insurance policies to include provisions for the reimbursement of telemedicine services in the same manner as services provided through in-person consultation or contact. The new law protects patients who live in remote places like Block Island and shut-ins who can’t always get to a doctor’s office.
During the 2015 session, Chairman Kennedy sponsored several pieces of business-oriented legislation. Among them was a bill, signed into law by the governor, that requires a certificate of good standing be issued by the Rhode Island Division of Taxation indicating that all fees and taxes have been paid prior to any changes in status for any business entity. He also successfully sponsored legislation that allows certain annual reports to be submitted electronically.
Several bills sponsored by Representative Kennedy during the 2013 and 2014 sessions have become law, among them: social media privacy protections for prospective employees and college applicants; ‘Katie’s Law,’ which calls for the collection of DNA from individuals arrested for crimes of violence; the Affordable Clean Energy Security Act, which allows Rhode Island to participate in regional efforts to address electric prices; protection for life insurance policy beneficiaries; and creation of a database to verify auto insurance liability coverage.
In 2012, his legislation providing additional protections to Rhode Island homeowners with hurricane insurance policies was enacted into law. He was also the sponsor of several successful pro-consumer bills, including those providing health insurance protection. He was one of two House members chosen by the Rhode Island Hospitality Association as 2012 Hospitality Ambassadors of the Year for his successful bill dealing with gift certificates and gift cards donated to charities.
Representative Kennedy sits on a number of local boards, including the South County Tourism Council and Westerly Hospital. He is also involved with a variety of organizations, including as a member of the Executive Committees of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators and National Conference of State Legislators. He is also a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, the Insurance Legislators Foundation, National Association of Realtors and R.I. Association of Realtors.
Representative Kennedy, an estate broker and appraiser for Kennedy Realty Appraisal, has a master’s degree in business administration from Anna Maria College in 1987. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Providence College in 1983. He is a member of Chariho Regional High School’s Class of 1979. He was born on January 3, 1961.