July 22, 2015

Governor signs law phasing out cesspools in Rhode Island

STATE HOUSE — Legislation sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski and Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi that will eventually phase out cesspools in Rhode Island was signed today by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo at the Save the Bay Center. (H 5668 and S 369)

 “This legislation not only protects our environment, but gets Rhode Islanders in the building trades back to work updating and modernizing our wastewater treatment systems,” said Governor Raimondo. “By setting us on a path to remove cesspools from yards and other property across the state, we will be taking important steps towards improving the water quality of Narragansett Bay, our beaches, and our drinking water.”

Many Rhode Island homes have outdated underground wastewater systems. These systems, often cesspools, are inefficient and ineffective and contribute to public health and environmental hazards. This legislation replaces outdated systems at the point of sale and improves neighborhoods and local infrastructure.

“Cesspools are an outdated form of handling wastewater; for this reason, the state banned the installation of new cesspools over 40 years ago,” said Senator Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham). “The main advantage of the using point-of-sale approach for cesspool phase-out is that the cost of replacing a cesspool can be taken into account in the selling price of the home and/or the financing of the home.”

Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) added, “With this new law, we are taking a crucial step toward reducing pollution and contamination of one of our state's most precious natural resources: our water. We are the Ocean State, and because water never stops traveling, every community must be engaged in protecting our resources. I'm proud that this law will set the wheels in motion for the eventual removal of all remaining cesspools, and in doing so eliminating a threat to the health of our marine economy, our environment and the public.”

Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management, said, “Rhode Island is a national leader in advanced septic technology, yet there are still about 25,000 cesspools throughout the state. Now is the time to eliminate these antiquated and substandard systems and move forward with modern solutions. Great strides have been made over the past decades to reduce the discharge of pollutants into our waters, including a dramatic improvement in our wastewater treatment efforts. I laud the passage of the new point-of-sale requirement and will continue our important efforts to clean up, restore and safeguard Rhode Island's precious water resources.”

Cesspool elimination bill signed into law

video

Jennifer Quinn; with reporting by Chantee Lans
ROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Governor Gina Raimondo signed a piece of legislation into law Wednesday aimed at protecting public health and the environment.
The law looks to eliminate the remaining 25,000 house cesspools in the state. It was first proposed five years ago by several lawmakers, including House Representative Teresa Tanzi.
“I think it’s a really important day. I think that there’s so many different ways that we’re going to benefit as a state. Without getting too graphic, just consider all of the raw sewage, all of the untreated sewage from your home would leave the home and enter a colander and remain untreated,” said Tanzi.
The new law requires homeowners to replace the cesspool with either a septic tank or hooking up to their municipality’s sewage system less than one year after they sell their home.
Representative Tanzi says replacing a cesspool with a septic tank typically costs between $12,000-$15,000. Homeowners who choose to attach to their municipality’s sewage system pay around $7,000. Two percent loans are available for those who qualify.
Officials estimate that nearly 400 homeowners a year will be removing cesspools, a plan that will help bring out jobs.
“This legislation not only protects our environment, but gets Rhode Islanders in the building trades back to work updating and modernizing our wastewater treatment systems,” said Raimondo. “By setting us on a path to remove cesspools from yards and other property across the state, we will be taking important steps towards improving the water quality of Narragansett Bay, our beaches, and our drinking water.”
An official bill signing ceremony took place at the Save The Bay Center Wednesday morning.

July 15, 2015

Governor signs legislation phasing out cesspools

STATE HOUSE – Legislation that provides for the eventual removal of all cesspools in the state has been signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The Senate bill (2015-S 0369A), introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) and the House version (2015-H 5668A) introduced by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) amend the Rhode Island Cesspool Act of 2007, including replacing individual sewage disposal systems with onsite wastewater treatment systems and would require cesspool removal or replacement upon the transfer of the property where the cesspool is located under certain circumstances.

The old law required the phase-out of cesspools located within 200 feet of a shoreline, wetland or drinking water supply. The new law provides for the eventual removal of all cesspools beyond these 200 foot boundaries.

“Cesspools are an outdated form of handling wastewater; for this reason, the state banned the installation of new cesspools over 40 years ago,” said Senator Sosnowski. “The main advantage of the using point-of-sale approach for cesspool phase-out is that the cost of replacing a cesspool can be taken into account in the selling price of the home and/or the financing of the home.”

An onsite wastewater treatment system is any system of piping, tanks, disposal areas, alternative toilets or other facilities designed to function as a unit to convey, store, treat and/or dispose of sanitary sewage by means other than discharge into a public sewer system.

The legislation provides flexibility when it comes to the responsibility of replacing the cesspool at the point of sale, leaving it to agreement whether it will be the responsibility of the buyer or the seller.

“Cesspools are not sewage treatment and they just dump untreated waste into the ground. We’ve recognized the hazards they present to the environment for so long that it’s now been nearly 50 years since our state even allowed new construction of them,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “We’ve made slow progress toward eliminating them, but we need to go further and recognize that nowhere in Rhode Island is an acceptable place for a cesspool.”

Representative Tanzi said the cost to homeowners, which averages $12,000, has long been the sticking point that has prevented the state from eliminating all cesspools in the past, but making the requirement triggered by the transfer of property provides more financing opportunities.

The Clean Water Finance Agency also has two low-interest financing programs to assist homeowners: the Community Septic System Loan Program to replace the cesspool and the Sewer Tie-in Loan Fund for connecting to sewers.

“This is not only a good move for the environment,” said Representative Tanzi. “It is also excellent for jobs and the economy. There are still 25,000 cesspools in our state, and with about 400 of them being eliminated annually under this bill, this is going to put people to work.”

June 24, 2015

Legislation phasing out cesspools passes both houses of General Assembly

STATE HOUSE – Legislation that would provide for the eventual removal of all cesspools in the state has passed both legislative chambers of the General Assembly and now moves to the governor’s office.

The Senate bill (2015-S 0369A), introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) and the House version (2015-H 5668A) introduced by Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) amend the Rhode Island Cesspool Act of 2007, including replacing individual sewage disposal systems with onsite wastewater treatment systems and would require cesspool removal or replacement upon the transfer of the property where the cesspool is located under certain circumstances.

The current law requires the phase-out of cesspools located within 200 feet of a shoreline, wetland or drinking water supply. This bill provides for the eventual removal of all cesspools beyond these 200 foot boundaries.

“Cesspools are an outdated form of handling wastewater; for this reason, the state banned the installation of new cesspools over 40 years ago,” said Senator Sosnowski. “The main advantage of the using point-of-sale approach for cesspool phase-out is that the cost of replacing a cesspool can be taken into account in the selling price of the home and/or the financing of the home.”

An onsite wastewater treatment system is any system of piping, tanks, disposal areas, alternative toilets or other facilities designed to function as a unit to convey, store, treat and/or dispose of sanitary sewage by means other than discharge into a public sewer system.

The legislation provides flexibility when it comes to the responsibility of replacing the cesspool at the point of sale, leaving it to agreement whether it will be the responsibility of the buyer or the seller.

“Cesspools are not sewage treatment and they just dump untreated waste into the ground. We’ve recognized the hazards they present to the environment for so long that it’s now been nearly 50 years since our state even allowed new construction of them,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “We’ve made slow progress toward eliminating them, but we need to go further and recognize that nowhere in Rhode Island is an acceptable place for a cesspool.”

Representative Tanzi said the cost to homeowners, which averages $12,000, has long been the sticking point that has prevented the state from eliminating all cesspools in the past, but making the requirement triggered by the transfer of property provides more financing opportunities.

The Clean Water Finance Agency also has two low-interest financing programs to assist homeowners: the Community Septic System Loan Program to replace the cesspool and the Sewer Tie-in Loan Fund for connecting to sewers.

“This is not only a good move for the environment,” said Representative Tanzi. “It is also excellent for jobs and the economy. There are still 25,000 cesspools in our state, and with about 400 of them being eliminated annually under this bill, this is going to put people to work.”

June 18, 2015

House passes Tanzi bill phasing out cesspools

STATE HOUSE – The House today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Teresa Tanzi to provide for the eventual removal of all cesspools in the state.

The bill would amend the Rhode Island Cesspool Act of 2007, which required the phase-out of cesspools located within 200 feet of a shoreline, wetland or drinking water supply. This bill (2015-H 5668A), which takes effect Jan. 1, provides for the eventual removal of all cesspools beyond the previously set boundaries. It would require that any cesspool be replaced upon the sale or transfer of the property where the cesspool is located.

“Cesspools are not sewage treatment and they just dump untreated waste into the ground. We’ve recognized the hazards they present to the environment for so long that it’s now been nearly 50 years since our state even allowed new construction of them,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “We’ve made slow progress toward eliminating them, but we need to go further and recognize that nowhere in Rhode Island is an acceptable place for a cesspool.”

The legislation would require that when a property with a cesspool is sold or otherwise transferred (other than between immediate family members) the cesspool must be replaced with an onsite water treatment system (typically a septic system) or a connection to a sewer system.

Representative Tanzi said the cost to homeowners, which averages $12,000, has long been the sticking point that has prevented the state from eliminating all cesspools in the past, but making the requirement triggered by the transfer of property provides more financing opportunities.

The legislation provides allows when it comes to the responsibility of replacing the cesspool at the point of sale, leaving it up to the buyer and the seller to negotiate which will be responsible, or whether they will share the cost in some manner.

The Clean Water Finance Agency also has two low-interest financing programs to assist homeowners: the Community Septic System Loan Program to replace the cesspool and the Sewer Tie-in Loan Fund for connecting to sewers.

“While it will still be many years before the last cesspool is eliminated in Rhode Island, this is an important step toward that goal,” said Representative Tanzi.

“This is not only a good move for the environment, it is also excellent for jobs and the economy. There are still 25,000 cesspools in our state, and with about 400 of them being eliminated annually under this bill, this is going to put people to work.”

The bill will now advance to the Senate, which passed identical legislation (2015-S 0369A) sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) May 27. 

June 16, 2015

In R.I. domestic-violence cases, suspects often keep guns


A review of all domestic violence restraining orders issued in Rhode Island for the past two years found that judges rarely require suspects to turn in their firearms, even when the alleged victims say there are firearms present or that they've been threatened with a gun.

By Amanda Milkovits

Providence Journal Staff Writer


PROVIDENCE, R.I.  — A review of all domestic violence restraining orders issued in Rhode Island for the past two years found that judges rarely require suspects to turn in their firearms, even when the alleged victims say there are firearms present or that they've been threatened with a gun.
Of the 1,609 protective orders granted from 2012 to 2014, Rhode Island judges ordered the suspects to surrender firearms in just 5 percent of the cases. The results varied from court to court, with Kent County District Court and Washington County District Court judges ordering guns surrendered at far higher rates than judges in the remaining six district and family courts.
The research comes from Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that has lobbied for gun-control bills now languishing at the General Assembly, including legislation that would require people convicted of domestic violence crimes and subject to restraining orders to surrender their firearms. Everytown released the research and its data to The Journal first.
While federal law prohibits people under domestic violence protective orders from buying or possessing guns, there's no provision for how the guns are surrendered, and in Rhode Island, the matter is left to a judge's discretion. Everytown wanted to see how that discretion is applied, said its research director, Ted Alcorn.
What they found, Alcorn said, was a "wake-up call." 
Visiting each courthouse, the researchers collected the 1,609 final protective orders, totaling more than 22,000 pages. They reviewed all of the handwritten complaints and the judges' final orders, looking for key points, Alcorn said. Did the person seeking the order mention the presence of guns, threats against themselves or their children, or ask the court to remove the guns? When the judge granted the restraining order, was the suspect also told to surrender any firearms?
"When you see the narratives, they tell a powerful story," Alcorn said. 
One was a Providence woman with young children, who wrote that her estranged husband broke into her home and said he was going back to his truck to get his guns. In another, a woman said the man threatened to "blow my head off" and made her lay on the floor of his apartment with a gun to her head and "said he could put a bullet in my head and leave me there." In both cases, the judges granted restraining orders but didn't require the men to surrender their firearms.
The findings
Firearms were mentioned in 23 percent of all cases, Alcorn said. Judges ordered guns surrendered in 13 percent of cases when told the suspect had access to a gun or threatened to get a gun to hurt the complainant. Overall, judges ordered firearms removed in 5 percent of cases, according to the research.
Everytown lawyer Luke Entelis said the findings were striking. "These people are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms, and Rhode Island courts are allowed to order them to turn in their guns," Luke said.
But they don't. "It just doesn't make sense why the decision would be left in the hands of the court," Luke Entelis said.
The Journal shared Everytown's initial report with Craig Berke, spokesman for the Rhode Island Judiciary, who cautioned that the numbers don't reveal all. While Everytown collected the documents, the group didn't listen to the recordings of the hearings, when Berke said evidence would have been presented. A "mention" or "indication" of firearms in the narrative of a complaint isn't evidence, he said, it's just an allegation.  
Every case is different and has its own unique set of facts," Berke said. "Our judges have to weigh evidence and apply the law, and apply it evenly on both sides. These numbers get your attention, but they don't tell the whole story."
As for why different courts show different results, Berke said, "not only is every single case different, every judge is different."
The legislation
The Rhode Island Judiciary is not taking a position on the bills sponsored by South Kingstown Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Barrington Sen. Cynthia Coyne that would prohibit gun possession by people convicted of domestic violence and those subject to protective orders, during the length of the order. The legislation requires the state courts to order the surrender of firearms in those cases.  The legislative session is waning, and the two bills — House Bill 5655 and Senate Bill 503 — haven't advanced since they were heard in April. There's little indication that the legislation will move forward.
Gun rights advocates came out by the dozens to oppose these bills and other legislation that targeted firearms, calling them "overly broad." For Tanzi, the Everytown report helped build a strong case for the bills. "It was a relief to finally have quality information, because people on both sides of the issue are very passionate, so it gives me more confidence to move forward based on facts," Tanzi said. 
Tanzi said she understands the data doesn't show the complexity of the cases. However, 15 other states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, have closed the loophole left by federal law. Why not Rhode Island?  
"People tend to view this as a gun bill. To me, it's a domestic violence bill," Tanzi said. "When we get people to see this isn't a Second Amendment right, this is about a right for families to feel safe, then I think we do have a strong chance. Letting convicted abusers stay armed doesn't make sense."
The Journal shared the study with Deborah DeBare, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who said she was "astounded" by the findings. "I feel that it's the legal system's responsibility to provide blanket protection to make sure firearms are removed," she said Monday.
 amilkovi@providencejournal.com
(401) 277-7213
On Twitter: @AmandaMilkovits

May 26, 2015

Media Advisory: Tanzi, Sosnowski to host ‘Tar Wars’ fifth graders Students will present posters promoting tobacco-free living

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) will host fifth graders from around the state tomorrow at a State House event promoting tobacco-free living.

The event, which will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27, at 3:45 p.m. in the State House rotunda, is being presented by Tobacco Free Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians in celebration of World No Tobacco Week, May 24 through 31. The legislators will also recognize the children and the program on the floors of their respective chambers during the legislative sessions following the event.

Also expected to participate are Department of Health Director Nicole Everline Alexander-Scott and Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians President Keith Callahan.

During the event, the fifth graders will present to government leaders the posters they designed to promote tobacco-free living as part of the “Tar Wars” program promoting children’s health. Tar Wars is an education program for fourth- and fifth-graders from the American Academy of Family Physicians designed to help reduce the number of youth using tobacco products and to empower young people to advocate for their own health, talk to their family and friends about not smoking and resist advertising messages and peer pressure.

The Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians leads the efforts in Rhode Island annually, including the call for poster designs to engage students in the Tar Wars education effort. This is the first time the posters will be showcased at the State House. Winners of the poster design contest usually visit the Rhode Island congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.

May 12, 2015

Advocates, survivors support bill to keep guns from domestic abusers

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi and Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne were joined by public safety advocates today in support of their legislation to prohibit gun possession by those subject to domestic violence protective orders and to allow courts to ban domestic abusers from having guns.

Members of the Rhode Island chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, joined the sponsors in a news conference on the legislation and lobbied lawmakers to support the legislation (2015-S 05032015-H 5655).

The bill would require courts to order the surrender of firearms by those who are subject to a restraining order for domestic abuse for as long as the restraining order is in effect. It would also prohibit a restrained person from purchasing, receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm during that time. Additionally, it would allow the courts to prohibit domestic abusers from having guns. The bill also tightens up the language of existing law, requiring specifically that guns be surrendered to the Rhode Island State Police, local police departments or a licensed gun dealer.

“During my two decades working in Rhode Island law enforcement, like all police officers, I saw the terrible toll of domestic violence,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), who is a retired state trooper. “It is common sense that victims are much, much safer if their abusers do not have guns. In fact, research shows that women in domestic violence situations are five times more likely to be killed if a gun is present. This is something we need to address. And we need to address it now.”

Said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), “I’ve been an advocate for the safety of Rhode Island women for a long time. The most important thing we can do to help domestic violence victims is to keep guns out of the hands of their abusers. It is time for Rhode Island to join the list of proactive states that have addressed this problem—we need to pass H 5655 and S 503.”

In April, Everytown for Gun Safety Action fund and Rhode Island Moms Demand Action released a poll showing that four out of five Rhode Islanders support the change the bill would make.

“This legislative session, Rhode Island has the chance to take a big step to help women in our state who are at risk,” said Jennifer Smith Boylan, volunteer chapter leader of the Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Thankfully we have nearly 10,000 Rhode Island Everytown supporters behind us, and the overwhelming support of the public—four out of five people in our state agree domestic abusers should not have access to guns.”

At the news conference in support of the bill, the sponsors and the organization were joined by Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee as well as Barrington resident Laura Hastings, a survivor of domestic violence.

“Take it from someone who has experienced domestic violence firsthand — the last thing needed in a domestic violence situation is a gun,” said Hastings. “Rhode Island continues to lag behind our neighbors in Connecticut and Massachusetts in denying domestic abusers access to guns. Let’s fix that by passing these bills.”

Recently, five Rhode Island mayors from cities representing hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders signed a  letter urging lawmakers to pass the legislation. The letter stated that, in passing the bill, the state could “both support the Second Amendment and do more to protect victims of domestic violence.”

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a grassroots movement of American mothers started after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School to fight for public safety measures that respect the Second Amendment and protect people from gun violence. Everytown is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with more than 2.5 million supporters and more than 40,000 donors including moms, mayors, survivors and everyday Americans. 

April 17, 2015

Committee hears Tanzi bill that would take guns away from domestic abusers, those with restraining orders

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) testified this week before the House Judiciary Committee in support of her proposed legislation that would keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.

“When a victim makes the determination to leave an abuser, the gravity of the situation is clear,” said Representative Tanzi, who used to work as an advocate for victims of domestic violence. “An abuser’s power comes from control, and the thought of losing that control is too often unbearable; and statistically speaking, a time of departure is the time for escalating harm to occur. This bill offers one more layer of protection to give these families, these victims of domestic violence. Nothing is a guarantee of safety. What this bill would do is offer them a fighting chance.”

The bill (2015-H 5655) would also mandate that persons subject to protective orders due to domestic abuse cases would be compelled to turn in their firearms.

“Women are at an increased risk of harm shortly after separation from an abusive partner, and the period following the issuance of a domestic violence restraining order is often the most dangerous period for victims,” Representative Tanzi told the House Judiciary Committee. “In a study of 230 women killed by their intimate partners, 20 percent of the women who had an active restraining order were killed within two days of receiving it. And 36.4 percent were killed within 30 days of the order being served.”

The bill amends an existing law by directing courts to order domestic abusers subject to protective orders to turn in firearms. It also adds language that would prevent the restrained person from purchasing, receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm while the protective order is in effect.

Representative Tanzi’s proposal to prohibit gun possession for those convicted of domestic violence crimes or those subject to domestic violence restraining orders has support from 80 percent of Rhode Islanders, according to polling released by Everytown for Gun Safety this week.

In addition to the firearm prohibition in protective orders, the bill would prohibit convicted domestic abusers from having guns. The bill also tightens up the language of the law, requiring specifically that domestic abusers turn guns in to the Rhode Island State Police, local police departments or a licensed gun dealer.

“This is simply a bill that would protect Rhode Island domestic violence victims from the threat of armed abusers,” Representative Tanzi testified. “It doesn’t change the process for prosecution; it does not deviate from our current established due process requirements. It does bring us in line with current federal statute; it does offer many of the same protections our neighboring states already have; it does give our state prosecutors the ability to offer the same robust protections to victims of domestic violence that our federal prosecutors can.”

The committee also heard statistics from the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence that since 1980, every child murdered in a domestic violence homicide incident in Rhode Island, was killed by a firearm.

“Sadly, this is not very surprising, considering that the risk of homicide for a woman in a domestic violence situation increases five-fold when a gun is present,” said Representative Tanzi.

A Senate version of the bill (2015-S 0503), which has been introduced by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

March 31, 2015

Emily shows legislators benefit of integrated employment programs


Kelcy Dolan
The Warwick Beacon 


Brown, a prep cook for Buffalo Wild Wings in her late 20s, was excited last Tuesday as legislators and policy makers from across the state visited her at work for Take Your Legislator to Work Day, as part of National Disability Employment Month.
Buffalo Wild Wings hired Emily, who has developmental disabilities, almost a year ago and she now works 15 to 20 hours a week preparing portion sizes. 
Last month Emily was named employee of the month. 
Her manager, Eric Shapiro, said, “Emily is a huge asset, our staff loves her; she’s one of us. Without her, we would have trouble opening our doors on time.”
Take Your Legislator to Work Day, a campaign by APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First), is to help policy makers see the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities and the success of community integrated employment so that they may be better informed when making decisions.
Gayle Reid, a board member for APSE and the employment program coordinator for the Trudeau Center, said, “The reality is that legislators make decisions on how money moves and where it goes. So, it is crucial that they see the importance of what we do and how we are helping to improve the lives of individuals with development disabilities.”
Emily, a client of the Trudeau Center, took part in the Trudeau Center’s culinary training program while continuing to work a part-time job in janitorial services.
Delainey Broggi, the culinary arts developer for Trudeau who worked with Emily, said the 12-week program teaches students about the many facets of culinary work and even has them test for a Food Safety Certification.
Broggi said she hasn’t had a single student that hasn’t passed their certification yet. 
Toward the end of the program, students work on resumes, interviewing and also start applying for jobs.
“Emily was very gung-ho and persistent about getting into Buffalo Wild Wings. She went into the interview all smiles. She really wanted to get in here and was so excited when she found out she got the job,” Broggi said.
When Emily was hired, Denise Lavoie, an employment coach for Trudeau, went along with her. Over time Lavoie went less and less until Emily was comfortable working independently. 
Lavoie said initially Emily had trouble memorizing all the portion sizes, so together they created a chart Emily could reference at work. 
Now, other employees at Buffalo Wild Wings use the same chart. 
Shapiro said, “She is always proactive seeing what else she can do to help. Once she’s finished one thing, she is right off to the next.”
Because of Emily’s success, Buffalo Wild Wings has committed to hiring two other employees with developmental disabilities.
Emily said that she loves working for the restaurant because she gets to meet so many new people and gets to try new foods. She thinks working at Buffalo Wild Wings has helped her become more adventurous.
As policy makers entered the kitchen, Emily asked some of them for their autographs.
Her first autograph was from Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of health and human services. 
Roberts said, “Rhode Island’s comeback is focused on job creation. That means jobs and economic opportunity for all people, including our neighbors with developmental disabilities.”
In achieving such, Roberts said it is important for businesses like Buffalo Wild Wings to continue their commitment to providing opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Representative Joseph Shekarchi made a point that this is not a corporate policy, but rather an initiative by the local franchise. 
He said it was rewarding to see a chain restaurant get credit for their part in helping individuals with developmental disabilities as well as make distinguishable ties to the community they do business in. 
Mayor Scott Avedisian said Buffalo Wild Wings has “been open a little more than a year so far and they have quickly demonstrated positive forward thinking attitudes about the business climate here in the city.” 
He also commended the Trudeau Center for their continued efforts to help those with disabilities not only integrate, but thrive in the community.
Judith Sullivan, CEO of the Trudeau Center, said this is only a “continuation” of the organization’s mission for the past 50 years.
She said, “I really believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to see that those with development disabilities get treated like human beings, that they are offered the same opportunities as anyone else, to work and contribute in their communities.”
Five other legislators visited Buffalo Wild Wings, including Senator Louis DiPalma (D-District 12), Senator William Walaska (D-District 30), Representative Joseph Solomon (D-Dsitrict 22), Representative David Bennett (D-District 20), and Representative Teresa Tanzi (D-District 34). 
Before meeting Emily, the legislators heard from Reid and Maria Montanaro, director of Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH).
Both noted that Buffalo Wild Wings is not the only business participating in the effort to hire individuals with developmental disabilities, but rather employers all over the state are recognizing the benefit of hiring these individuals. 
Reid said, “Working is fundamental to all of us. It is a way to make friends, contribute to our communities and our general wellness.”
Despite successes, Montanaro said more businesses need to “adopt this perspective.”
The goal she said was to see people with developmental disabilities get “real jobs, with living wages,” to show off their skills.
Montanaro said, “Employees with developmental disabilities can been an inspiration and they are loyal and hard workers. We all have abilities and limitations and it is no different for them. These type of hires can benefit the whole workforce.”