Gaspee Blasts Senate President for Blocking Hair-Braider Freedom Bill to Protect Crony Donors

For Immediate Release: June 15, 2018

Ruggerio Complicit in Protectionist Policies Favoring Donors

Low-income families will continue to be denied legitimate chance to earn income  

Providence, RI-- As the voice of Rhode Island taxpayers and small business community, The Gaspee Project calls out Senate President Dominic Ruggerio for blocking legislation that would free-up natural hair-braiders to be able to legally earn a living. Yesterday, and for the second year in a row, the House unanimously passed legislation (H7565) that exempts practitioners of this completely safe craft from the thousands of dollars of course fees and thousands of hours of unrelated cosmetology training currently required by law.

Multiple sources have confirmed to Gaspee that it is Ruggerio who personally blocked the legislation last year and who again this year has refused to allow any reasonable version of the Senate companion bill (S2323) to move to a committee vote. 

Even more unacceptable is that it appears that Ruggerio is denying work opportunities to a large cadre of low income families solely at the behest of a few crony campaign donors, who greedily want to maintain protectionist policies in their industry. Geraldine DiPaolo, of the Tony & Guy Academy of Hairdressing in Cranston, made significant donations in 2017 and 2018 to the Senate President's campaign. Additionally, Robin Dercole from Smithfield, owner of Hair Tech salon, and her husband, have paid thousands of dollars to the Ruggerio campaign to block out competition. 

"Such overt insider cronyism has for too long been a hallmark of Rhode Island politics," said Clay Johnson, Gaspee's Chairman. "How can anyone believe Ruggerio is looking out for the disadvantaged families, when he is obviously so beholden to a few greedy donors?"

The Gaspee Project is the umbrella organization for various advocacy partners such as the Gaspee Business Network,, Rhode Islanders Against Mandated HPV Vaccines, the Property Rights Alliance of Rhode Island, and its most recent partner - the Rhode Island Self-Defense Alliance

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