Over howls of protest from Rhode Island’s municipal leaders, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a two-bill package mandating that cities and towns pay overtime to firefighters who average more than 42 hours in a workweek, as opposed to the 53-hour-a-week federal O.T. threshold.
The largely party-line vote was 62-9 in a state that regularly tops the national charts in its cost of firefighting services, and it followed days of protests by mayors and town managers across the state, including Warwick Mayor Joseph J. Solomon whose son, Democratic Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. of Warwick, voted for the bill.
Only one Democrat — Rep. Lauren Carson of Newport — broke ranks and voted against the legislation that House Majority Whip John “Jay” Edwards said he introduced at House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s request. Only one Republican voted for the legislation: Rep. Jack Lyle of Lincoln.
Supporters said the legislation provides firefighters with overtime rights available to everyone else in the workforce.