PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Senate voted 38-0 Tuesday to allow Rhode Island victims of terror attacks that have taken place in other states to receive compensation money.
The bill was inspired by Newport’s Heather Abbott, who survived the Boston Marathon bombing and was initially denied a claim to the Rhode Island Crime Victim Compensation Fund.
While her denial was later reversed, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said the case exposed a loophole in the law regarding the fund his office controls.
“The law is vague about whether or not we are allowed to assist Rhode Islanders who are victims of terror attacks in the United States, but outside Rhode Island,” Magaziner said in an interview with Eyewitness News.
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Magaziner said the fund, which gets its money from court fees and federal funds, distributed $1.3 million to violent crime victims last year, but rarely deals with victims of terrorist attacks.
As written, the law covers victims of terror attacks inside Rhode Island and outside the country, therefore excluding victims of domestic terrorism such as the Boston bombing.
The bill, sponsored by Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed (D), allows victims of domestic terrorism outside of Rhode Island to make claims to the fund.
“This is a bill that we want to get passed, but once it is passed we hope we never have to use it,” Magaziner said.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously. It had already passed the House unanimously last month.
A spokesperson for the Treasurer’s Office said Heather Abbott has not yet submitted any expenses to be paid from the fund.