August 20, 2016

My Complete Responses to the Questions for the Narragansett Times Article

Since the space in a printed article is always limited, I felt it was important for voters to see my complete responses to the questions asked in the recent Narragansett Times story, so they can see for themselves the differences between the three candidates. I am proud of my experience as a State Representative and my accomplishments for our community. I think there are clear choices to be made when voting in the Primary on September 13th. Thank you for taking the time to become an informed voter!

What are your proudest accomplishments since you have been in office?

2016 was  a banner year for me, and I am proudest of the 4 awards I received that represent the broad array of issues I work on, and the $10 million bike path bond money that will appear on the November ballot.
I was named The Environmental Champion of the year by Clean Water Action for my work on passing the phaseout of all cesspools in RI and my commitment to the environment. RI's National Organization for Women honored me for the work I have done advocating for women and families through the legislation I've championed over the years and for being a strong voice for family friendly policies throughout the budget process. The RI Coalition Against Gun Violence also honored me for the work I have done protecting victims of domestic violence from armed abusers. And the streak began when I was honored by the Rhode Island Southern Fireman's League for defending volunteer fire districts against the unnecessary burdens some members of the General Assembly were trying to impose on them. These volunteers serve our community in so many ways, all while saving residents significant sums of money, and their recognition meant a lot to me.

What are your future goals for the district?

If reelected, I will continue to work on the many public health issues I champion, such as taking on big tobacco to prevent youth from smoking, and standing up to the powerful gun lobby by introducing bills that protect victims of domestic violence and limit those who can bring guns into schools to police officers. I will also be fighting for increased funding for higher education.
For years I have been studying the impact URI has on the quality of life for the residents in our community and have come up with a few creative solutions. I am working with RIPTA and URI to bring more transit options to the towns of South Kingstown and Narragansett, and as a result there will be 12 new inbound and 12 new outbound trips daily during the school year beginning in September of 2017. Part two of my plan would turn all 16,000 student ID's into bus passes as part of the fees students currently pay for transportation, and we are very close to finalizing those numbers. This generation of students is more interested in using transit, and by working with URI, I have found ample opportunity to fund this program with minimal investment from the university. Of course, the entire community would benefit from increased frequency of Route 66 busses to and from Providence. I have a few other proposals in the earlier stages of discussion that would deal with housing and policies on who could bring cars on campus, and will keep you posted as those negotiations progress. 

I am committed to finishing the final mile to the beach for our bike path. The $10 million bond to complete and connect bike paths is on the November ballot this year as a direct result of my work, and it is critical to seeing this project through to completion. I promised the town when they approved a path that I would not rest until this project is funded, and I will keep up the fight!

Is there anything we could be doing better on the state level?

We have a crisis on our hands with respect to behavioral health services for children and adults alike in our state, and it is direct result of years of sustained cuts to the system. We need to commit to better screening, early intervention, timely referrals, attracting and maintaining a sufficient number of providers in our communities, and community based aftercare services for individuals no longer in crisis so that the cycle can be broken. I will fight for mental health parity on par with other healthcare services, and to restore our state to a place where opioid addiction treatment and prevention can counter the tragedies of the overdose epidemic we currently face. As a senior member on House Finance, I am in a position to make the case for increased funding, and with my expertise and knowledge of the systems, I can help move my colleagues to action.
I get calls and emails from constituents almost every week revealing the horrors they personally suffer in dealing with the bureaucracy of state government. We have created an office of regulatory reform and it is finally staffed and working in collaboration with Commerce and other state agencies to review existing regulations and processes for individuals and businesses. The recent implementation of the lean government process and the customer service approach at DEM have created some improvements and my hope is that these lessons learned will translate into efficiencies at other agencies and departments. There are growing pains from any changes, but I am committed to changing the interactions we all have with government. These are the kinds of things that matter to small businesses and residents, and it is why I work to bring these agencies and their programs directly to my constituents, like when I hosted forums on student loan modifications, mortgage assistance for homeowners, and compliance for new taxes on rental properties. 

I will also continue my work on oversight and review of all of our economic development related tax incentives to make sure they are being spent in the manner intended while creating the desired result. For decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been handed out with little-to-no-oversight. Since my first term in 2011, I have worked to include clear parameters on new incentives and review existing ones. Doing so would allow RI to reallocate millions of dollars each year to invest in programs we know are working for our state. If I once again receive the trust of the voters and return in January, I will continue my work with the fiscal staff and executive branch to create and implement clear pathways to achieve these goals.

A house seat at stake during District 34 primary

By BENJAMIN BRANCHAUD,      THE NARRAGANSETT TIMES,      AUGUST 19, 2016 
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The three candidates for District 34, which covers Wakefield, Peace Dale and parts of Narragansett are all Democrats – meaning the winner of the Sept. 13 primary will presumably be elected state representative.
Incumbent Teresa Tanzi, South Kingstown Town Councilor Rachel Clough and political newcomer Ewa Dzwierzynski will all vie for the seat in the upcoming primary, each having a distinctly separate platform.
When each candidate was asked about her achievements in the public and while in elected office, Tanzi said 2016 was a “banner year” for her.
“I am proudest of the four awards I received that represent the broad array of issues I work on and the $10 million bike path bond money that will appear on the November ballot,” said Tanzi.
Tanzi was named the Environmental Champion of the year by Clean Water Action for her work phasing out cesspools in the state. The state’s National Organization for Women chapter honored her for her legislative voice regarding women and families. For her legislation aiming to keep guns from those convicted of domestic violence, she was honored by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence. This year, she was also honored by the Southern Rhode Island Fireman’s League for defending volunteer fire districts against General Assembly bills that she believed would place burden on them.
Clough, a one-term town council member, business owner, military mother and non-profit founder, said her proudest achievements occurred on and off the town council bench.
“I have volunteered throughout our community in numerous ways, volunteering in our schools, bringing a dance program to Head Start classrooms and hosting events for our veterans,” she said. “Busy Buddies Foundation, a non-profit I established three years ago, sponsors children for activities, keeping them engaged in the community and giving them means to pursue their talents.”
On the town council, Clough is most proud of being constantly accessible and approachable as well as working for veterans even within her short tenure.
“I identified that our veteran tax exemption was below the state average and implemented a schedule for increased exemptions to bring it up to state average or better,” recalled Clough. “I am proud that I have listened and worked to resolve the issues brought to me. I have worked hard to represent the best interest of our community at all times.”
Despite her lack of formal political service, Dzwierzynski, a pharmacist herself, has already successfully championed legislation that expanded collaboration between physicians and pharmacists. Dzwierzynski says the bill, signed into law this year, has the potential to improve the health of patients and reduce healthcare costs throughout the state.
“I’m also very proud to serve my church community,” said Dzwierzynski. “I’m very active at St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Narragansett, where I serve as a lector, Eucharistic minister and choir member. I used to have a great fear of speaking in public. My husband encouraged me to volunteer to read at church a few years ago, and this has helped me overcome my fears. Now I enjoy speaking in front of large groups.”
When each candidate was asked about her aspirations in the town, each highlighted public health.
“Among my top issues, I care deeply about championing the triple aim of healthcare: improving healthcare quality, making it more accessible to more Rhode Islanders and controlling rising healthcare costs,” said Dzwierzynski. “This is so tremendously important as health and human services will likely account for nearly 42 percent of the state’s nearly $9 billion budget next year.”
Dzwierzynski also accentuated the importance of infrastructure improvements and improving the “unfavorable” business climate and reputation.
Clough, while mentioning the need for better mental healthcare services and outreach across the board – including, but not limited to, veterans – said she would use her position as state representative to preserve the “integrity and uniqueness” of the district.
“Having served on the town council, I understand the intricacies of town government and what it takes to respond to the community’s needs,” she said. “As a lifelong resident, I appreciate the history, the beauty, the traditions and the opportunities that the area affords its residents. I believe that my first responsibility as a local representative is to address the needs of the people living and working in my community.”
Tanzi said that if re-elected, she will continue her work taking on “big tobacco” and the “powerful gun lobby” by championing bills that aim to prevent youth from smoking and keeping firearms out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers, among other things.
“I am committed to finishing the final mile to the beach for our bike path,” she said. “The $10 million bond to complete and connect bike paths is on the November ballot this year as a direct result of my work, and it is critical to seeing this project through to completion. I promised the town when they approved a path that I would not rest until this project is funded, and I will keep up the fight.”
Tanzi is also in the late stages of a program that will turn URI student IDs into bus passes as part of the fees students already pay for transportation as well as 12 new inbound and outbound RIPTA trips daily during the school year.
“This generation of students is more interested in using transit, and by working with URI, I have found ample opportunity to fund this program with minimal investment from the university,” said Tanzi.
On crucial state issues such as ethics, the economy, public health and infrastructure, each candidate had different priorities.
“I’d like to see that we create a study commission to engage small businesses on how to improve and enhance the small business environment in our state,” said Clough. “I’d like to make it easier for businesses by consolidating forms and limiting fees.”
Clough also said she would like to see before-school fitness programs offered throughout the state and much better care for the state’s veterans.
“In some studies, Rhode Island is ranked dead last for benefits for military retirees and among the lowest five veteran supportive states,” said Clough. “Rhode Island has been one of only five states that still fully tax the retirement benefits of veterans. I would like to create more patriotic awareness opportunities within our communities and schools. Let’s get back to teaching civic responsibility and overall respect for our great country. I personally have and will continue to honor those who have died for this country though Memorial Day breakfasts, runs with Wear Blue Run to Remember as well as engaging our youth in volunteer opportunities for our fallen heroes.”
Dzwierzynski mentioned the lack of ethics oversight and accountability as a serious issue facing the state.
“Elected officials should not be able to hide behind immunity,” she said. “The legislative grant program should be overhauled so there is accountability. The grant program should align with strategic state goals and should be transparent.”
The primaries take place Sept. 13. The winner of the District 34 primary will go on unopposed in the general election.

August 10, 2016

Tanzi's Full Responses to The Independent

A difference between the candidates is experience, and the depth of the responses I provided was significantly more substantial than was allowed for in the article, so I felt it important to provide voters with the complete responses I provided. Here are my responses:

Election 2016: House primary candidates support state ethics reform



As the Democratic primary elections for House District 34 the candidates vying for the seat discussed their views on ethics reform, community/legislative grant process and the state budget process.
In House District 34 race to represent Narragansett, Peace Dale and Wakefield, incumbent Teresa Tanzi will face South Kingstown Town Councilor Rachel Clough and pharmacist Ewa Dzwierzynski. 

The primary will be held Sept. 13.

July 21, 2016

Tanzi endorsed by Rhode Island's Progressive Democrats of America

Rep. Teresa Tanzi, who represents District 34 in Narragansett and South Kingstown, said she is proud to accept the endorsement of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats.  
She is the only incumbent General Assembly member to be endorsed by the organization.
“I am thrilled to receive the endorsement of an organization dedicated to striving for progressive change in our state,” said Rep. Tanzi.  “Together, we have made progress on many issues, such as minimum wage, affordable housing, and tax credits for working families.  I am running for reelection because so much work remains.  I will always fight tirelessly to advance the interests of the people of Narragansett, Wakefield and Peace Dale.”

July 11, 2016

Clean energy bill package signed into law



NEWPORT, R.I. - Gov. Gina M. Raimondo – joined by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Reps. Ruggiero,Tanzi, Regunberg, Abney, Sen. DiPalma and state Energy Commissioner Carol Grant – today ceremonially signed legislation that will enhance the state's renewable energy policies, create green jobs, and help move the state's energy sector toward a clean, sustainable, reliable future.

July 10, 2016

Tanzi promotes bike path completion at GrowSmart event

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi was a panelist in a discussion on the importance of constructing and connecting bike paths in Rhode Island at GrowSmartRI’s 2016 Power of Place Summit.

The summit, held June 28 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, brought together 400 thinkers and doers committed to shaping a stronger, more vibrant Rhode Island by ensuring the state accelerates the pace of revitalization in a way that has lasting impact for this and future generations.

June 10, 2016

Tanzi, Welcome House, Jonnycake Center, host Capital Good Fund in Peace Dale

STATE HOUSE – Just days after a federal agency proposed long-awaited stricter limits on the payday lending industry, Rep. Teresa Tanzi brought the Capital Good Fund to South County to provide local residents with information about its small-dollar loans and other programs to build credit and avoid predatory lending traps.

The event, held at the Welcome House of South County June 6 and hosted by Representative Tanzi and the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, was free and open to the public, and gave attendees insight into the financial coaching and lending products the Capital Good Fund can provide to Rhode Islanders.

June 3, 2016

House passes Tanzi biliteracy seal legislation

STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives voted today to approve legislation sponsored by Rep. Teresa Tanzi to create a “biliteracy seal” that school districts could affix to the diplomas and transcripts of high school graduates who demonstrate proficiency in another language in addition to English.

The legislation is meant to recognize students who have achieved high levels of proficiency in multiple languages, encourage more to do so and help employers identify job applicants who have the sought-after skill of communicating in multiple languages.

“Knowing more than one language is a skill that is growing more useful every day as our society increasingly becomes more global. Employers in the 21st century need employees who can communicate with their customers and contacts in languages besides English, so we should be encouraging students to pursue proficiency in multiple languages. A biliteracy seal is both a distinction for the student who achieves that goal, and a way to assist employers in finding employees in Rhode Island who can offer them the sought-after skill of multilingualism,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

June 1, 2016

Tanzi invites residents to Capital Good Fund event

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Teresa Tanzi invites South County residents to an event at Welcome House next week to introduce them to financial and educational services available to them from the Capital Good Fund.

The event, which she spearheaded, is being held at the Welcome House and cohosted by the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, is scheduled Monday, June 6, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Welcome House, 8 North Road, Peace Dale. It is free and open to the public.

“Many people find themselves in crisis from time to time, whether it is medical or personal, and need money quickly to get them through the difficulty. Unfortunately, those at the lower end of the economic scale are only able to access credit from a small sector of the banking industry that often takes advantage of them. Payday loans can quickly trap the recipients in a downward spiral of taking out loan after loan because the original crisis has knocked them off their financial footing.  These predatory loans have the promise of help, but come with astronomical interest rates. People need to know that there are some alternatives, and I am so excited to be the catalyst for bringing the Capital Good Fund to South County to offer residents financial products and educational services that will help them get on more stable economic ground,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

The event is meant to provide information about the resources the Capital Good Fund offers to Rhode Islanders to help them with small dollar loans not typically offered at traditional banks, manage their debt and improve their credit. The Capital Good Fund is a nonprofit, certified Community Development Financial Institution that takes a holistic approach to fighting poverty. In helping individuals with budgeting, credit building, debt management techniques, and one-on-one financial coaching, it helps clients achieve the credit necessary to cover emergencies and other costs such as car purchases or repairs, security deposits, computers or home weatherization and empowers them to actually get ahead of the next crisis.

For more information on the Capital Good fund, visit www.capitalgoodfund.org