Diana Visits North Andover High School on Civic Education Tour

NorthAndoverCivicEducationDay

Marking the latest stop in her initiative to engage and educate students across the Merrimack Valley about the democratic process, Diana visited North Andover High School on Friday, November 15.

Held in the school’s auditorium, the program, which was organized by North Andover High graduate Nick Pangakis, covered the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and, through interactive exercises, was designed to educate students about what it means to be a citizen and how to be involved in the democratic process. During the event, students had the opportunity to participate in mock legislative and judicial hearings, the latter conducted by Michael J. Ryan of the Office of Jury Commissioner for the Commonwealth.

“I was delighted to be among so many fantastic North Andover High students as I spoke about how ideas become laws and engaged the students in an interactive mock committee hearing,” said Diana, who has sponsored a bill to establish a comprehensive student civic education program. “I look forward to visiting more schools across the Merrimack Valley in the months to come to discuss how our government works.”

“Involving students as part of the presentation was a great way to keep people interested so that they could learn a thing about our government that they never knew before,” said student Joe Mosby.

“The presentation helped to establish a practical sense of what goes on at the state level of government, even though the federal government is more widely discussed,” said student Dillon MacInnis.

“I learned the difference between the federal and state branches, which is stuff I hadn’t learned before,” said student Brendan Hartford.

“Rep. DiZoglio and Mike Ryan did a great job of keeping the program interesting and entertaining,” said student Matt Varoutsos. “I really enjoyed it.”

“I thought the mock judiciary hearing was very helpful in seeing how trials work,” said student Emily Crabtree.

In many of today’s high schools, civic learning is often only offered toward the end of a student’s studies, in twelfth grade. On the most recent national civics assessment, administered in 2006 by the National Assessment Governing Board, two-thirds of students scored below “proficient.” In 2010, more than a quarter of college students reported they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to do so.

“All too often, our classrooms lack a strong civic education program to inform students about what state government does in our daily lives,” said Diana. “It is important that youth begin to genuinely grasp these basic concepts to ensure they are able to actively participate and engage in the process as they are entering into adulthood.”

“It is critical for students to have an understanding of our judicial system early on, given they should be prepared to serve jury duty as soon as high school,” said Ryan.

In addition to North Andover High School, Diana has visited Methuen High School and Haverhill’s Hunking Middle School on her Merrimack Valley Civic Education Tour. The Representative plans to next take the tour to Lawrence.

House Passes Campaign Finance Reform

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has voted unanimously to enact campaign finance reform legislation, sponsored by Diana.

Under House Bill 3719, An Act to strengthen campaign finance reporting requirements, current campaign finance report law will be extended to candidates for municipal office who file with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Under prior law, candidates for state or county office who failed to file campaign finance reports could not appear on a primary or election ballot, yet this law did not apply to municipal candidates.

Moments before the House voted in favor of its enactment, Diana took to the floor to advocate for the bill’s passage.

“This legislation will ensure that candidates in municipal elections who file with the office of Campaign and Political Finance are held to the same standards as candidates in county and state elections,” Diana said, in her speech. “I want to thank House Chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws James Murphy and his staff for their tireless work on this bill. It is my hope that we stand on a united front right now, not as Democrats and Republicans but as statesmen and stateswomen, in supporting common sense legislation to bring more transparency to our government.”

“As Vice Chair of the Committee on Election Laws, I applaud the efforts of Rep. DiZoglio,” said State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell (D-Methuen). “Many citywide local races involve large expenditures and the public has a right to expect that local candidates are bound by the same requirements as all other elected officials regarding campaign finance reporting.”

“I commend my colleague Diana DiZoglio, a proud member of the Lawrence delegation, for introducing this important bill,” said State Rep. Marcos A. Devers (D-Lawrence). “This legislation reaffirms the Legislature’s commitment to good ethics.”

“This is a great piece of legislation that strengthens campaign finance reporting requirements and I want to thank Representative DiZoglio for sponsoring it,” said State Rep. Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence).

House Votes to Enact Welfare Reform Legislation

Diana DiZoglio for State Representative!

Diana has joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to vote to enact additional welfare reform legislation designed to both reduce fraud in the system and assist welfare recipients in their struggle to find jobs and end their reliance on public assistance.

Among the legislation’s provisions are crackdowns on out-of-state residents collecting welfare payments and food stamp traffickers. Benefits will be suspended for recipients who fail to notify the Commonwealth of an address change.

The bill includes a provision that mandates adult recipients who are not enrolled full-time in a secondary school or educational program to seek employment through a new Pathways to Self-Sufficiency program, designed to place welfare recipients in jobs with regional employers. Under the legislation, adult applicants must conduct an initial job search prior to receiving cash assistance and evidence of this must be provided to the Commonwealth.

The new legislation comes on the heels of welfare reform measures passed under the FY’14 Budget. Among the reforms then passed were the requiring of EBT cards to include photo IDs and creation of a state verification and eligibility Task Force to investigate and prevent fraud and the abuse of public benefits.

“We must combine reforms with pathways to self-sufficiency,” Diana said. “Having co-sponsored several bills to reform our welfare system, I am glad to see these measures pass alongside key components meant to foster economic independence and success among struggling families in our communities.”