Diana Honors North Andover Tap Team

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Diana hosted a celebration at the State House honoring Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studio, which recently achieved enormous success competing in the 2013 World Tap Championships.

Seventy-three dancers from the studio, which is based in North Andover, participated as they toured the State House and gathered for a photo atop the building’s Grand Staircase with area lawmakers. The studio and Chippendale herself were honored with congratulatory citations for their exemplary work.

Representing the United States in Riesa, Germany at the World Tap Championships in December, the dancers competed against 30 other countries for gold, silver and bronze prizes and had the opportunity to travel to Dresden, Meissen, Leipzig, Berlin and Prague.

By the end of the championships, the dancers had brought home five gold, three silver and two bronze prizes.

“It was an honor for us to represent the USA at the World Tap Championships last December,” said Chippendale. “We are very proud of our accomplishments and were pleased to have a private tour of the State House. Thank you to our State Representative, Diana DiZoglio, for arranging this tour and for helping us to celebrate the accomplishments of our dancers.”

“It was such a thrill to see so many amazing and talented dancers from ‘Chips’ in North Andover represent the nation in the World Tap Championships,” said Diana, who represents a large part of North Andover in the Legislature. “It was a pleasure hosting them in the State House for a tour of a building and celebration of their outstanding accomplishments, both here and overseas.”

House Passes Supplementary Budget, Freezes Unemployment Insurance Rate

Diana joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass legislation that, for the fifth consecutive year, freezes a scheduled increase in the unemployment insurance (UI) assessment paid by all employers.

This action is estimated to relieve the average employer from an approximate 30 percent increase for UI per employee while allowing employees to receive the same benefits under this rate. In the coming months the House plans to systemically improve the UI system as it addresses minimum wage.

Because the House recognizes the challenges residents face during the winter, this legislation provides an additional $20 million for heating assistance and about $45 million to provide low-income homeless families with access to housing. Additionally, the Department of Transportation may spend up to additional $50 million for snow and ice removal dependent on the state’s needs.

The bill includes a $15 million recapitalization of the Brownfield’s redevelopment fund which will allow the current pipeline of projects to continue and increase development opportunities on currently vacant and underutilized properties across the Commonwealth.

The bill also provides increased funding for the Department of Children and Families (DCF), homelessness programs, and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“This supplemental budget includes targeted funding for time-sensitive programs and services. We provide $20 million for the federal LIHEAP program to ensure that the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents remain safe and warm throughout the winter months,” said Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill), Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. “We also implement an Unemployment Insurance rate freeze to encourage important economic opportunities as we progress through 2014 for both employers and workers. We also recapitalize the highly successful Brownfields Redevelopment program and include funding to cover the costs of snow and ice removal, supporting the many small businesses that contract with the state to keep our roads safe.”

The supplemental budget allocates $2.78 million to DCF, thus providing adequate funds to meet the department’s request of a 15:1 caseload ratio. This action follows increases in DCF funding over the past three budget cycles.

“Having worked with low-income families and abused children for years, I am thrilled that this budget focuses on the safety of our community’s most vulnerable population,” Diana said. “There must be a continuous effort to keep our children safe and that requires adequate resources. I was happy to see that this budget gained bipartisan support, as it will also assist in keeping our roads safe and clean through the remainder of winter.”

This bill passed the House 146 to 2 and now moves on to the Senate.

State Grants Awarded to Merrimack Valley Stormwater Collaborative

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Diana has announced the Merrimack Valley Stormwater Collaborative has been named a recipient of $145,000 in the Fiscal Year 2014 round of the Community Innovation Challenge (CIC) grant program.

The CIC program, now in its third year, was established in 2012 to incentivize innovative projects at the local level. More than $10 million has been invested into 242 cities and towns across the Commonwealth with the support of the Massachusetts General Court and Executive Office for Administration and Finance.

With the leadership of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commisssion (MVPC), the Town of North Andover, and the cities of Haverhill, Lawrence and Methuen, are among the communities participating in the Stormwater Collaborative, which will explore solutions to the problems associated with untreated stormwater that are low-cost and promote regional cooperation and communication.

The MVPC, a public, nonprofit organization which represents 15 communities across the Merrimack Valley, has for decades been committed to assisting the area in planning matters on transportation, land use, the environment and economic development. It has joined with local public works and engineering personnel on comprehensive management programs pertaining to stormwater, which, when left untreated, often contains dangerous pollutants and can contaminate local water supplies.

“This grant will prove invaluable in assisting efforts across the Merrimack Valley to address the environmental and health concerns that come with untreated stormwater,” Diana said. “It is an incredibly important initiative and I join my legislative colleagues from the Merrimack Valley in celebrating the awarding of this generous grant.”