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Guest Blog Posts

February 2016 - Promoting State-Municipal Partnerships (for Young Republicans)

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October 2016
December 2012
October 2010
September 2009

News Articles of Interest

September 21, 2016 - Why is Baker cutting OT for personal care attendants?

Newsroom

Oct 17, 2016 - Representative Gifford Announces Key Endorsements
Sep 12, 2016 - Representative Gifford to Host Commuter Rail Forum with House Transportation Chairman Straus
Aug 31, 2016 - Rep. Gifford maintains perfect voting record
Aug 30, 2016 - R ep. Gifford to Discuss Senior Safety & Awareness of Scams at Carver COA
Aug 25, 2016 - Representative Gifford supports launching of new state prescription monitoring system to address opioid crisis
Aug 1, 2016 - Representative Gifford supports legislation to assist cities and towns with their finances and operations - Includes her Cranberry Task Force Recommendation
Jul 25, 2016 - Representative Gifford calls on Attorney General to rescind latest gun law Enforcement Notice
June 22, 2016 - Representative Gifford supports bill providing state financial assistance for municipal roads and bridges
June 17, 2016 - Representative Gifford supports bill granting cities and towns more flexibility, local control
May 17, 2016 - Representative Gifford supports HOME Act to assist MA veterans with housing and employment
May 4, 2016 - Representative Gifford supports FY17 House budget that holds the line on taxes and increases local aid
April 27, 2016 - Representative Gifford supports proposal to use excess state revenues to boost local aid
Mar 23, 2016 - Representatives Orrall and Gifford support bill to curb opioid abuse
Mar 21, 2016 - Representative Gifford Kicks-off Re-election Campaign
Mar 15, 2016 - Representative Gifford sets date for “Charlie Card Event” for Wareham Seniors
Jan 12, 2016 - Representative Gifford maintains perfect voting record
Dec 14, 2015 - Representative Gifford Looks into “Charlie Card Event” for Wareham Seniors
Feb 13, 2015 - Representative Gifford Appointed to Key Committee, Leadership Posts
July 8, 2104 - Representative Gifford Announces Earmark in House Budget for Turning Point Wareha
May 5, 2014 - Representative Gifford Announces Earmark in House Budget for Turning Point in Wareham
Nov 7, 2013 - Representative Susan Gifford Instrumental in Wide Sweeping Welfare Reform Legislation
Oct 4, 2013 - Representative Gifford Successfully Advocates for Repeal of Technology Tax
Sep 23, 2013 - Representative Susan WIlliams Gifford Achieves Perfect Voting Record
Sep 12, 2013 - Representative Gifford Continues Effort to Repeal Technology Tax
Aug 15, 2013 - Representative Susan Williams Gifford Appointed to Special Commission
Jul 18, 2013
- Representative Gifford Votes Against Massive Tax Increases, Again
May 10, 2013 - Legislators Issue Letter to Governor Patrick Regarding 9C Cuts
Feb 7, 2013 - Representative Susan Williams Gifford Announces Committee Assignments
Feb 6, 2013 - Representative Susan Williams Gifford Announces Civil Service Examinations
June 28, 2012 - House and Senate Approve $200 Million for Bridge and Roadway Maintenance
June 19, 2012 - Representative Susan Gifford Applauded by Recreational Boating Community as Co-Chair of Legislative Boating Caucus
Apr 11, 2012-
House Ways and Means Budget Includes $11.3M for McKinney-Vento Reimbursements
Nov 2, 2011 - House Republicans Secure Increased Funding for Welcome Home Bonus
Oct 25, 2011 - House Republican Reversions Amendment Comes to Realization
Aug 23, 2011 -House Minority Leader Jones Congratulates Representative Gifford on Perfect Voting Record
June 27, 2011 - Cape Representatives Join Effort to Strengthen Ethics Code of Conduct
April 5, 2011 - Rep. Susan Gifford Applauded by Recreational Boating Community as Co-chair of Legislative Boating Caucus
Jan 31, 2011 - Rep. Gifford Announces Committee Assignments
Dec 20, 2010 - Rep. Gifford: Donations Instead of Holiday Cards
Aug 2010 - Rep. Gifford Announces Key Endorsement
Oct 4, 2010 - House of Representatives Approves Funding to Support Operation of Trial Courts
July 13, 2010 - 1,000 Greatest Places in Massachusetts Announced
July 5, 2010 - Massachusetts Marine Trades Association Applauds Representative Susan Gifford AS A LEADING VOICE FOR THE RECREATIONAL MARINE TRADES
June 25 2010 - Op-Ed by Representative Susan Gifford
June 7, 2010 - Rep Gifford featured speaker at Upper Cape Tech graduation
Apr 27, 2010 - Rep Gifford: Republicans score bipartisan victory
Apr 15, 2010 - Rep. Gifford receives sportsmen's award
Mar 24, 2010 - Rep. Gifford announces Republican initiative adopted during supplemental budget debate
Mar 1, 2010 - Rep. Gifford asks residents to nominate their favorite Massachusetts Places
Dec 21, 2009 - Rep. GIfford: Donations instead of Holiday Cards
Sep 9, 2009 - An Open Letter to the Residents of Wareham
Aug 10, 2009 - Jones congratulates Gifford on perfect voting record
Apr 7, 2009 - Representative Gifford announces committee assignments
Mar 11, 2009 - Rep. Gifford co-sponsors municpal aid legislation
Feb 26, 2009 - Gifford: Tax burden crushing residents and businesses
Feb 2, 2009 - Rep. Susan Williams Gifford announces Turning Point/Salvation Army event
Jul 3, 2008 - Rep. Gifford Nets State Funding for Turning Point
Jun 16, 2008
- Rep. Gifford announces Wareham Rail Station Amendment
Feb 11, 2008 - Bourne Cultural Council announces 2008 Local Grant Awards
Jan 24, 2008 - Representatives Gifford and Perry announce DHCD award to Bourne Housing Authority
Jan 23, 2008 - Representative Gifford urges constituents to apply for financial aid to help pay for college
Dec 17, 2007 - Representative Gifford attains perfect voting record
Dec 15, 2008 - Representative Gifford announces holiday charity event
Nov 30, 2007 - Homeowner's Commission Report Released
Nov 15, 2007 - Representatives Perry & Gifford co-sponsor legislation to send millions in Local Aid back to cities and towns
Oct 30, 2007 - Homeowners Insurance Commission Announces Intentions to Continue Meeting and Release Findings on November 30th
Sep 19, 2007 - Representative Gifford Announces District Cultural Council Grants
Jul 18, 2007 - Rep. Gifford Appointed to Commission on Homeowner's Insurance
Jul 12, 2007 - Representative Gifford Announces Extra State Funding for Wareham
Jul 12, 2007 - Representative Gifford's Budget Amendments for Bourne Adopted
Jul 10, 2007 - Representative Gifford Announces $800,000 in Funding For Community Upgrades in Wareham
Apr 24, 2007 - Representative Gifford & Republican Colleagues Working to Make State More Affordable for Seniors
Apr 5, 2007 - Representative Gifford and Republicans Caucus Fight to Send More Local Aid Back to Citites and Towns
Feb 22, 2007 - Rep. Gifford Backs Working Families Tax Credit
Jan 22, 2007 - Rep. Gifford Wants State to Allow Municipalities to be Able to Join Group Insurance Commission
Jan 9, 2007 - Representative Gifford, Republican Colleagues Offer Joint Legistlative Agenda
Jan 9, 2007 -  Rep Gifford Hails Signing of Kayla's Bill
Oct 23, 2006 - Rep Gifford Announces Environmental Grant for the Town of Carver
Oct 15, 2006 -  Rep Gifford Honored at Fire Station Dedication
Sep 27, 2006 - Rep Gifford & Local Owner Team Up for Special Delivery
Aug 17, 2006 - Rep. Gifford Pushes for Immediate Action on Veteran's Bill
Jul 31, 2006 - Representative Gifford Announces Tax Relief for Veterans
Jul 26, 2006 - House Passes Equal Choice Bill
Jun 6, 2006 - Rep. Gifford Announces the Naming of SFC Robert Rooney Bridge
Apr 25, 2006 - House Leadership Guts Efforts to Help Cities and Towns
Feb 21, 2006 - Representative Gifford Announces North Carver Feasibility Study Grant
Nov 4, 2005 -  Rep. Gifford Welcomes Oil Spill Cleanup Equipment
Jul 5, 2005 - Gifford Announces over $500 K in Wareham Community Development Block Grants
Jun 7, 2005 - Rep. Gifford, Sheriff McDonald help Onset Crime Watch with special delivery.


Oct 17, 2016

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD ANNOUNCES KEY ENDORSEMENTS

BOSTON - Today State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced endorsements by Union Workers and Small Business Owners.  The Massachusetts Laborers’ District Council and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) have both endorsed her campaign for re-election.

Joseph Bonfiglio, Business Manager for the Mass & Northern New England Laborers’ District Council representing nearly 25,000 general construction laborers and public employees said, “Rep. Gifford’s tireless advocacy of issues and protections benefitting working class families has been commendable.  We are confident that her passions and commitment to these issues will best serve the interests of our members and all hard working men and women in Massachusetts.”

Bill Vernon, NFIB/MA State Director stated that their endorsement is based on Rep. Gifford’s votes on issues important to small business owners during her terms in office.  “We thank her for her commitment to the needs of thousands of Main Street small businesses and their more than one million employees in Massachusetts,” said Mr. Vernon. 

“These endorsements are a great honor to me,” said Rep. Gifford.  “I take great pride that I am recognized as being an advocate for working people and the businesses who employ them. The people I represent are my first priority and I truly have my constituents’ best interest at heart.”

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September 12, 2016

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD TO HOST COMMUTER RAIL FORUM WITH HOUSE TRANSPORTATION CHAIRMAN STRAUS

BOSTON –State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that she will be hosting an informational meeting on the proposed alternative South Coast Rail link through Middleboro.  The forum will feature her colleague and House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, Representative Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett). 

The forum will take place on Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 at 7:30pm at the Wareham Town Hall auditorium, 54 Marion Road.  The meeting is open to the public and anyone interested in the Middleboro proposal as an alternative to the Stoughton line and the future of commuter rail extension to Wareham is encouraged to attend.

“This proposal of routing commuter rail from South Station to New Bedford and Fall River through Middleboro has some very positive possibilities,” said Rep. Gifford.  “In addition to cost and environmental mitigation, the proposal may also solve some of the drawbacks to extending regular commuter rail service to Wareham.” 

This forum precedes a scheduled public meeting of the MassDOT and MBTA on South Coast Rail on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 at Middleboro High School Auditorium, 71 Grove Street, beginning at 6:30pm.  For more information, please contact Rep. Gifford’s office in Boston at (617) 722-2100 or her District Office at (508) 295-5999 or by e-mail at Susan.Gifford@mahouse.gov

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August 31, 2016

Representative Gifford maintains perfect voting record

Wareham Republican casts 559 consecutive roll call votes during 2015-2016 session

BOSTON—House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) congratulated State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) for maintaining a perfect voting record throughout the 2015-2016 legislative session. The Wareham legislator participated in all 559 roll call votes cast in the House of Representatives between January of 2015 and July of 2016, achieving a 100% voting record.

Rep. Gifford cast votes this session on a number of key policy issues including: a landmark bill that focuses on treatment, education and prevention to address this growing public health threat of opioid abuse; a statewide “Stolen Valor Act” to prosecute individuals who falsely claim to be a veteran or military honor recipient in order to fraudulently obtain money, property or other tangible benefits; an historic pay equity law designed to prevent gender-based wage discrimination in the workplace; and legislation reforming the state’s public records law for the first time in over 40 years.

In addition to supporting the implementation of rigorous public safety standards for Massachusetts-issued drivers licenses to comply with the federal REAL ID Act, the Wareham lawmaker also cast votes in support of the HOME Act, a comprehensive bill that provides expanded employment protections, enhanced housing opportunities, and additional tax abatements to Massachusetts veterans; legislation expanding the procurement of offshore wind power and hydroelectric power; and a $1.02 billion economic development bill that will help create and retain jobs in the Commonwealth and support critical infrastructure investments.

During the 2015-2016 legislative session, Rep. Gifford reinforced her commitment to the communities within the 2nd Plymouth District by voting in support of significant local aid increases.  Over the last two years, Chapter 70 education aid has increased by $227.3 million, bringing the statewide total to a record $4.6 billion.  Over the same time period, Unrestricted General Government Aid – which helps communities pay for a variety of essential municipal programs – was increased by $76.1 million, to a total of $1.02 billion.

“The people of the 2nd Plymouth District elected me for a very important job, to represent their best interest on Beacon Hill. Being present to cast a vote is the fundamental responsibility of that job,” said Rep. Gifford.  “But, it’s not just about showing up – it’s also about being part of the debate and the voice of my constituents.”

Rep. Gifford also recorded votes in support of an $800 million municipal road and bridge bill to help cities and towns address critical infrastructure needs, as well as a municipal modernization bill designed to help streamline municipal operations, provide greater financial flexibility to cities and towns, and improve the delivery of essential services at the local level.

“Representative Gifford continues to be a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility and accountability to the state’s taxpayers, while effectively championing the needs of her district,” said Representative Jones.  “The residents of the 2nd Plymouth District are very fortunate to have her representing them and fighting for their interests on Beacon Hill.”

Rep. Gifford currently serves as the Assistant Minority Whip and on the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.
  

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August 30, 2016

Rep. Gifford to Discuss Senior Safety & Awareness of Scams at Carver COA

Carver - Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) announced today that she will be speaking to the Senior Citizens of Carver on Wednesday, September 14th about cyber security and identifying possible scams.

With an increase of phone calls, emails, and even home visits being reported as fraudulent, it is imperative that all citizens remain vigilant about what information they provide when asked by strangers. When you combine this reality with ever evolving technology, the elderly community is the most at risk.

“Even in the face of increasing fraud and scams targeting almost everyone, our Seniors continue to be the most vulnerable,” said Rep. Gifford.  “Those who intend to do harm, financial and otherwise, have become more creative and devious so Seniors need to be informed and armed with the knowledge to protect themselves.” 

The event is scheduled to take place at the Carver Council on Aging located at 48 Lakeview Street on Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 at 10:30am; all Senior Citizens are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Rep. Gifford’s office in Boston at (617) 722-2100 or her District Office at (508) 295-5999 or by e-mail at Susan.Gifford@mahouse.gov

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August 25, 2016

Representative Gifford supports launching of new state prescription monitoring system to address opioid crisis

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham), says the launching of a new online state database will enhance doctors’ and pharmacists’ ability to track the prescribing of opioids and other controlled substances to patients in Massachusetts.

Beginning October 15, all prescribers will be required to check the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (MassPAT) every time they prescribe a Schedule II or Schedule III narcotic.  This mandate was included as part of the comprehensive opioid abuse prevention bill that was signed into law on March 14. 

The new tracking system, which replaces the Prescription Monitoring Program established in 1992, was created following a recommendation by Governor Baker’s Opioid Working Group that the state develop a more efficient and user-friendly online system.

“Massachusetts is facing an unprecedented opioid crisis that has already claimed far too many victims,” said Representative Gifford.  “MassPAT is an important tool that will help save lives by curbing drug abuse and preventing people from ‘doctor-shopping’ to fill multiple prescriptions.”

According to the Department of Public Health (DPH), MassPAT will offer faster access to data and reports.  In addition to being compatible with the electronic medical record systems used by health providers, MassPAT will allow pharmacists and prescribers to access other states’ online databases to provide further safeguards against overprescribing.

Licensed prescribers and pharmacists can access the online database to obtain a patient’s history of Schedule II through V prescriptions from the previous 12 months, including prescriptions filled by all Massachusetts pharmacies and out-of-state pharmacies that deliver to Massachusetts.  According to DPH, approximately 200,000 prescriptions per week (or 13 million per year) are tracked through the state’s program.

DPH reported 1,531 accidental opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts in 2015, an 18% increase over the 1,294 confirmed deaths in 2014.  DPH estimates the actual number of opioid deaths for 2015 could increase to 1,659 once all cases pending before the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are finalized.

An average of four people die from an opioid overdose every single day in Massachusetts, with DPH reporting that 3 out of every 4 communities in the Commonwealth experienced at least one opioid-related overdose death between 2012 and 2014.

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August 1, 2016

Representative Gifford supports legislation to assist cities and towns with their finances and operations
Includes her Cranberry Task Force Recommendation

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) has endorsed comprehensive legislation that will help streamline municipal operations and provide greater financial flexibility to cities and towns.

On the last day of formal legislative sessions, the House of Representatives voted 158-0 to pass House Bill 4565, An Act to modernize municipal finance and government.  The bill represents a compromise reached by a six-member Conference Committee that was appointed on July 18 to work out the differences between previously approved House and Senate versions of the bill.

“The municipal modernization bill contains many important provisions that will help to improve the delivery of essential services at the local level,” said Representative Gifford.  “Municipal officials from across the state had identified this bill as a top priority, and I’m proud to support its passage on behalf of the communities in my district.”

House Bill 4565 provides cities and towns with the option of creating special reserve funds to pay for unanticipated costs associated with special education, out-of-school-district tuition or transportation.  The balance of such funds would be capped at 2% of the annual net school spending of the school district.

The bill also increases the amount that cities may appropriate for a reserve fund from 3% to 5% of the tax levy for the preceding fiscal year.  In addition to allowing end-of-fiscal-year transfers from health insurance, debt service or other unclassified or non-departmental line items, the bill eliminates the 3% cap on the amount of funding that may be transferred from any department.
Some key provisions from the Cranberry Revitalization Task Force report were also included in the bill.  One of them is a recommendation from Rep. Gifford as a member of the Task Force’s Exit Strategies sub-committee.  It expands the Chapter 61A tax roll-back exemption for land subject to a permanent wetland reserve easement through the agricultural conservation easement program, and land subject to other federal conservation programs. “If we really want to incentivize land owners to keep their land in conservation, taxing them is not the way to do it,” said Rep. Gifford.   

Another provision included in the municipal modernization bill allows appropriations for local stabilization funds to be made by a majority vote and permits communities to dedicate all or a portion of particular revenue streams to the fund, without appropriation.  A 2/3 vote would be required to make appropriations from the fund.

House Bill 4565 also:

  • lifts the cap on investments in certificates of deposit from 1 year to 3 years to enable communities to secure better rates on short-term investments;
  • authorizes 10-year bond anticipation notes to provide more flexibility in structuring debt;
  • empowers the chief administrative officer to authorize deficit spending for snow and ice removal;
  • allows municipalities to deny local licenses and permits to delinquent taxpayers who have not filed a good faith application for abatement;
  • increases to $50,000 the amount of surplus bond proceeds that can be applied to debt service;
  • amends the municipal procurement laws by increasing the dollar threshold for horizontal construction projects requiring less-than-full competitive bidding from $10,000 to $50,000, and adds a “middle tier” of contracts valued at between $10,000 and $50,000 for which public entities may either give public notification of the contract or use the Operational Services Division’s (OSD) statewide contracts or other “blanket” contracts to solicit a minimum of three bids;
  • requires vertical construction contracts awarded using a competitive bidding process be advertised on the OSD’s COMMBUYS system;
  • increases the property tax exemption for commercial fishing boats, nets and gear from $10,000 to $50,000, and changes the eligibility standard by requiring that at least half of the taxpayer’s income come from commercial fishing;
  • gives communities the option of using electronic poll books for elections;
  • allows for automatic approval of payment for liabilities incurred as a result of emergencies and disasters when the Governor declares a state of emergency;
  • authorizes the chief executive entity of any city, town or government unit to enter into a joint powers agreement with another governmental unit for the joint exercise of any of their common powers and duties within a designated region;
  • sets April 1 as the deadline for personal exemption applications in all communities, including exemptions to the municipal water infrastructure surcharge, creating a uniform and consistent deadline for taxpayers;
  • removes the $5,000 expenditure limit placed on vocational schools’ revolving funds used for culinary arts or other related programs;
  • increases from $20,000 to $150,000 the amount that municipalities may spend without appropriation from insurance or restitution proceeds to restore or replace damaged property;
  • updates the lost or damaged school book and materials restitution exception to include electronic devices and equipment provided to students;
  • allows for the creation of municipal agricultural commissions to promote and develop local agricultural resources;
  • expands the roll-back taxes exemption for land used or converted to a renewable energy generating source,
  • authorizes land being used primarily for agriculture or horticulture to be used as a site for a renewable energy generating source, provided that the site produce energy exclusively for the use of the land and farm upon it, and that it not produce more than 125% of the annual energy needs of the land and farm;

The municipal modernization bill, which was also enacted by the Senate, now heads to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk for his review and signaturee

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July 25, 2016

Representative Gifford calls on Attorney General to rescind latest gun law Enforcement Notice

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R- Wareham) has joined with her legislative colleagues in a bipartisan effort to call upon the Attorney General to rescind her recent Enforcement Notice relative to the state’s assault weapons ban.

Representative Gifford was one of 48 House members and 10 Senate members to co-sponsor a letter to Attorney General Maura Healey expressing their strong concerns about her July 20, 2016 Enforcement Notice, which notified licensed gun dealers that her office is “stepping up” its enforcement efforts against the sale and possession of firearms deemed to be “copies” or “duplicates” of guns banned under the state’s 1998 assault weapons law.  The letter was signed by 40 Republicans and 18 Democrats.

In her notice, Healey outlined a two-test process her office will now use to determine if a weapon is banned under the law.  Specifically, she has ruled that “a weapon is a copy or duplicate if its internal operating system is essentially the same as those of a specifically-banned weapon or if the gun has key functional components that are interchangeable with those of a banned weapon.”

Legislators who signed the letter strongly objected to the manner in which the Attorney General issued the Enforcement Notice, noting that this policy decision was implemented without providing any advance notice or soliciting input from the public or the Legislature.

“We want to be clear that we are not opposed to revisiting the state’s gun laws periodically to ensure that they are up-to-date and being properly enforced,” legislators wrote.  “However, we believe strongly that any such review should be accompanied by a rigorous debate of the Legislature, with full public input, before any changes are made to ensure that lawful gun owners have a clear understanding of the law and how it will be enforced.”

“Regardless of opinions pertaining to our 2nd Amendment rights, everyone should be extremely concerned about the way in which the A.G. has acted,” said Rep. Gifford.  “Today, it’s Healey’s interpretation of gun laws that have been on the books for years.  Who knows what she will do next.  We are working on finding solutions to protect the rights of law abiding citizens.” 

According to the Attorney General’s office, “For many years, the gun industry has been marketing and selling what they describe as ‘Massachusetts compliant’ assault weapons, despite the fact that these guns are actually banned under existing state law.”  Lawmakers questioned the timing of the Enforcement Notice, wondering why Healey and her two predecessors in the Attorney General’s office have never initiated any prosecutorial actions challenging the sale or possession of these weapons.

“For the last 18 years, the law has been implemented and enforced consistently, both by your office and your predecessors,” the letter states.  “Your new directive, which has been presented by your office as nothing more than a closing of “loopholes” in the current law, appears in fact to be much more than that: the enforcement of a whole new law that unfairly infringes on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners in Massachusetts.”

On her website, the Attorney General acknowledges there is currently no list of weapons that are banned under state law, but indicated that her office “will work with gun dealers, as necessary, to help them identify the guns that meet one or both of the tests of a copy or duplicate.”

“Licensed dealers and gun owners are rightfully concerned about the ambiguity of the directive and the possibility that they could inadvertently violate its terms and thereby subject themselves to substantial penalties, including fines, imprisonment and license revocation,” the legislators wrote.
 
Healey has indicated that her office will not pursue legal action against anyone who had purchased one of these weapons prior to the issuance of her Enforcement Notice.  Licensed gun dealers who have any of these items in stock have been told they may “transfer them out-of-state to jurisdictions where sales of these weapons are legal.”

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June 22, 2106

Representative Gifford supports bill providing state financial assistance for municipal roads and bridges

BOSTON – State Representative Gifford (R-Wareham) joined with her colleagues today to support legislation that will help cities and towns address critical infrastructure needs.

House Bill 4424, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, includes $50 million in funding for a new Small Bridge Program and streamlines the Complete Streets Program to encourage more communities to apply for funding assistance for local road projects.  It also authorizes $750 million in new highway spending, which will be used to leverage additional federal dollars.

“Maintaining local roads and bridges is a costly but necessary expense,” said Representative Gifford.  “The bill passed by the House today represents a significant investment of state resources that will help our cities and towns improve the safety and reliability of their infrastructure.”

The Small Bridge Program is designed specifically to reimburse communities for repairing or replacing structurally-deficient smaller bridges – measuring 20 feet or less in length – that are located on municipal roadways but do not qualify for federal funding assistance. Approximately 1,300 bridges statewide fall into this category.

The bill funds the Small Bridge Program at $10 million a year for 5 years.  Funding awarded through this competitive grant program can be used to cover design, construction and administrative costs.  In addition to capping the maximum funding available to a single municipality at $500,000 per year, the bill also prohibits the Massachusetts Department of Transportation from allocating more than 20% of funds to any one highway district.

Under the Small Bridge Program, participating municipalities will be responsible for administering local bridge projects through the design and construction phases, including the procurement of a designer as well as the bidding and oversight of the construction contract.  The municipality will also be responsible for obtaining all environmental permits, coordinating with affected utility companies, and securing required rights of way.

Representative Gifford noted that the bill also updates the Complete Street Program by changing it from a certificate program to a grant program.  This change is designed to make it easier for communities to access funding through the program, which can be used for municipal roadway improvements such as new crosswalks, enhanced street lighting, timing changes to traffic signals and the creation of designated bike lanes.
 
Established in 2014, the Complete Streets Program is designed to promote safe and accessible roadways for people of all ages and abilities, whether they walk, bike, use public transit or drive a motor vehicle.

The bill is now in the committee on Senate Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets

 

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June 17, 2016

Representative Gifford supports bill granting cities and towns more flexibility, local control

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) is supporting comprehensive legislation giving cities and towns more flexibility and control over everything from contract procurement and municipal borrowing to the issuance of liens and the management of local stabilization funds.

House Bill 4397, An Act to modernize municipal finance and government, was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives on a 153-0 vote on June 15.  The bill reflects many of the priorities the Baker-Polito Administration included in its own version of the municipal modernization bill filed last December by updating or eliminating obsolete laws, streamlining state oversight and granting more independence to municipalities.

“Cities and towns have long been advocating for more flexibility in dealing with a variety of issues that impact municipal government, and this bill delivers on that request,” said Representative Gifford.  “Today’s action by the House provides communities with a wide range of options for better managing municipal finances and improving local government operations.”

To help local officials address extraordinary or unforeseen expenses, House Bill 4397 increases the amount that cities may appropriate for a reserve fund from 3% to 5% of the tax levy for the preceding fiscal year.  The 5% level conforms to what is currently authorized for towns and districts.

The House bill eliminates existing limits on the types and amounts of appropriation transfers that can be made by local selectmen with finance committee approval.  In addition to allowing end-of-fiscal-year transfers from health insurance, debt service or other unclassified or non-departmental line items, the bill eliminates the 3% cap on the amount of funding that may be transferred from any department.

Another provision contained in the House bill permits appropriations into local stabilization funds by a majority vote and permits municipalities, without appropriation, to dedicate all or a portion of particular revenue streams to the fund.  It also eliminates the 10% prior year property tax cap on the amount reserved, but retains the requirement for a 2/3 vote to make appropriations from the fund.

House Bill 4397 authorizes 10-year bond anticipation notes to provide municipal treasurers with more flexibility in structuring debt.  In addition, the bill allows cities and towns to borrow in advance of receiving federal grants and lifts the cap on investments in certificates of deposit from 1 year to 3 years to help communities secure better rates on short-term investments.   It also empowers the chief administrative office in a municipality to authorize deficit spending for snow and ice removal without having to secure the prior approval of the local city council or board of selectmen.

If a taxpayer has neglected or refused to pay local taxes and has not filed a good faith application for abatement, the bill allows municipalities to deny local licenses and permits to that taxpayer until the taxes are paid.  Current law permits this collection method, but only if the taxpayer has been delinquent for at least one year.  The bill also allows municipalities to impose liens on properties for unpaid fines.

The statutes governing municipal construction procurement are also modified by House Bill 4397.   For example, the bill increases the dollar threshold for horizontal construction, such as road and bridge projects, requiring less-than-full competitive bidding from $10,000 to $50,000.  It adds a “middle tier” of contracts valued at between $10,000 and $50,000 for which public entities may either give public notification of the contract or use the Operational Services Division’s (OSD) statewide contracts or other “blanket” contracts to solicit a minimum of three bids.

In addition, the bill amends the public advertising requirements for vertical construction contracts awarded using a competitive bidding process.  Municipalities are already required to advertise these contracts at least once in their local newspapers, not less than two weeks prior to the specified deadline for receiving bids, but House Bill 4397 requires that these contracts also be advertised on the OSD’s COMMBUYS system.

To facilitate the implementation of the new “E-Citations” project jointly administered by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), House Bill 4397 amends definitions and other references to paper citations to include electronically issued citations; gives EOPSS the authority to promulgate regulations to set standards for e-citations and associated equipment requirements; and ensures that both paper and electronic copies of citations are properly delivered by police departments to the RMV and district courts.

The bill also:

  • allows municipalities and districts that provide water and sewer services to customers outside their borders to establish liens when customers of municipal utility services fail to pay their user charges when due;
  • authorizes the DOR commissioner to approve a revised tax rate when a community has made significant inadvertent errors in its submission, as long as tax bills have not yet been issued;
  • increases the amount of surplus bond proceeds that can be applied to debt service from $1,000 to $50,000;
  • permits governmental units to establish an Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Liability Trust Fund, clarifying current language, which only authorizes a reserve fund for retiree health insurance purposes;
  • allows cities and towns to combine their treasurer and tax collector into a single appointed position without having to secure a special act of the Legislature;
  • increases the property tax exemption for commercial fishing boats, nets and gear from $10,000 to $50,000;
  • provides communities the option to use electronic poll books for elections

  • allows for automatic approval of payment for liabilities incurred as a result of emergencies and disasters when the Governor declares a state of emergency;
  • authorizes the chief executive entity of any city, town or government unit to enter into a joint powers agreement with another governmental unit for the joint exercise of any of their common powers and duties within a designated region;
  • eliminates the current procedure under which DOR values state-owned land every four years, replacing that process with a statutory formula for determining the valuation every two years after the 2017 valuation required by current law;
  • sets April 1 as the deadline for personal exemption applications in all communities, including exemptions to the municipal water infrastructure surcharge, creating a uniform and consistent deadline for taxpayers;
  • removes the $5,000 expenditure limit placed on vocational schools’ revolving funds used for culinary arts or other related programs;
  • authorizes the board of selectmen in a town to approve the establishment of an industrial development financing authority, and permits the board of selectmen in two or more towns to consolidate the functions of their industrial development financing authorities; and
  • increases by $130,000 the amount that municipalities may spend without appropriation from insurance or restitution proceeds to restore or replace damaged property, from $20,000 to $150,000.

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The bill now heads to the Senate for further action.

 

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May 17, 2016

Representative Gifford supports HOME Act
to assist MA veterans with housing and employment

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford, (R-Wareham), joined with her colleagues in the House of Representatives today to unanimously approve legislation to enhance housing and employment opportunities for Massachusetts veterans.

The bill – An Act relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service and Enrichment, or the HOME Act – calls for the creation of a new Office for State Veterans’ Homes and Housing within the Department of Veterans’ Services.  In addition to giving veterans preference in state-assisted public housing units, the bill also makes veterans a protected class for hiring purposes.

“The HOME Act seeks to address the needs of our veterans, particularly as it relates to housing,” said Representative Gifford.  “With Memorial Day fast approaching, it’s only fitting that we take these steps now to recognize our veterans and remember the many sacrifices they have made on our behalf.”

The proposed Office for State Veterans’ Homes and Housing will provide oversight of the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers’ Homes.  The office will also be responsible for making recommendations to address veterans’ housing needs across the Commonwealth.

Although veterans currently are given preference in public housing, this preference generally applies only to housing units within the community in which the veteran resides.  The HOME Act includes a provision championed by Assistant Minority Leader Brad Hill (R-Ipswich) to give veterans statewide preference for public housing.  The bill also prohibits housing authorities from counting as income any veterans benefits for service-connected disabilities in excess of $1,800 when calculating rent.

During floor debate, two Republican amendments were adopted and incorporated into the bill.  One amendment, filed by Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus), gives cities and towns the option of establishing a fund to assist local veterans and their spouses with their food, transportation and heating expenses, using money raised through a voluntary check-off box on municipal property and excise tax bills.  The other amendment, filed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), would allow certain surviving family members of American soldiers who were killed in action, and who possess a US Department of Defense-issued Gold Star Lapel Button and letter of approval, to obtain a Gold Star Family license plate from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

The HOME Act also contains provisions to assist veterans with securing employment.  Under current law, recipients of the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross can be appointed to civil service positions without having to taken an exam.  The HOME Act extends this exemption to recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal and Silver Star Medal.

The HOME Act also:

  • Reconfigures the Massachusetts Post-Deployment Commission, which will study the barriers facing military personnel returning to civilian life and identify ways to better assist these veterans with accessing education, employment, healthcare, housing and other services;
  • Expands property tax abatements for surviving spouses of service members to include those who have died from injuries or diseases sustained during active service, even if those injuries were not sustained in a combat zone;
  • Offers full property tax abatements for the permanent residence of any veteran with a 100% disability rating for service-connected blindness;
  • Extends eligibility for the Public Service Scholarship Program to the children and spouses of Prisoners of War (POWs) who served after Vietnam;
  • Provides for state employees who are in the reserves and ordered to active duty for more than 30 days to continue receiving their full state salary, minus their reserve pay; and
  • Allows local Veterans’ Agents to be appointed to three-year terms, rather than on an annual basis.

 
The HOME Act now moves to the Senate for further action.

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May 4, 2016

Representative Gifford supports FY17 House budget that holds the line on taxes and increases local aid

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford, [R- Wareham], joined with her colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve a $39.5 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  The budget was engrossed on a vote of 156-0 on April 27.

Representative Gifford was able to successfully secure earmarks to support important local initiatives such as $50,000 for a full time Council on Aging Director, and no less than $25,000 for the operation of the Rt. 195 Visitor Information Center in Wareham.

Like the budget proposal Governor Baker released in January, the House budget does not contain any tax increases and significantly reduces the state’s reliance on one-time revenues.  It also provides for increased local aid for cities and towns.

“As legislators, our first priority is to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and making sure their tax dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently,” said Representative Gifford.  “The Baker-Polito Administration has set a high standard for fiscal responsibility, and the House budget in many ways reflects this pro-taxpayer approach.”

State tax revenues for Fiscal Year 2017 are expected to total $26.86 billion, which represents a 4.3 percent increase over the current revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2016.  However, both Governor Baker and the House have attempted to limit spending growth to just 3.5 percent.

The House budget funds Chapter 70 education aid at $4.6 billion, which is $96 million more than the current fiscal year and $24 million higher than the Governor’s proposal, allowing for a guaranteed statewide minimum increase of $55 per pupil.  Unrestricted general government aid, which can be used for a wide range of municipal spending purposes, is increased by $42.1 million to a total of $1.022 billion.

Representative Gifford noted that under the House budget plan, Wareham will receive $12,708,042 in Chapter 70 education aid and $1,902,369 in unrestricted state aid. Carver will receive $9,863,519 in Chapter 70 education aid and $1,404,600 in unrestricted state aid.   Middleboro will receive $17,709,989 in Chapter 70 education aid and $2,370,560 in unrestricted state aid.

The House budget increases funding for the “Pothole” account from $2.5 million to $10 million to provide extraordinary relief to school districts that experience a substantial shortfall between their Chapter 70 aid and target Chapter 70 aid.  The budget also includes $276.6 million for Special Education Circuit Breaker reimbursements – fully funding the state’s share of special education aid for local school districts at 75 percent – while also providing $85.5 million for charter school reimbursements and $60 million for regional school transportation reimbursements.

For the second consecutive year, the House budget does not draw money from the state Stabilization Fund.  Instead, it provides for $210 million to be deposited into the fund, which will bring the balance to $1.47 billion.  The House budget also relies on $253 million in one-time revenues, which is about $350 million less than the current budget.
 
The budget now moves to the Senate, which is expected to release its own spending proposal in mid-May.

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Apr 27, 2016

Representative Gifford supports proposal to use excess state revenues to boost local aid

BOSTON – In an effort to enhance local aid for communities in the 2nd Plymouth District, State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) supported a proposal this week to return a portion of any surplus state revenue in the upcoming fiscal year to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.

The proposal, offered by House Republican Leadership as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget currently being debated by the House of Representatives, received the unanimous support of the House Republican Caucus but was defeated on a roll call vote of 37-121 on April 25.

The Fiscal Year 2017 budget is being formulated based on an assumption that state tax revenues will total $26.86 billion in the new fiscal year that begins on July 1st.  This represents an increase of $1.1 billion – or 4.3 percent – over current revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2016, which ends June 30th.

If actual Fiscal Year 2017 revenues were to surpass projections, Representative Gifford noted, the amendment would have required 50 percent of the excess revenue – up to $100 million – to be made available as additional local aid to cities and towns.  The proposal also stipulated that this surplus revenue be allocated on a proportional basis using the distribution formula for unrestricted general government aid, which can be used by municipalities to fund a wide variety of local needs.

“Communities across the Commonwealth are struggling to deliver essential municipal services,” said Representative Gifford.  “Although the proposed House budget calls for significant increases in local aid funding in Fiscal Year 2017, this amendment would have gone even further in helping to reduce the financial pressures our cities and towns are currently facing.”

With the exception of tax collections received during the Great Recession, actual state tax receipts have historically been higher than the consensus revenue estimate.  In recent years, excess revenues have averaged $730 million, representing growth of almost 4 percent over original projections.

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Mar 23, 2016

Representatives Orrall and Gifford support bill to curb opioid abuse

BOSTON – State Representatives Keiko M. Orrall, (R- Lakeville) and Susan Williams Gifford, (R- Wareham) joined with their colleagues to unanimously approve legislation targeting the state’s opioid abuse crisis.

House Bill 4056, An Act relative to substance use, treatment, education and prevention, passed the House on a vote of 153-0.  The final bill reflects a compromise reached by a six-member conference committee, which spent the past seven weeks working to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill that passed earlier this year.

“The Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature have made a commitment to ending the scourge of opioid abuse, which has already claimed the lives of far too many people in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Orrall.  “This bill represents a positive step forward in our efforts to expand drug treatment and prevention in Massachusetts, but there is still more work to be done to address this public health crisis.”

Rep. Gifford echoed her colleague’s concerns, “The Legislature, under the leadership of Governor Baker has taken some life-saving steps to combat horrible crisis that knows no bounds.  No one wants to be an addict and we’ve provided a path for those who want help and resources for families to help them deal with addiction,” said Rep. Gifford. “There is still more to be done but this legislation is a huge step forward.”

An average of four people die from an opioid overdose every single day in Massachusetts, and the Department of Public Health (DPH) has reported that 3 out of every 4 communities in the Commonwealth experienced at least one opioid-related overdose death between 2012 and 2014.

The conference committee report retains several key provisions that were included in the original House opioid bill that passed on January 13.  These provisions include: limits on the amount of opioids that can be prescribed for acute care patients; expanded use of the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP); and a requirement that hospitals conduct a substance abuse evaluation within the first 24 hours of an individual being brought to the emergency room after suffering an overdose.

In an attempt to curb prescription drug abuse, the opioid bill requires the PMP to be utilized each time a Schedule II or Schedule III narcotic drug prescription is issued.  According to the Baker-Polito Administration, 4.4 million prescriptions were written and 240 million Schedule II and Schedule III pills were disbursed in the Commonwealth in 2014 alone.  That same year, Massachusetts recorded nearly 1,300 opioid-related deaths.

The opioid bill also:

  • imposes a 7-day supply limit for adult patients who are prescribed an opiate for the first time, and caps all opiate prescriptions for minors at a 7-day supply;
  • gives patients the option of requesting a partial-fill prescription, or requesting in writing that they not be prescribed any opioid medications;
  • requires the Drug Formulary Commission to identify and publish a list of FDA-approved non-opioid drug products that provide an effective alternative for pain management, and to distribute this list to all prescribers and dispensers;
  • requires medical practitioners to receive training in effective pain management and the risks of abuse and addiction associated with opioid medication before obtaining or renewing their license;
  • mandates that pharmaceutical companies operating in Massachusetts maintain or participate in a drug stewardship program to collect and safely dispose of unwanted drugs; and
  • allows schools to utilize a confidential verbal screening tool to screen students for substance abuse disorders, which students can opt out of if their parents provide the school with prior written notification.

The opioid bill was signed by Governor Charlie Baker on Monday, March 14th 2016.

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Mar 21, 2016

Representative Gifford Kicks-off Re-election Campaign

MIDDLEBOROUGH – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) kicked off her re-election campaign with special guest Governor Charlie Baker and a surprise visit by First Lady Lauren Baker.  The event took place Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 at the Boston Tavern in Middleborough with approximately 100 supporters and other state and local elected officials in attendance. 

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said in his introduction that Rep. Gifford has long been known for assisting the D.A.’s office in important matters such as the passage of Melanie’s Law which targeted repeat drunk drivers and pushing for funding to relocate and make necessary upgrades to the D.A.’s office in Brockton.  “Susan has been a great asset to law enforcement efforts not just in Plymouth County but state wide,” said D.A. Cruz.  “We are so fortunate to have her as a strong advocate for law enforcement and public safety.”

In her remarks, Rep. Gifford spoke about some of her legislative priorities.  “Our cities and towns depend on state aid to help them provide services to citizens and keep taxes under control.  Local aid has always been a priority for me and that will continue,” said Rep. Gifford.  She also spoke of her efforts to bring about much needed reforms to the state’s Chapter 40B law and the importance of keeping tourism funding coming to the 2nd Plymouth District.  “I am also honored to be serving as a member of the Cranberry Revitalization Task Force created by the Legislature last year,” Rep. Gifford said.  “My District is home to the most actively farmed acres of cranberry bogs in the Commonwealth.  We are doing very important work to keep the industry competitive, innovative and environmentally friendly while preserving open space.”

Rep. Gifford also said a big announcement will be forthcoming on April 14th concerning the Commuter Rail Extension Pilot Program in a joint public forum with residents and town officials from Wareham and Bourne.  “Since I was a Selectman back in 1999, I have been working to make the extension of commuter rail service from Middleboro/Lakeville to Wareham and Buzzards Bay a reality.  The Pilot Program is still awaiting final approval so I can’t give any details now but this is going to be great news for our towns,” said Rep. Gifford. 

In her introduction of Governor Baker, Rep. Gifford said working with the Baker Administration is like a breath of fresh air.  “When we need information, all we do is send an e-mail or make a phone call and guess what?  You get a response!  Imagine that,” Rep. Gifford said.  “Governor Baker has worked tirelessly on the Opioid Addiction Bill, expansion of Charter Schools, State and Local Partnerships and improving Municipal Finance and Government.  I am so honored to have him here this evening.”

Governor Baker began by speaking of the Opioid Bill just signed into law on Monday, March 14th.  “This Opioid Bill was not something that I initially ran for office to accomplish, but everywhere I went in the state I would constantly hear of this horrible disease. It really affected everybody and I know Susan shared my belief that something had to be done. I was happy to work with Susan and her colleagues on this Bill that we are expecting to become a national model.”

In speaking about his bill, An Act to Modernize Municipal Finance and Government, Governor Baker said, “It was important for me to improve relations between State and Local government and I am happy to work with experienced Representatives like Susan who know these issues and helped get things done to create a more efficient system.”  The First Lady of the Commonwealth, Lauren Baker joined Susan and the Governor following an event she attended on the Cape.

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Mar 15, 2016

Representative Gifford sets date for “Charlie Card Event”
for Wareham Seniors

BOSTON - In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) will hold a Senior Charlie Card event for the Town of Wareham on Friday, April 1st, 2016 in the Community Room at the Wareham Senior Center from 10:00am to 11:30am. This event, provided by MassDOT, is intended to offer senior citizens throughout the commonwealth the ability to apply for a reduced fare CharlieCard without having to travel into Boston.
 
In order to prevent fraud, the MBTA only allows individuals to sign up for a reduced fare CharlieCard at their Downtown Crossing location. However, the DOT realizes that this may be difficult for some Senior citizens so they are looking to have State Representatives, Senators, and Senior Centers help organize a “CharlieCard Event” in order to make the reduced fare CharlieCard more accessible.

“In order to have this event in Wareham, we needed a minimum of 15 Seniors to attend,” said Rep. Gifford.  “I’m delighted that the interest in obtaining the Senior Discount CharlieCards far exceeded our expectations.  We will have plenty of applications for anyone who still may want to apply but had not yet contacted my office.”

Any senior, age 65 or older, with a valid RMV New England issued ID (which is required to apply) is encouraged to attend the event on April 1st.  For more information, please contact Rep. Gifford’s office in Boston at (617) 722-2100,  her District Office at (508) 295-5999 or by e-mail at Susan.Gifford@mahouse.gov

 

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Jan 12, 2016

Representative Gifford maintains perfect voting record

Wareham Republican casts 179 consecutive roll call votes in first half of 2015-2016 session.

 BOSTON—House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) congratulated State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) for maintaining a perfect voting record for the first half of the 2015-2016 legislative session. The Wareham legislator participated in all 179 roll call votes cast in the House of Representatives between January and November of 2015, a 100% voting record.

Representative Gifford cast votes this session on a number of key policy issues including: a fentanyl trafficking bill that imposes a prison sentence of up to 20 years for manufacturing, distributing or dispensing more than 10 grams of fentanyl or any of its derivatives; a statewide “Stolen Valor Act” to prosecute individuals who falsely claim to be a veteran or recipient of a military honor in order to obtain money, property or other tangible benefits; legislation limiting the amount of time Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders can secure a stay of final classification pending a court appeal, and mandating an expedited hearing process whenever a stay is granted; and legislation raising the private and public net metering cap to encourage more solar energy projects across the state.

Additionally, the Wareham lawmaker registered votes on legislation regulating secondary metal dealings; clearing titles to foreclosed properties; and reforming the state’s public records law.

“Every vote is an important one, regardless of the issue.  Representing the people of the 2nd Plymouth District means the world to me and is not a task I take lightly,” said Representative Gifford.  "My constituents elected me to represent their best interest on Beacon Hill. Being present to cast those votes is the fundamental responsibility of that job. I am dedicated, committed and honored to serve the people I represent and my voting record is a testament to that."

Representative Gifford further reinforced her commitment to the municipalities within the 2nd Plymouth District by voting in support of significant funding increases in local aid for cities and towns in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.  This year’s budget includes:

  • $4.5 billion in Chapter 70 education aid, an increase of $111.2 million;
  • $979.8 million in unrestricted general government aid, an increase of $34 million;
  • $271.7 million for the special education Circuit Breaker, an increase of $18.3 million, which funds the state’s share of special education aid for local school districts at 75%;
  • $59 million for regional school transportation, an increase of $7.5 million; and
  • an additional $80.5 million set aside for charter school reimbursements to cities and towns, an increase of $3.6 million.

Representative Gifford currently serves as the Assistant Minority Whip and is on the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.  

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Dec 14, 2015

Representative Gifford Looks into “Charlie Card Event” for Wareham Seniors

BOSTON - In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) is looking into the possibility of holding a “CharlieCard Event” for senior citizens of the Town of Wareham. This event provided by MassDOT is intended to offer senior citizens throughout the commonwealth the ability to apply for a reduced fare CharlieCard without having to travel into Boston.
 
In order to prevent fraud, the MBTA only allows individuals to sign up for a reduced fare CharlieCard at their Downtown Crossing location. However, the DOT realizes that this may be difficult for some Senior citizens so they are looking to have State Representatives, Senators, and Senior Centers help organize a “CharlieCard Event” in order to make the reduced fare CharlieCard more accessible.

“In order to have this event in Wareham, we need a minimum of 15 Seniors to attend,” said Rep. Gifford.  “Therefore, I’m asking everyone to make sure they check with their family members, friends and neighbors in regard to possible interest in getting a CharlieCard.”

Any senior interested in such an event with a valid RMV New England issued ID (which is required to apply) is encouraged to contact Rep. Gifford’s  office in Boston at (617) 722-2100,  her District Office at (508) 295-5999 or by e-mail at Susan.Gifford@mahouse.gov 

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Feb 13, 2015

Rep. Gifford appointed to key committee, leadership posts

BOSTON – House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to announce that he has appointed Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) to a top leadership post and a key legislative committee for the 2015-2016 session.

Representative Gifford has been named as the Assistant Minority Whip for the House Republican Caucus, where she will work alongside the Minority Whip to help manage the caucus’ legislative agenda and track important votes.  The Wareham legislator has also been appointed to the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling, which is charged with assisting the Speaker and the members of the House of Representatives in identifying the major matters pending before the General Court, and the relative urgency and priority for the consideration of such matters.

“Representative Gifford will play an important role in helping to lead the caucus during the current legislative session,” said Representative Jones.  “She has always done a tremendous job representing the residents of her district by fighting to keep taxes low, promote affordable housing and protect senior citizens and the environment, and I am confident she will continue to do so in her new position.”

“I am honored to receive my new committee and leadership assignments from the Minority Leader, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pursue a responsible legislative agenda that will address the needs and concerns of all my constituents,” said Representative Gifford.

Representative Gifford represents the Second Plymouth District, which consists of the communities of Carver, Wareham and Precincts 3 and 6 in Middleborough.  She has been a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 2003.

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July 8, 2014                                                                                                 

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD ANNOUNCES EARMARK IN HOUSE BUDGET FOR TURNING POINT IN WAREHAM

BOSTON –State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that the budget amendment she filed in the House Budget back in April for the Turning Point Day Resource Center for the Homeless and Near Homeless in Wareham was included in the Conference Committees version of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

The earmark in the category of Housing and Community Development states that not less than $15,000 shall be expended for Turning Point.  “I am delighted to see that the services provided to the community by Turning Point were recognized by the members of the Conference Committee,” Rep. Gifford said.  “Even though the local economy is showing some signs of improvement, there is no shortage of individuals and families having difficulty meeting their financial obligations. This funding will help Turning Point keep up with the ever growing demand for assistance.”

After being filed by Representative Gifford and adopted into the House version of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, the earmark request was sent to the Senate where it was again successfully adopted after their budget debate in mid-May.  The next stop for the $15,000 earmark was the House and Senate Conference Committee.  Having just been approved, it now continues its journey to the Governor's desk for final approval. 

Rep. Gifford has been successful in the past, taking the lead in securing funds for Turning Point as recently as FY2009.   However, due to the state's economic downturn, requests for earmarked funding were severely limited for the past several years. 

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May 5, 2014

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD ANNOUNCES EARMARK IN HOUSE BUDGET FOR TURNING POINT IN WAREHAM

BOSTON –State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that the budget amendment she filed for Turning Point Day Resource Center for the Homeless and Near Homeless in Wareham was adopted by the House during the Fiscal Year 2015 budget debate last week.

The earmark in the category of Labor and Economic Development states that not less than $15,000 shall be expended for Turning Point.  “It was important this year to try to get Turning Point some much needed State assistance,” Rep. Gifford said.  “This funding will help them to keep up with the ever growing demand of their services due to escalating numbers individuals and families having difficulty meeting their financial obligations.”

Rep. Gifford has been successful in the past, taking the lead in securing funds for Turning Point as recently as FY2009.   However, due to the state's economic downturn, requests for earmarked funding were severely limited for the past several years. 

The earmark must now be successfully adopted by the Senate when they begin their FY2015 budget debate in mid-May and subsequently by the Conference Committee of the House and Senate in June before going to the Governor's desk.  "It sounds like a long process but we've done it before and I'm hopeful we can do this again," said Rep. Gifford.

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Nov 7, 2013

Representative Susan Gifford Instrumental in
Wide Sweeping Welfare Reform Legislation

Republican Amendments Ensure Program Integrity and Long-Term Sustainability

BOSTON – Representative Susan W. Gifford(R-Wareham) was joined by the entire House of Representatives in unanimously approving a welfare reform package aimed at increasing oversight of the taxpayer-funded Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program.

Although House Bill 3737 – An Act Encouraging Low-Income Savings and Economic Opportunity, initially included many provisions for which Republicans had long lobbied – tax return disclosure for income verification, increased penalties for food stamp trafficking, and increased oversight of work requirements – the legislation, as proposed, did not go far enough in addressing the root of the perpetual fraud and mismanagement within the EBT system.

"I am very pleased that the House of Representatives has followed through on another step toward achieving a taxpayer-funded EBT program to serve those citizens in real need of assistance, and who have taken the appropriate and legal steps to secure those benefits,” said Rep. Gifford. “The reform package approved by the House acknowledges the majority party’s recognition that by including Republican-led amendments aimed at eliminating all levels and degrees of waste, fraud, and abuse within the EBT program, we as a legislature can play an instrumental role in facilitating a pathway to self-sufficiency for people currently receiving assistance.”

With a core goal of ensuring that benefits are obtained, distributed, and expended in a manner that is both lawful and beneficial to the recipient of the assistance, the Republican Caucus was successful in offering amendments which rectify current problems within the system while safeguarding the long-term integrity of the welfare program. Some of the proposals offered by Republicans, and adopted by the House, which protect taxpayers and benefit recipients alike include:

  • Requiring a valid social security number to be provided upon application for benefits, while establishing an exemption for victims of domestic violence and a three-month grace period for expectant mothers and children under four months of age.
  • Adding a minority party appointment to the Poverty Reduction Commission to ensure that the Commission is bipartisan and reflects a range of viewpoints.
  • Instructing the Department of Transitional Assistance and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to implement a school attendance verification system for the Commonwealth’s students.
  • Creating a special commission to study the feasibility of establishing a tax credit for small businesses that hire Massachusetts residents who are recipients of DTA benefits, thereby simultaneously aiding both the business and the recipient.
  • Directing the Secretary of Administration & Finance to study the efficacy of the current benefit systems in Massachusetts, to examine whether the system is successfully moving individuals out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency.


    Having passed the House of Representatives and the State Senate, the legislation will now be sent to a Conference Committee to resolve the differences between the two bills.

 

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Oct 4, 2013

Representative Gifford Successfully Advocates for Repeal of Technology Tax

Fight Against Destructive Tax on Computer Services Heads to Senate

BOSTON - Today, Representative Susan W. Gifford (R-Wareham) and her Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives were successful in their quest to repeal the Democrat-approved job killing computer services tax, all while refraining from implementing any new revenue measure.

“The repeal of the tax on the technology industry is the direct resultofthe hard-work, dedication and resilience of Beacon Hill Republicans, as well as our partnership with industry professionals,” said Rep. Gifford.“Today’s vote to eliminate the technology tax further illustrates the ill-effects of the Democrats’ taxation without information approach to revenue. House Republicans will continue to fight any attempt to suppress economic growth and remain steadfast in our support of the taxpayers and small businesses of the Commonwealth.”

The repeal of the tax, widely regarded as the largest and broadest tax on computer and software services in the nation, marks the culmination of a six-month long endeavor by legislative Republicans to eliminate the unprecedented revenue measure.

Having recognized the deleterious effect of a tax on the technology industry, contained within a $500 million transportation plan, House Republicans not only formally requested a public hearing for the massive tax hike, but also went as far as to offer an alternative transportation finance plan – free from any statewide tax increase. While both initiatives were defeated at the hands of House Democrats, the Republican Caucus refused to be cast aside in their tenacious opposition to a tax on the high-tech industry.

Knowing the importance of engaging those individuals adversely affected by this ill-conceived approach to revenue, the House Republican Caucus embarked on a statewide, weeklong series of roundtable discussions with technology industry professionals, and Chambers of Commerce. The 2013 GOP Technology Tax Business Roundtables gave local businesses and Chambers of Commerce, which would have been severely impacted by this reckless tax, the chance to discuss the detrimental effects and ways to reverse what would surely have suppressed future economic growth within the technology industry and the Commonwealth.

As the majority party continued to defend their careless vote to increase taxes on one of the state’s most vital economic forces, and in some cases alter their stances, Republicans returned to the drawing board and unveiled legislation to repeal the Democrat-approved job-killing computer services tax. The legislative measure, which contained the same language as a ballot question approved by Attorney General Martha Coakley, was just the latest effort the minority party put forth to eliminate this unprecedented tax.

Having passed the House of Representatives, the legislation will now move to the State Senate for consideration.

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Sep 23, 2013

REPRESENTATIVE SUSAN WILLIAMS GIFFORD ACHIEVES PERFECT VOTING RECORD

Wareham Lawmaker Registers 224 Consecutive Roll Call Votes This Year

BOSTON— State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) is pleased to announce that she participated in 224 consecutive roll call votes in the House of Representatives this year - a perfect voting record.

“Representing the people of the 2nd Plymouth District means the world to me and is not a task I take lightly,” said Representative Gifford.  "The people of the 2nd Plymouth District elected me for a very important job, to represent their best interest on Beacon Hill. Being present to cast a vote is the fundamental responsibility of that job. I am dedicated and committed to the people I represent and my voting record is a testament to that."

The Wareham legislator cast votes on a number of issues including: a Republican-led transportation finance package – free of any statewide tax increases, legislation aimed at eradicating waste, fraud, and abuse in our state’s welfare system and the restoration of local aid to cities and towns across the Commonwealth.

Additionally, Representative Gifford was instrumental in the Republican Caucus’ opposition to a $500 million transportation finance package which contained a myriad of tax increases – one of which was the largest and broadest tax on computer and software services in the nation.

Representative Gifford currently serves on the Committees on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Steering, Policy and Scheduling, and Financial Services.

Formal sessions will resume in the coming weeks. 

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Sep 12, 2013

Representative Gifford Continues Effort to Repeal Technology Tax

Remains Opposed to Misguided and Destructive Revenue Measure

BOSTON- Representative Susan Williams Gifford(R-Wareham)joined Republican legislators from both the House and Senate Caucuses in unveiling legislation to repeal the Democrat-approved job killing computer services tax.  The legislative measure, which contains the same language as the ballot question recently approved by Attorney General Martha Coakley, is just the latest effort the minority party has put forth in eliminating this unprecedented tax.

“This tax is essentially an illness.  Ill-conceived, ill-advised and ill-timed”, said Rep Gifford.  “If we don’t repeal this as soon as possible, many in the Commonwealth’s tech industry will seek to cure this illness by moving to the states that remain tax friendly to this industry and are actively courting this sector of our economy.  One of the biggest deterrents to business growth is tax uncertainty and we have an abundance of that in the Commonwealth.”

Announced during a press conference at Genuine Interactive, a leading interactive agency, the proposed bill puts forth a targeted approach to repealing the largest and broadest tax on computer and software services in the nation.

“We can’t afford to penalize innovation and job creation in one of the state’s most promising sectors if we hope to have the kind of robust economic recovery that creates the jobs people need and the tax revenue state government depends on,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  “The time is now to change course from increasing taxes on productivity and focus on creating a climate for job growth and reform and efficiency in our state’s operations.”

The filing of legislation comes on the heels of the Massachusetts House and Senate Republican Caucus’ statewide 2013 Technology Tax Business Roundtables. The weeklong series of roundtable discussions conducted by Republican lawmakers included conversations with technology industry professionals and representatives from area chambers of commerce about the negative effects of the technology tax. The roundtable discussions were initiated due to the fact that Democratic leadership did not provide a public hearing to solicit public testimony from those affected by the tax on software and computer services.

“Since this reckless tax on the technology industry was approved, we have seen a steady decline in business confidence within Massachusetts,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading). “There remains absolutely no appetite for this tax, and it continues to hurt the economic prospects for one of our state’s most vibrant and prosperous trades, as well as other industries who are suffering from the trickle-down effect of this careless revenue mechanism. The way to encourage growth and development within the Commonwealth is not through ill-conceived taxes, but through business-friendly directives and initiatives.”

Republican lawmakers highlighted the fact that the Commonwealth does not collect taxes on any other service, and expressed fear that the computer services tax sets a dangerous precedent for future efforts to tax other vital services. Furthermore, House and Senate Republicans had each offered revenue-neutral proposals, which if passed, would have avoided the implementation of the technology tax. Industry leaders such as the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and the Massachusetts High Technology Council have repeatedly warned of the destructive nature of the new tax which is slated to stifle the high-tech industry by close to $500 million a year.
"Genuine Interactive started off as a four person agency in 2005 and since then, it's grown to a 100 person company," said John Grayson, Chief Executive Officer of Genuine. "This tax on technology services is negatively impacting the business and is threatening the future of the entire technology and innovation industry. Out-of-state vendors are seeing this as an opportunity to attract businesses away from Massachusetts and that is going to affect the overall economy of the Commonwealth. In a market where work is already being outsourced to other countries, this puts yet another burden on the technology economy in Massachusetts." 
Having been filed in both the House and Senate, the joint legislation awaits assignment to a legislative committee.

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August 15, 2013

Representative Susan Williams Gifford Appointed to Special Commission

Commission Charged with Studying Massachusetts Tourism Fund

BOSTON—House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) is pleased to appoint Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) to a special commission charged with studying the distribution of funds from the Massachusetts Tourism Fund.

The Wareham Republican will join fellow legislators as well as appointees of the governor in reviewing and evaluating the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism’s current funding formula. The group will also be instrumental in determining if any revisions are necessary for achieving a fair funding formula – thus ensuring that funds are distributed in a judicious and effective manner.  

“Representative Gifford is well versed in the Commonwealth’s booming tourism industry as her district, the 2nd Plymouth, is comprised of dynamic communities which consistently attract a large amount of tourists,” said Representative Jones.  “I am extremely confident that Susan will bring a wealth of real-world knowledge and invaluable expertise to this Commission.”

 “I am honored to have been appointed to this Commission by House Minority Leader Brad Jones,” said Representative Gifford. “The questions on who gets tourism funding and how much have lingered for years.  I’m looking forward to getting those answers and making sure the funding formula is appropriate.”

The Commission will be responsible for submitting their findings to the House and Senate Clerks, the Joint Committees on Higher Education and Ways and Means, and the Joint Committees on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development by no later than May 1, 2014.

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July 18, 2013

Representative Gifford Votes Against Massive Tax Increases, Again

Supports Republican-Led Amendment to Deliver Chapter 90 Money to Cities & Towns

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) joined the entire House Republican Caucus in voting against transportation finance amendments, offered by both Governor Patrick and House Democrats, which contain hundreds of millions of dollars in crippling tax increases. 

“To even consider raising taxes on the hard working people and small businesses of the Commonwealth in these difficult financial times just shows how incredibly out of touch the majority party is,” said Rep. Gifford. 

The massive tax increases contained in each proposal directly target Massachusetts’ taxpayers and small business. The Commonwealth’s high-tech industry will not be immune to the wide-reaching tax proposal passed by the Democratic majority. “Higher taxes on certain software services will not only stifle our state’s entrepreneurs, but will have a trickle-down effect on residents and customers alike,” Rep. Gifford added.  “No one even knows exactly what is going to be taxed!”

“While the price-tag of the tax increase advanced by House Democrats may be lower than that of the plan continually pushed by Governor Patrick, the vote by the Democratic-led House of Representatives will prove to be extremely costly for Massachusetts’ taxpayers and small businesses,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading).

In their ongoing advocacy for the state’s residents, the House Republican Caucus offered key components of their alternative transportation finance proposal, which would have raised the necessary revenue to solve the state’s transportation finance dilemma while refraining from increasing any additional revenue. Although the plan stood to save the Commonwealth’s taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, the proposal was not given due consideration by the Democratic majority.

In recognizing the continued financial constraints placed on cities and towns across Massachusetts, House Republicans offered an amendment which would have delivered Chapter 90 money to the state’s municipalities. Unfortunately, House Democrats elected to let their quarrel with Governor Patrick interfere with a good-faith effort to infuse desperately needed money into infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth – thus defeating the Republican-led proposal.

The legislation is now before the Senate for consideration.

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May 10, 2013

Legislators Issue Letter to Governor Patrick Regarding 9C Cuts

Representative Gifford Joins Bi-Partisan Group Seeking Reversal of Cuts Made to Local Aid Accounts

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) joined House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), Representative Angelo D’Emilia (R-Bridgewater)  as well as a bi-partisan group of legislators, in submitting a letter to Governor Patrick, asking him to reverse the 9C cuts that were made to accounts affecting local aid.  Rendered last December for Fiscal Year 2013, the legislators feel that the cuts have negatively impacted communities across the Commonwealth.

The letter to the Governor, which is supported by both House Democrats and Republicans, emphasizes that “communities across Massachusetts are counting on funding so that they may provide necessary services to our constituents.” The correspondence notes that while 9C cuts are within the Governor’s authority, the Legislature worked diligently in providing Governor Patrick with a compromise of funding necessary in order for local programs and agencies to operate at an efficient and effective level.

“In light of continued strong revenue collections, restoring these local aid funds cut by the Governor is both fiscally responsible and justified,” said Representative Jones. “The funds outlined in our letter to Governor Patrick are essential for cities and towns across the Commonwealth.”

"I believe a primary function of state government is to provide local aid to our cities and towns.  We do understand that sometimes 9C cuts are a necessary part of fiscal responsibility but priority consideration should be given to any item that would negatively affect anticipated local aid," Representative Gifford said.  "Given the recent revenue collection figures, restoring these cuts is the prudent thing for the Governor to do.  I will continue to fight for increased local aid to our communities for necessary services and work to overturn these cuts."

“When first faced with the reality of 9C cuts, which would have a negative impact on our communities and constituents, the House and Senate worked diligently and provided Governor Patrick with a compromise of priorities – which he rejected,” said Representative D’Emilia. “Now, with the state’s finances having well exceeded benchmarks, local aid should be restored before any other monies are spent by the Governor.”

Citing Year-to-Date tax revenue collections through April being $510 million above revised benchmark, the letter to the Governor goes on to say, “With this incredible turnaround in revenues, now is the time to restore the cuts which so negatively impacted our communities.”  

Some of the accounts that the group of legislators is seeking to restore funding to include: Veterans’ Benefits; Transportation for Regional School Districts; Reimbursement for Special Education; Charter School Reimbursements; and Department of Correction.

 

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Feb 7, 2013

Representative Susan Williams Gifford Announces Committee Assignments

Boston- State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that she has been appointed to three legislative committees. Rep. Gifford, who was re-elected for her sixth consecutive term last November, will serve as the ranking member on two committees: the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture and on the Joint Committee on Financial Services.  In addition to this, Rep. Gifford will also serve on the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

“I’m honored that I will be able to continue working on matters concerning the environment and agriculture, which are of vital interest to my District,” said Rep. Gifford.  “In addition, being re-appointed to the Financial Services Committee this session will allow me to have greater input on the issues of auto and homeowners insurance along with financial services and banking industry legislation.”

 "I am thrilled to have Rep. Gifford as a member of the House, and most of all, the Republican caucus," said Jones, R-North Reading. "I know she is eager to continue with the legislative process, and I am confident that her wealth of experience and knowledge will be invaluable assets to these important committees."

The Second Plymouth District is comprised of Carver, Wareham, and precincts 3 and 6 of Middleborough.  Those interested in more information on these committee assignments are encouraged to contact Rep. Gifford’s office.  She can be reached at the State House by calling (617)722-2976, or through her District Office by calling (508)295-5999.

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Feb 6, 2013

Representative Susan Williams Gifford Announces Civil Service Examinations

BOSTONState Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and the Human Resources Division of the EOAF have announced Saturday, April 20th, 2013 as the date for the Municipal Service Police Officer, State Trooper and MBTA Transit Police Officer examination.  Applications must be submitted by March 18th, 2013.  Late applications are accepted through April 1st, 2013, but are subject to a $50 processing fee.

The Human Resource Division is responsible for the administration of these state wide entry-level exams, which will be the most important exams the Division will conduct in the coming months.  The lists that will result from these examinations will determine the pool of applicants eligible for appointment to the positions of MBTA Police Officer and Police Officers in Cities and Towns covered by the Civil Service Statute.  

“It is important and time sensitive that if anybody is interested in taking these exams that they get the applications filled out and sent back so that they do not miss this opportunity,” Rep. Gifford said.

For additional information about the examination, eligibility requirements or the application process, persons interested may call the Civil Services Human Resources Division at (617) 878-9895.  Please note that all applications must be submitted online.

Applicants can apply online at: www.mass.gov/civilservice. If you have any other questions or comments, please feel free to contact Rep. Gifford’s Boston office at (617) 722-2976, or through her District Office at (508) 295-5999. 

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June 28, 2012

House and Senate Approve $200 Million for Bridge and Roadway Maintenance

Wareham to Receive $731,968, Carver to Receive $432,434,  and Bourne to Receive $599, 028

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) is pleased to announce that Wareham will receive $731,968, Carver will receive $432,434, and Bourne will receive $599,028 in Chapter 90 funds.The funds are part of legislation which allocates $200 million to cities and towns for local road and bridge repairs.


"Our towns have always depended largely on Chapter 90 funds for local roadway improvements and maintenance.  However, with costs rising in every aspect of municipal government, it is even more imperative that these funds are made available promptly so necessary work can be scheduled and completed as further delays could result in public safety issues” Rep. Gifford said.
Passed by the House of Representatives and Senate, the bill calls for the state to apportion $200 million to cities and towns for the maintenance and upkeep of existing infrastructure for the upcoming fiscal year. Furthermore, the legislation maintains last year’s funding which is the highest amount allotted to Chapter 90 historically.

The bill now awaits the action of the Governor.

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June 19, 2012

Representative Susan Gifford Applauded by Recreational Boating Community as Co-Chair of Legislative Boating Caucus

June 19, 2012: The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA) applauds Representative Susan Gifford for her consistent leadership as a Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Legislative Boating Caucus. A founding member of the Boating Caucus that formed in 2004, Chairwoman Gifford is recognized on Beacon Hill as a vital proponent of promoting and growing the recreational marine trades.

Susan Gifford represents a district that is home to many recreational boating businesses, including the Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company and North Atlantic Marine Services.  “The boating industry is of vital interest to my constituents.  From a recreational perspective, boating is a large part of the quality of life and rich maritime history of the South Coast of Massachusetts.  From an economic standpoint, small boating businesses, which are largely family-owned and operated, provide local jobs and generate tourism dollars.  I am delighted that my colleagues and constituents recognize my commitment to the Boating Caucus to further promote recreational marine business, waterfront access and investment,” stated Representative Gifford.

“The South Coast of Massachusetts boasts a high concentration of marine businesses.  Chairwoman Gifford has committed to preserving marine industry jobs and the millions of dollars in direct and indirect spending that boating generates.  Being closely bordered with the boat tax-free state of Rhode Island is particularly challenging to Susan Gifford’s South Coast constituents.  Fortunately they have an effective, hard-working leader on their side,” stated Jack Kent, MMTA President.

The mission of the MMTA is to advance the marine trades and the interests of the boating public by participating in the legislative process and providing and advocating for professional improvement and educational programs.  For more information visit www.boatma.com.

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Feb 10, 2012

REP. GIFFORD ANNOUNCES FIREFIGHTER EXAMINATIONS

Boston – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (A&F) have announced Saturday, April 28th, 2012 as the date for the entry-level Municipal Service Firefighter examination.  The final filing date for the exam is Monday, March 19th, 2012.

The Human Resource Division of A&F is responsible for the administration of this state wide entry-level exam, which is one of the most important exams the Division will conduct in the coming months.  The list that will result from the examination will determine the pool of applicants eligible for appointment to the position of Firefighter in cities and towns covered by the Civil Service Statute for two years following the establishment of the eligible list.

“It is important and time sensitive that if anybody is interested in taking this exam that they get the applications filled out and sent back so that they do not miss this opportunity” Gifford said.

For additional information about the examination eligibility requirements or the application process, interested parties may call (617) 878-9895. 

Also, all those interested in the exam may apply online by visiting www.mass.gov/civilservice or through Rep. Gifford’s offices. 

They may call the Boston Office: (617) 722-2976, or the District Office: (508) 295-5999, or E-mail: Susan.Gifford@mahouse.gov

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April 11, 2012

House Ways and Means Budget Includes $11.3M for McKinney-Vento Reimbursements

 (BOSTON) – State Representative Susan Gifford today joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in thanking Speaker DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chairman Dempsey for including $11.3 million for McKinney-Vento reimbursements in the House Ways and Means budget.  Rep. Gifford was one of 108 legislators who cosponsored a letter to Gov. Patrick, Speaker DeLeo, Senate President Murray and House and Senate Ways and Means Committee members requesting the reimbursement of $11.3 million in unfunded mandates be included in a supplemental budget appropriation and in future budgets. 

“We are very pleased that Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Demspey included this very important funding in the FY 2013 House W&M budget which will alleviate a financial burden on cities and towns. Their understanding and compassion for municipal needs is greatly appreciated,” said Rep. Gifford.   “In a time of tight budget conditions, it is critical that we reimburse local governments for this unfunded mandate which could result in cutting teachers, enlarging class sizes and making other expenditures.”
 
In February 2012, State Auditor Suzanne Bump announced the results of a statewide survey which found that school districts are projected to spend close to $11.3 million this fiscal year as a result of an unfunded state mandate.  Auditor Bump determined that the voluntary state plan to implement the federal McKinney-Vento Act relating to educational opportunities for homeless students imposes unfunded state mandates on local cities and towns.

Due to the state's participation in the federal McKinney-Vento Act, cities and towns are required to provide transportation and education of some homeless children after they are placed in a different municipality for temporary housing.  The Act provides that a homeless student living in temporary housing in a “host community” outside of the city or town where the family lived prior to becoming homeless (the community of origin) may choose to remain enrolled in the community of origin schools. Most significantly, the state plan requires “host” and “origin” communities’ school systems throughout Massachusetts to continually fund school transportation costs for homeless students choosing to remain in their community of origin school system. This requirement is in contrast to the general rule whereby school districts are not responsible for students who move outside of district boundaries or students from other communities temporarily living in theirs.

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Nov 2, 2011

House Republicans Secure Increased Funding for
Welcome Home Bonus

Representative Gifford Helps to Ensure Available Funding for Returning Troops

BOSTON – Led by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R- North Reading) and the Republican Leadership team, the House GOP Caucus was successful in offering, and having adopted, an amendment calling for a $700,000 increase to the Welcome Home Bonus account to provide up to $1,000 bonus payments for residents returning from active deployment.  Offered on the heels of President Barack Obama’s announcement of the return of combat troops from Iraq and in advance of Veterans’ Day, the proposed increase in funding will help to ensure benefits for the 28,000 Massachusetts service-members currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 “We must have the funding and resources in place for the Commonwealth’s service men and women, particularly in light of the President’s announcement of troop withdrawals,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones.  “These brave soldiers are returning to a struggling economy and a bleak job market. By transitioning $700,000 from the states anticipated increase in revenue, we will ensure the better allocation of funding at this point in time and a smooth transition home for the Bay State’s bravest.”  

The amendment, filed during debate on the Supplemental Budget, will redirect $700,000 from the $395 million increase in anticipated revenue to the Welcome Home Bonus account within the Office of the Treasurer and Receiver-General.

“Our men and women in uniform made a commitment to serve our country.  Some will make the ultimate sacrifice.  That is a debt of gratitude we can never come close to repaying.  However, this increase in funding for benefits to our returning Massachusetts service members is a great step forward,” said Rep. Gifford.  “Many will face an uphill battle transitioning back to civilian life and we need to do all we can to help.”
The amendment now stands before the Senate for their approval.

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October 25, 2011

House Republican Reversions Amendment Comes to Realization

Wareham, Bourne and Carver Will Receive $299,990 in Reverted Funds

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) is pleased to announce that the passage of the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 11) Final Deficiency Supplemental Budget will allow for the certification of $65 million in reversion money to be used as a one-time payment to cities and towns. Wareham will receive an additional $121,000, Bourne $89,650 and Carver will receive an additional $89,340 in one-time funding to help maintain vital services and recover from the recent fiscal crisis.

“With many communities in the midst of their fall town meetings and struggling to make ends meet, this could not have come at a better time”, said Rep. Gifford. “I, along with my House Republican colleagues, have always and will continue to advocate for increasing local aid and lessening various financial burdens on our cities and towns.  I’m very pleased that the Democratic leadership on Beacon Hill has finally agreed with us.”

During the House budget debate in April, House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and the Republican Caucus were successful in offering and having adopted an amendment to allow unspent funds (reversions) from FY11 to be sent back to cities and towns. This marks the first time in over four years that a Republican-offered amendment has been included in the final version of the state budget.

“After a few grueling months of hard work, negotiations, and persistence, I am pleased to report that this necessary support for cities and towns has come to fruition,” said Representative Jones. “I am confident that our cities and towns will put this one-time funding to good use.”

The Office of the State Comptroller will be closing the Commonwealth’s finance books by October 31st, at which point the funds will be formally recognized and distributed to local cities and towns by the Division of Local Services.

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August 23, 2011

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER JONES CONGRATULATES REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD ON PERFECT VOTING RECORD
Gifford Casts 104 Consecutive Roll Call Votes This Year

BOSTON—House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. congratulated State Representative Susan W. Gifford (R-Wareham) today for achieving an impressive voting record so far this legislative session.

The Wareham Republican participated in 104 consecutive roll call votes in the House this year, a 100% voting record, casting votes in favor of a number of reforms relative to reversions for local aid and court reform. Representative Gifford also cast numerous votes challenging the Democratic-led House on a number of issues, including a comprehensive Ethics Reform package, an income tax rollback, a permanent sales tax holiday and a gradual rollback of the state sales tax.

“Susan is an incredibly committed member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and an extremely valuable asset to the House Republican Caucus,” said Representative Jones.  “The people of the 2nd Plymouth District are fortunate to have Representative Gifford up here on Beacon Hill fighting for them day in and day out.”

“Representing the people of the 2nd Plymouth District means the world to me and is not a task I take lightly,” said Representative Gifford.  “I hope my voting record accurately highlights my commitment and dedication to the people in the communities I represent.”

Representative Gifford currently serves as the ranking member of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture, the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and the House Committee on Steering, Policy & scheduling.  Formal sessions will resume after Labor Day. 

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June 27, 2011

Cape Representatives Join Effort to Strengthen Ethics Code of Conduct

BOSTON – Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich), Representative David Vieira (R-Falmouth) and Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by proposing the first comprehensive reform of the House Code of Ethical Conduct governing representatives and legislative staff in more than 25 years.  The proposed reforms will hold members and legislative staff to a higher standard of ethical conduct than prescribed by statute.   
When asked about the new standard, Rep. Vieira stated that “After the DiMasi verdict it is more apparent to me than ever that as public officials we must hold ourselves to the highest of ethical standards if we are to restore the public trust."
Reps. Gifford, Vieira and Hunt are hopeful that the measures are adopted when they are filed and debated at the next formal session of the House. 
Rep. Hunt said that “As a CPA and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, I’m no stranger to ethics rules and the idea of an organization successfully monitoring and enforcing ethics of its own members. We like to lay the entire blame on the individuals involved, but it’s time we recognize that the past transgressions and crimes of legislators are not just ‘one-offs,’ rather they are symptomatic of a culture that we control and can change for the better.”
Rep. Gifford weighed in by stating "With three consecutive House Speaker convictions and 25 years without any significant changes in rules on how we conduct ourselves and the business of the people we represent, the time is now.  All too often, the public perception of Beacon Hill is that of guilt by association, regardless of the conduct of the individual.  That is what we need to change." 

Highlights of the Proposed Code of Ethical Conduct include:

  • Procurement:  Forbids Members and staff from contacting public entities regarding pending procurements before the award decision is made.  Legislators have no constitutional role regarding procurement after voting on appropriation;
  • Job Recommendations:  Limits Members and staff to written recommendations for job seekers in the public sector, unless the employer initiates contact to check references;
  • Snitch Rule:  Creates ethical duty for Members and staff to report any unethical or criminal conduct by any other Members or staff;
  • Sexual Harassment and Discrimination:  Treats sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, age, sexual orientation, etc. as an ethical issue in addition to an employment issue;
  • Lobbyists:  Prohibits lobbyists from entering the House Chamber and the Members’ Lounge, and limits lobbyist access to Members and staff unless displaying a publicly visible badge identifying them as lobbyists;
  • Arrest or Indictment:  Creates detailed disclosure requirements in the event a Member or staff is arrested, indicted or charged with criminal offenses, or named as a defendant in a domestic violence restraining order, and empowers the Ethics Committee to act immediately as appropriate;
  • Private Life/Privacy:  Preserves the right of Members and staff to have private lives, provided that private conduct does not become public or otherwise bring the House into public disrepute.  Confirms that Members’ and staff’s families are beyond the scope of the legislative ethical code.

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April 5, 2011

REPRESENTATIVE SUSAN GIFFORD APPLAUDED BY RECREATIONAL BOATING COMMUNITY AS CO-CHAIR OF LEGISLATIVE BOATING CAUCUS

April 5, 2011: The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA) applauds Representative Susan Gifford for her leadership as a recently selected Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Legislative Boating Caucus. A founding member of the Boating Caucus that formed in 2004, Chairwoman Gifford is recognized on Beacon Hill as a vital proponent of promoting and growing the recreational marine trades.

The District that Susan Gifford represents hosts leading recreational boating businesses, including the Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company, Hostar Marine Transport Systems, and North Atlantic Marine Services.  “Clearly from an economic perspective, the boating industry is of vital interest to my constituents.  Viewing boating from a purely recreational perspective, it is deeply important to the quality of life and maritime history enjoyed in Massachusetts that full use and enjoyment of the waterfront and waterways are available.  I am delighted that my colleagues have recognized my commitment to the Boating Caucus’s objectives and placed me in a position to further promote recreational marine business, waterfront access and investment,” stated Representative Gifford.

“The South Coast of Massachusetts boasts a high concentration of small, family-owned and operated marine businesses.  It is to the benefit of all area residents, boaters and non-boaters alike, that Chairwoman Gifford and her colleagues have remained actively engaged in the Boating Caucus.  The recreational marine trades provide thousands of full-time, well-paying jobs and millions of dollars in direct and indirect spending related to boating.  Being closely bordered with the boat tax-free state of Rhode Island is particularly challenging to Susan Gifford’s marine business constituents.  Fortunately they have an effective, hard-working leader on their side,” stated Jack Kent, MMTA President.

The mission of the MMTA is to advance the marine trades and the interests of the boating public by participating in the legislative process and providing and advocating for professional improvement and educational programs.  For more information visit www.boatma.com.

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Jan 31, 2011

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD ANNOUNCES COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS

Boston- State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that she has been appointed to three legislative committees. Rep. Gifford, who was re-elected for her fifth consecutive term last November, will again serve as the ranking member on the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture.  In addition to this, Rep. Gifford will also serve on the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing and the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

“I’m honored that I will be able to continue working on matters concerning the environment and agriculture as well as healthcare, which are of vital interest to my District,” said Rep. Gifford.  “In addition, being re-appointed to the House Committee on Steering, Policy & Scheduling this session will allow me to have greater input and information on the movement of bills through the legislative process.”

 "I am thrilled to have Rep. Gifford as a member of the House, and most of all, the Republican caucus," said House Minority Leader Brad Jones, (R-North Reading). "I know she is eager to continue with the legislative process, and I am confident that her wealth of experience and knowledge will be invaluable assets to these important committees."

The Second Plymouth District is comprised of Carver, Wareham, and precincts 1, 2 and 3 of Bourne.  Those interested in more information on these committee assignments are encouraged to contact Rep. Gifford’s office.  She can be reached at the State House by calling (617)722-2976, or through her District Office by calling (508)295-5999.

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Dec 20, 2010

REP. GIFFORD: DONATIONS INSTEAD OF HOLIDAY CARDS

BOSTON - Today State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that for the second year, she has made donations to charitable organizations in the 2nd Plymouth District in lieu of the cost associated with sending greeting cards for the holidays.  The donations were made to the Bourne Friends Food Pantry, the Friends of the Carver Council on Aging Food Pantry and Damien’s Place Family Food Pantry.

“Sending cards for the holidays is a nice way to let people know you’re thinking of them and wishing them well.  However, there are so many families and individuals in trouble again this year and donating the money to charities was the right thing to do,” said Rep. Gifford.

In November of 2009, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) asked Legislators to take the voluntary days without pay after House employees, mostly legislative aides, were ordered to take the pay cut to help save more than $600,000.  Rep. Gifford, who is a full time Legislator, said, “For me, the decision to take the furlough and make donations to the local charities in lieu of greeting cards was a ‘no brainer’.  That’s when I decided to continue to donate the money for sending cards to local organizations that benefit our most vulnerable citizens.”

For more information, please call the Boston Office (617) 722-2976 or E-mail Rep. Gifford at Susan.Gifford@mahouse.gov .

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August 2010

REP. GIFFORD ANNOUNCES KEY ENDORSEMENT

New Bedford – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) announced today that her candidacy for re-election has been endorsed by the New Bedford Standard Times.

According to the editors, Representative Gifford has “done good work” and brings “valuable experience”.  The endorsement is the only newspaper to date making an endorsement in this race.

 “I am delighted to again have the endorsement of the Standard Times,” said Rep. Gifford. “While we do not agree on all the issues facing the SouthCoast and how best to solve problems, I know the editorial board understands that the people I represent are my first priority and I truly have my constituents’ best interest at heart. 

I look forward to continuing to serve as the State Representative for Bourne, Carver and Wareham.” 

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Oct 4, 2010

House of Representatives Approves Funding
to Support Operation of Trial Courts

Boston –Representatives William M. Straus (D-Mattapoisett), and Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham)  applauded the House of Representatives action today to approve a supplemental appropriations bill, which includes $9 million for the Trial Courts in Massachusetts.  This funding comes at a critical time for the court system which is currently reviewing closure of several court sessions including the Wareham District Court.   The bill now moves to the State Senate for consideration. 

“Both myself and Representative Gifford believe that the $9 million provided to the Trial Court in this legislation would be sufficient to prevent the unnecessary closure of critical courts in the state, including those in Plymouth County, such as Wareham District Court”, said Representative Straus.    Representatives Gifford and  Straus have  been active in seeking legislative alternatives to the closing of the Wareham Court which is vital to the law enforcement needs of southern Plymouth County.  A budget rider to the current state spending law, proposed by the two legislators, successfully delayed any action in closing courthouses without sufficient notice and advance warning.    Wareham District Court is on a current list of potential courthouse closures published earlier this year by the administrative arm of the state court system. 

“The passage of this bill in the House today removes the argument that the proposed re-location and eventual closure of the Wareham District Court is needed.  It is my hope that the Court Relocation Committee will now focus on those courts where facilities are underused and consolidation would be more appropriate”, said Representative Gifford.  “It is important to add that DA Tim Cruz has been instrumental in the effort of myself and Rep. Straus to take legislative action on behalf of the Wareham Court. He has been an important resource to both of us in demonstrating the regional importance of the court,” she added.

“I firmly believe that based upon the caseload, dislocation of court employees, excessive disruption to the public that would result from closing the Wareham District Court, and the lack of any substantial savings from such a closure, it is now clear that the Wareham Court should remain open.  I hope for prompt action by the State Senate, so that any cloud hanging over the future of the Wareham Court can be removed” said Representative Straus.  “Much of the critical backup information which has helped Representative Gifford and myself argue on behalf of Wareham has been provided by District Attorney Cruz,” Straus concluded.

Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz stated “The Wareham District Court serves a vital function in this community and its closure would place an unfair burden on victims, witnesses and law abiding citizens who rely on this local court for justice. Representative Susan Williams Gifford and Representative Bill Straus have been on the forefront of the fight to keep this courthouse open.”  He concluded, “They understand the critical role that the Wareham District Court has in the providing justice for this community. They took immediate legislative action and have been vigilant in their efforts to ensure that the Wareham District Court remains open. I am thankful for their hard work on behalf of the people of this community and hopeful that it will make the difference.”

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July 13, 2010

1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts Announced
Rep. Gifford Congratulates Constituents
on list of Massachusetts 1,000 Great Places

Wareham, MA – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that the following places in her district are on the list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts:
Bourne:  The Aptucxet Trading Post Museum, the Cape Cod Canal Bike Path, Scusset Beach State Reservation, and the Herring Run Recreation Area at the Cape Cod Canal; Carver:  Edaville Railroad and the Bicycle Trails of Carver;
Wareham: The   A. D. Makepeace Store (the Market at Tihonet Village), the Tremont Nail Factory, the Cranberry Bog Farms Trail, Onset Beach/Village, the Plymouth County Cranberry Country Routes 58 and 28, and the Porter Thermometer Museum in Onset.

The official list of 1,000 Great Places was announced on July 12 at the Massachusetts State House. The list was compiled by the 1,000 Great Places Commission which was created by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in 2009. Its mission is to identify and recognize the 1,000 most truly special places in the Commonwealth, in order to celebrate pride in our history and culture, increase knowledge of our natural surroundings, and encourage regional and international tourism.

The Great Places initiative celebrates what is unique about the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, its communities, and its people. It aims to boost visitation to Massachusetts as well as give local residents the opportunity to visit known and unknown historic sites, cultural venues, and natural landscapes.

Rep. Gifford, who is the ranking Republican member of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development, was one of Legislative appointees to serve on the Commission.  “There was such a sense of pride from all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth and it was evident by the 13,000 nominations we received,” said Rep. Gifford.  “While these were not the only nominees from my District, they were the ones with the most nominations.  I believe the Great Places from Wareham, Bourne and Carver are a great representation of our community and a wonderful addition to the list.”

All of the designated Great Places will be receiving a certificate signed by the Governor in recognition of being selected.
                                                                       
A complete list of the 1,000 Great Places can be found on the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism’s (MOTT) website: http://www.massvacation.com.

The 1,000 Great Places program is administered through a partnership of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development; the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and its regional tourism councils; and the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC).

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July 5, 2010

Massachusetts Marine Trades Association
Applauds Representative Susan Gifford
AS A LEADING VOICE FOR THE RECREATIONAL MARINE TRADES

July 5, 2010: The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA) applauds Representative Susan Gifford for her leadership as a founding member of the Massachusetts Legislative Boating Caucus.  At the State House on June 24, 2010 Caucus members joined together for an awards ceremony honoring legislators such as Susan Gifford who have the awareness and appreciation for the contributions of the Massachusetts marine trades. 

MMTA Director Russ Vickers of Hawthorne Cove Marina in Salem, MA was delighted to present Representative Gifford with a Certificate of Appreciation recognizing her dedication to protecting public access to inland and coastal waterways as well as preserving the Massachusetts marine industry, which employees thousands of men and women throughout the Commonwealth and contributes nearly $2 billion annually to state coffers.

"All aspects of boating along with coastal access for the general public are of vital interest to my constituents.  That's why I'm so pleased to partner with the MMTA," said Rep. Gifford.  "These people are the ones who make sure the Legislature is looking out for the best interest of the entire boating and marine trades community."

“The MMTA membership is grateful to our elected officials for widening opportunities for small business growth and protecting public waterways access.  Our members on the South East Coast are fortunate to have such a committed state legislator with a passion for the Massachusetts coastline and its dedicated boating community,” stated Jack Kent, MMTA President.

The mission of the MMTA is to advance the marine trades and the interests of the boating public by participating in the legislative process and providing and advocating for professional improvement and educational programs.  For more information visit www.boatma.com.

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June 25, 2010

REP. SUSAN WILLIAMS GIFFORD OP-ED

As you know, the Conference Committee version of the fiscal year 2011 state budget came before the House yesterday for a final vote.  While there are plenty of issues I have with the final product which warranted my vote in opposition, there is one which I am particularly pleased to see included – and it impacts those of us in Wareham, Carver, Marion, Lakeville, Middleborough, Mattapoisett and Rochester.
As you may know, Wareham District Court is on the list of potential courthouse closures.  When the proposal of closing Wareham was brought to my attention by District Attorney Tim Cruz, I spoke immediately with Representative Bill Straus.  Together, with Rep. Straus’ quick action, we were able to include the protective language in the House Budget.  While I was the chief sponsor of the amendment, it would not have been possible without both District Attorney Cruz and Representative Straus who deserve at least as much credit for their vigilance and effective response.
We were equally successful in seeing that the language was included in the Conference Committee version of the budget, even though the Senate had not included the protective language.
Let me tell you why closing Wareham District Court is a bad idea.  It will not save any significant money for the state, but will cost towns and local taxpayers more, and it will costs those who use the court untold hours in additional wait times and commuting time.

In a meeting with the Chief Justice, he indicated that he has no plans to lay-off any employees – but simply will move them around to different courts.  While a longer commute rather than unemployment is certainly good news for court employees, I take that to mean that there will be minimal savings from closing the Wareham District Court (28th busiest of the state’s 65 courts), other than the rent paid by the state to the county.

It does mean some real costs however to the rest of us.  There are the economic costs for the businesses in the area supported by the Court, whether the gas station around the corner or local lunch spots.  The loss of hundreds of people per day to that location will cost people in the private sector some jobs.

It also means that if you need to use the court, you will need to travel to exit 5 in Plymouth, where the volume of cases will rise steeply due to the Wareham caseload moving there.  So not only will you need to drive an extra hour, you will also need to wait longer to be served.  That means everything from restraining orders, small claims cases and juvenile court hearings will move to Plymouth – along with criminal trials, show cause hearings and ticket hearings.  It also means that more than 50% of the towns in Plymouth County will be using the same court.  Gone will be the days of people familiar with the usual suspects or the historical information needed to ensure justice is truly handed out.

Not only will you need to travel longer, but our police officers will need to travel further.  Transporting a drunk driver for a hearing will now be an extra two hour round trip – and will cost the municipal tax payers more.  When officers must appear in court to support criminal cases or a summer renter fighting a speeding ticket, our towns must often pay that officer overtime – or if it is on his shift, we pay overtime to a replacement officer.  So that two hour extra round trip will cost each town thousands of dollars more in the police budget.
As usual, the State is proposing changes which will not save them much and will not reduce state employees.  Instead it will cost us private sector jobs and cost our towns more money.  We need to put the brakes on this, review it thoroughly and cut state costs which do not put a higher burden on towns like ours.
This language will require the Chief Justice to submit a court closure plan and give us 90 days to respond.

By slowing down the process, we can ensure ill-conceived plans like this are reviewed thoroughly and stopped.  This particular plan is bad for Wareham, and the other communities that use the court, which is why Rep. Straus, D.A. Cruz and I fought diligently for this first step in stopping it.

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June 7, 2010

REP. GIFFORD FEATURED SPEAKER AT UPPER CAPE TECH GRADUATION

BOSTON - State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) delivered the keynote address to the graduating class of 2010 at Upper Cape Regional Vocational Technical High School on Sunday afternoon.  The planned outdoor ceremony went off without a “hitch” in spite of gusty winds and a few brief raindrops.

Superintendent Kevin Farr told the crowd, “When we asked Rep. Gifford to be our guest speaker, her first words were that she would be honored and we’re happy to have her here.”  Rep. Gifford began her address stating,” I think I’m more excited to be here than you are!”  Her words were met with shouts from the class of “No way!” and “I don’t think so!”

In her address to the 156 graduates, the largest class in Upper Cape’s history, Rep Gifford told them,” The only limits to what you can accomplish are those you place on yourself.  If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

To the parents and guardians, Rep. Gifford said, “Don’t be nannies, maids, butlers or ATMs.  Be there to offer guidance, advice and support to your graduates.  Challenge them to solve their own problems.”

Finally, Rep. Gifford remarked lightheartedly to the class, “Your parents are both proud of you and relieved.  Now would be a good time to ask for money.” Then, she imparted the advice, “Don’t forget where you came from but never lose sight of where you’re going.  Work hard, play hard and find something good in every single day.”

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April 27, 2010

Rep. Gifford: Republicans score bipartisan victory
Controversial language struck from Municipal Relief Bill

BOSTON— Calling it a bipartisan victory, State Representative Susan Williams Gifford today praised her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for adopting a Republican-offered amendment to protect taxpayers from yet another tax increase.

As you may recall, the House Ways and Means Committee proposed allowing municipalities to raise property taxes outside of the constraints of the so-called “proposition 2½ limits” without a local vote. 

Representative Gifford, along with her Republican colleagues, supported an amendment offered by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr., to the so-called Municipal Relief Bill striking out the language permitting the increase of property taxes absent an override vote.

“Instead of delivering property tax relief as promised in his campaign, they have actually increased anywhere from 7 to 15 percent across the Commonwealth under Deval Patrick’s administration,” Rep. Gifford said.  “It was an outrage to think we would let our property owners take yet another hit without any public input.  Enough is enough!”

Citizens for Limited Taxation had estimated that if this bill passed with the original language, it would cost Massachusetts taxpayers more than $500 million in increased property taxes.

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April 15, 2010

REP. GIFFORD RECEIVES SPORTSMEN’S AWARD

[Boston, MA] – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) received very special recognition from the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council on Saturday, April 10, 2010. The “Sportsmen’s Representative Award” was presented to Rep. Gifford on Saturday, April 10, 2010.  The annual banquet and awards night was held at the Chester P. Tuttle Post #279 American Legion in Auburn.

President of the M.S.C. Mike Moss stated that the award is given in recognition of legislative work with and in support of matters of interest and causes to the sportsmen and women of the Commonwealth in the House of Representatives.  Rep. Gifford was nominated to receive the award by John Fabrosky, President of the Plymouth County League of Sportsmen.

“I am so honored to receive this award,” Rep. Gifford told the capacity crowd.  “I come from a family with a true appreciation of the outdoors whether it was hunting, fishing, camping or hiking.  If my Dad were alive today, he’d be so proud.” 

President Moss said that as the ranking Republican member of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture, Susan serves as the “first line of defense” against legislation that takes aim at the rights of sportsmen and women in the Commonwealth while also protecting the Commonwealth’s most valued recreation conservation areas. 

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March 24, 2010

REP. GIFFORD ANNOUNCES REPUBLICAN INITIATIVE ADOPTED DURING SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET DEBATE
State to reimburse cities and towns for special election costs

BOSTON—State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) is pleased to announce a critical Republican initiative was adopted during today’s supplemental budget debate.  The proposal which was offered as an amendment on the House floor today will appropriate $7.2 million to reimburse cities and town for the costs related to the special election held earlier this year. 

Rep. Gifford was surprised this appropriation wasn’t included in the House Ways and Means supplemental budget.  The State Auditor had previously confirmed that the special election represents an unfunded mandate that must be covered by the state.

“This reimbursement could not come at a more critical time for our communities and I’m pleased my colleagues agreed,” said Rep. Gifford.  “This is local aid we deserve at a time when the democratic majority is talking of cutting local aid to our cities and towns for the upcoming fiscal year 2011 by 4% from last year.”  Rep. Gifford last week also co-sponsored a local aid resolution that would have established a minimum level of Chapter 70 and Unrestricted Local Aid equal to the amount proposed by the Governor for FY’11 essentially providing for at least level funding.  The resolution was not allowed to be introduced and debated by the House democratic leadership.

Under this amendment, Bourne will receive $21,672.82; Carver’s reimbursement will be $6,237.32 with Wareham receiving $20,149.55.  The amendment was nearly adopted unanimously.  All but one lawmaker voted in favor of it.

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March 1, 2010

REP. GIFFORD ASKS RESIDENTS TO NOMINATE THEIR FAVORITE MASSACHUSETTS PLACES

New program gives district a chance to spotlight its special places

[Boston, MA] – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) invites residents of Wareham, Bourne, and Carver to nominate their favorite places in Massachusetts.

1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts is a new cultural tourism program that celebrates what is unique about our state, its communities, and its people, and also to stimulate cultural tourism. The program seeks to increase visitation to the state’s wide range of exceptional historic sites, cultural venues, and natural landscapes.

Nominations will be considered for a final list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts to be announced in May.

 “This commission was established as a means of promoting Massachusetts’ widely varied tourist destinations, not only for those visiting from out of state but for many of us are looking for short getaway in these difficult financial times,” Rep. Gifford said.   “This is a wonderful opportunity to get some of our little known great places into public view and I’m honored to be appointed as a member.”

The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) has established a website to accept nominations from the public: www.Massvacation.com/1000greatplaces 
Residents who have already submitted their suggestions to Rep. Gifford should still visit the website to officially submit their nomination.

All Great Places that are nominated must be open and available to the public. Only one nomination per person will be accepted.  The nomination period will close April 1, 2010. The Commission will meet later that month to draw up a final list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts.

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December 21, 2009

REP. GIFFORD: DONATIONS INSTEAD OF HOLIDAY CARDS

BOSTON - Today State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that she has made donations to charitable organizations in the 2nd Plymouth District in lieu of the cost associated with sending greeting cards for the holidays.  The decision came shortly after she agreed to accept the proposed five day unpaid legislative furlough. The donations were made to the Bourne Friends Food Pantry, the Friends of the Carver Council on Aging Food Pantry and Turning Point Day Resource Center for the Homeless & near Homeless.

“Sending cards for the holidays is a nice way to let people know you’re thinking of them and wishing them well.  However, there are so many families and individuals in trouble this year and donating the money to charities was the right thing to do,” said Rep. Gifford.

In November, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) asked Legislators to take the voluntary days without pay after House employees, mostly legislative aides, were ordered to take the pay cut to help save more than $600,000.  Rep. Gifford, who is a full time Legislator, said, “For me, the decision to take the furlough was a ‘no brainer’.  While the five days pay is a small savings to the Commonwealth, it shows that most of us have empathy for those who are going through some very tough times.”  All House Republicans agreed to take the furlough but sixteen Democrats refused.

For more information, please call the Boston Office (617) 722-2976 or E-mail Rep. Gifford at Rep.SusanGifford@hou.state.ma.us .

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September 9, 2009

An Open Letter to the Residents of Wareham:

It is my great pleasure to serve as your State Representative. It is an honor and a privilege, which I take very seriously and with the utmost gratitude.

I work very hard to ensure that the residents of my district, including Wareham, are heard on Beacon Hill. Once again this year, I have a 100% voting record, indicating my full-time commitment to you. I am also committed to being available day and night to ensure your access to the services of state government is not inhibited by red tape, bureaucracy or other roadblocks. I pride myself on being responsive to constituents, regardless of their point of view on a matter.

It is with disappointment that I am brought to write this letter though. There have been allegations from a shock “journalist” which are downright maddening. While I refuse to engage that editorialist, I will speak directly to you.

As State Representative, municipal politics is a fine line to walk. When the town speaks with one voice, it is easy to hear, and clear on how to proceed. When the town is divided, or the leaders are not united, it presents a difficult environment for a State Representative – and frankly one, which I have historically tried to avoid until the town works it out.

There is no better example of that fragmentation than the Wareham computer audit. As State Representative, I want nothing to do with that process. It will play out however the Selectmen, District Attorney and others decide. If there is action for me to take as State Representative when the chips fall, I will take any required action. As the wife of a Wareham department head who has been engaged on the periphery of this audit, I want nothing more than to profess my support of my husband. And that is the dilemma I have faced. The sacrifice as State Representative is that my staunch support ends at my kitchen door or the ears of a few friends and acquaintances. That had been my decision, and I have sat in silence, re-assured that my husband does a great job and is not involved in whatever the Selectmen are looking for.

That silence has been turned into something sinister by a begrudging “semi-journalist” who says my silence is admission to involvement in some fictitious activity. He relies on an “anonymous e-mail” or phone call to justify a headline to try to sell a newspaper, trying to elicit a response. When none comes, he declares that it must be true - silence is admission.

I will not respond to him, but instead will respond to you. When my husband’s name was brought up by a selectman in a closed meeting which was accidentally broadcast, I did talk with my husband about the open meeting law and that it looked like a clear violation. We talked about whether he would file a complaint, and I told him that he was well within his rights and that he should not worry about how that might look for me, as State Rep. What spouse would not do such a thing? Of course I talked to my husband about it. I did not use my office to get special treatment. I did not send a letter with my office letterhead. I did not sign or write a letter. I supported my husband and any journalist worth their salt could separate the spousal role from the elected role and see that I crossed no line.

There was no letter to the District Attorney about the computer audit. There was no writing of a letter for my husband. There was no interference at all from me or my husband regarding the computer audit, and neither of us involved the District Attorney. My husband asked if the selectmen violated the open meeting law and in so doing, violated his rights to be present when they discussed him.

This is a clear example of an alleged journalist fabricating a story – trying once again to draw lines where none exist. His similar attacks on District Attorney Cruz, who is the epitome of professionalism and character, are just as mind-blowing. I am so disappointed that people read these ridiculous allegations and confuse it for factual information. Good people are hurt by reporting which is basically “made-up”.

While I am disappointed to have to talk to you on this topic, I will say that I look forward to our continued dialogue on all matters of importance to you.

Kind Regards,
Susan Williams Gifford

I am also the wife of Wareham DPW Director Mark Gifford.

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August 10, 2009

JONES CONGRATULATES GIFFORD ON PERFECT VOTING RECORD

Casts 210 Roll Call Votes This Year

BOSTON—House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. today congratulated State Representative Susan Gifford for achieving an impressive voting record so far this legislative session.

The Wareham Republican participated in all 210 roll call votes held this year, a 100% voting record, casting votes in favor of a number of reforms relative to pension and ethics while voting against controversial issues such as the sales tax increase.

“Susan is an incredibly committed member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives,” said Representative Jones.  “She works tirelessly on behalf of her constituents and is a great ally to the people of her district.  I am proud to work alongside such a great legislator.”

"The good people of the 2nd Plymouth District elected me to be their voice on Beacon Hill and being present to cast my vote is the most fundamental part of the job," Representative Gifford said.  "It is a job I take very seriously and will continue to do so.  My constituents know I'll be there for them even though we may not always agree on the issue."

Formal sessions are expected to resume after Labor Day. 

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April 27, 2009

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD APPOINTED TO
1,000 GREAT PLACES IN MASSACHUSETTS COMMISSION

Boston- House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr. (R-N. Reading) appointed Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) to a special commission to study the 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts.

This commission was established by legislation passed during last year’s Legislative session. The special commission will consist of three members of the Senate, three members of the House, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, three representatives of the regional tourist councils and three representatives of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The commission will identify, catalogue, evaluate and designate 1,000 Great Places in the Commonwealth from the Cape to the Berkshires.

“This commission was established as a means of promoting Massachusetts’ widely varied tourist destinations, not only for those visiting from out of state but for many of us are looking for short getaway in these difficult financial times,” Rep. Gifford said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to get some of our little known great places into public view and I’m honored to be appointed as a member.”

Rep. Jones stated he had full confidence in his designee. “I know Susan will discharge her responsibilities admirably and that her talent will add significantly to the work of the commission.” Rep. Gifford serves as the ranking member of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts & Cultural Development. Anyone who would like to submit a Massachusetts “great place” for consideration by the Commission should contact Rep. Gifford’s office.

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April 7, 2009

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD ANNOUNCES COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS

Boston- State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that she has been appointed to five legislative committees. Rep. Gifford, who was re-elected for her fourth consecutive term last November, will serve as the ranking member on two committees: the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture and on the Joint Committee of Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development. In addition to this, Rep. Gifford will also serve on the Joint Committee on Financial Services, the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing and the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

“I’m honored that I will be able to continue working on matters concerning the environment and agriculture as well as tourism, which are of vital interest to my District,” said Rep. Gifford. “In addition, being re-appointed to the Financial Services Committee this session will allow me to have greater input on the issues of auto and homeowners insurance along with financial services and banking industry legislation.”

"I am thrilled to have Rep. Gifford as a member of the House, and most of all, the Republican caucus," said Jones, R-North Reading. "I know she is eager to continue with the legislative process, and I am confident that her wealth of experience and knowledge will be invaluable assets to these important committees."

The Second Plymouth District is comprised of Carver, Wareham, and precincts 1, 2 and 3 of Bourne. Those interested in more information on these committee assignments are encouraged to contact Rep. Gifford’s office. She can be reached at the State House by calling (617)722-2976, or through her District Office by calling (508)295-5999.

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March 11, 2009

Rep. Gifford Co-Sponsors Municipal Aid Legislation
Legislation will assist municipalities with managing snow & ice costs

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) announced today that she has co-sponsored legislation that will aid municipalities with their strained budgets. House and Senate Republicans are co-sponsors of this timely legislation as areas in the Commonwealth try to deal with huge snow and ice deficits.

The legislation, An Act Relative to Aiding Cities and Towns with Unfunded Obligations Associated with Snow and Ice Control, will allow cities and towns to use state-appropriated roadway improvements funds, known as Chapter 90 funds, to offset their snow removal budget. This winter’s above average snowfall, coupled with the rising cost of de-icing materials, has forced many cities and towns to deficit spend their snow and ice budget.

“This legislation is not meant to advocate using money designated for repairing our roads and bridges for snow and ice removal,” said Rep. Gifford. “It is meant to provide a much needed option for our cash strapped cities and towns when weather puts public safety at risk.”

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February 26, 2009

GIFFORD: TAX BURDEN CRUSHING RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES

Tax Increases No Substitution for Reform

BOSTON—State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) as well as several Republican lawmakers from both the House and Senate held a press conference this afternoon to express their frustration and disappointment with Governor Patrick’s increased tax burden on residents and businesses.

“I cannot in good faith ask, nor can I justify asking taxpayers to fork over even more of their hard earned dollars to support Governor Patrick’s misplaced priorities,” said Rep. Gifford. “In the last year alone, the Democrats with much opposition from the Republicans, have passed the largest corporate tax increase in history, raised the cigarette tax and proposed a slew of other revenue increases. Enough is enough. We are tired of this argument being painted as if increasing the gas tax or tolls and fees are our only solutions. That is a fallacy and one we are here to clarify.”

Along with elected officials, Peter Christie of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and gas station owner Arthur Pappas were there explaining to the press exactly why their industries can no longer afford to stay afloat. For example, Governor Patrick has proposes a sales tax on candy, soda and alcohol for which he hopes will generate $25 million for the current fiscal year and as much as $150 million for next fiscal year. Especially for those of us who represent communities within close proximity to other states, all we will see is decreased tax revenues and our small businesses closing. With so many companies and retail operations struggling, raising retail taxes to cover any shortfalls is the last thing we should be thinking about. The only ones making out are the businesses in surrounding states.

“It is time to roll up our sleeves and make the hard choices. Increasing taxes is easy, it is a quick fix, but no longer can our residents and small business owners afford quick fixes. They long for and deserve long term solutions and our caucus is offering sound alternatives and we hope our counterparts in the House will start considering them,” added Rep. Gifford.

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February 2, 2009

REP. SUSAN WILLIAMS GIFFORD ANNOUNCES TURNING POINT/SALVATION ARMY EVENT

BOSTON - State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that the charitable donations from Wal-Mart during the Christmas charity drive at the Wareham Wal-Mart have been presented at an event today. Rep. Gifford and her husband, DPW Director Mark Gifford, participated in the Salvation Army’s “Ringing Bells Across America” drive along with Wal-Mart in an effort to raise funds for local charities. Wal-Mart had pledged to match the kettle donations for the charity of Rep. Gifford’s choice but then pledged a much larger contribution.

In addition to the kettle donations received during the bell ringing event on December 20th, Rep. Gifford and her husband raised $2,105 for Turning Point Day Resource Center in Wareham prior to the event. These donations were delivered personally to Turning Point by Rep. Gifford on December 23rd.

Wal-Mart Corporation donated $5,000 to Turning Point and $1,000 to the local Salvation Army. The event took place at the Wareham Wal-Mart located at 3005 Cranberry Highway. Rep. Gifford was joined by Wal-Mart Senior Manager of Public Affairs & Government Relations Representative Christopher Buchanan to present the donations to representatives from each organization. Present were Director Lee McDonald, other volunteers of Turning Point and Major Ralph Hansen of the Salvation Army.

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December 15, 1008

Representative Gifford Announces Holiday Charity Event

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that she is partnering with Wal-Mart Corporation and the Salvation Army for a holiday charity event in Wareham. Along with her husband, Wareham DPW Director, Mark Gifford, Rep. Gifford will be at the entrance of the Wareham Wal-Mart ringing the bell with the familiar red Salvation Army bucket from 1-1:30pm on Saturday December 20th.

Wal-Mart will match the donations raised during that time and donate the money to the charity of Rep. Gifford’s choice. She has selected Turning Point Day Resource Center for the Homeless in Wareham.

“For the last five years, I’ve been able to secure an earmark in the state budget for Turning Point. However, the earmark for fiscal year 2009 in the amount of $15,000 fell victim to Gov. Patrick’s budget cuts,” Rep. Gifford said. “The timing could not have been worse as the need for Turning Point’s services has skyrocketed in this difficult economic environment.”

Rep. Gifford and her husband encourage everyone in the community and come out and support this great cause, especially during the holiday season, when help is needed the most. Anyone who would like to make a donation but will be unable to visit the Wareham Wal-Mart on Saturday is asked to call her office to make arrangements for early donation drop-off. Checks should be made payable to “Turning Point”.

This event is part of the “Bell Ringing Across America” program sponsored by Wal-Mart and Salvation Army. Last year this program was able to raise a record $30 million dollars for the Salvation Army as well as various local charities. If you have any questions about this event or to donate in advance, please call Rep. Gifford’s State House office at 617-722-2090 or the District Office at 508-295-5999.

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July 3, 2008

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD NETS STATE FUNDING FOR TURNING POINT

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that her budget amendment for $15,000 to benefit the Turning Point Day Resource Center in Wareham has been passed by the Conference Committee into the Fiscal Year 2009 budget.

These funds will be used for the Turning Point’s operating expenses. “I am delighted that Turning Point will receive the same funding as last year,” Rep. Gifford said, “given the dramatic increase in the number of individuals and families who need their assistance.” This is the fifth consecutive year that Rep. Gifford has been successful in acquiring funding for this organization in the state budget. She originally filed the amendment after learning that donations were being used for expenses rather than providing services.

Turning Point serves Carver, Mattapoisett, Rochester, Buzzards Bay, Wareham, Onset and Bourne. The facility offers a variety of services including providing homeless and near homeless people with food to transportation to doctor appointments, job interviews and local offices of the Department of Transitional Assistance.

The 2009 fiscal year budget now heads to the Governor's desk to await his review. “This very important earmark survived the veto pen last year,” said Rep. Gifford. “I have no reason to believe there will be any problems this year.”

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June 16, 2008

Rep. Gifford announces Wareham Rail Station Amendment

BOSTON — State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that the proposed commuter rail extension to Wareham garnered support in a $1.5 billion transportation bond bill passed by the House last week.

Though the commencement date of the rail project has yet to be determined, the idea of extending the Middleboro-Lakeville line to Wareham and Buzzards Bay has been long talked about in the Southcoast region.

Last Wednesday night the House approved an amendment for the $100,000 for the design, siting and initial permitting for a train station in Wareham. This amendment was sponsored by Rep. Williams M. Straus (D-Mattapoisett) and Rep. Gifford.

Rep. Gifford also co-sponsored a separate amendment for $150,000 to plan for the extension from Wareham to the village of Buzzards Bay. That study would include issues like parking, pedestrian walkways and the impact on traffic to retail and residential areas.

From the House, the bond bill will move to the Senate and eventually Gov. Deval Patrick, who will have the final word on whether to release the funds.

The Legislators said there is far more support for a train station in Wareham, while there is still much discussion about the project in Buzzards Bay. Rep. Straus said it made sense to move forward more aggressively in Wareham, with the intention of bringing rail to Buzzards Bay once there is a general consensus. “Extending the rail line has enormous potential, and that's even before you take account of the increase in ridership on the 'T' and commuter rail the last few months," Rep. Straus said.

“Upgrading the rail line is estimated to cost $40 million to $50 million, and it would not compete with a $1.4 billion plan to bring rail to Fall River and New Bedford. We’re talking about two very different plans,” said Rep. Gifford. “We have the state owned track and service to Wareham and Buzzards Bay could begin relatively quickly, since they are already used for freight service.”

According to Rep. Gifford, the Wareham proposal is much further along. A site for the train station has not been chosen but officials are looking at land near the Wareham Crossing mall. Recent upgrades in highway access and traffic signals to accommodate the mall make that site attractive. "We had a fairly good consensus and collaboration on how we were going to move this forward and on what makes the most sense," Rep. Gifford said. “This amendment sends a message to the state on the Wareham station.”

"We've done this leg work for you right now, in doing everything we can to make the job easier," Rep. Gifford said. "The next step would be to approach the Buzzards Bay situation in the same manner, with the rest of the representatives in the town of Bourne and Senate President (Therese) Murray."

Reps. Gifford and Straus and Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton, held a series of public meetings with local and regional planning officials last year to shape the proposal. The meetings also included the state Transportation Department

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February 11, 2008

Bourne Cultural Council announces 2008 Local Grant Awards

State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and Kathy Timmins, chair of the Bourne Cultural Council, have announced the award of 12 grants totaling $4,300 for cultural programs in Bourne. The grants were awarded from a pool of funds distributed to the town of Bourne by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency that supports public programs and educational activities in the arts, sciences and humanities.

Grant recipients include the Bourne PTA, Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, and Friends of Bourne Council on Aging. A complete list of recipients can be found below.

The Bourne Cultural Council is part of a grass-roots network of 329 local councils that serve every city and town in the state. The program is the largest, most decentralized one of its kind in the United States. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which then allocates funds to each local council. Decisions about which activities to support are made at the community level by a board of municipally appointed volunteers.

"It's the local volunteers who really make this system work," said Representative Gifford. "Thanks to them, the arts, sciences and humanities are part of people's everyday lives in every community across the state."

The members of the Bourne Cultural Council are:

Elizabeth Brown, Dr. Susan Cushing, Jane Dalton, Audrey Forge, Karen J. Gradowski, Kathy Timmins
(Chair), and Carolyn Viles

The Bourne Cultural Council has several openings so please contact Ms. Kathy Timmins if you are interested in serving on it.

Statewide, more than $2.65 million will be distributed by local cultural councils in 2008. Grants will support an enormous range of grass-roots activities: concerts, exhibitions, radio and video productions, field trips for schoolchildren, after-school youth programs, writing workshops, historical preservation efforts, lectures, First Night celebrations, nature and science education programs for families and town festivals. Nearly half of LCC funds support educational activities for young people. This includes the PASS Program, which provides subsidies for school children to attend cultural field trips.

The Bourne Cultural Council will seek applications again in the fall. Information and forms are available at the Bourne Town Hall and the Cataumet Arts Center and are due Oct. 15. This year's grants in the town of Bourne are as follows:

1) Bourne PTA for Finding Your Groove dance program (Spring 2008)

2) Bourne PTA for Mad Scientist-Sparking Imaginative Learning science program (February 2008)

3) Bourne PTA for Zeiterion Theatre at Cape Cod Community College (March 2008)

4) Bourne Society for Historic Preservation for Trolley Tours (Summer 2008)

5) Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce for Concert in the Park Series (Summer 2008)

6) Falmouth Chorale for Community Performances (March 2008)

7) Friends of Bourne Council on Aging for Clarence Darrow History Performance (May 2008)

8) Mastersingers by the Sea Chorus for Haydn’s Creation Concert (April 2008)

9) Plymouth Guild for the Arts for 41st Annual Art Show and Stroll (Sept. 2008)

10) Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, Inc. for Concerts by The Phil (Sept. ‘07 - May ‘08)

11) Sagamore Beach Colony Club for Arts on the Beach (Summer 2008)

12) Cape Cod Museum of Art for ARTWORK/Art Internship Program (Sept. ‘07-May ‘08)

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January 24, 2008

REPRESENTATIVES GIFFORD AND PERRY ANNOUNCE DHCD AWARD TO BOURNE HOUSING AUTHORITY

BOSTON – State Representatives Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and Jeffrey D. Perry (R-Sandwich) announced today that the Bourne Housing Authority has received a grant in the amount of $25,000 from the Department of Housing and Community Development. These funds will be used for the emergency improvement of the Authority’s Waterhouse Apartments development. Improvements will include the replacement of three boilers and design plans to replace the remaining thirteen boilers.

Rep. Gifford noted that the grant award could not have come at a better time. “There is no secret that we are facing budgetary constraints due to a continuing increase in state spending and limited revenue. Timing is everything and these repairs are long overdue,” said Rep. Gifford. “Our Housing Authorities face a constant struggle to secure funds not only for increased operational expenses but emergency repairs. These grants are so important and much appreciated.”

“I am pleased DCHD has awarded the Bourne Housing Authority funds for the requested emergency repairs.  The goal of this state program is to enhance the quality of life of residents,” Perry said, “DHCD provides professional assistance and financial resources in an effort to promote safe, decent affordable housing opportunities, economic vitality of communities and sound municipal management.  I look forward to continuing to work with the Bourne Authority to address their repair issues.”

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January 23, 2008

Representative Gifford urges constituents to apply for financial aid to help pay for college

Boston- Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today where constituents can receive help in applying and receiving financial aid to help pay for college. Every year, Massachusetts students use state and federal low-interest loans to help them afford their college education and free guidance is available to help applicants through this process.

“Time is of the essence, and students planning to attend college next fall should begin the financial aid application process right now,” said Rep. Gifford. “While substantial aid is available, students should apply early, preferably earlier than March 1, and investigate all possible sources of aid.”

Students begin the process of applying for both federal and state aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This document is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Many private colleges and universities also require a second form, the CSS PROFILE ®, which is available at The College Board’s website.

To receive free guidance on identifying sources of financial aid and completing applications, students and families throughout Massachusetts may call TERI’s toll-free information hotline at 1-877-332-4348 or visit one of TERI’s nine College Planning Centers in Boston, Brockton and Chelsea, MA, or an Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) in Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester. For hours of operation of TERI’s Centers visit www.tericollegeplanning.org. TERI’s hotline is made available through a partnership between the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and TERI.

“Students and their families need to be aware that funds exist to help ease the financial burden of attending college, said Rep. Gifford “It takes time and patience to uncover these sources, and to get through the application process. For those looking for financial help, I urge you to get started now. ”

STATEWIDE TOLL-FREE EDUCATION/FINANCIAL AID INFORMATION

The TERI Information Hotline, 1-877-332-4348, puts students and families across Massachusetts in touch with experts who provide free guidance on college planning. Hours are Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY CENTERS

City Location

Boston TERI College Planning Center

Boston Public Library, Copley Square

700 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02116

1-877-332-4348

Visit www.tericollegeplanning.org for information on TERI’s 9 Centers in Boston, Brockton and Chelsea.

 

Brockton TERI College Planning Center

34 School Street Brockton, MA 02301

(866) 891-4716

 

Leominster North Central Educational Opportunity Center

100 Erdman Way Leominster, MA 01453

(978) 840-0176 ext. 107

 

Lynn Educational Opportunity Center

Corner of Broad and Market Streets Lynn, MA 01901

(781) 477-2114

 

New Bedford Seven Hills Behavior Health

New Bedford Educational Opportunity Center

10 Welby Road New Bedford, MA 02745

(508) 995-3026

 

Pittsfield The Learning Connection

10 Lyman Street Pittsfield, MA 01201

(413) 499-9531

 

Greater Springfield Valley Opportunity Center

Educational Opportunity Center

152 Center Street Chicopee, MA 01013

(413) 612-0206

 

Worcester Ed Central – Colleges of Worcester Consortium

Educational Opportunity Center

484 Main Street, Suite 500 Worcester, MA 01608

(508) 754-6829 ext.3004

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December 17, 2007

GIFFORD ATTAINS PERFECT VOTING RECORD
Casts 243 consecutive roll call votes this year

BOSTON—House Minority Leader Brad Jones congratulated state Rep. Susan Gifford today for achieving a perfect voting record in 2007.

The Wareham Republican participated in every one of the 243 roll call votes held this year, casting votes on legislation to protect consumers from identity theft, promote benefits for veterans, and increase local aid and education funding for cities and towns.

“Sue’s voting record shows her dedication and commitment to being a true advocate for the people of her district,” Jones said. “She devotes a great deal of time and effort to being an active, involved legislator, and her constituents certainly reap the benefits.”

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November 30, 2007

Homeowner's Commission Report Released

BOSTON- Earlier today, the special Commission created by the legislature to review the current state of homeowners insurance in the Commonwealth released its final report.

“This is a critical issue, impacting thousands of homeowners in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Ron Mariano (D-Quincy), Commission co-chair. “The Commission has worked hard on solutions that will produce real, tangible results.”

The report outlines six recommendations made by the Commission intended to bring long-term stability to the homeowners insurance marketplace in coastal areas. Amongst the recommendations given were the ideas to establish a public entity to study the reliability of catastrophe models; create a state-run catastrophic event fund; and increase consumer education.

“Over the past several months this Commission has spent countless hours considering ways to improve the homeowners insurance market in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Stephen J. Buoniconti (D-West Springfield), Commission co-chair. “Through the dedication and expertise of all the members of the Commission, I am pleased that we have been able to put forward a number of recommendations to the legislature which will have a beneficial effect on Massachusetts consumers.”

Over the past few months, the Commission held four public hearings across the state, giving people who have been affected by this issue a chance to offer input and suggestions. The Commission also heard from a range of experts in the insurance and storm modeling industries.

“Rising premiums are a constant concern in my district and I am glad to be a part of the resolution to this pressing issue,” said Rep. Eric Turkington (D-Falmouth), Commission member.

“I have heard from countless constituents who have been affected by this crisis. I am pleased that the legislature recognized this as a priority and put together this high-level commission to investigate the root-causes,” said Representative Susan W. Gifford (R-Wareham), Commission member. “I am proud of the work we have done, and I know that our recommendations will benefit Massachusetts homeowners.”

"It is my hope that the work of this Commission will continue to bring greater attention to the homeowners insurance crisis and needed reforms will be implemented," said Senator Robert O'Leary (D-Barnstable), Commission member.  "Finding a long-term solution to our property insurance crisis is one of my highest priorities. I am pleased that the commission has endorsed a number of legislative actions, including the creation of a state-run catastrophic event fund. The creation of a CAT Fund is one of the things we can do to potentially reduce people’s rates.”

The panel was made up of 16 members, including: Nonnie S. Burnes, Commissioner of Insurance; John K. Golembeski, President of the Massachusetts FAIR Plan; a designee from Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office; Sen. Robert O’Leary (D-Barnstable); Rep. Eric Turkington (D-Falmouth); Rep. Susan W. Gifford (R-Wareham); Senior Vice President of Eastern Insurance Don Uvanitte; and other representatives from insurance and reinsurance companies and consumer advocacy groups.

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November 15, 2007

PERRY AND GIFFORD CO-SPONSOR LEGISLATION TO SEND MILLIONS IN LOCAL AID BACK TO CITIES AND TOWNS

BOSTON—State Representatives Jeffrey Davis Perry (R-Sandwich) and Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and the House Republican caucus recently filed a bill, HD4651, that would return over $450 million in local aid to Massachusetts cities and towns.

Perry, Gifford and the Republican caucus believe the money is due to local communities because the state diverted $450 million away from them in recent years through a cap on Lottery aid, money that communities use to pay for police, schools and other essential local needs.

“This money is due to cities and towns because the State diverted $450 million away from them over the past several years through a cap on Lottery aid, money that communities use to pay for police, schools, senior citizen centers and other essential local services. After all, the State made a promise to lottery players and local communities that 100% of the net lottery revenue would be sent back to cities and towns and that promise, like so many others in government today, was broken by the elected officials who are supposed to be the defenders of the people,” said Perry from the State Office today.

"The Commonwealth took this money designated for our cities and towns for its rainy day fund at a time when it appeared we were headed for the storm. The storm has passed the Commonwealth but it has moved on to our local communities and it's time to give that money back now," added Gifford.

Under the legislation, the $450 million would be returned to cities and towns as unrestricted local aid, so that communities could use the funds for their most pressing needs. The money would be distributed through the same formula the state uses to dole out Lottery aid every year.

Towns in Perry’s and Gifford’s Districts stand to gain millions under the bill if approved. Barnstable would receive $1,259,917; Bourne would receive $708, 379; Carver would receive $875, 017; Mashpee would get $220,375; Sandwich would receive $632, 575; and Wareham would receive $1,185,109.

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October 30, 2007

Homeowners Insurance Commission Announces Intentions to Continue Meeting and Release Findings on November 30th

BOSTON- In its ongoing effort to find long-term solutions to the homeowners insurance problems plaguing coastal areas of Massachusetts, the Special Commission on Homeowners Insurance, which was created by the legislature during this year’s budget cycle, today announced intentions to release its final recommendations on Friday, November 30th. The 16-member commission of legislators, regulators, and insurance professionals, has been meeting on a weekly basis since August.

“The Commission has worked diligently on finding ways to offer relief to consumers, and also create a marketplace where insurance companies want to write. While those seem like mutually exclusive goals, we are working to address both,” said Eric Turkington, a state representative from Falmouth and member of the Commission.

The Commission released a preliminary report in October, which summarized the testimony collected at the four public hearings held across the state, and expected to file a final report with recommendations in early November.

“It has really come down to doing this fast, or doing this right. I am happy with the progress we have made so far, and think the extra time will give us the time we need to produce a report with real solutions,” said Robert O’Leary, a state senator representing Cape Cod and a member of the Commission.

“The Commission is composed of professionals with wide-ranging perspectives on our homeowners insurance problem. The give and take between members has really helped to define the root causes of the problem, and some realistic ways to address them,” said Susan Williams Gifford, a state representative from Wareham and member of the Commission.

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September 19, 2007

REP. GIFFORD ANNOUNCES DISTRICT CULTURAL COUNCIL GRANTS

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that the Cultural Councils in the 2nd Plymouth District will again receive grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The grants totaling $13,530 have been awarded as part of a state-wide funding program by the MCC and is part of the Local Cultural Council Program. The Bourne Council will receive $4,000; Carver was awarded $4,040; and Wareham’s grant totals $5,490.

“These programs support community-based projects that explore local arts and history, expand education and accessibility, and celebrate diversity,” said Rep. Gifford. “The Local Cultural Council Program is the most extensive cultural funding system of its kind in the nation and we are so fortunate to have this money available for our local councils.” This network provides funding to every Massachusetts city and town through 329 LCCs and 2,500 volunteer members.

“Now more than ever it is important to recognize and celebrate the cultures of those who not only call the Commonwealth their home but helped to shape who we are today,” Rep. Gifford said. “This continued source of funding helps us do just that.”

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July 18, 2007

REP. GIFFORD APPOINTED TO COMMISSION ON HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE

Boston- House Minority Leader Brad Jones today designated state Rep. Susan Williams Gifford (R- Wareham) to serve on a special commission reviewing the current state of the homeowner’s insurance market in Massachusetts. The 15-member commission will study the availability and affordability of property insurance, including factors driving rates and the accuracy of loss projections. The commission is required to meet a series of times to complete its work, and to hold at least 1 public hearing on Cape Cod or another coastal area.

“Susan is one of several members of the Republican caucus who are familiar with insurance issues affecting the Cape Cod/Southeastern Massachusetts region and who know the problems with the property insurance marketplace,” Jones said. “Her knowledge and experience will be valuable assets to the group.”

“I am so pleased to be named to this commission. The situation with Homeowner’s property insurance was an issue for me during the last legislative session but it is now nearing the crisis stage,” said Rep. Gifford. “It’s time to get things moving and start fixing the problems.”

The commission was created in a section of the state budget, which was signed into law by the governor on July 12, and it is expected to hold its first meeting on July 26th

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July 12, 2007
REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD ANNOUNCES EXTRA STATE FUNDING FOR WAREHAM

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that the budget amendments she filed for the town of Wareham were successfully adopted into the fiscal year 2008 budget signed yesterday by Gov. Patrick. The Turning Point Day Resource Center for the Homeless and the Rt. 195 Visitor Information Center in Wareham will be the beneficiaries of specific line item earmarks.

Turning Point will receive $15,000 for operating expenses, a five thousand dollar increase from FY07. “It was important this year to not only secure the same funding that we had in the past for Turning Point, but to increase the funding,” Rep. Gifford said, “This increase will help Turning Point to keep up with the ever growing demand of their services due to escalating numbers individuals and families having difficulty meeting their financial obligations.” This is the fifth consecutive year that Rep. Gifford has been successful in acquiring funding for this organization in the budget.

In addition, Rep. Gifford also secured a budget earmark in the amount of $9,000 for operating expenses of the Visitor Information Center on Rt. 195 in West Wareham. This center is the only one in the Commonwealth not funded by the state and relies on donations from individuals and business sponsorships. “I filed an amendment last year seeking an earmark but was unsuccessful. Persistence pays off and it’s a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Gifford. “It’s a modest amount but enough to take off some of the burden. The staff at the Center works very hard to promote Wareham as a tourist destination and direct travelers to our local businesses. They need all the help they can get.

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July 12, 2007

REP. GIFFORD’S BUDGET AMENDMENTS FOR BOURNE ADOPTED

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that budget amendments she filed concerning the Buzzards Bay Village Association and the Bourne Financial Development Corporation were accepted into the fiscal year 2008 budget signed yesterday by Gov. Patrick.

Rep. Gifford was successful in securing a line item earmark in the amount of $100,000 for the Buzzards Bay Village Association to implement the Greenbelt Pathway Project and to advance to the second phase of a master plan for the Bridge Park along Main Street. “This is the fourth year I’ve been able to get an earmark for the BBVA in the House budget and at a time when state spending is tight, I’m very pleased,” said Rep. Gifford.

For the second consecutive year, Rep. Gifford was successful in acquiring an earmark for the Bourne Financial Development Corporation to complete a redevelopment project in Buzzards Bay, and to begin a redevelopment analysis of MacArthur Boulevard. This year the amount is $170,000. “In this difficult fiscal time, our towns are relying more and more on economic development. The BFDC and BBVA are doing amazing things for Bourne,” said Rep. Gifford. “I’m happy that I can help keep the momentum going.”

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July 10, 2007

Representative Gifford Announces $800,000 in Funding For Community Upgrades in Wareham

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that Wareham will receive $800,000 in federal funding for Housing Rehabilitation, Planning, and Public Services through a Community Development Block Grant.

Funds from the grant will be put to use in several community and public service projects. In addition to a housing rehabilitation of sixteen residences there will be a Wareham Village sign and façade program that will benefit six buildings. Public services will include an after school program, transportation supplements for low income seniors, disabled and homeless citizens, a literacy training program and a youth mentoring program.

“ Wareham’s Community & Economic Development staff did a fantastic job in putting together a clear, concise package in the grant application, “said Rep. Gifford. “It targeted all aspects of the available funding for some much needed projects and DHCD agreed.”

Community Development Block Grants are issued annually by the federal government and are administered to communities with populations of less than 50,000 by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. CDBG funds are targeted to communities to provide decent housing and a suitable living environment and to expand economic opportunities, principally for persons of low and moderate income.

“This funding is great news for Wareham because it gives us a boost in housing assistance, fixing up older homes, economic development and providing beneficial services for some of our most in need residents,” Rep.Gifford said.

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April 24, 2007

Representative Gifford & Republican Colleagues Working to Make State More Affordable for Seniors

BOSTON—In an effort to make Massachusetts more affordable for older residents, State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and her fellow House Republican members won approval today for a plan that gives more seniors a bigger break on their property tax bills.

During a debate on the House budget, Republican members offered an amendment that would let seniors include half of their home heating costs when applying to be eligible for the senior circuit breaker tax credit.

Currently, seniors can only include their water and sewer fees as expenses when they apply for the program. The senior circuit breaker credit allows residents age 65 and older to claim a credit of up to $870 on their income tax form for the property taxes they paid on their home in that year, provided they meet certain income guidelines, and if their home is valued at $684,000 or less.


Expanding the eligibility guidelines to include home heating costs would allow thousands more seniors to get the property tax relief they need. About 40,000 seniors are currently eligible for the program.

“Making Massachusetts more affordable is the centerpiece of the Republican agenda,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading. “We are focused on making Massachusetts more livable for the average, middle-class citizen, and we believe our legislative proposals and policies will resonate among residents.”

“Property taxes are one of the biggest expenses residents face, and they can be especially devastating for older homeowners on a fixed income,” said Rep. Gifford. “I am very pleased that my colleagues in the House agreed to give seniors a break but we still have a lot more work to do.”

House lawmakers voted to approve the Republican amendment Monday, and will continue debating the budget throughout this week. The Senate will get a chance to offer and debate its own spending plan next month, and a final budget should be in place by July 1.

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April 5, 2007

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD AND REPUBLICAN CAUCUS FIGHT TO SEND MORE LOCAL AID BACK TO CITIES AND TOWNS
Offered proposal to send $230 million more to communities

BOSTON—In an effort to significantly increase financial help to struggling communities, State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and her House Republican colleagues offered a proposal today to send $230 million more in local aid back to cities and towns.

The proposal, offered as an amendment to a local aid resolution crafted by Democratic leaders, would have given local communities 40 percent of whatever the state takes in from the sales tax, personal income tax and corporate excise tax.

The amendment was overwhelmingly rejected by the Democrat-controlled House.

“I am extremely disappointed that my fellow House members did not see the merit in sharing some of the state’s wealth with local communities,” said Rep. Gifford. “The House missed a big opportunity today to do better by cities and towns especially in light of the fact that some 50 communities are currently seeking overrides.”

The local aid resolution debated yesterday increases local aid to cities and towns by $235 million over last year. Although that number is higher than the amount Gov. Deval Patrick proposed in his own spending plan, 80 communities got less under the House resolution than they did under the governor’s plan. The Republican caucus offered an amendment to restore aid to those 80 communities, but that proposal was also rejected.

Under the House resolution, Wareham will receive an additional $134,883 for Chapter 70 school aid; Carver will see an increase of $94,204; and Bourne nets $6,454.

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February 22, 2007

REP. GIFFORD BACKS WORKING FAMILIES TAX CREDIT
Republicans tackle affordability issue with new agenda

BOSTON – In an effort to make Massachusetts more affordable for middle-income families, State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) is co-sponsoring a comprehensive tax credit plan that will help residents cope with the state’s high cost of living.

Known as the Working Families Tax Credit, the legislation would allow taxpayers to claim up to $20,000 in deductions on their state income tax return to offset a variety of everyday living expenses, including rent, utilities, college tuition and child care. The proposal was filed last week as part of a far-reaching Republican Policy Conference agenda backed by all 24 House and Senate Republicans.

Under the GOP proposal, taxpayers can choose one or more deductions from a “checklist” of qualifying expenses. Deductions will range from $500 for property or casualty insurance costs on a primary residence to as much as $6,000 for mortgage expenses. Collectively, the total deduction claimed by any taxpayer can not exceed $20,000 in any given tax year.

“The idea is to make this plan as broad-based as possible so that more people would qualify for relief,” Rep. Gifford said. “Depending on their personal circumstances, some taxpayers will get a small credit, while others will be able to claim the full deduction.”

“Until we make Massachusetts more affordable, we will continue to see residents pulling up stakes and moving to other parts of the country,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading). “The Working Families Tax Credit is a key component of our effort to turn that trend around and keep people at home in the Bay State.”

Republican House and Senate members are now working together to develop new ideas that will improve the lives of Massachusetts residents. The tax credit is one of several initiatives Republicans are offering this session to try to stop the exodus of residents from Massachusetts. More than 250,000 people have left the state over the last four years, due primarily to high housing and insurance costs. “To stop this mass departure of residents from the Commonwealth, we need to be creative and pro-active in offering solutions to this problem,” said Rep. Gifford. “This is a comprehensive proposal that truly offers something for everyone and should help to stem the tide of residents who are fleeing the state.”

Highlights of the Working Families Tax Credit legislation include:

  • an expansion of the existing rental deduction, which will increase from $3,000 to $4,500;
  • the introduction of a new mortgage interest deduction for a primary residence, which will be capped at $6,000;
  • the creation of a $500 deduction for property or casualty insurance costs associated with a primary residence;
  • the establishment of a $2,500 utility deduction, which will allow residents to offset costly expenses such as water, sewer, electricity, home heating oil, natural gas and propane.
  • an increase in the standard child care deduction, which for a single child will rise from $4,800 to $5,520, and from $9,600 to $11,040 for parents with two or more dependents; and
  • an expanded student loan interest deduction, which will now be available not only to undergraduate students, but also to graduate students pursuing an advanced degree.

The tax credit package also offers an additional benefit to parents sending a child to college. Under current tax law, when a student is enrolled in a two- or four-year college, parents can claim a credit equal to the amount by which the tuition payments exceed 25 percent of their adjusted gross income. The new proposal expands eligibility by allowing for the deduction of tuition costs that exceed 15 percent of adjusted gross income.

Republican legislators have been working closely with the Department of Revenue to determine the fiscal impact the tax credit proposal will have on the state. Although it will mean a loss of tax revenue, Rep. Gifford said the plan is well worth implementing. “This proposal will cost some money up front, but it will reap enormous economic benefits for the Commonwealth as a whole in the long run,” said Rep. Gifford

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January 22, 2007

REP. GIFFORD WANTS STATE TO ALLOW MUNICIPALITIES TO BE ABLE TO JOIN GROUP INSURANCE COMMISSION

Management-Labor Coalition calls for quick passage early in the legislative session

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) joined a coalition of municipal officials, union leaders, and retiree representatives working together as the Municipal Health Insurance Working Group in calling for a reform to give cities and towns the option to join the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC). Rep. Gifford is one of more than 105 legislators who are sponsoring reform legislation to ease the burden of skyrocketing health care insurance costs on municipalities, taxpayers, and employees. Governor Deval Patrick also endorsed the concept last week.

“Municipal health insurance costs have long been a budget buster for our financially strapped cities and towns,” said Rep. Gifford. “This is a great opportunity to get much needed help. The proposal can save a town millions of dollars while providing municipal employees and retirees with high quality health insurance.”

“This proposal represents months of hard work and goodwill from major stakeholders in municipal government,” said John Hamill, Chairman of Sovereign Bank and the convener of the Municipal Health Insurance Working Group. The group has been meeting since September 2005 to try to find common ground on municipal health insurance reform. This reform is a win-win situation for everyone, including taxpayers.”

In order for communities to consider joining the GIC for the next fiscal year, the Legislature would need to pass the law very early in the session. The GIC must receive notice by October 2007 in order to enable a municipality’s employees and retirees into the system by July 2008.

The organizations supporting the proposal include the Metro Mayors Coalition, Massachusetts Municipal Association, Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), Massachusetts Teachers Association, AFT-Massachusetts, AFSCME Council 93, the Retired State, County & Municipal Employees of Massachusetts, and the Essex County Retirement Board. MAPC, the regional planning agency for Greater Boston, provided staff support for the coalition.

”Health insurance premiums have risen in double digits for most of the past decade, threatening the ability of many cities and towns to provide quality public services, eroding their ability to increase wages, and leading to lay-offs of municipal staff,” Rep. Gifford said. “That’s bad for everyone so there was a strong incentive for all to put a plan together.”


Highlights of the proposal:

It would create a local option for cities and towns to purchase health insurance through the GIC. Analysis shows that the GIC’s high quality plans are generally significantly less expensive and provide more choices to employees and retirees than typical municipal options. Under the proposal, no community would be mandated to join the GIC.

A decision to join the GIC would be made collectively among municipal leaders, public employee labor representatives, and retiree representatives. The proposal uses the existing mechanism called “coalition bargaining” to bring stakeholders together to make health care decisions.

All decisions about contribution ratios – i.e., the percentage of health insurance premiums that are borne by employees or retirees, and the percentage borne by the municipality – would continue to be made at the local level. The GIC, however, would have responsibility for contracting with health care insurers and making plan design decisions. Municipal employees would be in the same insurance pool as all state employees, which currently covers more than 265,000 people in the Commonwealth.

Municipalities would pay all costs associated with purchasing health insurance through the GIC, including a small administrative fee to the Commission. The proposal is structured to be self-financing and start-up costs for the Commonwealth would be nominal.

As part of the proposal, the coalition seeks to expand the Commission by adding representatives of municipal management and public employee unions. These new additions would not change the balance of the Commission.

More information about the Municipal Health Insurance Working Group’s proposal is available at www.mapc.org.

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January 9, 2007

REPRESENTATIVE GIFFORD, REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES OFFER JOINT LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Plan would make Massachusetts more livable, more environmentally-friendly

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and fellow House and Senate Republicans this week unveiled a comprehensive joint legislative agenda focused on making Massachusetts more affordable, moving the state to the forefront of energy and environmental policy, and encouraging innovation and competitiveness.

Their agenda includes a plan to help first-time homebuyers put down roots in Massachusetts, tax breaks for working families on their mortgage, child care and education expenses, and strict, new standards for energy efficiency in the state.

Other proposals include cost-cutting measures for cities and towns, disaster preparedness and relief legislation, and a grant program to help students at public colleges and universities turn innovative ideas into actual businesses in Massachusetts.

"This multi-faceted agenda responds directly to the key issues facing our Commonwealth and sets the stage for action on affordability, competitiveness and other pressing concerns of the people of our state," said Rep. Gifford.  “Now more than ever we must work together and focus on issues and initiatives that will make a real difference for our state's future.”

“This agenda really defines what we stand for as Republicans in Massachusetts and what we want our state to look like in the future,” said House Minority Leader Brad Jones, R-North Reading. “We are focused on making Massachusetts more livable for the average, middle-class citizen, and we believe our legislative proposals and policies will resonate among residents.”

The agenda, “Toward a Better Massachusetts,” addresses the five top priorities of the Republican caucus: affordability, innovation and competitiveness, conserving resources, strengthening, protecting and empowering communities, and restoring confidence in government.

“The state will be facing many difficult challenges over the next two years,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei, R-Wakefield. “Families and companies are leaving the state because they can no longer afford to live and do business here. As Republicans, we are committed to doing everything we can to stop this exodus and to make the Commonwealth a better place to live, work and raise a family, and that is reflected in our policy agenda.”

This is the first time the House and Senate caucuses have partnered in this way to create a shared legislative strategy and philosophy. As part of the new collaboration, Jones and Tisei appointed a Republican Policy Conference to help develop a legislative agenda and decide on joint policy matters that arise in the House and Senate throughout the year. The committee is chaired by State Sen. Bruce Tarr and state Rep. Paul Loscocco.

"The agenda reflects the collective input and tireless work of many committed legislators within our caucus, and we're proud to offer this to the people of Massachusetts,” said state Rep. Paul Loscocco, R-Holliston. "Our legislative agenda is about setting priorities and offering a plan to move Massachusetts forward.”

Legislation included in the Republican agenda will be filed by tomorrow.

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January 9, 2007

REP. GIFFORD HAILS SIGNING OF KAYLA’S BILL

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced that Kayla’s Bill, an act requiring automated external defibrillators ( AED) be present in all health clubs in Massachusetts, was signed into law by Governor Romney. Rep. Gifford co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Rob O’Leary (D-Cummaquid).

This bill was named after Kayla Richards, a 22-year-old young woman from Carver who collapsed and died last March while working out at her local health club. Many, including Kayla’s friends and family, believe that she could have been saved if there had been an AED present. Public support for this legislation was overwhelming, as was the support legislators received from the American Heart Association.

“I am so pleased and grateful that then Governor Romney recognized how important this legislation is and chose to sign it into law,” said Rep. Gifford. “If he didn’t sign it, the bill would have become a ‘pocket veto’ and we would have had to start from square one. Who knows how many others would have to suffer the loss of a loved one the way Kayla’s family did if we didn’t get this done.”

Kayla’s Bill requires health clubs with five full time employees to have on the premises at least 1 AED, and at least 1 employee trained and authorized to use it in attendance during business hours. The AED is a computerized medical device capable of delivering an electric shock to restart the human heart. An AED can check a person’s heart rhythm, and can recognize a rhythm that requires a shock. It can also advise the rescuer when a shock is needed. The AED uses voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take.

“As soon as I knew the bill was on the Governor’s desk, I called his office every day asking for his signature, even during the New Year’s weekend,” Rep. Gifford said. “We finally got the confirmation that Kayla’s Bill was now Kayla’s Law on January 2nd.”

An event in recognition of Kayla’s Law is being planned for next week and will take place at Jordan Hospital, where Kayla’s mother, Judy Richards, is a registered nurse. The American Heart Association is sponsoring the event.

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October 23, 2006

Representative Gifford Announces Environmental Grant for the Town of Carver

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that the town of Carver has been awarded a $500,000 self-help grant by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. This money will be used for the Cole Property project, a unique undertaking by the town which seeks to identify and develop a new water source, as well as to protect the surrounding environmental area.

This grant will enable the town of Carver to purchase 98 acres of land on which the Cole Property is located. The presence of a high-yield aquifer makes it an ideal area for development as a new water source. It sits along the Winnetuxet River, and is classified as a BioMap Core Habitat. In addition to the aquifer, there are also 2 rare species of animals, cranberry bogs, and vernal pools.

“This is a great day for Carver! The town officials worked very hard to put together a clear, concise grant application,” said Rep. Gifford. “That makes my job of convincing EOEA of the wonderful benefits of this project so much easier. We need to find every dollar from every available source to move this forward.”

The Self-Help program was established in 1961, and it provides financial assistance to municipal conservation commissions to acquire land for natural resource and passive outdoor recreation purposes. The legacy of this program is that it affords legal protection to each property acquired, thus allowing the land to be kept in conservation use. Lands acquired may include wildlife habitats, trails, water resources, and working forests

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October 15, 2006

REP. GIFFORD HONORED AT FIRE STATION DEDICATION

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) was recognized today for her efforts to make the new Sagamore Beach fire station a reality. At a dedication ceremony to officially open the new station, Bourne Fire Chief Charles Klueber presented Rep. Gifford with a plaque thanking her for her leadership and vision.

The new fire station replaces the one that was located on the old Sagamore Rotary and was negotiated as part of the overall Sagamore Route 3 “Flyover” project by Mass Highway and the Executive Office of Transportation. It houses a new ladder truck, fire engine, ambulance and hazardous materials vehicle ready to service 110 communities throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, the Cape & islands. Two firefighter/paramedics regularly staff the station next to the village post office.

“It hasn’t been an easy task,” said Chief Klueber. “There were many bumps in the road but Rep. Gifford was there for us whenever we needed her. I’ve had to call on her many times for other matters and she’s always been available to help.”

In her remarks at the dedication, Rep. Gifford said how proud she was to have this state of the art public safety facility in her district. “I believe the fundamental role of government is to keep its citizens safe,” said Rep. Gifford. “This fire station is truly a testament to that.”

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September 27, 2006

REP. GIFFORD & LOCAL BUSINESS OWNER TEAM UP FOR SPECIAL DELIVERY

DAMIEN’S PLACE FOOD PANTRY TO BENEFIT

BOSTON – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that she and Wareham business owner John White delivered a new computer system to Damien’s Place Food Pantry in Wareham. Rep. Gifford and Mr. White who owns Mijon Technologies in Wareham and Pocasset Computer in Bourne teamed up to make the much needed donation.

“About a month ago, I received an email from Vic Giammalvo who volunteers at Damien’s. He told me the present system was failing and asked if I knew of anyone who might be able to help them with a replacement. Donations to the Pantry have been down and they just didn’t have the funds available to buy a new computer,” Rep. Gifford said. “I immediately thought of John and called him. Computer prices have fallen so we decided to make a ‘joint donation’ of a new system.”

Mr. White is no stranger to community involvement. The past Chairman of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce and former board member of the Onset Bay Association, he was eager to help. “When Susan called, I never gave it a second thought. Damien’s Place has done so much good for the people of Wareham and surrounding communities. This request was an easy one for us to honor,” said Mr. White.

Fr. Gabriel Healy who spearheads Damien’s operation was present to accept the donation along with Mr. Giammalvo and his wife, Dolores who also volunteers. Donations are much needed andcan be made to Damien’s Place, 77 Adams St., PO Box 111, Fairhaven, MA 02719.

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August 17, 2006

REP. GIFFORD PUSHES FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION ON VETERAN’S BILL

BOSTON - Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) joined Senator Brian A. Joyce,and Veterans and Federal Affairs Co-Chairmen Stephen M. Brewer and Anthony J. Verga today to urge the Senate President and Speaker of the House to expedite the passage of an appropriation that would fund new state policy allowing National Guardsman to attend state colleges and universities for free.

While language implementing free tuition and fee waivers for Guardsmen was passed in “The Welcome Home Bill” last November, a standoff has developed between the Board of Higher Education and the Legislature over whether the Board can withhold the waiver program without upfront direct appropriations from the Legislature.

The legislators circulated the letter to Senate President Travaglini and House Speaker DiMasi amid reports of veterans being denied tuition and fee waivers at local colleges.

“It would be shameful if it did not fulfill the commitment we made to our brave men and women in the military,” said Rep. Gifford. “They are the ones who protect our freedom and liberty through their bravery and sacrifice. This is the right thing to do. We must welcome home our veterans.” Over 65 legislators to date have signed on to the letter.

In July, the governor filed, H. 5202, An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2007 to Provide for National Guard Tuition and Fee Waivers,” currently in the House Ways and Means Committee, after funding for the program was not included in the budget.

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July 31, 2006

Representative Gifford Announces Tax Relief for Veterans

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that the Massachusetts Legislature recently passed a measure that will provide tax relief for the men and woman of our military.

Thousands of Massachusetts veterans and their families will be eligible for various forms of tax relief thanks to legislation unanimously approved by the House of Representatives. The Massachusetts Military Enhanced Relief Individual Tax (MERIT) Plan honors the memory and bears the name of Edward G. Connolly, a U.S. Army veteran and an eight-term state Representative from Everett who passed away in May.

The legislation, delivers the following forms of relief to the Commonwealth’s military families:

Increases various property tax exemptions and abatements for veterans;

Grants a $2,500 property tax exemption for eligible surviving spouses of veterans killed in combat or missing in action;

Increases the real estate tax exemption for disabled veterans from $600 to $1,000 and makes the exemption available for surviving spouses of qualifying disabled veterans;

Establishes a new five year 100% property tax exemption for war widows and widowers (Gold Star Spouses);

Gives cities and towns the local option of suspending property tax payments from National Guard members and Reservists who are serving on active duty or their dependants; and

Extends sales and vehicle excise tax exemptions to all veterans who qualify for a Disabled Veterans license plate, as determined by the Registry of Motor Vehicle’s Medical Advisory Board.

“No matter what we do, it will never be enough,” said Representative Gifford. “I’m pleased that we’re taking these steps to try and repay the debt of gratitude we owe our military men and women for their sacrifices. The MERIT plan, along with the Welcome Home Bill that was passed into state law last November, exemplifies the Legislature’s unwavering and resolute commitment to the Commonwealth’s veterans and the benefits they deserve.”

The bill now awaits final action by the Senate. Once given this final approval, the bill will head to Governor Romney’s desk for his signature.

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July 26, 2006

House Passes Equal Choice Bill
Representative Gifford Sees Victory for Elderly, Disabled

BOSTON - Representative Susan Williams-Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that senior citizens and the disabled who quality for long term care services under the MassHealth program will have an “Equal Choice” of care at home, or care in a nursing home, under legislation adopted unanimously today by the House of Representatives.

House Bill 5203, the “Equal Choice” bill, renovates the MassHealth program from one which has historically been institutionally oriented, to one which focuses on care “in the least restrictive setting appropriate” to an individual’s needs. This legislation has been endorsed by the major elderly and disabled rights groups in the Commonwealth, including Mass Home Care, AARP, the Statewide Independent Living Council, MAOA, Mass Senior Action, Mass Councils on Aging, and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.

“The elderly and the disabled want to be cared for at home as a first resort,” explained Representative Gifford. “This legislation gives them the choice to live independently in the community.”

The Equal Choice bill will save Commonwealth taxpayers $134 million in the first five years after implementation. Several recent studies of the state’s long term care system have noted the state’s over-reliance on institutional care. Today, approximately 75% of the MassHealth funding for long term care goes to nursing homes. Massachusetts ranks 25 th in the nation for the percentage of MassHealth funding spent in the community.

Representative Gifford said, “This bill is a win-win. It keeps elders living in the community, and it saves tax dollars as well.”

The Equal Choice bill establishes a more focused and defined “pre-admission counseling” program for people who are being referred to a nursing home, to ensure that they are aware of their community alternatives. Everyone about to enter a nursing home regardless of whether they are privately paying, or seeking MassHealth support will have the opportunity to explore options in the community first. This bill will allow the Commonwealth, after submitting a waiver to the federal government, to capture a 50% federal match for some elders who are not fully supported with state funding.

The Senate engrossed a similar version of the Equal Choice bill on a unanimous vote. The bill will now come up for a final vote in the Senate followed by final enactment in the House before being sent to the Governor for his approval.

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June 6, 2006

Rep. Gifford Announces the Naming of SFC Robert Rooney Bridge

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) announced today that Governor Mitt Romney signed into law legislation that honors SFC Robert Rooney, a Massachusetts National Guardsman who lost his life while serving his country in Operation Iraqi Freedom on September 5 th, 2003.. This bill names the Route 44 bridge over Brook Street in Carver the “ SFC Robert Rooney Bridge”.

“I am delighted the Governor acted so quickly to sign this bill,” said Rep. Gifford after the official signing ceremony. “The entire Rooney family and the town of Carver deserves this permanent memorial to their fallen hero.” Rep. Gifford filed the original legislation in 2005 following the request by Sgt. Mike Miksch of the Carver Police Department, a long time family friend.

Sergeant First Class Robert Rooney proudly served his country for 24 years in the National Guard. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Rooney was attached to the 379 th Engineer Company in his second tour. Rooney also served in Desert Storm. SFC Rooney, a Nashua, New Hampshire native, lived in the town of Carver for over fifteen years, where his family still resides. SFC Rooney was the first Massachusetts National Guardsman to lose his life during Operation Iraqi Freedom. SFC Rooney was a husband and father of 3.

The ceremony was attended by Sgt. Rooney’s widow, Diane and other immediate family members as well as numerous members of the House and Senate. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our military men and women who serve this country, even more to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I’m so pleased that Sergeant Rooney will forever be remembered with this bridge named in his honor and memory,” said Rep. Gifford during the ceremony. ”Details of the sign placement ceremony at the bridge will be made public when available.

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April 25, 2006

HOUSE LEADERSHIP GUTS EFFORT TO HELP CITIES AND TOWNS

BOSTON— A Republican effort to excuse cities and towns from having to pay the 21-cent state gas tax was squashed by House leadership today, delaying much-needed financial relief for local communities.

The proposal, filed as a budget amendment by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr., could have saved cities and towns close to $10 million a year. The plan was co-sponsored by State Representative Susan Williams Gifford.

“It is extremely disappointing that a majority of my colleagues in the House chose to snub cities and towns by denying them this relatively small financial break,” said Jones, R-North Reading. “I sincerely hope that this begrudging attitude toward our communities is not an indicator of how the rest of the budget debate will play out. I know my Republican colleagues and I will continue to fight for cities and towns every step of the way.”

Rep. Gifford (R-Wareham) also expressed her disappointment. “I just don’t understand the unwillingness to do this one simple thing that would help our ailing cities and towns. I have not heard one good reason not to do this,” said Rep. Gifford. House Republicans originally filed a bill seeking the municipal gas tax relief last fall when gasoline prices spiked after the hurricanes. In March, that bill was sent to a “study” which usually signals its demise. “Everyone screams for more local aid but when we have a chance to provide some immediate help, we get stopped in our tracks,” Rep. Gifford said.

Jones’ proposal would have exempted cities and towns from paying the state gas tax when filling the tanks of municipal vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances and police cruisers. The plan was backed by the Massachusetts Association for Pupil Transportation.

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Feb 21, 2006

Representative Gifford Announces North Carver Feasibility Study Grant

BOSTON – Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R – Wareham) announced today that the town of Carver has been awarded $50,000 from the FY 2005 Economic Development Fund (EDF) of the Massachusetts Community Development Block Grant Program. The purpose of this grant is to fund a pre-development planning analysis to study the developmental feasibility of a 128-acre site located in North Carver known as the Whitfield property.

The study will analyze and recommend the most advantageous redevelopment strategy for the site, holding in account the town’s broader vision and planning efforts for the North Carver area. Implementation of the plan will guide economic development in balance with smart growth and sustainable development principles.

“This is a terrific step forward for the town given the economic opportunities in North Carver enhanced by the Route 44 project,” Rep. Gifford said. “I join with town officials in looking forward to the study results.”

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Nov 4, 2005

REP . GIFFORD WELCOMES OIL SPILL CLEANUP EQUIPMENT

NEW BEDFORD – State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) joined state and local officials Friday as the Town of Wareham became the proud new owner of an oil spill emergency response equipment trailer. The ceremony at Fort Taber Park was attended by Governor Romney, Environmental Affairs Secretary Stephen Pritchard, DEP Commissioner Robert Golledge, Onset Fire District Chief Howard Anderson and Wareham Municipal Maintenance Director, Mark Gifford.

The trailers, 10 in all at a cost of $30,000 each, include 1,000 feet of oil containment booms, anchors, oil-absorbent materials and other supplies for fighting spills. “These trailers were paid for by the 2 cent per barrel levy on transiting oil that was included in the Oil Spill Act of 2003,” said Rep. Gifford. “As a member of the Buzzards Bay Oil Spill Commission that drafted this legislation, I am please to see that our hard work is now paying off, literally.”

The legislation was prompted by the April 2003 Bouchard oil barge accident that deposited 98,000 gallons of No. 6 heavy oil into Buzzards Bay . The spill cost $40 million to clean up, closed 178,000 acres of shellfish beds and killed hundreds of birds. “Unfortunately, the fight is not over as the federal government has filed a law suit against our legislation,” Rep. Gifford said. “They say it is too strict and interferes with interstate commerce by allowing only double-hulled barges in our waters, along with pilots familiar with our waterways and tugboats. I say we had to do everything possible to see to it that this type of disaster doesn’t happen again, and if it does, the responsible part will pay dearly,” she said.

Trailers were awarded to towns across the South Coast and upper Cape . Fire chief from these communities were on hand for the event. Pictured with Rep. Gifford from left to right: Secretary Stephen Pritchard, Chief Howard Anderson, Director Mark Gifford and Commissioner Robert Golledge.

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July 12, 2005  

MASSACHUSETTS MARINE TRADES ASSOCIATION RECOGNIZES REPRESENTATIVE SUSAN WILLIAMS GIFFORD FOR ACTIVE SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION ADDRESSING LAND ABANDONED VESSELS  

On MONDAY, July 11, 2005 at 1PM in Room A1 at the State House in Boston the Legislature's Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture held a PUBLIC HEARING on House Bill 1399, An Act Relative to Abandoned Vessels . The Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA) has worked closely with Representative Gifford of Wareham and each member of the Legislative Boating Caucus to advance HB1399. Passage of this legislation would make it possible for boatyard and marina owners and operators to affordably and expeditiously dispose of or sell derelict and abandoned vessels on their property.

HB1399 would amend existing laws to allow marinas and boatyards, with reasonable judicial process, to obtain title to certain vessels abandoned on private property that have remain unclaimed, represent a potential environmental liability, and for which efforts to seek remedy from the owner have been unproductive. The legislation would streamline the process for lien holders to legally dispose of or sell abandoned vessels and those vessels on which payment for storage and services rendered are delinquent.

“This legislation is critical to the safe operation and environmental soundness of marinas and boatyards throughout Massachusetts . Abandoned vessels on private land are an anchor fastened to the ankles of the countless small marine business owners forced to accommodate them. These vessels pose safety and environmental concerns as well as taking up precious waterfront space that could be made accessible to other responsible boat owners. With affordable boat storage facilities fast disappearing, we simply cannot afford the space to warehouse these derelict boats. The bottom line is this is an issue of fairness. Just as private homeowners need not accept neighbor’s abandoned cars on their front lawn, the law should not be on the side of individuals who irresponsibly abandon vessels without regard for the consequences to the marinas and boatyards that are left as reluctant custodians,” stated Representative Gifford.


Among other things, if passed HB1399 would permit filing legal proceedings in district court in addition to the existing superior court jurisdiction. The bill also contains a provision that when a land-abandoned vessel is sold for more than the past due storage and repair fees, the "excess" money would go into a Commonwealth fund for removing water-abandoned vessels.

MMTA asks that marina and boatyard owners and personnel help move HB1399 favorably out of Committee by sharing personal experiences with abandoned vessels by contacting area legislators.

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July 5, 2005

GIFFORD ANNOUNCES OVER $500 K IN WAREHAM COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS

Boston - State Representative Susan Gifford announced today that Wareham will receive $508,000 in federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to fund numerous projects which will improve businesses, support housing rehabilitation and upgrade public facilities, social services and local infrastructure.

"These grants play an important role in helping us to continue implementing ‘Smart Growth’ strategies in Massachusetts," said Rep. Gifford. "Whether these funds are used to refurbish old homes and commercial buildings, or upgrade our streets and sidewalks, or improve the delivery of public services, they will help to improve our overall quality of life in the Commonwealth."

Community Development Block Grants are issued by the federal government and are distributed to communities with populations of less than 50,000 by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. The primary objective of CDBG awards is to develop viable communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low- and moderate-income. Eligible communities with populations greater than 50,000 receive CDBG funds directly from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“These grants can be used in many different ways to meet community needs as well as those of the Commonwealth,” said DHCD Director Jane Wallis Gumble. “This is especially true with the Romney Administration’s emphasis on smart growth development by investing our resources in and around city and town centers, or near public transportation, or in areas that have been previously developed for commercial, industrial or institutional uses.”

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June 7, 2005

Rep. Gifford, Sheriff McDonald help Onset Crime Watch with special delivery

Boston - State Representative Susan Williams Gifford (R-Wareham) and representatives from Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald, Jr. gave the Onset Community Crime Watch a gift that was on their “wish list” last Tuesday. That gift was the keys to a van donated by the Sheriff’s Department. The van will serve as the second vehicle in the Crime Watch Fleet.

Rep. Gifford stated that she had been approached by Mr. Coleman, Chairman and Area Leader of the group, who advised that they had received some sort of commitment from the previous Sheriff to attempt to secure a “surplus” vehicle for use by the Onset Community Crime Watch. However, when Sheriff McDonald was elected, it was a new ball game. “George asked for my help so I called Sheriff McDonald. We discussed the situation and the need for the vehicle. The Sheriff expressed his desire to try to make this happen and it did,” Rep. Gifford said.

Mr. Coleman was delighted. “On behalf of all Crime Watch members and I am sure the citizens of Wareham we owe a debt of gratitude to Susan Williams Gifford for her full support of the Crime Watch Program and helping us to procure a donated vehicle from the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Joe McDonald,” said Coleman.

“I couldn’t be more pleased about the outcome today, “ said Rep. Gifford. “George and the Crime Watch team worked very hard to get the organization rolling and Sheriff McDonald has proven that he is a man of great character. After all, we really don't know what commitment, if any, was made by the previous Sheriff.”

The Crime Watch van along with others were made available as “surplus” as a result of a transportation restructuring plan to cut costs. The van was re-habed painted and lettered as requested by the Crime Watch at no cost to them as a courtesy of the Sheriff’s Department. Attending the event on behalf of Sheriff McDonald was Special Sheriff Christopher Coppage who added, “Sheriff McDonald wanted very much to be here personally today. Unfortunately, due to an illness, he was unable to do so.”

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