REPORT Tassoni Fights Against Health Insurer and Utility Rate Increases STATE OF RHODE ISLAND SENATOR JOHN J. TASSONI, JR. 33B Waterview Drive, Smithfield, RI 02917 Home 233-2602 Cell 451-1305 www.jtsenate22.com Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the Rhode Island State Senate. As someone who recently went out and started a business, I personally understand how difficult these times are. While we all face many challenges, it is our inner strength and unique individuality as Rhode Islanders that has inspired many of us to persevere. I know it is easy to point the finger at the members of the General Assembly for our current state of affairs. However, I want you to know what I have fought for you at the State House. Whether it’s fighting against egregious corporate rate hike requests, protecting our students with new legislation on cyberbullying, improving public safety at the North Smithfield Middle School, or working with the DOT to alleviate traffic issues on Route 44, I am committed to the people and businesses of Smithfield and North Smithfield. I am always available to you. Please feel free to call me directly at 233-2602. Sincerely,
John J. Tassoni, Jr.
Senator Tassoni blasted Blue Cross & Blue Shield and United Healthcare for seeking double-digit hikes in premiums for both small and large employer groups, and National Grid, which wants an 11.2 percent hike in electric rates. “Everybody – state government, cities and towns, nearly every family in this state – is cutting and trimming back and trying to get by with less, but these two major health insurers and the primary electric company want and expect more and more and more,” he said. Blue Cross, specifically, has proposed increasing premiums for small employers by 13.9 percent and for large employers by 16.3 percent. United has proposed hikes of 11.6 percent for small employer groups and 13.2 percent for large employers. National Grid is seeking an increase in its distribution rate which would raise about $70 million the company said is needed to attend to its aging infrastructure. “I understand, in the case of the health insurers, that they are trying to prepare for an anticipated hike in the cost of hospital payments and prescription costs,” said Senator Tassoni. “But I find it particularly obscene that, in the case of Blue Cross, the company is seeking to increase its administrative costs by 31 percent and is looking for a hike of 136 percent in profits and cash reserves. Especially in today’s economy, I find it offensive that any company would brazenly admit that it’s trying to raise profits on the backs of working men and women.” Senator Tassoni said he is equally upset about the proposed electricity rate hike for National Grid, which could raise residential consumer bills by about $9 a month. “It never ceases to amaze me with utility rate hikes, that they are always “Especially in today’s economy, I able to find a rationale for needing more find it offensive that any company money,” he said. “This time, it’s all would brazenly admit that it’s about addressing their aging infrastructure. My first question is, has trying to raise profits on the backs the company been lax about doing that of working men and women.” all these years? My second question is, why do the ratepayers get stuck with - Senator Tassoni this bill instead of having the cost come out of company profits?” Senator Tassoni, who was one of the first state senators to contribute a co-pay towards his state health insurance, said he stands firmly with the many business leaders who have raised objections to the health insurance rates hike, and with the hundreds of thousands of residential electricity customers “who just can’t bear another utility hike on top of the many they have had to endure over the last few years.” He has contacted the state’s Health Insurance Commissioner to urge rejection of the health insurance company rate hike requests, and has delivered the same message to the Public Utilities Commission, which will be reviewing the National Grid hike plea. Paid for by The Friends of John J. Tassoni, Jr.
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program continues in Smithfield elementary schools
Sen. Tassoni announced that the TalkWorks anti-bullying program will once again be presented in Smithfield’s elementary schools, with performances this year targeted to grade four role-plays. TalkWorks is an interactive program that uses classroom-based activities, a theater production and student-teaching brainstorming discussions to address the issue of bullying. Donations to support the program come from Bryant University, Pawtucket Credit Union, Freedom Bank, Bradford-Sutcliffe Insurance, Smithfield FOP, Fidelity Investments and the Jay Lawrence Foundation. “This program helps pave the way for students to achieve the brightest and most productive future possible by ensuring a safe environment in which to learn,” said Senator Tassoni, who was the principal sponsor of an anti-bullying bill that is now state law. “The TalkWorks program is an important means for students, teachers and parents to address these issues and learn how to deal with them and resolve them,” he explained. “I am pleased the program is being made available to Smithfield elementary school pupils.” The state law based on Senator Tassoni’s legislation requires schools to adopt a policy that prohibits harassment, intimidation and bullying at school and addresses prevention of and education about such behavior.
Working to Protect Against New Types of Harassment Senator Tassoni introduced legislation addressing electronic bullying and harassment, which was the result of months of hearings by a study commission on cyberbullying that he chaired. The legislation was drafted with assistance from the Office of the Attorney General, the State Police and Family Court. One bill he introduced and helped pass into law expanded the definition of student discipline codes to include electronic communications. “Adding electronic communications to the discipline code language greatly expands the possibility of attacking and stopping this
Army honors Sen. Tassoni's support, commitment Sen. John J. Tassoni Jr., has been presented a U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute Commendation and Certification of Appreciation for his contributions to the Army community. The citation, signed by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., US Army Chief of Staff, and John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army, was presented to Senator Tassoni for “outstanding contribution to the United States Army” and “to recognize personal sacrifices in preserving the freedom and security of our nation.” Senator Tassoni’s name was submitted for the commendation by Sgt. Salim Ghawi. A former Smithfield resident, Sgt. Ghawi wanted to recognize the support Senator Tassoni had given to him and other military personnel and their families. “As an Army supporter,” said the commendation, “you make a difference to our soldiers and to our country.” The commendation included a lapel pin that symbolizes the partnership between the army, its soldiers, their families and communities.
kind of harassment,” said Senator Tassoni. He also introduced a bill that amended existing law regarding cyberstalking to include cyber harassment, and further define harassing conduct to mean any knowing and willful conduct directed at a specific person by computer or other electronic device, or posting on a Web site, or network that causes a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress or fear of bodily injury. “Our state was progressive in adopting legislation dealing with cyberstalking, but times keep changing and our laws must continue to keep up with the times,” said Senator Tassoni. “Cyber harassment may be a relatively new concept, but it is a potentially destructive reality. In all too many cases, harassment online or through other electronic means often spills over into more harassment or actual physical harm to students.”