CHARLESTOWN -- Despite the snowy weekend, a good sampling of District 36 voters came to Representative Donna Walsh's community meeting on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 at the Charlestown Police Station Community room.
This informal meeting started with Rep. Walsh describing two bills she has introduced - one to provide small businesses with tax relief and the other to make sure that companies receiving state tax breaks actually deliver on their promises of jobs creation.
Rep. Walsh also talked about bills she has in the works - a bill to give Rhode Island companies an edge in bidding on state contracts, another to create a state False Claims Act to recover money defrauded by state contractors and a third bill she has re-introduced to mandate merit selection for state magistrates.
Charlestown small business owner Frank Glista expressed his appreciation for Rep. Walsh's effort to reduce the tax burden on small businesses. Well-known South Kingstown Republican activist Martha Stamp also praised Rep. Walsh's efforts to reduce taxes and boost job growth.
For nearly two hours, the group discussed ideas for addressing both local and state problems. Some issues, such as the long-delayed and much needed repairs to Route 1A might finally get done under a new governor. Ms. Stamp noted recent news reports that Rhode Island is due more than $100 million in lost federal "earmarks" for roads and infrastructure construction, according to a report published by USA Today last week. There was consensus across party lines on the need to get the economy going, and that infrastructure improvements also mean safer roads and more attractive communities.
Although there was support for Rep. Walsh's efforts to protect the environment, boost education and improve government ethics, the strongest message from the group was that jobs are the top priority.
This community meeting is the first Rep. Walsh has held in the new legislative term. She plans to host others periodically around the 36th District to meet voters and hear their concerns.