Twenty Canterbury residents exchanged perspectives with their three State Representatives at the town’s Meeting House Saturday morning. Long-time Representative Priscilla Lockwood, and first-termers Howard Moffett and Lorrie Carey fielded questions on topics including unsatisfactory road conditions, tar sands, burdens on municipal government, building codes, GMOs, and the influence of corporations on elections and policy-making.
Responding to a question for Doris Hampton, who organized the session, Rep. Moffett gave a passionate call for the state to expand Medicaid. “The House is going to support Medicaid expansion as often as it’s given the opportunity to do so,” he said, but explained that the resistance is coming from Republican Senators.
“It’s partisan,” agreed Rep. Lockwood, who made sure to say she was one of six Republican Representatives who voted for it.
“What i have seen coming out of Republican Senators just doesn’t hold water,” Rep. Moffett said. Medicaid expansion would bring two and half billion dollars – money we’ve already paid in federal taxes – back to the state “to create jobs and provide health insurance,” he observed.
“It feels like a war on the poor,” Rep. Moffett said. No one in the room seemed to disagree. Rep. Carey threw in an anecdote about a landscaper badly injured on a job across the street from Concord Hospital who was afraid to seek medical attention for fear of getting a bill he’d be unable to pay.
“We can’t let any member of our population think they need to bleed to death because can’t afford care,” she said.
Rep. Moffett hopes pressure can be exerted on Republican Senators – only two are needed to join the unified Democrats and create a majority – in order for the Medicaid proposal to pass.
Rep. Carey is a member of the State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee, which tends to get responsibility for non-binding resolutions that if adopted express the sense of the legislators on a wide range of topics. Last year the House adopted a resolution calling for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision and declare that constitutional rights are intended for natural persons, not corporations. The Senate refused to take it up, but the issue has re-surfaced this year, with two resolutions in Rep. Carey’s committee calling for a Constitutional Convention to be convened on this matter.
“Is there a lot of money being pumped in by the corporations?” she asked. “The answer is yes,” she responded to her own question.
Despite what the Representatives indicated was strong support for something to be done, none of them felt that passing resolutions makes any difference. “Resolutions in the end are meaningless,” Rep. Carey said.
The presence of two town Selectmen guaranteed that state-municipal relations was on the agenda. The Selectmen, Tyson Miller and Bob Steenson, worry the legislature could adopt bills intended to increase transparency but which would have the effect of impairing the ability of volunteer town officers to manage local affairs. They also were eager for funds for road improvement. The three State Representatives were supportive of proposals to raise taxes on gasoline, with Rep. Carey pointing out that it hasn’t been hiked since 1991.
The Representatives said they read all their email, but that messages which appear to be form letters crafted by advocacy groups tend to be ignored. So write your legislators, use your own words, and make sure you let them know you’re a constituent.
Rep. Lockwood, a legislative veteran who has also served on the Select Board, said she plans to step down after the current term.
This story was cross posted with permission from InZane Times.