State Rep. Ed Copppinger, D-West Roxbury, fielded questions from Patch about the Legislature's July 31 end of session deadline, what has had his focus on Beacon Hill and in West Roxbury.
Patch: Leading up to the July 31 Legislature end of session deadline, what legislation would you say has been your main point of focus?
Coppinger: We are working on a number of bills before the July 31 deadline, including a jobs bill, health care cost control legislation, a bill to change how we sentence habitual offenders and legislation to make Massachusetts’ energy use greener, cheaper and more reliable.
For West Roxbury-centric issues, I am working very closely with Senator (Mike) Rush on trying to pass legislation to grant the Irish Social Club a liquor license. Their previous license was wrongly given back to the City of Boston – this new license would be specific to the Irish Social Club and they would not be able to profit from selling it to anyone. Since it was shut down and reopened under new leadership, the Irish Social Club has been more active than ever in our community and this liquor license would help cut costs and help put the Club on even firmer financial footing.
Patch: A lot is written about how the Legislature pulls an all-nighter before the end of the session, but you've been pulling a lot of long nights. Tell us why that is, and what has kept you at the State House late at night?
Coppinger: We are working on a very tight deadline and sometimes debates on the floor go much longer than we anticipate. Democrats and Republicans will be debating bills on the floor as late as necessary to ensure both sides have a chance to persuade each other. Also, oftentimes we are working on a bill at the same time as the (state) Senate, so we have to wait until the Senate finishes debating or vice-versa. There are times, when the same piece of legislation is to and from each branch several times – so it drags the evenings until very late at night.
Patch: What is the bill you would say drew the largest statewide interest and why?
Coppinger: It is sometimes hard to tell which legislation garners the most interest from Cape Cod to the Berkshires, but the gaming bill has definitely been one of the most talked about.
Patch: What will be your focus after the July 31st end of session deadline?
Coppinger: After July 31, I will be looking back on what we accomplished in my first term in the House – two balanced budgets, no new fees or taxes, legislation to control the spiraling cost of health care – and look forward to a new term in the House of Representatives.
Most importantly, however, I will still be hard at work providing crucial constituent services for residents in West Roxbury, Roslindale and Brookline. My phone is constantly ringing with people looking for help finding jobs, navigating state bureaucracies and offering their ideas on how to best improve the state. From working with the City to fill potholes to repairing state roads, like Bellevue Hill Road, I will be very busy and I am eager to continuing to help people any way I can.
Patch: In your opinion, what legislation have you focused on that would help West Roxbury residents the most?
Coppinger: The economy and the cost of health care have been the issues I hear from my constituents about most. By the end of session on Tuesday, we should have passed both an economic development bill and legislation to control health care costs. The economic development bill will help kick-start investment in the Massachusetts economy as we work to ensure that our economy continues to recover from the recession. The health care cost control bill is important not only because it will save money for employers, especially small business owners, so they can invest in growing their companies, but also because it will help individuals and families afford their important medical coverage.
My family and I had to recently change our whole health care coverage because the costs became just too burdensome. When you have four daughters like me, you want to be sure you’re covered for anything that might happen. The health care cost control bill we are working on should slow the rise of health care costs and prevent families like mine from having to be worried about whether their children have the best insurance available to them.
Like I said, I am also working on the liquor license for the Irish Social Club. The Club has held a number of community wide fundraisers to benefit West Roxbury Main Streets and other charitable organizations. Right now, it must get one day licenses for its events. This is very expensive and time consuming; a permanent license will help it continue to play such a vital role in uniting the Parkway community.