Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s always a good thing when you can discuss with those who represent your patch the issues that you believe are important to your life.
On June 6, Representative William Keating, who represents the 9thDistrict of the Commonwealth covering a large area north from Norwell, south to Nantucket, all of Cape Cod and west through Fall River, reached directly into Mattapoisett homes via the telephone. Outbound “robo-call” connections were made to homes throughout the area, or people could call in using a number his office provided for direct dial-in.
Before taking questions, Keating shared some of the topics he’s been addressing with his fellow Congressmen of late.
On the subject of healthcare, Keating said that in the District healthcare was the No. 1 employer; therefore, any impact on services also impacted healthcare workers. He said he was drafting a bill that would give female veterans better access to medical care, saying that the current V.A. structure was not “ready to help women” in the manner they needed. Keating pointed to mental health services for PTSD, gynecological care, and the use of male prosthetics for wounded female combatants as just a few of the services that needed modification for servicewomen.
Keating also talked about emerging employment opportunities from wind energy with a hopeful tone that in the future thousands of jobs would become available when alternate energy sources opened up for business in this area.
Then Keating fielded a wide range of questions from towns like Halifax, Wareham, Eastham, Fall River, Dartmouth, Marion, and Mattapoisett. Questions touched on the most troubling of problems faced today such as school shootings.
Keating said he was not in favor of arming teachers and school administrators and felt there were better ways to control firearms. He said that citizen groups, including students, inspired him and that a variety of ideas had been floated in Congress. He felt that if some of those ideas reached the floor for debate, controls could be found. He proposed stronger, more in-depth background checks before anyone could purchase firearms, and that military-style arms should not be sold to average citizens.
A caller asked about the newly imposed import tariffs. Keating said that his office has been hearing that the impact of tariffs on building materials from Canada was driving up construction cost by as much as 30 percent. He worried about retaliatory export tariffs on agricultural products and, for this area, primarily cranberries. He said in his estimation, tariffs should only be used against “countries threatening our national security.”
On financing infrastructure improvements, Keating said that in conversations with trucking companies and truckers, he found them to be in favor of paying more to fix our infrastructure, a point that Keating said surprised him. But he said that with nearly 60 percent of roads and bridges needing repair in the Commonwealth, clearly something had to be done. Keating was not in favor of increasing toll fees.
Other questions Keating heard from residents in his district included Social Security and Medicare reforms, how to decrease the national debt, election financing reforms, drug addiction problems in the military, plastics polluting the oceans, children of refugees being separated from parents, and the problem with exploding medication costs.
Keating said that in the current political climate it was difficult to get bills to the house floor for debate, but he encouraged people to contact his office at 800-780-2626 with questions or concerns, and they could also visit www.keating.house.gov or visit his Facebook page to continue the conversations on those topics most critical to people in District 9.
By Marilou Newell