And, Just What Did You Do?

Sometimes, frankly, I'm not sure exactly what we did manage to accomplish in the House of Representatives in the past six months. And, I doubt that anyone else could add it all up at the end of the year.

But, mid-way through this 1997 legislative session, it seems that we did quite a few things that benefit Westfield and the surrounding area.

For example, we enacted the Courthouse Construction Bond, which provides authorization and funding for the Western Hampden District Court, in Westfield. This was the project which seem doomed when the Hampden County Commissioners failed to take any action that would turn our dreams into reality.

But, then, we abolished the Hampden County Commissioners, effective July 1998.

And, we passed the Transportation Bond Bill, which will pay the state's share of the Great River Bridge in Westfield. I used to joke that this would be the Cele Hahn/Mike Knapik/Steve Pierce Memorial Bridge, finished long after your current and preceding two State Representatives were long gone. But, it looks like it will happen in all of our lifetimes. And my predecessors were much younger than I!

We killed the casino proposal, that would have brought gambling to Holyoke, just over the mountain. I'm not saying this was right or wrong. I'm just listing some of the items on the State House agenda half way through the year.

We added a dozen new charter schools, and 13 new Horace Mann schools, to the 25 charter schools already in existence. Most members of the teachers unions hate the idea. But the majority of parents outside of the education system support them.

The 1998 fiscal budget totaled a whopping $18-billion total. But, if you go line item by line item, several, in fact more than several, items benefit Westfield. From additional funding for our public schools and Westfield State College, to money for the homeless shelter and the families who lost water service when Holyoke shut down their pipeline.

We saved Noble Hospital at least three quarters of a million dollars, by changing the uncompensated care pool--a fund that Noble Hospital put millions of dollars into, but got nothing in return. I could explain this in great detail. But I'll spare you.

Regionally, the House funded a new convention center and expansion of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. And, don't forget the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, and new money for the Massachusetts Building on the Big E grounds.

Some of these items still have to go through the Senate, or be approved by the Governor. Remember, I'm just outlining some of the things the House actually accomplished.

We also managed to name the chocolate chip cookie the official cookie of the Commonwealth. We named a historian, who gave one really great presentation on the state's charter, and one less than mediocre presentation on something else. Frankly, I don't recall what it was.

But, as I said in the beginning, a few inches ago, sometimes it is difficult to remember all we did do. And, the year is only half over.

All materials copyright 1997 - 2014