Cooper Town Hall Meeting in Elk Grove Covers Single Payer Healthcare, Bevy of Issues

California Assemblymember Jim Cooper. |  July 19, 2017 |   Before a standing-room-only audience, California Assemblymember Jim Coop...

California Assemblymember Jim Cooper. | 
July 19, 2017 |  

Before a standing-room-only audience, California Assemblymember Jim Cooper held a town hall meeting last night that covered topics ranging from the recently enacted gasoline sales tax hike to single payer healthcare.

A second term Democrat who previously served on the Elk Grove City Council for 14 years, Cooper held the hour long session for his Ninth Assembly District constituents in the council chambers at Elk Grove City Hall. 

Cooper started the meeting by providing a briefing on recent legislative acts including the cap and trade bill that passed on Monday. Additionally, he provided a recap of legislation he has co-sponsored and their current status. 

As part of the meeting, Cooper also read through written questions submitted that covered a range of issues from single payer health care legislation to the proposed casino in Elk Grove. Although he answered a range of questions, healthcare and associated issues consumed over half of the evening's session.

The first question Cooper responded to was his position on California Senate Bill 562, single payer healthcare. SB 562 which was passed by the California State Senate but killed by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon when the legislation moved to that governing body.

In his response to his position on a single payer healthcare system in California, Cooper offered qualified support.

"I support single payer health care," he stated.

In his explanation of his position, Cooper said he would support a single payer, but opined the State Senate did a "horrible job" on SB562, that it was not "fully cooked" and it lacked a coherent financing mechanism.  Similar criticism has been leveled by several members of the Democratic Assembly caucus and interests group as well.

"We have to find a funding mechanism," he said. "How do we pay for it."

Cooper's explanation of the fiscal challenges of the single payer healthcare system rolled into a discussion of the recently enacted gasoline sales tax increase, Senate Bill 1, which will fund roads and transportation infrastructure in the state, he acknowledged the issue has been unaddressed for several years. Aside from the financial costs to constituents, it will have political ramifications for Democrats in the Assembly and Senate.

"I personally feel we are going to lose the super majority," Cooper said.  

He went on to say SB 1, combined with the cap and trade legislation, will have adverse effects on people, particularly in Southern California, who have no choice but to drive long distances to work. 

"You got to go to work every day, you've got to gas in your car," he said.

Reflecting on these and other items such as voter approved Proposition 47, which reclassified seven felony crimes to misdemeanors, Cooper noted there are often pitfalls and unintended consequences of initiative and legislative actions. As a result, Cooper conveyed the idea that legislation should be done thoughtfully to consider all outcomes.

"There are lots of unintended consequences of what we do," Cooper noted.

Addressing the question of whether or not Elk Grove voters should have a voice in the proposed casino in Elk Grove, Cooper acknowledged it was controversial did not address the query directly. He noted it would be economically beneficial to the community. 

"The one thing about the casino, it will bring jobs," he said. "There's a lot of good things about having a casino."

Cooper also had inquiries from several audience participants expressing concern about Senate Bill 349, which would address kidney dialysis staffing ratios. Cooper said he was not familiar with the legislation, but noted his mother is on dialysis and would examine the issue. 

Other topics covered including fracking, air quality, urban sprawl, housing and bail reform. 

In his closing comments Cooper said although the legislative process can be frustrating at times, he believes representatives and their staff members have the interests of constituents at heart. He also noted with longer term limits, more can be done moving forward and thanked the audience noting "it is an honor to serve you."

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Amber Enderton said...

When I questioned him about single payer, Cooper's staff yelled at me over the phone. When I questioned him about it on Twitter, he blocked me. He penned a statement criticizing protest of Rendon as bullying. Now he uses the same nonsense arguments as Rendon about why the senate version of single payer is bad. Jim Cooper's "support" for single payer is hot air.

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