The time for talk on expanding fast, affordable, reliable internet in rural Virginia is done. It’s time to move forward with real solutions and implementation. The internet is the third most important piece of man-made infrastructure that has ever existed after roads and electricity. Lack of internet access impacts rural home sales, students in rural schools and small businesses. Verizon and Comcast aren’t interested in connecting rural communities because they see no profit. Local internet service providers working with county governments need more than the additional $15 million in state funding to bring underserved areas online. As adults, we need internet for ourselves. Our kids need us to do this for them, and our grandkids will need this to have already been done.
Health care is a right, not a luxury. We shouldn’t have to choose between bankruptcy or death if we’re faced with a serious illness. My husband was “retired” in April 2017. Our only choice for health insurance was the Affordable Care Act. If we didn’t qualify for subsidies, we couldn’t afford it. That’s why we need a public option to buy into Medicaid. Monthly health insurance premiums shouldn’t cost the same or more than a mortgage payment, and we shouldn’t by paying co-pays and deductibles on top of it.
Public servants like teachers and other educators should be paid like the highly qualified professionals they are. They are not public slaves. They should also have the resources and training they need to do their jobs without digging into their own pockets. Which teachers do you want teaching your kids, the best ones or the worst? The best will cost more.
All children should receive the best public education possible. That includes children who are physically, emotionally and learning disabled. The General Assembly should restore education funding to pre-2008 levels, adjusted for inflation. We should fully fund Universal Pre-K and full day kindergarten. I strongly oppose using public money for private schools. In rural areas, this takes away precious resources from already limited budgets and the best teachers. Plus, having a voucher doesn’t guarantee admission to a private school…which means the children that are left behind will get a second-class education or none at all. Competition does not make better schools.
The Republican answer to grow the economy is always cut taxes and regulations. All this does is make rich people richer. I want to help people in Senate District 24 by investing in them…with job training and placement programs, career and technical education, making community college free to those who make grades of C or above and public universities less expensive. Companies bring jobs to areas with well trained workers.
The minimum wage should be raised incrementally to $15 per hour by 2021 for large corporations and employers with more than 50 employees by 2023. Working people can’t survive on $7.25 per hour. Women should be paid the same amount as men doing the same job. Men are not necessarily the primary breadwinners anymore.
Equal Rights Amendment
Once again, the Republicans in the House of Delegates put their rigid ideology ahead of the will of 81 percent of Virginians by denying an up or down floor vote on the ERA. We need the ERA because gender based discrimination is becoming harder to prove in court. We need a constitutional firewall to prevent the rollback of women’s rights by conservatives. We need the same “strict scrutiny” in the courts just like racial, national origin or religious discrimination.
Voting and Fair Districts
Voting should be easy, not hard. Virginia should remove requirements for absentee voting and should allow the use of mailed ballots for anyone who wants or needs it. No one who is eligible to vote should be prevented in any way, even if they do not want to present at a polling station.
Voters should choose their representatives, not representatives choosing their voters through gerrymandering. I support One Virginia 2021’s intentions, but at the same time, I believe it isn’t going far enough. They propose a constitutional amendment that requires a non-partisan commission which is the right approach. Additional legislation that goes with it should specify exactly what that commission’s job is, lest the commission get bogged down in arguments.
Our land, water and air belong to all of us and must be protected for future generations. I don’t believe in taking people’s land away and destroying it just so foreign investors and fossil fuel energy companies can reap billions in profits. Virginia should be moving away from unnecessary fracked gas pipelines and toward solar, wind and other clean energy sources.
I agree with the Virginia Conservation Network’s recommendations to support solar through incentives, such as tax credits, rebates or low interest loans and remove barriers that limit customers’ access to distributed solar.
Unless one is Native American, we are all immigrants and descendants of immigrants. Our Commonwealth should be open and welcoming to all. These hard working families deserve safe places to live, work and raise their children without fear of deportation.
Criminal Justice Reform
I believe in Second Amendment rights, but I also believe in gun safety. Virginia should have universal background checks and ban bump stocks, large capacity magazines and assault weapons. Domestic abusers and the mentally ill who are a danger to themselves and the community should not be allowed to own guns. If you have to be 21 years old to buy alcohol or tobacco products, you should be 21 years old to buy any type of firearm.