The time is now for expanding fast, affordable, reliable internet in rural Virginia. It’s time to move forward with real solutions and implementation. The internet is a vital component of economic infrastructure and development. Lack of internet access impacts rural home sales, students in rural schools, small businesses, and economic growth. Corporate internet service providers are not 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. Worldwide connection is an imperative investment for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
Health care is a right, not a privilege. 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 such as buying into Medicaid. Monthly health insurance premiums shouldn’t cost the same or more than a mortgage payment, and we shouldn’t be paying co-pays and deductibles on top of it.
Our wonderful public educators should be paid like the highly qualified professionals they are. They should also have the resources and training they need to do their jobs without digging into their own pockets. Investing in education ensures we can get the most skilled and highly qualified educators for our children.
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, 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 steal from the poor to give to the rich. I want to invest in the people of of our community with job training and placement programs, career and technical education, as well as affordable higher education. Making community college free to those who make grades of C or above and public universities less expensive is another investment we should make in our children. Companies bring jobs to areas with well trained workers. It’s time for your Senator to work for your success not against it.
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. Economic inequality must be addressed in Virginia.
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 Equal Rights Amendment (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
Our rights should be easy to exercise, not hard. Virginia should remove all 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 be 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 corporations can reap billions in profits. Virginia should be moving away from unnecessary fracked gas pipelines and toward solar, wind and other clean energy sources. Renewable energy brings jobs and economic growth along with it.
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
First, marijuana must be legalized. This ends singling out people of color for arrest. The signing of House Bill 1550 in 2018, which raised the felony larceny threshold to $500, was a good start, but it needs to be raised to $1,500. Courts need to work out payment plans and community service options for those who can’t pay their fines. People can’t pay their debt if they can’t work because their driver’s license has been suspended or they’re sitting for days, weeks or months in jail because they cannot post a cash bond.
Law enforcement protects and serves us, but they can do an even better job by getting out in the community and talking to the people they protect and serve.
I believe in Second Amendment rights, and I 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.