Affordable High-Quality Healthcare Options
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown that our public health system is not prepared to respond to a crisis of this magnitude and is dramatically underfunded for these times.
To control costs and deliver universal healthcare, we must move to a system where the rates for services and prescription drugs are set fairly, and where patients are encouraged to seek preventative care. No one should be penalized – Seniors must have continued access to Medicare, union members and other employees should keep the benefits that they have negotiated. Here are just a few of the issues that need immediate attention:
Safeguard protections for people with pre-existing conditions – No one should lose healthcare when they change or lose their job, and self-employed should have the same protections. We need a system that is accessible and easy to navigate.
Fund mental health and substance abuse services – Mental health and substance abuse services should be coded as a preventative service and should not require a primary care providers referral. Both services should also be provided as walk in services at all public schools and community colleges and Universities.
Ensure women have access to full reproductive health services – Low or no-cost birth control, quality maternity care, regardless of income, and preventative gynecological and breast health diagnostic services.
Subsidize rural hospitals and clinics to ensure healthcare access in our rural communities – We must encourage quality providers to provide care to the underserved. Mobile health services should be a standard level of care provided for our rural communities, and our vulnerable populations with limited transportation and mobility.
Demand health system financial transparency – We must see where the money is going so we may better control costs. A system that is accessible and easy to navigate.
As a union member and Shop Steward, I know the critical role that organized labor plays in ensuring that workers receive their fair share of economic growth and that they enjoy safe working conditions.
Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings like the Janus decision have undermined workers’ abilities to negotiate with their employers. This undermines unions’ ability to raise funds, and effectively weakens their negotiating power. We need to continue to protect our hard-won rights here in Washington! Here is what we can do:
Worker Safety, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) – During the COVID-19 Crisis we have learned that despite the significant amount of work focusing on worker safety, organizations and corporations were unprepared to protect employees with just the basic level of PPE. Now more than ever we must demand that prevention be the focus of operations to protect our members and our families as we enter the new normal.
Invest in Apprenticeship Programs – We can train locals for jobs that are available in our district. This should include jobs in the Green economy, construction, healthcare, wildfire risk mitigation, and installation of broadband infrastructure to name a few.
Address Anti-Worker Loopholes – The new “gig economy” brings many opportunities as well as a lot of issues that need to be addressed to protect workers.
Reform the Tax Code – It is time to eliminate corporate welfare and achieve a more equitable tax system that also supports small business owners and the self-employed
Support Working Families – Establish universal pre-K, childcare, and eldercare programs, and create a sustainable healthcare system that works for us all.
Support State Employees – Ensure they are paid a prevailing wage reflecting fair market value for their services and stop the privatization of public services and protect the jobs and rights of government workers.
Reform Workers Compensation – Eliminate loopholes so injured workers are paid while they heal so they can return to work safely and healthily.
Protect Wages – We need to address wage “theft” and enforce the laws protecting wages, leave, safety, and anti-discrimination.
Invest in Childcare Programs – Our essential workers cannot go to work for our State if they cannot find safe and affordable childcare. We must begin to require childcare funding as a benefit option for union employees.
Preparing our Communities for the Climate Change Crisis
Climate crisis is here. We can and must find opportunity to develop Green economic opportunities that create sustainable union jobs, protect our homes, and fuel our prosperity. We must begin to adapt and prepare our communities for the rigors of climate impacts to include sea level rise, warming trends, increase in crime rates, impacts to agriculture and bolstering our crumbling infrastructure systems.
Create family-sustaining jobs and foster small business by investing in Green energy projects, sustainable water infrastructure systems, wildfire risk mitigation, along with emergency management preparation and adaptation at the community, county and state level.
Restore forest health by investing in fuel reduction. This could create thousands of local union jobs that provide a living wage.
Invest in solar and wind energy production and construct local energy storage to make our communities more energy-independent and create local jobs. Localizing energy production and storage also reduces the need for energy transmission, which sparks hundreds of fires each year.
Protect the Puget Sound eco-system to save our fish populations, aquatic birds, and sea mammals.
Upgrade our water infrastructure to improve capture, reduce evaporation, and upgrade natural and manmade storage.
The dangers from wildfires are not limited to Eastern Washington and BC. Here in Western Washington, we face an increasingly urgent threat from wildfires that will impact our homes, our economy, our environment, and our recreation. For up to the minute information on Washington State and local fire conditions visit the Washington State Department of Natural Resources https://www.dnr.wa.gov/Wildfires.
The wildfire threat is growing, our forests are severely overgrown, and the effects of climate change has created hazardous fire conditions. We must address this with four key activities:
Reducing the fuel load – Removing flammable undergrowth and dead and dying trees makes catastrophic fires less likely, and our forests more resilient.
Invest in community education and preparedness – Prevention will save lives, slow the spread of wildfires, and minimize destruction. We must enlist everybody in community preparedness — from local residents to fire chiefs to heads of government agencies.
Funding and facilitating fire prevention activities at the federal, state, county, and local levels – Ensure proper egress and ingress for all communities. Many of our residents live in areas with one road in and out and we saw how deadly that can be in Paradise, CA. All communities need properly maintained evacuation routes, which has the salutary effect of creating fire breaks that facilitate firefighting and slow the spread of wildfires.
Develop rural broadband infrastructure and expand cellular service to underserved parts of our district – Communications are essential in emergencies and too many of our residents are at risk because they cannot receive emergency warnings.
It will be my goal to create avenues that will provide a positive, inclusive approach to the academic, social, emotional, and funding needs of our students and staff. As a working parent and union member, who will be serving in office, I know the paramount importance of truly listening actively to those who are doing the work. I intend on providing that voice to legislation that will only fortify and not weaken our school systems going forward.
Investing in our children so that they have every opportunity to succeed as adults benefits all aspects of our society. To secure outstanding outcomes for students, families, teachers, and schools we need the following:
Enable lower class sizes and properly fund support staff to help our students. Giving students individualized attention that they need is crucial.
Vouchers, Tuition tax credits and the like are harmful to our schools. These programs potentially rob our neighborhood public schools of already scarce and vital resources.
Ensure competitive pay and benefits. This is how we create a strong pipeline of talent into our public schools.
Guarantee equity and combat racism in our public schools and colleges. We must create a welcoming and nurturing environment for learning with open minds. All students and staff have a right to safe public schools and campuses where they can learn and work without fear of aggression, harassment, or violence.
Increased funding for Student Health and Safety Now more than ever we need to to ensure appropriate staffing to protect student’s health and safety. Student Wellness Centers could address physical as well as mental health, creating a safer environment for all students.
Increase funding for special education. Special students need special attention and it is vital to ensure that this population can be educated properly without depleting the budgets of our school districts.
Criminal Justice Reform
The United States is the World’s leader in incarceration, with 2.2 million people currently in the nation’s federal and state correctional facilities and county/city jails, a 500% increase over the last forty years. Changes in sentencing law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase.
Washington State’s incarceration rate is 480 per 100,000 residents – These rates remain higher than China, Thailand, Israel, Canada and many other countries across the world.
These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and fiscal burdens on states to accommodate a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not an effective means of achieving public safety.
The corrections revolving door continues to turn without providing an effective or permanent solution to prevent crime and reduce recidivism – It is well past time to examine the limited capabilities of the traditional criminal justice system within our state and begin to introduce pathways to decarceration and the integration of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) known as the Mandela and Bangkok Rules. These standards have proven to create safe environments and reduce recidivism through a framework that centers on human dignity and dynamic safety.
I believe that the pathway to decarceration should include – significant expansion of noncustodial alternatives, a greater spectrum of sentencing alternatives to reduce the percentage of individuals sentenced to imprisonment, expanded spending on education, reentry and employment training programs that significantly reduce recidivism, and realigning the Corrections budget to support these efforts.