School Safety is on everyone's mind, following the violent terrorist attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, in Parkland, FL.
As the mother of a 12 year old child, I worry every single day about gun based violence in schools. I believe in the right to bear arms, and I am a 2nd amendment supporter, however, I also believe that the phrase "well regulated militia" was included for a reason. I think fixing school safety issues will take many layers.
We need to address access to guns of all sorts, through education and holding parents accountable for their children's actions - I believe the best way to do this is to require adults to carry liability insurance on their weapons, the same as we do with our cars. If your child takes your gun because you failed to appropriately secure it, you are liable financially and criminally, and insurance companies are far better at holding people accountable than the criminal justice system ever has been.
I believe that reasonable controls on magazine sizes are necessary - if you are carrying a weapon for self defense, and you need 30-60 rounds, you are doing something wrong. A reasonable limit on magazine sizes would be a start towards limiting the damage criminals could do with weapons.
Mandatory gun safety classes taught at the Junior High level would dramatically improve accidental shootings, and help students learn simple skills like ensuring a safety is on, unloading a found weapon or otherwise protecting themselves from unfamiliar hardware.
Increased funding for school counseling, mental health services for the uninsured and including mental health services as a default in all insurance programs is an excellent path forward to dealing with some of the mental health issues we see centered around school shootings.
I do not believe that arming teachers is the way forward - I haven't met many teachers that are interested, and my year as a teacher's assistant in the classroom taught me that teachers are BUSY! I can't imagine them having the time and attention necessary to conceal carry, or secure a weapon, much less train regularly the way our police and military do. I firmly believe that community policing is the way to go, with police officers in schools, building relationships with kids, getting to know the ones that are struggling.
In an ideal world, every one of these officers would also be combat veterans, with the knowledge and ability to properly face armed shooters with assurance. I would also advocate for these officers to receive special training from school counselors, social workers and therapists, to be able to connect with kids and identify problems early. Adding to the burden of teachers seems like a failing proposition, we should allocate the necessary resources to school security from trained professionals.
Veteran Benefits are incredibly important to me. As the daughter, granddaughter, and cousin of veterans, their well being is always on my mind. After the last year and a half training service dogs for Veterans suffering from PTSD, I've become aware of how the system can fail and leave veterans in need.
I believe in not only funding veteran benefits, but providing oversight and accountability. It is unacceptable that our veterans get shuffled from provider to provider, or made to wait months or years for care they need. This isn't a money problem, the money is available, but the system is not in place to make sure it goes where it's needed, and veterans don't fall through the cracks.
With 22 veterans a day committing suicide, I can't think of any issue I feel more passionately about. We must support and provide for the medical and mental health needs of our returned heroes.
Education is the cornerstone of society. If we don't educate our children, we lose our competitive edge with the world, we lose our civility in society, and we lose our very ability to govern ourselves in the future. Given this weight, how can we sit back, year after year, and see our state come in dead last in spending per student, and accept that deficit? Are we willing to continue to be - not just mediocre, but poor? In our biggest investment, our future? I am not. I intend to pour our biggest investment into education. I think that investing double in education, and cutting spending in other areas is only the beginning. Raising teacher salaries to keep the best teachers, and attract talent to our state is another important investment.
Money isn't the only way to improve our kids educational experience. Every problem I've ever encountered in the public school system has been explained away with "It's district policy" or "that's how we've always done it." When the principal has been approached, they give me the same lack of empowerment. If we want our children to succeed, we need to empower our teachers, our principals and our school counselors to make decisions, and be supported in creative, unique, student specific solutions. That means taking the power back from the district policies, and giving it back to the classrooms where the teachers and principals can observe what's actually happening, and the parents can volunteer and give input. The district exists to provide resources, general guidance and ensure all students get the same opportunities. They don't exist to reduce choice to nothing. Let's work together to fix the top down approach to teaching, and turn the school experience around to be student focused, and teacher empowered, the way it should be.
Air quality has become one of the most pervasive issues in the Salt Lake Valley in the last decade. What used to be just a winter problem has turned into a year long inversion that has driven off our friends and neighbors. I've seen it cause chronic illness, recurring immune deficiencies, sensitives to contaminants and even life threatening asthma. Last winter, a friend's daughter, in her thirties, lost her life to chronic asthma during one of the worst of our inversions. Enough is enough. We cannot allow this to continue any further.
The solution to this dilemma is not a partisan issue, and has so many pieces we can work on together that there is hope. As citizens, we can make more conscientious choices about public transportation, the vehicles we buy, the days and times we drive and the ways we share rides. We can take advantage of all the solar tax incentives available to us. Businesses can be offered incentives to implement better air filtration solutions, to use cleaner chemicals and to be more conscientious about their future implementations.
For those less willing to work voluntarily towards a solution that helps everyone, we can impose higher tax burdens on the most egregious polluters, which can be used to fund medical research and better school air filtration solutions so our students can be educated in peace. We can encourage development of dirty industry outside of our valley, or offer tax incentives to those businesses willing to give up environmentally damaging businesses in favor of cleaner implementations. We can mandate that all new homes be built with solar panels, and all new businesses get a certain percentage of their energy from clean solutions. None of these are terribly expensive or burdensome solutions, but they will have a profound impact on our future generations. Aren't our children worth it?
Healthcare has inexplicably become one of the most contentious issues in our country, and yet when I talk to voters, I find plenty of general consensus. Nobody wants to pay the dramatic increases in insurance costs. Everybody believes that healthcare is a basic necessity for everyone. Everyone agrees that forcing the poorest of us to go to the emergency room for crisis care is the worst possible option. At the state level, I will continue to fight for full Medicaid expansion to protect our poorest. However, that doesn't solve the increasing prices we're all paying for insurance.
Our country already has an excellent, well organized, government run program that serves 44 million people effectively. It's popular, and well understood. It offers choice of multiple plans from different companies, and significant competitive control in the market, as the US government is a powerful consumer and wields significant market force. It's Medicare, and if we made it available to all Americans, we could significantly reduce your healthcare costs from the very first year. Medicare for All is the ethical answer to provide every American with cost effective, affordable healthcare at a price that our nation can afford.
Here's the plan.
Medicare for all
And here's the bill.