Policy is the heart, the core, the why, the vision, the work, the platform, the questions, the reason, the substance, the opportunity, the future. We have spent hundreds of hours in conversation, research, working groups, shared documents, and email threads to develop policies that support the key pillars of our campaign: environmental and public health, learning and the future of work, human rights, and tech innovation. We outline focal areas, additional key policies, and Vote Smart rapid fire positions below – and will be adding more as the campaign progresses and as Erin shares with voters throughout the district on the campaign trail.
Solving the climate crisis is a moral imperative; no challenge poses a greater threat to our collective future. Clean water/air and a livable earth are not a choice or politicized issue. We must enact policies to prevent or mitigate further environmental degradation, while strategically planning for climate-related disasters. We must incentivize and employ new technologies in attempt to reverse damage, particularly related to emissions and the sequestration of greenhouse gases. Public and institutional education on reduction techniques and adaptation frameworks are key in this equation, particularly for the most vulnerable populations. Through this process, we can create jobs, ensure food security and decrease conflicts over scarce resources and land, reduce the prevalence and severity of natural disasters, and preserve natural beauty. We can be a leader on climate action and ensure not only a tolerable world, but a thriving one.
"Land management is the second largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions on planet earth. Agriculture is ONE sector that has the ability to transform from a net emitter of CO2 to a net sequesterer of CO2 - there is no other human managed realm with this potential." - Carbon Cycle Institute
In a world of excess carbon, a solution to the climate crisis will not only require lower greenhouse gas emissions, but also a strategy for sequestering the emissions already released into the atmosphere. The largest and most cost effective carbon sink is healthy soil, rich with organic matter. An added benefit of soil carbon sequestration is the removal of excess carbon from oceans, which causes acidification that lowers global oxygen supply due to reduced plankton populations.
- Create a low-cost financing vehicle for farmers to adopt broad regenerative agriculture techniques that sequester carbon, reverse detrimental environmental trends, allow for drought-proof ground, and reduce ocean toxicity/acidification.
- Adopt an aggressive stance that increases soil carbon by 0.4% each year, similar to the French Ministry of Agriculture’s Initiative.
- Expand existing grant and loan programs to incentivize plant cover - i.e. more intermediate crops, no till methods, agroforestry, optimal pastoral management, pasture management, and land restoration in arid regions.
- Adjust farm subsidies to include a requirement for farmers to plant cover crops.
Health is wealth – in relation to both physical and mental wellbeing. Preventative health is critical - we must focus on prevention and root causes rather than subsequent treatment of disease, which is often more costly, dangerous, and burdensome. A population flourishes when free from hazardous chemicals or a contaminated food or consumer product supply; when aware of the benefits of activity, balanced diet, and proactivity; when able to access quality healthcare services, early screening, and proper medicines. We will work to ensure that medical professionals consider behavior and lifestyle choices, exposure, and genetics to protect and promote health. Public awareness campaigns must address the leading causes of death to prevent fatalities from smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity, as well as destigmatize mental health illness and care. Access to quality healthcare in which doctors, patients, and healthcare professionals have the authority to make decisions for the best outcomes through the ACA and single-payer policies is an imperative. Existing programs, especially those for women, children, and seniors, need maintained or increased funding, and drug companies must be prevented from gouging consumers.
"Our primary chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is badly broken and hasn't been updated since 1976." - Environmental Defense Fund
The government must ensure proper chemical regulation to protect the health and safety of people – families, workers, children, high-risk communities – and the environment. The most dangerous chemicals must be phased out as safer alternatives and products are developed - and responsible parties are held accountable for all damages. Chemical management and market transformation will require comprehensive policy change and fundamental reform that prioritizes innovation for health.
- Strict safety assessments in a timely fashion and substitutions for toxic chemicals; rewards for research and development of sustainable alternative materials and innovative redesign.
- Phasing out of chemicals known to be hazardous to humans and/or the environment, slow to degrade, or likely to bioaccumulate.
- Adequate labeling for consumers and workers with comprehensive information about ingredients, chemicals, materials, processes, hazards, etc.
- Required chemical data, including safety evaluation, use and exposure information, known or likely links to cancer, mutations, reproductive harm or other health risk.
- Public exposure warnings based on concrete science or uncertainty regarding risk.
- Defense of community or workers exposed to hazardous chemicals, especially those most vulnerable.
We need a new, dynamic approach to learning. From emphasizing the importance of early childhood education to closing achievement gaps, underlining the value in completing high school to putting higher education within reach by reducing the burden of student debt, our education system must better prepare students of all ages for the changing job landscape. Highlighting creativity, entrepreneurship, and transferable skills must all be incorporated into the model. We will work to ensure relevant curriculum, reduce loan rates and implement debt forgiveness programs, as well as to solidify the pipeline from graduation to fair wage employment. Education is not only the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world, but also the basis for personal and global growth, prosperity, and advancement.
Student Loans and Debt Forgiveness
"Nearly 70% of bachelor's degree recipients leave school with debt, according to the White House, and that could have major consequences for the economy... student loan debt may be preventing Americans from making the kinds of big purchases that drive economic growth." - Market Watch
We must act to make higher education more affordable, with the goal of fully subsidized public colleges and universities. Refinancing interest rates and flexible finance options are key, such as tying loan repayment to future income such that a person only starts repaying after earning above a threshold, and a forgiveness model where recent graduates can pay down debt while serving local communities and making a livable wage.
- Allow for student loans to be refinanced.
- Increase investment in and access to Pell Grants and Tax Credits.
- Support Distance Learning and Remote Education for students to earn college credits online.
- Make college tuition 100% tax deductible until tuition free is fully realized.
- Lower the unit threshold for students to receive financial aid and bolster working student aid.
- Streamline the FAFSA process to make it more user-friendly.
"The American education system must move from the more traditional definition of success as good test scores in reading, writing, and mathematics to one that prepares our children to become competitive business leaders, entrepreneurs, and scientific pioneers." - Brookings
Provide a high-quality education for all Americans by giving states and local districts more jurisdiction over curriculum to ensure quality childhood education, close achievement gaps, offer parents options, and ensure students graduate with the skills to be relevant in the workplace and in society.
- Invest in fluid, relevant skills training for students of all ages and backgrounds.
- Increase federal funding for First5 Programs.
- Integrate supplemental educational online resources.
THE FUTURE OF WORK
Strong economic growth is crucial for a prosperous society with reduced inequality. In order to prosper, citizens need to be prepared for the future of work. The job landscape is changing dramatically with technology and robotics, requiring new types of education, skills training, and networks. No industry will remain untouched. Government must spend proactively and invest in our people, rather than pay the consequences for spiking unemployment. We must cultivate talent domestically, provide proper education and vocational/skill training, and incubate startup culture. This shift in jobs presents an opportunity for the growth of new industries and professional rebirth. With strong organizational structures, available funding, enterprise-friendly regulations, tax incentives, and technological investment, we can ensure that people and small businesses in local communities gain a competitive advantage and are equipped to author the next chapters of agriculture, media, food, medicine and more, achieving economic success and quality of life.
"In April, the unemployment rate held at 5.0 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 7.9 million." - US Dept. of Labor
We should be proactive in creating new jobs and ushering in the future of work. This must be a multi-pronged approach involving workforce development programs that are affordable, flexible, and push the boundaries of technology to maintain American competitiveness.
- Create tax incentives to encourage new production methods and operational approaches.
- Build out an education curriculum that better equips students with the skills needed for employment today.
- Ensure proper Trade Adjustment Assurance for people who lose employment due to disappearing industries.
- Support startups and entrepreneurs to grow and be positioned for success.
- Invest in innovation and clean energy to protect American companies' competitive edge.
" is the weakest performance since the first quarter of 2014 when the economy contracted 0.9 percent as consumer spending slowed, the drag from trade and business inventories worsened and business investment fell for the third straight quarter." - Trading Economics
Investment in small businesses is a benefit to our communities. Investing in manufacturing benefits our country. Investing in ideas for our future secures our economic independence and keeps the promise of opportunity open and accessible to all.
- Fund technology and reduce barriers of entry to markets.
- Streamline the patent process and supporting stronger enforceable laws to protect American ingenuity and intellectual property;
- Strengthen existing protections on agricultural and other zoning districts to guarantee the integrity of regional brands.
"Income disparities have become so pronounced that America's top 10 percent now average nearly nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent." - Inequality.org for Institute of Policy Studies
Rising inequality is a significant problem. The solution is not simply more redistribution; we need to increase the size of the pie by ensuring strong growth and pursue policies that make the economy more inclusive. Household incomes should not be stagnant, rather rising alongside GDP.
- Raise the minimum wage to $15 federally.
- Keep inflation in line with pay, so that costs of goods and services does not disproportionately affect lower impact brackets, by aggressively monitoring consumer price index.
- Support legislation to end wage discrimination on the basis of gender, race or age.
With limitless promise and rapid turnaround, technology is catapulting our world into the future and delivering actionable solutions across the board. Tech innovation has proven able to create a more just, connected, equitable world with environmentally-sound industries and improved efficiency and durability in construction and design. With heightened access to information, financial services, and technical support, more can actively participate in the field of research, development and discovery, which benefits all - therefore must provide the funding and framework for pilot projects across industries. Additionally, if we desire a more effective, efficient, transparent government, the same principles of tech advancement must be utilized in the the political arena, which currently lags grossly behind.
Technology for Government
"As technology becomes an integral part of our daily lives, citizens are now looking for their local and national governments to also implement new, innovative ways to meet the growing demand for access and transparency of what their governments are doing." - The Hill
Every sector has been revolutionized by technology – increasing growth, providing jobs, improving infrastructure, and advancing society. This thinking must become a part of government for transparency, efficacy, and efficiency.
- Implement real-time two way communication with constituents about issues, votes, scheduling, and who representatives meet with in Washington.
- Ensure universal internet access.
- Monitor web portals where constituents can ask questions and receive answers about critical government services.
- Provide full access to digitized data.
- Keep the internet free and open.
Gender equity is not only just, but also economically sensible. When all segments of a population are granted equal opportunity and encouraged to develop competitive skills, there becomes a real chance to contribute and succeed. Discrimination on the basis of gender must stop. We will fight for policies to promote equality, inclusion, and empowerment for women, girls, and those across the gender spectrum, while fiercely opposing institutionalized discrimination. We demand paid leave for the welfare of children and loved ones, equal pay, and open access to reproductive healthcare without limitations on services. A woman’s right to choose is and must remain an inalienable right, as is the right to marry whomever one chooses.
Discrimination by Gender
"In 2014, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 79 percent of what men were paid, a wage gap of 21 percent..." - The American Association of University Women
We are still fighting discrimination in the workplace, in family life, in schools, in stores, online, everywhere. Discrimination based on gender is disgraceful and must be stopped at the societal, legal, and institutional levels.
- Guarantee paid leave to care for newborns and loved ones.
- Support Paycheck Fairness laws that end wage discrimination.
- Raise the minimum wage (women represent nearly 2/3 of minimum wage workers).
- Defend marriage equality.
"Planned Parenthood health centers focus on prevention: 80 percent of our patients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy." - Planned Parenthood
Every woman has the fundamental human right to make decisions concerning her health and her body. Services for women should not face budgetary cuts or bureaucratic barriers that compromise care. I will fight for women’s access to expanded health services and increased protections for both patient and physician privacy.
- Protect access to contraception, comprehensive sex education, and safe and legal abortion services.
- Support increased appropriations to Medicare/Medicaid services for women earning less than $35,000 per year.
- Increase funding for women’s health services and Planned Parenthood, which also provides health services for men.
ADDITIONAL KEY POLICIES:
We cannot accept that the current rate of gun violence is unavoidable. We can and should introduce sensible, evidence backed measures to reduce gun violence, such as banning semi-automatic assault style weapons and strengthening background checks.
- Allow family and law enforcement the right to remove or prevent individuals from owning firearms or ammunition, using California’s AB 1014 as a blueprint for federal legislation.
- Support a reauthorization of the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act to reaffirm the ban on high caliber assault weapons.
- Close the loophole on person-to-person sales of firearms and ammunition.
- Make firearms licensing training more stringent.
- Outline stricter mandatory sentences for individuals convicted of crimes involving firearms.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
The US has 5% of the world’s population, yet 25% of the world’s incarcerated people – a broken system with concrete human and economic costs. We must reduce mandatory minimum sentences, stop the mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, and implement programs that rehabilitate, educate, and integrate people back into society. Employment and career opportunities are key in decreasing recidivism.
- End for-profit prisons.
- Oppose capital punishment and solitary confinement for juveniles.
- Reduce mandatory minimum sentences or eliminate for non-violent drug offenses.
- Support increased funding, barrier removal initiatives, and tax incentives for programs and businesses that help formerly convicted felons reenter society.
- Support federal Ban the Box legislation that restores individual ability to gain dignified employment.
We must revise immigration policy to end the current criminalization of those seeking refuge, security, and opportunity. The United States has not and should not be a country that turns its back on those fleeing persecution, violence, and/or terrorism.
- Streamline current USCIS and Dept. of State policies and procedures to increase adjudication and review of pending immigration applications.
- Support the establishment of a swift path to citizenship for currently undocumented workers and/or residents.
- Support implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs as well as DREAMers (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors).
- Separate local law enforcement from Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Get money out of politics! Voters need government to protect the integrity of individual voices, rather than allow special interests and wealthy donors to influence policy disproportionately.
- Support any and all efforts to overturn Citizens United.
- Endorse and protect measures to implement publicly financed elections.
- Commit to clean elections and support drastic reductions in spending limits for campaigns.
- Increase transparency and public access to information on legislators' donors and supporters.
LEGALIZATION OF CANNABIS:
Cannabis should be legalized for both medical and recreational use with strict regulations that prohibit illegal grows, siphoning of water, forest fire hazards, and chemical pollution of land. Legalization is a necessary step to defend the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Licensing, regulations, and tax benefits provide the necessary tools to regulate distribution according to demand and need.
- Endorse recreational cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana and products derived from cannabis, hemp, and tertiary products.
- Remove cannabis from the Federal Drug Administration’s Schedule 1 Drug classification.
- Protect private/public labs that face a loss of federal funding due to testing cannabis products. A safer, tested, product will serve as a public health benefit.
Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
Campaign Finance Reform
Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
Criminal Justice Reform
Do you support mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders?
Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?
Do you support alternatives to incarceration for certain non-violent offenders such as mandatory counseling or substance abuse treatment?
Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Do you support lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
Do you support providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation?
Do you support requiring states to implement education reforms in order to be eligible for competitive federal grants?
Do you support building the Keystone XL pipeline?
Do you support funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, thermal)?
Do you support increased regulations on the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") industry?
Do you believe that human activity is contributing to climate change?
Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
Do you generally support gun-control legislation?
Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare”)?
Do you support requiring illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
Do you support same-sex marriage?
Do you support targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict?
Should the U.S use military force in order to prevent governments hostile to the United States from possessing a nuclear weapon?
In order to balance the budget, do you support reducing defense spending?
Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?