Climate change is a scientific fact. It is affecting us today and will have a negative impact on our kids, grandkids and future generations. This issue offers entrepreneurs and forward looking businesses great opportunities in the realm of alternative energy and sustainability.
Being Green is Just Good Business:
There are many environmentally focused businesses in the northern Indiana region that have created hundreds of good paying service and manufacturing jobs. This includes such fields as solar and wind energy generation. I firmly believe having 'green' policies is also a way to create good paying jobs. A growing economy and healthy environment can co-exist and benefit us all.
All the equipment used to build wind turbines and solar arrays for the growing number of wind and solar farms have to be made someplace. Indiana is known for its advanced manufacturing talents and we should be a leader in the manufacturing of green energy products as well. We need to embrace policies that encourage such investments and risk taking by job creators. We also need to revisit legislation that substantially reduced the incentives for homeowners and business owners to install solar and wind on their properties.
Gerrymandering is the division of states, counties, etc into election districts in a manner that gives one political party an advantage while diluting the electoral power of other voters. Under current Indiana law, the party who occupies the Governors office is given the power to create new election districts every ten (10) years. Currently, 21 states use some form of a non-partisan or bi-partisan redistricting commission.
The current approach to redistricting has led to a supermajority in the legislature that fosters polarization, dysfunction and poor policy for the people of Indiana.
I support creating a 'redistricting commission' one that is non-partisan and not controlled by the party whose candidate occupies the governors office.
Community and Volunteerism is Important to Who I Am
As a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church since 1993, I have been involved through our Council and mission work throughout our community. Here are some examples:
1. Medical mission work:
-Served in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica as part of mission trip through our church.
2. Penn Harris Madison School Corp Board Study Committee:
-Part of study committee that recommend the reorganization of the PHM's School Board from five(5) to seven (7) members. This added one seat for Harris Township and one at-large seat.
3. Candidate for the At-Large seat in the PHM School Board in 1998
4. Midwest Cardiovascular Research and Education Foundation:
-founder and current board member.
5. IU School of Medicine at South Bend:
-current volunteer instructor/proctor.
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Our health affects everything in our lives: our ability to work, to care and provide for family, to get and keep jobs and maintain family finances. The same goes for the State of Indiana. The health of our people and the health of our State are out of balance.
Consider these facts:
4th Highest rate for Maternal Mortality
8th Highest rate for Infant Mortality
8th Highest rate for Cancer Deaths
9th Highest rate of Smoking
10th Highest rate of Obesity
38th Hightest rate of Premature Death
1st In number of Coal Ash Ponds
6th Worst Toxic Chemical Release
4th Worst Natural Environment
4th Worst in Air Pollution
2nd Worst Quality of Life
Public Health and Health Education:
Going to the doctor or receiving care at a hospital accounts only for about ten percent (10%) of a person’s healthcare needs. Prevention and policy through public health and education in our communities and schools makes a difference. But Indiana is next to last in public health spending in the United States.
For example, the CDC recommends that states need to invest $73 million per year for Smoking Prevention and Cessation Spending. That investment will be more than paid for by the savings on smoking related illness. Yet in 2004, Indiana cut its Tobacco Prevention Program funding from $30 million to $10 million. Within 10 years the agency for Tobacco Prevention and Cessation was abolished entirely. The Indiana State Department of Health now spends $8 million per year on tobacco education, or less than half the national average per person.
To improve health, I will support laws, programs and policies that:
Remove the State of Indiana from the lawsuit against the federal government and the Affordable Care Act that would remove protections for pre-existing conditions.
Require insurance companies in Indiana to maintain Essential Health Benefits including pre-existing conditions, preventative care and women’s health benefits.
Keep the Medicaid Expansion that began in 2015 and decrease barriers to enrollment.
Increase investment in Public Health by increasing the tax on cigarettes. Increasing taxes on tobacco is linked to lowering infant mortality rates, improving the health of the whole population and is supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce & the American College of Cardiologists.
Increase the smoking age to 21 as supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Increase the living wage to reduce the non-medical factors that contribute to good health including stable housing, food access, child care and transportation.
Add healthcare literacy and prevention to the school curriculum, teaching young people how to use private insurance and Healthy Indiana Plan as well as the importance of annual primary care visits to improve wellness.
Increase access to mental healthcare and regular mental health screenings.
Set goals for emissions regarding environmental standards more stringent than federal requirements.
The health of Indiana and its citizens can not be separated from economic policy. As Representative of Indiana House District 5, I will support and consider policies that combine good health and good fiscal policy to move our state forward.
Public Education is the bedrock of American democracy. The majority of Indiana families choose public schools, and the Indiana State Constitution makes clear that it is the responsibility of the General Assembly to provide a free education for our citizens.
Pre-School in ALL counties:
I support increasing funding to provide universal preschool for four year olds and believe we need to expand this program to every Indiana county.
Put Vouchers on Hold and Study Effectiveness: The voucher system in Indiana has created an unfair playing field for public schools. Those who voted for vouchers claim that public schools aren’t performing well when the facts to date indicate students who have moved from a public school to a voucher-supported private school are academically less successful at the new school.
Additionally, public schools are outperforming many 'public charter' schools. Public charter schools are private corporations taking your tax dollars without meaningful tax payer oversight (i.e. community based school boards). Additionally, schools that accept vouchers do not have to provide services to students such with developmental, behavioral or learning disabilities. This skews their academic records resulting in higher than average test scores compared to public schools. Private schools that accept vouchers can pick and choose only the highest performing students whereas public schools are required to serve a wide array of students who achieve at different levels academically.
I agree with Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, who is alarmed that voucher schools are not required to meet the same standards as public schools. The State legislature needs to fix this inconsistency between the expectations of public schools and that those of private voucher schools.
Our public school teachers and the teaching profession in general deserve respect, support and a competitive wage. Our teachers should have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. Elected officials should consult educators to create legislation that facilitates education and recognizes their expertise.
A recent study from the Indiana Institute of Working Families (www.incap.org) outlines in detail how Indiana has lost ground for working people over the last twenty years. Indiana is now last in the Midwest for wages and job protections.
Our neighboring states all face challenges from the recession that began in 2007 but found a way to balance the need to support businesses and make sure that workers experienced similar prosperity. Indiana’s low employment rate should be a positive indicator of a healthy economy. However, the jobs created and polices enacted can’t sustain the basics for our citizens it seems. Therefore, low unemployment alone isn’t a good measure of economic security.
As in most of the country, the gap in wages between the top 1% of Hoosiers and the other 99% is significant. In Indiana, the top 1% make over 17 times the income of the average worker. This disparity is worse than most other states. It is good for the people doing well, but a “rising tide is supposed to lift all boats,” and that’s not happening in Indiana. Most people’s “boats” are weighted down by policies that have not delivered growth for working people.
To lift Hoosier families, I support:
An increase of the minimum wage to a “living wage” that at a 40 hour week – pays for basic needs.
Reinstatement of the Common Construction Wage
Repeal of “Right to Work” law that despite its name, reduces the ability of unions to advocate effectively for worker’s rights. It doesn’t make sense that a union would be required to represent an employee who doesn’t participate in the membership of an employee union.
Returning the right of collective bargaining to state employees.
Expanding Governor Holcomb’s decision to offer paid family leave to state employees to more privately employed citizens in cooperation with businesses.
KEEPING OUR KIDS SAFE AT SCHOOL
COMMON SENSE GUN SAFETY POLICY
Recently, a team tasked by Governor Holcomb “to examine existing school protections and explore new ways of keeping schools safe”, released their 2018 School Safety Recommendations. They identified safety officers and equipment as wise investments for schools. Most recently, our local schools obtained hand held metal detectors and are devising ways to incorporate them into their safety plans. CLICK HERE to read the full report. It's worth the time to read it.
This report found that to reduce the chance of gun violence in schools our state must look at:
Enhanced mental health services for students, educators and parents.
Equipment, technology, tools and training.
Policy and Legislative considerations.
The team defined school safety as a public health issue and stated we must go “beyond hardening our buildings and training to respond to incidents,” to address this challenge. In other words, we must look at how to prevent gun violence from happening in the first place.
Better Policy can Reduce Gun Caused Deaths and Injuries:
I want to be part of a legislative effort to keep our schools and communities safe. We can reduce gun deaths through policy. A good example is Indiana's Red Flag (Jake Laird) Law that allows guns to be removed from people who are identified as a risk for harming themselves or others. (Only 5 states have this type of law.)
A recent study from the University of Indianapolis showed that gun suicides have been reduced 7.5% since that law was enacted 10 years ago. The law, passed in 2004, occurred at a time when a Democratic governor, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate governed the state of Indiana. The vote for this law was only one vote shy of unanimous and a reflection of what balanced, reasoned, common sense governing can do.
As a public health effort, we could look at expanding awareness and education about this law so that parents and families understand the importance of keeping firearms out of the hands of troubled kids and adults and know that law enforcement can help.
Gun Safety Facts:
On overall gun safety, Indiana has much room for improvement. We are NOT leading the nation as we should. Consider these facts.
Indiana ranks number 18 for the “rate per capita” of gun deaths. (worse than Illinois).
Indiana ranks number 7 for rate of firearm deaths or injuries to children.
Indiana does not require background checks for private sales and gun shows.
Indiana does not have a mandated waiting period.
Indiana is the source of guns in Chicago's ongoing violence. Studies by Chicago police show that 1 out of 3 gang-related guns confiscated in the city in 2015 came from Indiana.
Indiana is the source of 16% of all confiscated guns in Chicago found by the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) Bureau were sourced in Indiana.
Indiana had a higher number of firearm deaths in 2016 than the entire State of New York. There are about 19.7 million residents in the State of New York. By comparison, Indiana has a total population of about 6.7 million people. Indiana had 997 firearm deaths and the State of New York had 900 firearm deaths.
We’re often told that the bad guys will always find a way to get a gun. If that’s true, then Indiana is making it easier for the bad guys. Illinois is the only Midwestern state that requires background checks for private sales & gun shows. Again, the facts show that the guns being recovered in Illinois are being purchased in Indiana.
Finding Bipartisan Solutions:
The success of the Red Flag law passed in 2004 demonstrates that we can find bipartisan agreement on gun safety. I support the right for citizens to have guns yet we should have universal background checks so that guns are in the hands of responsible citizens. I support the recommendations in this report that seek a comprehensive approach to school safety and gun violence. It’s time to move past the divisions and find solutions.
We need transparency as it relates to Indiana laws and the information legislators can receive from lobbyist versus the availability of this same information to the public.
Local Tax Authority
We need fairness, equality and transparency in our State government as it relates to state and local taxes. State law should not curtail local government's taxing authority. Local taxes, especially those that have already been enacted into law by a city, town or county should not be preempted by State law. We need to inform Mishawaka and Granger residents about such laws and have a real discussion on their impact in our district.