My Priorities for Minnesota’s 8th District and America

Today, on our nation’s birthday, I’m releasing my plan and priorities for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District

It’s never easy to pick the primary concerns you’re going to work on in Congress, and we certainly aren’t dismissing any other important issues. But all roads to a better district, state, and nation have to start somewhere, and the following actions are our starting points.

1) We must address the issues surrounding our nation’s healthcare. We must create “Medicare for Everyone”. We weren’t able to pass single-payer when we had a Democratic president, Senate, and House so I propose we begin with a single step. Let’s look at the “Choose Medicare Act” which was introduced earlier this year. This bill, which I support, would enable Americans not already eligible for Medicare or Medicaid to purchase Medicare as their insurer, and enable employers to purchase Medicare for their employees. The bill would also permit plans to be purchased that allow no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and would provide more generous tax credits and eligibility thresholds than those currently in the ACA. It would improve the existing system by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs and setting out-of-pocket maximums. It also has the potential to drive down private insurance premiums by creating a competitive public option.

2) We must fully fund public education. A strong economy and a robust democracy depend on well educated and socially engaged citizens, which is why we must fully fund accessible, high-quality, preK-12 public school education across our nation. As our world continues to change, I will work hard to provide our students with up-to-date technology, vocational training, and post-secondary preparatory programming so that our next generation is well-prepared for a successful future. In addition, it is now more important than ever to recruit and retain highly qualified, licensed educators in the teaching profession. I will protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, as well as support increasing educator wages and benefits. I will not support private school vouchers, or any other such schemes that divert funding away from public schools and into the private education sector.

3) We must fix our economy, so that it works for everyone. Five of the ten poorest counties in Minnesota are located here, in our 8th district. The median starting wage is $12.15 in 4 counties in the 8th Congressional District, the lowest starting wage of all 13 Minnesotan economic regions.

Our district is struggling. We have to work two to three jobs, just to make ends meet, and hope one of those jobs provides affordable benefits. We see young people leaving in droves for urban areas. As I travel around the district, I hear it from every part – we need to find a way to keep and attract the next generation of workers.

To do that, we need to provide better wages and better benefits in our existing industries.  Raising the federal minimum wage and tying it to inflation, with mandatory cost of living adjustments is a start, but it’s not enough. We need to address student debt, which keeps young families from succeeding and hinders others from attending college or trade school in the first place. We need to strengthen the safety nets for working families – affordable childcare, healthcare, and fully-funded public education, including preschool, and stop any attempt at privatizing Social Security that takes care of us once we reach retirement age.

We have to fully fund a national infrastructure modernization program to include: rail, road, air, and water, using the latest technology, science and environmental best practices to bring sustainable, good paying jobs to our district, our state and our country.

True economic progress means taking calculated risks and making smart investments. We have to pursue progress while keeping in mind our traditional economic bases. We can support tourism, mining, and agriculture while also expanding new economies – such as medical marijuana, artisan businesses, high-tech, green, and film – new and innovative ideas that move us forward.

I’m a single parent of five children, I work two jobs, and I’m running for Congress. I’m fighting alongside you in the trenches. Who better to represent you?

4) We must address immigration reform. We need to take a hard line in the sand on human rights. Being the daughter of a Norwegian immigrant, I think $26.1 billion would be better spent on creating and repairing our infrastructure and economy, than on a wall. I believe the American Dream does not include children in cages or families ripped apart. We must abolish ICE, a 15 year-old agency, created out of fear and hate, that has only perpetuated fear and hate, and under this current administration, has allowed that hate and fear to flourish and has given it a very public voice.

I believe giving DREAMers a path to citizenship can only benefit our economic future and create a path to better global interdependence, not isolationism.

We must completely rethink and restructure our entire approach to immigration, beginning with a simple fact: whatever your status, we believe that you are human beings whose basic rights and dignity must be preserved. As your Congresswoman, I will support legislation that does so, and if there’s no legislation, I will introduce it.

5) We must address smart gun reform. Gun safety and gun violence go hand and hand, and together, they are a nationwide public health concern that has gone on far too long without being addressed in Congress.  Why, you might ask? Because since 1996 when the Dickey Amendment was passed, Congress has not been allowed to allocate public funds to study injury or death by gun violence.  The CDC–the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–is allowed to study all other public health concerns and epidemics like cancer, influenza outbreaks, automobile deaths, suicide, and the like. But not since the late Congressman Jay Dickey introduced the amendment by the same name, has the CDC been allowed to gather and analyze data on gun violence, death by gun, mass shootings, and all other gun-related health issues in the United States.

It’s time we treat gun violence and gun safety like the public health concerns that they are and REPEAL the Dickey Amendment. These public health issues need to be studied just as automobile deaths have been studied in the past. As a result of scientifically based research and analysis, safety belts and airbags are now mandatory in automobiles in order to save lives. As your Congresswoman, I will introduce legislation to repeal the Dickey Amendment and introduce smart gun reform, based on solid research and facts.

6) We must work to reverse climate change and protect our environment. We must make alternative energy accessible and affordable to working families now. I stand with Kaniela Ing, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and Randy Bryce in calling for the “Green New Deal:”

  • Phase out fossil fuel cars by 2030
  • 100% renewable energy by 2035
  • Phase out plastic bags and straws
  • No new pipelines
  • Federal Green Jobs Guarantee

7) We must recognize tribal sovereignty. We must apologize to our Native Americans and work at developing shared governance with them that respects their tribal sovereignty. We must ask them to forgive us and then sit down with them and ask them to teach us and listen to them.

  • We must, in partnership with the tribes, identify no-cost or low-cost opportunities for the President and Congress to reduce administrative burdens on the tribes and create equity between tribal, federal, and state governments. We can do this by changing outmoded bureaucratic processes; working to better coordinate federal agencies, and changing the regulations and laws that prevent tribal governments from equitable access to federal programs.
  • We must make sure that the upcoming 2020 census works to educate American Indian members about the importance of participating in the census to ensure fair distribution of funds and effective policies regarding tribal issues.
  • We must make sure that tribal governments that are within the 100 mile border of Mexico and Canada receive the same access to Department of Homeland Security funding as the state does, since the tribes are equally responsible to provide homeland security program infrastructure development and enhancement, but receive no DHS funding.
  • We must allow tribes to develop tribal taxation strategies that support tribal sovereignty. Due to an often high unemployment rate and severe levels of poverty, tribes have difficulty establishing a strong tax base based upon property taxes and income taxes. Additionally, federal policy currently is difficult for many tribes to utilize federal tax-exempt financing options that are most often available to states to fund infrastructure construction. We also must change the incentives that promote economic development on tribal lands that benefit the non-Indian-owned business at the expense of attracting new business or benefiting tribal-owned or Native-owned business.

8) We must address the imminent threats to our nation surrounding our cybersecurity. Our nation is under constant attack from foreign countries. Not only is our very infrastructure (including our election security) in danger, but every day, countless Americans fall victim to “Nigerian prince” scams. We must keep up with an ever-evolving cyber risk landscape by decreasing vulnerabilities and building a robust system that is able to counter virulent actors and attackers in cyberspace and a faster and more efficient response to incidents. We must also create better access to rural broadband and restore net neutrality.

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