Healthcare is a hot topic in today's society and rightfully so. I stand boldly to say that healthcare is not a privilege but a right for all. There should not be a question as to the healthcare known as CHIP for our children. My hope is this will never be a question again as to whether it should be deleted from a budget. I stand for the expansion of Medicaid and affordable healthcare and Medicare for all.
If we support our citizens and these programs, it will not only reduce medical costs because people are healthier and won't spend so much time in emergency rooms, but we can begin to open up hospitals and clinics that have been closed in rural areas and on tribal lands.
People will no longer have to drive many miles to get help. More people will be employed and it will benefit the economy. We need to push hard at the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies. They are not in the healthcare business. They are about greed. They are in the business of big corporations.
Its time we stand up for our healthcare. It is only right that we take care of our children and our seniors. It is only right that we take care of ALL our citizens. It is time we reduce the bankruptcies due to high medical bills. It is not right that families lose homes due to high medical bills. It is not right that veterans don't have a choice of choosing between VA hospitals or community doctors. It is not right that people die because they had no healthcare. Lets do the right thing.
Education is of the utmost importance and the key to our children’s future. Our schools in Alabama are failing, but I have a plan to get public education back on track. I will hold state and local leaders accountable for their schools and work with public and charter schools to find ways in which they can work together.
We need to encourage teachers to be more creative in their classrooms by using a multi-disciplinary approach. Each school should be allowed to find innovative ways of partnering with professionals, colleges, and government agencies to bring in speakers and mentors. Due to financial shortfalls, many school systems have been forced to eliminate programs such as music and the arts. This is unfair to our children, who deserve to be able to explore all areas of learning. We must implement and increase STEM programs. STEM jobs are in high demand, and we must prepare our children for the jobs of the future.
There is a need to replace the millions of dollars taken from our school system through the Accountability Act Voucher. Schools throughout Alabama have a shortage of good qualified teachers, partly due to low wages. Our students deserve better. There is no reason we have schools on failing lists.
In terms of staffing, we must provide additional training and professional development to teachers so that they understand how to teach all learning styles for children at varying comprehension levels.
I intend to change the common practice of cutting off education when autistic kids age out of school. Autism does not end when a person turns 21. These young adults need our support, and many parents need help. The public school system should send an aide to homes or open up special programs for continuing education for autistic adults. These young women and men are used to going to school daily, interacting, and learning. Suddenly, that is taken away. Let's develop transitional adult programs to get young autistic people and their parents ready for adult life. Alabama has one of the highest rates of autism in the country; it is up to us to take the lead and change this broken system that snatches away structure and purpose for autistic people and ultimately much-needed support for their parents.
I also support implementing a state lottery to shore up our education system and provide free college tuition. Bring back the $3.5 million that is supporting other states next door.
Finally, I believe school safety is one of the most pressing issues of our time but giving teachers guns is not the answer. I believe we need a integrated collaborative community-driven approach to address school safety in a common sense way. To quote a friend, "We should arm teachers...with livable wages, safer classrooms, better funding, and low student-to-teacher ratios not guns."
Alabama should follow 46 other states and remove the food tax. Poor people can't afford it, and they will return that money back to the economy.
There is also enormous need for a livable minimum wage. It is imperative that those who work hard can support their families.
We can make this possible by implementing creative ways to increase revenue in Alabama. Let's change how big-box companies, who do not pay state taxes, play a larger role in hiring, training, and contributing to our economy. Furthermore, tax incentives for companies coming into Alabama should be earned. We should include tax incentives if companies offer to train our citizens for well-paying jobs; they can earn extra tax breaks if they train people from low-income areas, non-violent post release offenders, and high-functioning special needs adults. This will allow Alabama to gradually move many of our citizens off of state dependency and into self-dependency, and it would increase revenue.
There is a lot of work to be done in this area, but I am not daunted by the task, for it is an important one. I propose increasing law enforcement presence in Alabama and in our communities. The amount of state troopers on Alabama roads is down 22%.
Additionally, we must find ways of recruiting diverse officers who are from or well-known in the communities they will serve. Officers should build bridges and relationships in the community to serve more effectively. Cultural diversity training and yearly psychological testing of all law enforcement officers is also crucial. This will begin to address the needs of the community.
Prisons cost more than schools. Correctional reform needs to look at putting non-violent offenders to work. Let them pay taxes to contribute to the economy and get them involved in the community. I also plan to address prison overcrowding. My proposal to legalize marijuana would allow non-violent offenders to re-enter their communities. I also plan to build on the voter rights of non-violent offenders and those on probation.
Mental illness and death rates among pre- and post-release offenders need to be addressed in an appropriate manner. Currently, offenders often don’t receive the mental health treatment they need.
I support FAITH IN ACTION's agenda in addressing a common sense response to marijuana possession. It's time to reduce the penalty for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana from felony charge to a finable offense. It just makes sense at a time when we have prison overcrowding. From 2010 - 2015 there were 5,000 felony convictions which resulted in prison time and cost law enforcement approximately 13 million dollars on marijuana enforcement. Ridiculous!!
Our veterans sacrifice everything for our freedom and safety, and we must do everything to make sure they have all the resources they need at their disposal.
We must improve and strengthen our V.A. programs. Veterans should be allowed to see private doctors of their choice. We must fix the problems with the quality of care, timeliness of appointments, deaths of veterans waiting for care, and veteran homelessness.
Alabama leaders need to revisit the Veterans Choice Program as well as the Alabama Homeless Veterans Program. Even though statistics show that homelessness among our veterans has declined, we can and must do better. Our veterans are our heroes and should be treated as such.
Alabama's infrastructure is on a decline, and this effects commerce and citizens.
I suggest a train system to operate from the bottom of Alabama to the top of the state. There is also a need for toll booths to help bring more funding into Alabama to pay for the needs of improving infrastructure. Having a strong infrastructure will help build Alabama's economy: Infrastructure allows for economic growth, jobs, spending, and increased investments in state and local businesses. This can also be achieved by purging our bodies of water of toxins. This is a significant issue of concern, especially among residents in West Morgan and East Lawrence Counties.
This brings me to making Alabama a cleaner and greener state. There are many ways that Alabama can look after families by lowering utility bills and utilizing renewable energy. I would like to see the state use more windmills and continue to build and use our waterways to produce clean energy. I propose putting a cap on how much utilities can be increased.
We need an integrated infrastructure system that not only includes bridges, tunnels, trains and roads but also a collaboration of mental health professionals, schools, parents, and law enforcement to be truly effective when addressing issues like mass shootings.
Infrastructure, clean energy, and community will help working families save money and make Alabama a desirable place for families and businesses.
The Voting Rights Act guarantees the right to vote but today it is under attack. The issue of voting continues to be a legal challenge and contention in many states, diluting the power to vote among minorities and poor whites. Gerrymandering largely contributes to this. The voter no longer chooses their leaders: The politicians now choose their voters. This disenfranchisement violates the constitution and unfairly targets minority groups.
The best practices against this include increasing early voting, increasing voter registration in areas of disenfranchisement, and increasing voter education in schools. High schools should inform students of civic responsibility and the importance of voting. If elected, I would fight to reduce the strict requirements of voter ID laws and advocate for the lowering of the voting age to 17.
Felons deserve the right to vote. I believe that when convicted felons are released, they should regain their right to vote. They are still citizens of this country and should be afforded that right. I believe that this should be considered as part of their rehabilitation. When we as a nation do not allow felons to vote, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution have been violated. Considering that African-Americans make up 35% of prison populations, this is just another of the many ways to disenfranchise minorities.
Im a gun owner and supporter of the 2nd amendment. However I don't believe in the hype that the NRA puts out there. It is alternative facts. No one is trying to take away your 2nd amendment right. Most people don't know the historical meanings of that act. I do support that that those with mental illness, those accused of violent domestic violence, post release violent offenders, should have extensive background checks. tt youth under the age of 21 should be allowed to purchase a gun and automatic weapons like those the military uses should be easily bought. There should be stronger legal charges against those selling weapons illegally. it is true that guns don't kill. It is also true that people using guns kill. It has been estimated that "Gun violence in the United States results in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries annually. In 2103 there were 73,505 non fatal firearm injuries which equals 23.2 injuries per 1000,000 U.S. citizens. Also 33,636 deaths due to injuries by firearms in that same year equallying10.6 deaths per 100,000 U.S. citizens. By 2017 there were 15,549 people killed by gun violence". Gun deaths jumped 22 percent in 7 years. Alabama Has become the 2nd higheest gun death rate in the country. The average is 17.6 gun violence/death prIt is also estimated that there arer 1000,000 persons AND YET Alabama does not require a permit for the purchase of a firearm. 19 children killed daily from gun violence. 1300 kids under the age of 18 killed yearly from gunshot wounds.187,000 students have beenexpoposed to gun violence since the CLOUMBINE SHOOTING in 1999. those killed since 1999 is approximately 26,000. Alabama has the 5th-highest rate of accidental child shootings in the nation if nothing moves us to do something about gun violence. The killings of our kids should. ITS TIME WE LISTEN TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. THEY GOT MORE SENSE THEN US. WE need more common sense when dealing with gun sense.
I am a firm believer in equality. Men and women should be paid the same amount for the same job. Period. However, there is still a disparity between men and women as it relates to equal pay. It has been estimated that today women earn 79 cents to every man’s dollar. According to AAUW, women were paid 80 percent of men's earnings in the workforce in 2016. The pay disparity is even greater when men’s wages are compared to the wages of minority women. When women succeed, America succeeds. I will fight for all the women in Alabama to ensure they earn the same pay as their male counterparts.
The #MeToo movement has made huge strides in the right direction. Women everywhere have been exposed to unwanted, unprovoked harassment. Time is indeed up. Our culture is shifting, and we need to continue to push it in the right direction.There should no longer be fear of speaking up. We must support and encourage women. I will do this day in and day out if elected.
I've been asked how I feel about unions. My thoughts are we live in an at will state. Any employee can be terminated for no reason at all. Workers are not protected. There is no one to advocate for employees. Unions may not be what they use to be but they still serve as a mechanism to help advocate for peoples jobs and ensure their rights are protected. When Martin Luther King Jr was killed he was in Memphis to support trash collectors, this tells me how important it is to have unions. I think Alabama needs to support unions. Unions support our states economics through better jobs, better pay, better benefits such as health.The benefits of having unions: Additional monies are spent into the economy, and employees don't have fears of being terminated so easily because there is a process. For those that don't want to pay union dues, it's more expensive to pay for attorney fees.
District 7, serving Huntsville, Hazel Green, Meridianville, Moore's Mill and Redstone.
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Elect Deborah Barros Alabama State Senate District 7.
P.O. Box 3883, Huntsville Al, 35810-9998.
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