What I am fighting for:
+ Expanding Medicaid to Provide Access to Affordable Healthcare
I have sponsored legislation and advocated for Medicaid expansion over the last two terms. I currently serve on the recently formed Access to Healthcare & Medicaid Expansion Committee with the purpose of bringing forward legislation before July 2022. Thousands of North Carolina families deserve access to affordable health care and by expanding Medicaid we can lower insurance rates as well as create jobs and help our rural hospitals.
+ Investing in our Public Schools and Teachers
The recent Leandro court case and report creates a “blueprint” for investment in our schools and funding for the professionals that educate and take care of our children. We made a step in the right direction with the recent bipartisan state budget that increased teacher pay (first raise in over 4 years), raised support personnel to $15 an hour and invested millions in construction. We still have work to do and I will continue to be a leader and advocate in this fight.
+ Protecting our Drinking Water and Waterways from Poisons like GenX.
I have sponsored legislation to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up after themselves, and for stronger protections of our drinking water. In the recent bipartisan state budget, we saw the highest investment in many years to protect our air and water including specific investment to address PFAS and emerging compounds. I have pushed DEQ for industry compliance including fines and worked to find short-term solutions for full house filtration systems and expanded well testing in our community. Additionally, I have worked across the aisle to advocate for funding for health and animal studies.
+ Creating an Economy that Works for our Families and Everyone
We must ensure as we recover from the pandemic that no one is left behind. I was a primary sponsor of COVID-19 relief bill that provided resources to our families and businesses to help them during the pandemic and in our recovery. As we look to the future we must create a skilled labor force to attract good paying jobs and I understand that supporting the university system, community colleges and trade schools is critical for that. I advocated for and this community received over $200 million in funding in this area in the last state budget.
+ Veterans, Active Duty Military & Their Families
As a veteran, I have been a constant voice for veterans, service members, and their families as your state senator. I have championed legislation that makes civilian licensure easier for exiting service members and active-duty spouses and protecting NC military installations from base closures. One of the major highlights of the recent state budget legislation and something I fought passionately for is a state income tax exemption for the military retirement pension. I will continue to advocate for workforce enrichment, health and wellness, legal and financial services, and benefits for veterans service members and their families. We must also remain vigilant to ensure we continue to reduce the homeless veteran population.
Other Key Priorities:
+ Affordable Housing
We have an affordable housing crisis that is affecting families across our state in urban and rural communities. We have over 10,000 families here in Cumberland County that are spending more than 50% of their monthly paycheck on housing costs and the pandemic only increased this crisis. As you senator, I personally advocated for and received $1 million in funding for the CIty of Fayetteville for initial funding for a housing trust fund.
+ Early Childhood Education – Expanded Access & Investment
The pandemic shined a light on the critical needs in early childhood development and childcare. In the bipartisan state budget, we saw an increase in funding in this area but we must do more as laid out in the Leandro report. Investments must address shortages of teachers, capacity and the child waitlist. We need to ensure our next generation has the opportunity to participate in our early education program. This is crucial if we hope to break the hold of generational poverty we see in so many communities in our state.
+ Mental Health Access & Resources
Mental health and substance use disorders are among the top conditions for disability as well as the cost to families, employers, and state health systems. We must start with strengthening North Carolina’s public mental health and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Mental health is a critical part of healthcare and we should expand Medicaid to increase access for patients and resources. In the recent bipartisan state budget, our state saw an investment of $2 million to nonprofits to address issues locally.
+ Broadband Access
The pandemic showed us how critical this infrastructure is for our families and businesses. We must not only expand the capacity and allow cities and counties to be part of this growth but we must ensure it is affordable for everyone. In the recent bipartisan state budget over $1 billion of funding was appropriated to help bridge the digital divide. Locally, I have worked with our economic developers including changes to state statutes to secure the largest investment in broadband buildout we have seen in the history of our community.
+ Reform of Our Justice System
We need comprehensive justice reform and real investment in re-entry and treatment programs There are deep racial disparities that impact Black and Latino communities. I am proud to have proposed and supported criminal justice reforms like the bipartisan senate bill 300 that made historic and much-needed reforms to our justice system. I am proud to have supported helping the tens of thousands of North Carolinians who lost their driver’s licenses due to an unpaid traffic ticket. I have sponsored legislation to expand and modernize our expungement system. I have also sponsored legislation to authorize municipalities and counties to form citizen review boards
+ Small Business Growth Through Innovation
Innovation will fuel our small business growth. We have the talent and capabilities. We can train and attract the next generation of experts and create a workforce pipeline. Growth begins with our high school STEM programs and carries over to our university and community college emerging technologies programs. A talent pipeline also flows from Fort Bragg’s Career Resource Center with thousands of highly skilled veterans.
+ Ensuring Fair and Equal Treatment regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation
Everyone deserves to be treated equally. No one should be denied freedoms, rights or privileges on the basis of gender, race, or sexual orientation. That’s why I support the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and oppose restrictive voter laws that target African Americans, or any other group of, voters.
+ Gun Violence Reduction
90% of all Americans support universal background checks. We need to start taking action where everyone agrees on what the right step is.
+ Equal Pay for Equal Work – Women & Latino
Everyone should be paid equally for equal work. I have sponsored legislation to protect the right of marginalized groups like women and Latinos to get the same dollar that their counterparts earn.