My Priorities

Community Priorities. Progressive Results.

As State Representative, my priority is to pass progressive legislation that addresses the most pressing issues for the citizens of District 54 and the state of Alabama. This includes tackling Alabama’s fragile and overstretched healthcare system, adopting policies that ensure everyone has an equitable chance at success, and spurring innovation from pre-K to executive leadership.

Health

Equity

Innovation

Expand Medicaid

It’s far past the time for Alabama to expand Medicaid. Hundreds of thousands of hardworking Alabamians would receive healthcare coverage if the state expanded Medicaid. This would provide an avenue for residents to receive pre-empted healthcare checkups, allowing them to live healthier lives, and not have to use costly emergency room visits for routine care. Expanding Medicaid is an additional funding source for our hospitals – which too many have been forced to operate budgets in the red. When our hospitals go underfunded, they close. Seventeen hospitals have closed in Alabama over the past ten years, about half of which were in rural areas. The difference between a 10-minute drive to the hospital, and an hour’s drive to the hospital can be the difference between life and death. We must finally expand Medicaid.

 

Increase Pregnancy Protections

When it comes to Medicaid, we also need to increase postpartum coverage to a full year.  I have a bill in the legislature that would do this. Right now, Medicaid only covers a mother for 60 days following the birth of her child — not nearly enough time to get the quality care provided by postpartum check-ups. We have to make sure our state is poised for attracting and retaining OB/GYNs and that women across Alabama have access to one near them, be it physically or through telehealth. I’m co-sponsoring a bill to do this. When pregnancy occurs, we have to make sure there are workplace protections against pregnancy discriminationand related medical conditions. I have a bill in the legislature that will do this.

 

Address Mental Health

We also have to continue to broaden our outlook on mental healthcare. From suicide to domestic violence, to education and workplace difficulties, the mental health crisis touches upon every aspect of life. I proudly created the Task Force on Veterans Suicide and am a part of the implementation of 9-8-8 which provides a dedicated emergency number for those seeking mental health resources, and to work to expand the scope of responsibility for psychologists and social workers to intervene when a resident is seeking or is in need of mental healthcare.

 

End Racial Health Disparities

And across the board, we have to work to end racial disparities in our healthcare system through additional training of healthcare workers and through targeted resources for marginalized communities.

There are basic policies Alabama can adopt to make sure everyone gets an equitable economic chance at success.

 

Pass a Living Wage

Minimum wage workers must work an average of 87 hours a week to be able to afford housing in Alabama. This is unacceptable. Workers deserve to earn a living wage for the work they provide. Minimum wage workers often work in the foodservice, retail, or hospitality industries – industries that right now are struggling to find workers. Minimum wage workers are overwhelmingly single parents, people of color, and individuals without college degrees. Each locality should be able to assess and meet the financial needs of its residents and businesses, without Montgomery getting in the way of it. This means raising the minimum wage to a living wage.

 

Eliminate Inequitable Taxes

Alabama must eliminate the grocery tax. Food is essential for life, and as the price of food increases, so too does the amount of taxes Alabamians pay on that food. Right now, Alabama taxes residents 4% on grocery items, when Alabama has the fifth-highest rate of food insecurity (being without reliable access to food) in the country. Further, Alabama must eliminate the taxes on menstrual products.

 

Expand First Class Pre-K

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K is a nationally recognized quality pre-kindergarten program that is voluntary for four-year-olds. However, the program doesn’t reach enough communities. This is an example of something Alabama has gotten right, but until universal pre-k is accessible to all families, we are still missing the mark. We have to expand First Class Pre-K and include it in K-12 curricula so that our kids have a head start in school. This also has a positive economic impact on families, by providing them with safe, reliable, and productive environments while parents and guardians work.

Innovation is at the core of my governing philosophy. To prepare for the realities of the future, our communities must have a fair shot, and to do that, Alabama has to spur innovation from pre-kindergarten to executive leadership.

 

Distribute Funds Equitably

Like most things, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated flaws and inequalities in our educational system. The digital future that policymakers had always said they were preparing for is here and Alabama schools, by and large, did not have the technology, training, or preparation to adjust easily to a sudden jolt into the digital world. However, some schools in wealthier, whiter, school districts were prepared. Students throughout District 54 deserve to have the best resources we can provide to them. I will continue to fight for equitable distribution of funding and policy reform that tears down systemic disparities in education.

 

Support Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

I believe that, in addition to raising the minimum wage, Alabama has to put small businesses before big businesses to protect the economic backbone of our community. Alabama needs to make entrepreneurship easier by ending racial prejudices in banking and lending. We need to support entrepreneurswith programs that help their businesses thrive. We need to help our Alabama businesses and workers adapt to modern environments, and provide them with the training and technical assistance they must have to prosper in a digital world.

 

Invest in District 54

Every legislator is given discretionary money to invest back into their districts. I try to make sure every neighborhood gets an equitable amount by supporting non-profits, schools, public art, and other organizations that are making District 54 a better place for all of our residents. I invest District 54’s discretionary funds into parks and green spaces like Ruffner Mountain Park; into our public schools for educators to make decisions affecting classrooms, to food banks; civil, voting, and human rights organizations like the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to continue their mission and preserving the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and educating future generations; and I invest District 54’s discretionary funds in programs that promote walkability, fitness, and healthy living. If any of District 54’s discretionary money goes to promote art, I make sure that art is public to inspire all of our residents.