I believe that a women’s medical decisions should be made between them and their doctor, including abortion. Abortion care is healthcare and needs to be protected by the State of Michigan and the US Government. We must codify Roe v. Wade, even if we have to end the filibuster to do so. Being pro-choice means that I support women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies, without government intervention. Without access to safe and legal medical abortion, many people will turn to other options, that might cost them their lives.
In Lansing, I co-sponsored bills 5542-5548, the Michigan Reproductive Health Act, which would guarantee the right to an abortion. In Congress, I vow to continue this fight.
The amount of people killed in the US every year due to gun violence is devastating and preventable. School shootings have become so common that they only make headlines for a couple days before we move on. In many cities around the country, including Detroit and Lansing shootings are so commonplace they barely even make the news. Parents are scared to send their children to school. Students are scared to go to school and often traumatized by active shooter drills (or active shooters). The NRA is one of the most powerful lobbyist groups in the country which combined with America’s obsession with guns is quite literally killing our kids. Considering that in 1791, when the Second Amendment was ratified, muskets only shot one round at a time, I do not think this was the intention of our forefathers. It is time to stand up to the NRA and address gun violence to keep people, especially children safe.
1. Require background checks on every single gun purchase and transfer, closing the gun show loophole.
2. Implement a 3 day cooling off period after purchasing a gun.
3. Reinstate the assault rifle ban for civilians, without a sunset clause.
4. Pass Red Flag laws to allow family or police to petition the court to temporarily remove guns from a person who is believed to be a threat to themselves or others.
The right to vote is fundamental to our nation and our democracy. In the light of extreme efforts to disenfranchise voters and minimize the voices of historically marginalized communities via partisan gerrymandering, we must protect the right to vote and ensure that access to the ballot box is free and accessible to all Americans.
I fully support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would require states with a history of voter discrimination receive clearance from the Department of Justice before enacting any law that effect voting rights. This would prevent partisan gerrymandering and stop laws that disproportionately suppress Black and brown voters. I also support the Freedom to Vote Act which would modernize voter registration, expand early voting nationwide, provide protections for mail-in votes, and make Election Day a national holiday, among other things.
I have had the privilege of creating job opportunities when I ran my small businesses and I hope to bring that spirit to Detroit. In 1990, I bought a three- person laboratory. By 2008, the business had grown under my leadership to 450 highly- paid employees, including 65 PhD chemists. My accomplishments were honored when I was named the Ernst and Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1999 and again in 2007. As my business grew, I developed a passion for fostering entrepreneurship and small business ownership using micro-loans, business education, and business incubators — tools that have the power to revive communities that are neglected, underfunded, and struggling. In Congress, I will use my experience to spur economic growth and innovation, and improve Detroit’s small businesses.
I believe that protecting workers rights is critical. Everyone should be treated fairly and a livable wage should be treated as a human right. That’s why unions and the labor movement are so important. Unions offer workers the ability to fight for good wages, benefits, and working conditions. I will fight to raise the minimum wage, support legislation like the PRO Act to protect and expand the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain, invest in infrastructure and sustainable energy to both protect the environment and create good paying jobs, fight for equal pay for equal work, and much more.
By supporting Michigan’s small businesses, together we can help grow our economy and create more jobs around the state. I know firsthand the large impact small businesses have on our economy, and how they help to decrease unemployment in our communities. We need representation in Congress that will fight to bring investment into our small businesses and provide economic opportunity for everyone in our district.
In an effort to support Michigan’s small business owners and our workforce I have introduced the following bills:
House Bill number 5124: would codify the meaning of “essential workers”.
Throughout Covid-19 we have redefined the meaning of “essential workers”, so the positions that were classified as essential during the pandemic would be officially classified as essential under state law.
House Bill 4776: would give small businesses tax credits for having to purchase and provide personal protection equipment to fight against COVID-19. This helps fight the virus, keeps us all safer, and helps Michigan small businesses make ends meet.COVID-19 had a significant impact on everyone in this state, especially our small business owners and workers. Over the past two years small business owners had to quickly adapt to new health regulations while making difficult decisions on staffing and business operations. These adaptations created additional stress and hardships on our small businesses. This bill will provide some financial relief to those who sacrificed to keep us all safe, while still providing services and resources to us all.
House Bill number 5121: protecting the retirement of firefighters and law enforcement.
Presently, if a firefighter or law enforcement official is injured while on duty and retires, they are able to seek employment and still receive pension benefits from the disability retirement pension. But, if their new job pays more than $30,000, their pension benefits are cut. My bill would remove this cap and allow for retired officers and firefighters to receive their full pensions – because we should not strip guaranteed retirement away from people who earned those benefits over a lifetime of hard work.
The US is the richest country in the world and the only developed nation that does not provide universal healthcare. Everyone should have the right to see a doctor when they are sick, without worrying about how they’ll pay for it. Healthcare should not be a for-profit industry. That’s why my ultimate goal is a single-payer healthcare system, such as Medicare for All. Even people with private insurance often avoid seeking medical care because they cannot afford the copays and deductibles. The COVID pandemic further highlighted the disparities in the healthcare system particularly for black and brown Americans. It’s time to fix that.
Medicare for All
I would like to see a single-payer healthcare system, commonly called “Medicare for All”. I think that’s the best way to weed out inefficiencies in health insurance and provide the most coverage to the most people at a lower out of pocket cost. In the short-term, I think Medicare should cover dental care. Then start to gradually lower the eligibility age for Medicare to 60, 55, 50, until we ultimately allow everyone to have Medicare. I would also let Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices.
Medicaid provides solid coverage to the people who qualify, without co-pays. However, the income requirement is low, $24,353 annual gross income is the cap for a household of two. Maintaining coverage is extremely difficult for many people. They mail consumers extensive forms every 6 months that need to be completed and returned within 14 days or less. The initial application and some follow up forms must be done online, which creates a barrier for people who do not have access to a computer, internet, smartphone or people who do not have the literacy or technological skills to navigate this complex system. Contacting a DHS worker is difficult as they are overworked and underpaid. I believe the reporting requirement should be changed from 6 to 12 months. Funding should be increased for DHS offices to hire additional staff in order to better assist people. As Medicare for all is phased in, the need for Medicaid will be phased out. In the meantime, we must ensure that our most vulnerable populations can access this service.
Prescription Drug Prices
The US has the highest prescription drug prices in the world. As a former pharmaceutical drug analyst, I know this is done out of greed. I have introduced legislation in the Michigan State House to cap out of pocket prescription co-pays at $30 per month (including insulin). In Congress, I’ll fight to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and put a cap on out of pocket costs for medication. No one should have to choose between paying for their life saving medications and buying food or paying rent.
Our criminal justice system isn’t just broken, it is systematically racist. The US leads the world in incarceration rates. Black people are stopped, detained, arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated at a significantly higher rate than white people. Millions of people are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. Reagan era propaganda did irrefutable damage to communities of color. The system needs a serious overhaul.
End the War on Drugs
The only thing the war on drugs has accomplished is mass incarceration. It has never stopped the flow of drugs in this country. No one should be in prison for non-violent drug offenses. Addiction is a disease, people need care and treatment, not jail or prison. Marijuana needs to be legalized federally, people currently incarcerated for marijuana must be released and marijuana convictions need to be expunged.
Ban For-Profit Prisons
The prison industrial complex is one of the biggest of fronts to human dignity that exists today. Creating a profit motive to keep people incarcerated will only accomplish one thing, keeping people incarcerated. What is often overlooked is the human aspect to this, the people in jail are mothers, fathers, siblings, sons, daughters. They are loved and missed by their family and friends. They are missing out on their lives & their children’s lives. And the loved ones on the outside foot the bill, for commissary & phone calls, often while struggling to stay afloat themselves. For profit prisons are one of the worst results of capitalism and I vow to sponsor legislation to end them.
Mental health is particularly important to me because I lost my first wife, the mother of my children, to mental illness. I know first hand the devastation and grief that untreated mental health issues cause, not only was I heartbroken, my sons lost their mom and I had to be brave to support them. I do not want any family to experience that loss, which is why mental health treatment is one of my top priorities.
The System is Broken
The Mental Health system in the US is broken, they do not have enough resources to treat everyone, there are very few long term care facilities for mental health due to the shut down of state hospitals in 1996. There are seven counties in the UP that do not have a single therapist, psychiatrist or substance abuse treatment facility. The mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities we have lack the funding and staff needed to meet clients’ needs.
Therapists and social workers are leaving the field entirely due to huge caseloads, low pay, lack of administrative support and bureaucratic barriers that prevent them from providing the help and resources their clients desperately need. Millions of people who need mental health and substance abuse treatment are either unaware of the resources available or encounter so much red tape while seeking treatment, that they give up. Michigan was already in an opioid crisis when covid hit and exacerbated mental health issues. I will sponsor legislation to increase funding for mental health and substance treatment, require and fund treatment centers in every county.
Housing & Jobs
Mental health and substance abuse issues do not occur in a bubble and they can’t be properly treated without also addressing systemic housing and employment issues. Even with access to a therapist and medication, many people fighting addiction struggle to stay sober because they face abuse at home, live in neighborhoods and homes with people actively using and cannot afford to move due to housing costs and lack of well paid job opportunities. If we really want to help people recover, then we must increase access to subsidized housing and remove barriers to gainful employment.
What I’ve Done
In the Michigan State House, I’ve sponsored the following bills to support mental health:
House Bill 4929: is part of the Behavioral Health Reform package that aims to improve access to quality services for behavioral health. The package allows for effective, uniformed service, and greater public accountability on providers as a single entity. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would be solely responsible for the system proposed in this package. Allowing for easier and more direct access and less “red tape” to cut through to obtain services.
House Bill 5120: would increase required mental health first aid training and self-care technique training for law enforcement. This bill is intended to equip our officers with the best methods to de-escalate a situation involving someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Additionally, this will teach police officers how to recognize their own mental health crises and provide them tools on how to best manage them. Equipping officers with proper, up-to-date training along with providing them with tools on how to best manage their own mental health needs will result in safer interactions between community members and police officers, putting a stronger focus on community policing.
House Bill 5122: would require a school district, intermediate school district, or public-school academy to employ or contract at least 1 school psychologist and 1 school social worker. Presently, many school districts in our state, specifically districts with a higher at-risk student population, lack access to counseling services for students. Ensuring our students have access to mental health professionals during school hours would improve their learning environment and will encourage them to utilize various resources while developing healthy behavioral health habits.
House Bill 5123: would require mental health first aid training and self-care techniques for correction officers. The bill is meant to make sure our officers recognize when an inmate is coping with a mental health disorder and how best to interact with that individual. Our correctional system is an environment filled with tensions and stress. Self-care techniques will help to equip corrections officers to fight against that stress to prevent it from affecting the way they treat those who are incarcerated. This will allow for safer and more effective interactions.
I know firsthand that access to education has the ability to lift people out of poverty, and am committed to making sure everyone in the 13th district has access to top quality education, regardless of their zip code. As a member of the appropriations committee, I worked on a budget that provided the highest level of per-pupil funding in Michigan history. I also successfully advocated for $94 million specifically to improve literacy programs in Detroit. In Congress, I will fight to make sure all children receive a high quality education, regardless of what zip code they live in. I will fund pre-k and early education and work to ensure public universities are free for students whose families earn less than $200,000 per year. I will also undo all the damage the Betsy Devoss voucher program has done, by writing a bill to ban for-profit charter schools.
Taking Care of Our Teachers
Schools need funding, for smaller class sizes, for research based school improvement strategies and for staff. Our schools do not have enough teachers, largely in part due to working conditions that are causing teachers to leave the profession altogether. They need policies to address barriers, rooted in poverty, to academic success and support from parents and the community. Teachers spend almost $500 each annually to pay for school supplies, and this number continues to rise while their salaries do not. Our teachers need the right to bargain collectively, to be included in educational decision making. They need safe and healthy working conditions and securely funded retirement pensions to attract more qualified teachers to the field.
I am committed to increasing the staff of guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists in Detroit area schools. These professionals help to identify students’ needs and provide essential services to help them succeed. In 2018, the Detroit Free Press reported, “In Michigan, on average, one counselor is assigned to as many as 732 students. That’s the third-highest counselor-to-student ratio in the country.”
And Michigan is one of only 15 states without class size laws. Neither our students nor our teachers will succeed in an overcrowded classroom. We have a lot of work to do, and our children deserve no less from us.
Universal Early Childhood Education
Educational programs must start during early childhood. When education begins earlier, we know that outcomes improve. Even before kindergarten, young children have a tremendous capacity to absorb knowledge. We must develop pre-school programs to nurture their abilities. Michigan has two programs currently: Head Start and MSRP, but due to financial criteria there are gaps in these programs. Research shows that early childhood education is important for several reasons: it teaches social and emotional skills, it increases the likelihood of graduating high school, leads to higher grades, and can actually improve health outcomes as adults. We must provide early childhood education to every child, regardless of financial status.
Undoing the DeVos Damage
The DeVos charter school scheme is destroying our education system in Michigan and has hit Detroit the hardest, contributing to the closure of half the public schools. Betsy DeVoss spends millions of dollars annually lobbying Republicans to support her agenda. Voucher programs are funneling millions of dollars of funding away from public schools annually. Since their inception, test scores have dropped dramatically. Hazel Park actually switched from public to Charter Schools in 2012, and lost their high school as a result. Charter schools are not subject to the same oversight as public schools and are not required to provide the same accommodations to students with special needs. The bottom line is that schools are meant to educate children, not increase profits for investors.
Fully Funding IDEA
In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures that children with disabilities receive free and appropriate public education. At the time, Congress promised to pay for 40% of the cost of special education, but is nowhere close to fulfilling that promise. In Congress, I will fight to fulfill the promise to fund 40% of IDEA.
Funding IDEA would ensure that children with special needs receive the appropriate education needed to excel. When schools can fulfill the needs of students with disabilities, the entire student body succeeds. Furthermore, federal funding of IDEA would ensure that school districts can use their budgets to fund other needs, like hiring and training teachers and support staff or keeping programs and extracurricular activities that benefit children.
Investing in infrastructure
I am appalled when I see the dismal conditions in some Detroit schools: forty or more students packed in a classroom, rainwater on gym floors, teachers paying for supplies from their own pockets, no art or music classes, no science or chemistry labs, teachers and students afraid for their safety, and kids wearing winter jackets in the classroom for lack of adequate heating. This is completely unacceptable and has to stop. We must fix our failing school infrastructure, to ensure our children have the right environment to learn and succeed. As a State Representative, I was proud to work on a budget which included the largest funding for education in Michigan history. Billions will be going to rebuilding facilities and renovating schools. In Congress, I’ll fight to bring more dollars to our school districts, so we can continue to help our kids thrive, regardless of their zip code.
Higher Education and Skills Training
I know firsthand the value of a good education. Education was key to helping me overcome poverty, build successful businesses and create hundreds of high paying jobs. I want to ensure everyone has that same opportunity. That’s why I support free public college. I also know that college is not the right path for everyone and there are other ways to find good, high paying jobs. The skilled workforce is the backbone of our societal infrastructure and should be treated with such respect. Apprenticeships are often funded, paid, provide hands-on training & experience, don’t result in debt, and provide an actual pathway to employment. That’s why I also support free skills training and vocational schools.
The Flint water crisis is one of the main reasons why I decided to run for office in 2016. I was outraged by the criminal negligence of elected officials, who exposed nearly 100,000 residents to lead, killed 12 people and left thousands more with permanent health issues. Growing up, I did not have running water in my home and we had to walk to water sources and carry water back to our house, but at least it didn’t poison us. At the rate we are going with environmental policies my grandchildren will not have much of a future.
Green New Deal Pledge
The climate crisis is an extenstial threat to our way of life. As a scientist and chemist, I know firsthand how important it is to protect our environment. I am a proud champion of the Green New Deal Pledge. The Green New Deal is a set of nine bills that represent some of the strongest pieces of climate and environmental justice legislation to date. These bills will provide funding for infrastructure, schools, cities and farmers to move toward net zero emissions, all while keeping our skilled trade workers employed. They would address environmental racism, end government subsidies for oil companies and stop new fossil fuel leasing on public lands and waters.
Access to Clean water
Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right. Since 2014, more than 140,000 Detroiters have had their water shut off due to inability to pay their water bills. At the same time Nestle is able to extract millions of gallons of water from the Great Lakes daily, for a mere $200 per year and sell it at massive profits- often back to Michiganders. To address this issue, I will sponsor legislation that creates a water affordability plan.
Every day that Line 5 stays in operation puts our Great Lakes at risk. It is not a matter of if Line 5 will leak, it is a matter of when it will. Which is why I voted to shut it down completely. Line 5 is a 68-year-old pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Straits. It carries 23 million gallons of oil daily from Western Canada, through Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario. Between 5-10% of the Oil actually goes to Michigan. U of M scientists call it the worst possible placement for pipelines in the Great Lakes, which is why I voted for Line 5 to be decommissioned immediately.
The Great Lakes account for 22% of the world’s freshwater supply and 85% of freshwater in the US. A spill in the Mackinac Straits will pollute our drinking water, kill wildlife in and around the Great Lakes and destroy our summer tourism industry.
Southwest Detroit, specifically the 48217 zip code where nearly 90% of the population is people of color, is the most polluted area in Michigan. There are more than two dozen pollutant-producing facilities in the area, anyone who has driven through this area knows the smell. Residents and doctors suspect that exposure to air pollution is causing cancer, yet there is no funding for research. I believe we need to start with securing research funding, then use the results of that research to force companies to reduce pollution levels and pay for health damages they have created.
Investing in green infrastructure & banning new polluters
We have very little time left to mitigate the effects of climate change and need aggressive policies to do so. The UAW Local 58 is leading the way for green energy in Detroit with its Net Zero Energy hall. Net Zero Energy means creating enough energy through green alternatives such as solar power and geothermal energy, to meet energy needs without contributing to carbon emissions. I will work to secure funding for existing businesses to make similar updates and sponsor legislation that requires any new construction to meet stringent emissions standards.
Government should work for the people it represents, not just wealthy corporations and special interests. We need to restore people’s trust in our government and it’s crucial that we root out any semblance of corruption in Congress. We need to ensure our government is focused on improving the day to day lives of everyday Americans, not the privileged few.
I pledge never to take a dime of corporate PAC money, and will fight tirelessly to fight the corporate control of Congress. I support efforts to ban Congress people from trading stocks. No one in Congress should be able to use information received as part of their office to enrich themselves. I also support other solutions like a ban on Congress people becoming lobbyists after they leave office, overturning Citizens United, getting money out of politics, and more.
Time and again, we see the unnecessary killing of unarmed people, usually black men, by police, from George Floyd to Patrick Lyoya. Unfortunately, we rarely see justice and many times the police officers receive little to no punishment for killing unarmed people. This is state sanctioned murder and it must end.
The purpose of our police is to keep us safe and serve the community, but that often does not seem to reflect reality. There are clear, concrete steps we can take to begin to address this tragedy. In Congress, here are some of the things I would support:
Demilitarize the police: There’s no reason why police should have military grade weapons of war. The 1033 program allows the government to transfer excess military equipment to state and local police forces. I would support legislation that ends the transfer of such equipment to police.
End qualified immunity: Qualified immunity essentially acts as a “get out of jail free” card for many police officers. Officers that commit acts of police brutality should be held personally responsible and liable for their actions and should not be able to hide behind this outdated policy.
Change the standard of force: Police officers should prioritize and focus on de-escalation, especially when the suspect is unarmed or nonviolent. Lethal force should only be a “last standard” and any police officer that unnecessarily causes death or physical injury should face charges. I would support legislation banning chokeholds, no knock warrants, and other unnecessary tactics that could lead to more civilian deaths.
Better training and technology: Any police department that receives any federal assistance should have mandatory implicit/explicit bias training and racial sensitivity training. I would also provide funding to expand the use of body cameras and make it mandatory that it must be on at all times, and require termination if an officer turns off their camera while interacting with civilians. I would also provide funding to increase mental health services for police, and make sure police are fit to serve our communities.
Increase oversight of police departments: We need more civilian oversight of police departments. I would also work to ensure the civil rights division of the DOJ is proactively working with police departments to ensure training is compassionate, focuses on de-escalation, and is not in violation of anyone’s civil rights.
As a State Representative, I introduced a ‘Justice For All’ Bill Package in Michigan. This package of bills aims to hold officers accountable for their mistakes or for an excessive use of force. It would require proper training for our officers to ensure they treat everyone equally, recognize mental health crises, and to ensure they recognize and reject any implicit prejudices or biases. In Congress, I would support legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which addresses many of the issues above. It is not an exhaustive list, and I’m sure there’s much more that can be done. I would work with experts, activists, and organizations to ensure we do everything possible to make sure our communities are safe and our police departments are doing the right thing.
To this day LGBTQX+ members of our community face discrimination, oppression, and isolation from our society. I believe that we must work towards LGBTQX+ inclusion. It is time that we treat the LGBTQX+ community equally under laws including the right to marry and adopt. In Congress I’ll work to pass the Equality Act, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, and work to ensure federal funding does not support any kind of discrimination basion on gender identity and expression or sexual orientation.
In an effort to work towards equality for the LGBTQX+ community I have introduced a bill in the Marriage Equality Legislation package.
The 54 bills included in this package would amend discriminatory laws that oppress parents and spouses within the LGBTQX community and would repeal bans on same-sex marriage.
The changes were recommended by the Michigan Law Revision Commission to bring Michigan into compliance with the US Constitution following the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodges six years ago. It is time we stop stripping away individuals’ rights for being who they are. I believe that everyone deserves the right to marry whomever they love.