1. Why are you a candidate for election to the House representing District 8 and what qualifications make you the best choice for this office?
The belief that our state desperately needs new people with new ideas in order to succeed in the future is what has driven me to run for the Wyoming legislature. At a time when our fiscal problems go beyond across the board cutting Wyoming needs a diverse legislative body that brings fresh ideas to our state.
With a Bachelors Degree in Public Administration and a law degree from the University of Wyoming I bring a solid background of advocacy for good government, equitable public policy and civil liberties protections to the legislature. My experience as a Vista Volunteer, child abuse investigator for Adams County Social Services, Executive Director of Northeastern Colorado Community Action, Laramie County Community Action, Southeastern Wyoming Legal Services and Wyoming American Civil Liberties Union shows my solid commitment to people and the community.
As a lobbyist I worked on social issues, Constitutional protections including privacy and freedom of speech, and criminal justice reform especially juvenile justice issues. I have an excellent background in the legislative process and have worked with legislators of both parties effectively.
2. What are the top three issues the state faces and how to you propose to address each?
Wyoming’s state budget is once again suffering from policy makers reluctance to make a thorough analysis of expenditures and taxation in order to provide necessary public services and maintain a balanced budget. After across the board cuts for all agencies just months ago state agencies are now being asked to cut even more from their budgets. Reliance on the minerals industry will continue to provide a basic instability to the tax structure. In depth study and research must be done on an equitable way to not only broaden current revenue sources but explore new revenue sources if Wyoming is to continue to have a viable state economy. Legislators must make economic decisions that are not only good for business but good for taxpayers and workers including low-income, seniors and disabled in our communities. Our state must provide support for those communities and workers that are going to be hardest hit by the downturn in our economy; so far the legislature has simply fiddled while the fire started -- soon it will be a blaze.
Thirty three states have now expanded Medicaid coverage in order to cover low income workers, Utah being the most recent. For the fourth year in a row Wyoming legislators denied this coverage to Wyoming citizens. The majority of people who are not currently covered by Medicaid are Wyoming’s working poor. At a time when Wyoming’s unemployment rate is rising, our largest coal producers are declaring bankruptcy and we are facing a severe budget crisis; Medicaid Expansion would have brought $268 million tax dollars back into our state. Medicaid expansion would have freed up money spent on programs for the uninsured and allowed the legislature to use those saving for other priority programs.
In 2010 Wyoming spent over $9 million dollars enforcing marijuana laws. Over 90% of the arrests made were for simple possession. Many of those arrested were young people and the consequences of these arrests can be devastating for our children’s future. Arrests can result in permanent criminal records that can effect employment, credit, student loan eligibility, veterans’ benefits, child custody arrangements or licensure for certain professions. As many states in our nation legalize medical marijuana or even personal use and possession to continue to spend millions in tax dollars to arrest, prosecute and jail ordinary citizens is unconscionable. It is past time to legalize the use of medical marijuana and to decriminalize personal possession. The state has no business making personal healthcare or recreation decisions for its citizens.