SAMMI BROWN BELIEVES IN, WORKS TOWARD, AND FIGHTS FOR:
To be the #BESTVirginia, we need to be a Healthy West Virginia. We rank second to last in the US for life expectancy, and are in the bottom ten of healthy states. Medicare and Medicaid are essential to make sure we don’t hurt even more.
However, while the country that we made with our bare hands has become the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, we are the ONLY major industrialized country that doesn't provide health care for all individuals. We spend the most on health care, yet receive the least amount of care and struggle to survive through medical bills, with the ever looming risk of medical bankruptcy.
Our own West Virginian teachers stood up for themselves because of soaring health care costs. Not only were premiums rising, but insurers were using demeaning prerequisites like weight or blood pressure to justify price hikes. And even though our teachers won long-due pay raise, without a long-term solution, premiums will rise again, PEIA will not see sustainable funding. This was the primary concern behind the work stoppage. If we do NOT address this now, we’ll see history repeat itself (And, yes, we’ll be right back on the line with them.)
We have an opportunity to end this now. In order to protect and strengthen Medicare, we must truly invest in it and expand it to all. As your delegate, I will:
• Fight with my brothers and sisters working on Medicare For All across the state and country, which will provide all residents with high-quality care, including dental, vision, prescription drugs, physical and occupational therapy, and mental health services without co-pays, premiums and deductibles.
• Protect existing WV Medicaid and Medicare funding from devastating cuts that hurt seniors and our most vulnerable West Virginians.
• Stop greedy insurers from charging more or denying coverage because of increased age or pre-existing conditions.
• Invest in preventive healthcare, including funding programs for substance abuse and addiction, mental health, and suicide prevention
We keep missing opportunities to invest in West Virginians because our elected officials ask for little to nothing from big business. While we must continue to incentivize business, we can also find ways for both corporations and the state to invest in each other. But until we have a real representative negotiating for us, working West Virginians will continue to lose.
Our politicians, controlled by corporate interests, leave too many opportunities off the table when working to bring development to West Virginia. By asking next to nothing of big business and the ultra wealthy, we not only lose millions of dollars to adjacent states, but also our best and brightest. When our politicians don’t fight for our best interests, we lose.
As your delegate, I will propose economic reforms which include:
• Fair employment means fair wages. Nobody in West Virginia should need 2-3 jobs to barely make ends meet. We must invest in West Virginians with a living wage of $15 per hour, phased in over a period of time, while exploring earned income credits and other ways to help working families thrive today.
• Remove the WV income tax from Social Security payments.
• Reform our state income tax. Remove the tax burden off the backs of working West Virginians and demand true investment from large corporations. Reinvest in Working Families through Earned Income Tax Credit.
• Work together with the business community to reinvest in the community via Corporate Social Responsibility partnerships.
• Reduce the inventory tax for small businesses. Small businesses create local opportunity and pride, and can even become economic drivers. We must work to reduce startup costs, encourage local hiring and foster innovation.
• Restore a worker’s freedom to negotiate in the workplace, creating a climate that fosters transparency, growth, and quality of life.
• Champion and fund Charles Town’s involvement in West Virginia’s Main Street Community as well as other initiatives to highlight both Charles Town and Ranson as notable, inviting destinations in our state.
• Invest in thousands of high-quality, well-paying jobs to help rebuild West Virginia’s infrastructure. Use funds to work on collapsing roads, transit systems, public schools, drinking water and sewage systems, and affordable housing.
• Address our lagging internet infrastructure by seeking more internet service providers, working together to update cable and fiber connections to promote digital access for all and E-commerce opportunities.
A state that does not invest in its teachers and students will never be able to compete. We must increase access to education without decreasing quality, while finding ways to eliminate the burden of earning a decent education. West Virginia can become one of the most educated workforces in Appalachia, only if we invest in our future now.
As your delegate, I will fight to:
• Eliminate college debt for graduates. West Virginia has the highest rate of student loan defaults. Our mission must be debt-free college by working with the surrounding business community and community reinvestment programs.
• Stand alongside teachers, support personnel, troopers and other state employees with a fully funded Public Employee Insurance Agency.
• Stop losing our best public school teachers to other states by paying West Virginian teachers and employees living wages, including competitive locality pay.
• Support teachers by creating a comprehensive compensation package that includes professional development, education debt forgiveness and a competitive retirement plan.
• Champion “Work While You Learn” programs to create a highly-skilled, inclusive and accessible workforce right here at home.
My family has fought for the Army, Air Force and Navy. I regularly meet with veterans to hear about their fight abroad and at home, as they are forgotten by their government. We are proud to defend and honor our country, but I am not proud of how we treat our veterans.
West Virginia is at risk for some of the highest veteran suicide rates. Our vets have earned our nation’s gratitude and respect, but does our state treats them that way? Our veterans are suffering and self-medicating.
We must fight for our veterans and servicemen and women here at home.
As your delegate, I will:
• Create a West Virginia partnership with Local, State and Federal agencies to prioritize solutions to homelessness, PTSD and substance abuse by veterans from all wars and deployments, not just the most recent ones.
• Establish West Virginia Veterans Courts to treat, not incarcerate, our veterans suffering from substance abuse, mental health treatment and other ailments. Vets deserve the dignity and justice of being tried by their peers, not as criminals but as victims of a brutal system and PTSD.
• Spearhead programs that help our vets return to everyday life, while seeking formidable funding and grants to help veterans find and keep jobs or start businesses.
• Create a path to comprehensive mental health care.
Our state is wild and wonderful. It’s also at risk of being polluted and poisoned. We deserve the dignity of clean drinking water and fresh breathable air. We must preserve our natural resources.
I pledge to protect what makes our state so beautiful. As your delegate, I will work to:
• Keep our waterways clean, our drinking water pure and our air breathable. It is of utmost importance for West Virginians, our tourist industry and future business opportunities, especially here in Jefferson County, that we keep our communities attractive and livable.
• Increase investment in solar, wind and hydro powers to generate new streams of energy, jobs and revenue. Renewables will drive down utility costs for our residents while providing an innovative opportunity for well-paying green jobs.
• Create new programs, both online and in-person, with community colleges and state universities to prepare and train displaced coal miners, free of cost, for a future in the renewable energy industry or other sectors.
• Foster innovative tourism initiatives to attract new visitors and students to our beautiful state and show them the opportunities waiting in West Virginia.
I believe in a woman’s right to choose her health care. I believe that women should have access to safe and legal procedures. Women, as any individual, have a right to autonomy over own their bodies, and to consult with skilled, empathetic physicians in the privacy of their care. I will uphold Roe v Wade as law of the land and a tenant of privacy and the right to choose one's own medical care.
In health and all matters, women cannot be treated as second class citizens. It is unthinkable to strip any individual of their rights, particularly ones that disproportionately affect marginalized communities; and especially under circumstances of abuse, incest and rape.
Over half a million West Virginians still lack high speed broadband internet. It’s 2018, and to compete in a modern economy, we must have modern networks. All of Jefferson County needs access to high speed internet, not just DSL or satellite. How can we expect business of the digital age, like E-Commerce, to invest in West Virginia if we won’t invest in our own networks.
We cannot attract business and entrepreneurship without high speed communication. And it is unacceptable that any public schools or places of higher education rely on substandard internet connections. We cannot expect students to graduate and be competitive, working West Virginians without crucial tools.
We cannot expect West Virginia to thrive if all West Virginians are not met with dignity and respect. The opioid epidemic has crippled our workforce and destroyed families across the state. Addiction is a disease, and this epidemic was caused by the carelessness of corporate greed. Pharmaceutical companies made West Virginia ground zero for the opioid epidemic, and they must pay for our recovery. We must treat the victims of this epidemic first with compassion, and the scrupulous culprits should be held accountable, not given blank checks to do even more damage.
As your delegate, I will:
• Increase funding for training facilities, such as the successful Day Report Center here in Ranson, across WV to give people the help they need to recover.
• Expand health care access for opioid dependent individuals and ensure private insurance includes addiction treatment until we can achieve Medicare For All.
• Support impacted families through local community programs, ensuring they have access to basic needs while their kin recover.
• Hold the corporations that have used our state as a dumping ground for narcotics financially accountable. They contributed to the problem. They must now fiscally contribute to its solution.
75% of Americans believe we need to use legislation to make gun ownership safer-- and I adamantly agree. I know and respect that West Virginians are skilled sportsmen and sportswomen who exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. Therefore, I support increased Mental Health Screenings, stricter background checks and proper comprehensive training initiatives to uphold safe, skilled gun ownership. To continue as-is while school shootings occur on average once per week and nearly 100 Americans are killed with firearms every DAY, is irresponsible. I believe we must be proactive to make our communities safe.
The full legalization of cannabis is the best option for West Virginia. The recent medical marijuana legislation is too restrictive and limits the majority of West Virginians’ freedom to access the therapeutic and pain relief effects of THC and cannabinoids. What could be an effective way to reduce addiction to pain killer medication while fighting the opioid epidemic is instead choked by Big Pharma funded legislation.
People should be able to grow their own treatments and use cannabis recreationally. Marijuana is safer than both alcohol and tobacco, and West Virginia would benefit greatly from money generated from licensing residents to grow cannabis. Legalization has brought enormous economic success to Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, California, Alaska, Nevada and soon the entire country of Canada. If we don’t fully legalize now, we will miss an opportunity to bring a major economic driver to West Virginia.