Protection of Our Natural Environment and Climate
I have devoted my life to environmental protection in my education, career, teaching at Penn State, and service on many non-profit and government boards and committees. I can bring my recognized knowledge and prestige to the General Assembly to improve its legislation. Disruption of our climate from greenhouse gas pollution poses an existential threat to the health and well-being of our children, grandchildren and future generations. I have submitted a rule-making petition to reduce Pennsylvania’s emissions to the extent necessary to become carbon neutral by 2050 and avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption. More must be done. We must:
- Implement my greenhouse gas auction cap and trade program.
- Subsidize green energy at both the household, and industrial level, using the funds derived from cap-and-trade auctions.
- Encourage counties and municipalities to support the development of green technology.
- Build charging stations to encourage the use of electric cars.
- Support creation of a carbon capture system.
- Fund programs to counter the harm already done by climate change.
- Restore the funding dedicated to environmental conservation and unconstitutionally transferred to the general fund. Secure additional funding dedicated to environmental conservation and open space and to upgrade our crumbling environmental infrastructure.
- Give citizens standing to sue the state on the basis of their environmental rights.
- Reestablish DEP enforcement funding, which has been cut; mandate higher permit and emissions fees in water, waste and other programs.
- Ensure water quality, greenhouse gas regulation and worker safety by establishing a statewide pipeline siting program and strict monitoring requirements.
- Impose a severance tax on oil and natural gas consistent with all other oil and gas producing states. Apply the severance tax to all fossil fuel.
Free and Fair Elections
The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. I am proud to have been an award-winning plaintiff in the litigation which eliminated gerrymandering at the federal level. Legislative and constitutional reforms are required to assure fair districts following the 2020 census and into the future. We must:
- Pass legislation to amend Pennsylvania’s constitution to establish a non-partisan redistricting commission.
- Make all primary and general election days a state holiday.
- Remove restrictions on using absentee ballots and allow mail-in voting for all eligible voters.
- Provide for early voting in all elections.
Jobs and Economic Growth
Working to improve our environment, infrastructure, education system, prison reform, and more, we will spur economic growth and create new jobs in the Commonwealth. I support the following additional principles:
- Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour and index it to inflation.
- Support the right to unionize.
Pennsylvania’s system of water and sewer supply, public transportation, rail and roads, bridges, pipelines and other critical infrastructure is crumbling and in desperate need of repair. Upgrades are essential to meet the needs of a changing economy and world. We must provide funding for repair and upgrade of all infrastructure without imposing new taxes on wealth-creating activities. This can be accomplished with auction revenues on greenhouse gas emissions, a universal oil, gas and mineral severance tax, and pollution and permit fees proposed elsewhere that will both create new revenues and free up other general fund monies.
Protection of Pennsylvanians’ Fundamental Rights
I will support efforts to promote fundamental rights secured by the Pennsylvania Constitution, the federal Constitution, and commonwealth and federal laws. I will vigorously oppose efforts to impair these rights.
Right to Choose
I support a woman’s right to choose and to make her own health care decisions without interference by the state or employers. I will fight to remove current restrictions and roadblocks on the right to choose in Pennsylvania.
Right to Health Care
Health care is a universal right. I come from a family with five generations of physicians and know the system from the perspective of the caregivers. In the absence of federal action, I will explore mechanisms to establish a single payer universal health care system in Pennsylvania that still allows for those to elect to purchase private insurance but guarantees health care for all.
Criminal Justice Reform
Our penal system should be designed to reform and educate offenders. Sentences are imposed disproportionately upon the poor and minorities. We must reduce the prison population in Pennsylvania.
- Marijuana should be decriminalized. Those imprisoned for use or possession should be released, and records should be expunged.
- Those imprisoned for low level use or possession of other drugs should be committed to treatment rather than prison.
- Cash bail should be eliminated as there are thousands in jail solely because of their socioeconomic status.
Freedom from Discrimination
Pennsylvania anti-discrimination laws do not fully extend their protections to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity. I will seek to amend those laws to prohibit all forms of discrimination.
Education is a right guaranteed by the Pennsylvania Constitution. I served on the Board of Westtown School for twelve years and have three children who completed higher education. College graduates are hamstrung by huge burdens of the loans necessary for a college education. Furthermore, Pennsylvania’s school districts are not receiving sufficient financial assistance from Harrisburg. We need to revise the funding formula and local tax structure to ensure there is fair funding provided to every school in PA. We must:
- Provide adequate funding to make a college education affordable for all.
- Provide state assistance for funding for universal preschool across the Commonwealth.
- Reform the funding formula for support of schools.
- Provide school districts with alternatives to real estate taxes.
- Make greater provision for state loans and provide forgiveness of excessive student loans for those who commit to work in the Commonwealth.
Protection of Children
We must protect children from abuse by removing the statute of limitations for civil actions for child abuse for all past and future actions so victims can receive justice and to prevent pervasive abuse from continuing.
Fiscal Responsibility and Tax Reform
The General Assembly has been creating “balanced” budgets out of smoke and mirrors, transferring restricted funds in a manner that our Supreme Court has held to be unconstitutional, and selling off infrastructure and using accounting gimmicks. I support the following tax reforms:
- Auction greenhouse gas allowances, impose a universal oil, gas and mineral severance tax, and legalize and tax recreational marijuana.
- Pass a Constitutional Amendment to impose a graduated income tax and allow higher millage rates in the taxation of commercial and industrial properties.
- Expand the local wage tax to include interest, dividend and capital gains income.
- Restore authorization for the former tax on wealth other than real estate and make it available to schools.
- Impose a requirement that all schools impose the expanded wage tax to reduce reliance on property taxes and reestablish the tax on securities not in retirement or school savings accounts.
The opioid epidemic has impacted all of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has treated addicts as criminals instead of people in need of treatment. The Commonwealth must:
- Provide funding to address the victims of the opioid epidemic by providing direct grants to local areas to establish treatment centers and other solutions.
- Provide for treatment in the first instance for addiction as an alternative to criminal prosecution to keep people out of the criminal system.
- Ensure increased funding for our mental health system.
Farming and Forestry
Pennsylvania has some of the richest farmland and most productive forests in the world. My family has given away development rights to conserve our family farm for future generations. The Commonwealth should take further action to assure that these resources are sustained and supported in a world with a greater need for food and fiber. We should:
- Provide additional support for young farmers, organic farming and urban and community agriculture.
- Support programs to use sustainably produced wood products in construction and for energy.
- Restore funding for farmland and forestland conservation.
Preventing Gun Violence
It is critical that we prevent the uncontrolled and irresponsible use of firearms that has resulted in mass killings in places that should be safe. As an owner of guns for hunting, I know that Pennsylvania must enact reasonable restrictions on firearms that still respect the Commonwealth’s long tradition of hunting and outdoor sports. We must:
- Limit the number of annual gun purchases.
- Prohibit gun sales to individuals with a history of violence and those under restraining orders.
- Prohibit all automatic and semi-automatic weapons except in the hands of law enforcement or within licensed firing ranges.
- Prohibit gun possession within 100 yards of any school, church, government building, stadium or other venue open to the public with a capacity greater than 100 individuals.
- Prohibit concealed carry.
- Ban high capacity magazines.