THE ISSUES

For many working families, the American dream is no longer within reach due to only modest increases in the average American family’s income and the skyrocketing costs of healthcare, housing, higher education and even basic needs such as groceries. Those families who earn minimum wage must choose between whether they can pay their rent or eat. Between the years of 2009 and 2014, 58% of all new income went to the top 1% of Americans while one of in five children in America live below the poverty line. I was one of those kids.

A democracy means a chance for all of us to improve our lives, not just the lives of the wealthiest Americans. Yet, since the 1980’s, the lion’s share of opportunities in our nation are in the hands of the billionaires and multimillionaires, not working families. To level the playing field and make America the land of opportunity, we must provide a living wage of at least $15 per hour to all workers and provide our students with access to free public university education and vocational training which would benefit many in our rural district where over 50% of households in the district live on less than $50,000 per year and over 25% of households live on less than $25,000 per year.

Some of the hardest work in our country is performed by our immigrants who work on our farms to ensure we have food on our table and who construct our homes. Whether our ancestors came to the America many generations ago. My husband immigrated to the US from Holland, and my great grandparents immigrated from Slovenia and Croatia. My great grandmother was a laundress and my great grandfather poured cement.

We must also close the tax loopholes and low rates which corporations, real estate and passive investors have taken advantage of to the detriment of those who must work for a living. We are also the only developed country which does not provide universal healthcare to its citizens primarily because of the lobbying power of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Healthcare is a right and not a privilege of only those who can afford it. We must elect members of Congress who place the needs of their voters ahead of large corporations.

Roosevelt envisioned four key freedoms for America: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. I would add to these freedoms the right to know each of our votes in our democracy counts by taking dark money out of our political process.

Let’s take America back for the people!

CLICK ONE OF THE ISSUES BELOW TO LEARN MORE

AGRICULTURE & TECHNOLOGY

Agriculture is a key industry in our congressional district. It is the largest industry in Butte County with revenue of $705.2 million in 2016, and a significant part of economic activity in Nevada County ($20.9 million in 2016), Tehama County ($300 million in 2016), Shasta County ($80.1 million in 2016) and many of the other 7 counties in District 1. Our agricultural industry includes livestock and timber as well as fruit, nut and olive orchards, rice, produce and bees which are critical to the success of our orchards and crops. In fact, my husband, Vincent, is a bee keeper and a member of the Nevada County Beekeeper’s Association.

Our current federal farm subsidized insurance program primarily benefits less profitable crops rather than more profitable ones or nutritious organic produce. In addition, the farm subsidized insurance program does not sufficiently support farms that implement water conservation and soil regeneration.  The most heavily subsidized crop is corn, followed by wheat, soybeans, and rice. Between 1995 and 2010, corn subsidies accounted for over $77 billion in taxpayer dollars. This subsidization of crops with less nutritional value effectively bolsters the sale of unhealthy food, such as items containing corn syrup.  If federal legislation prioritized healthier crops, including organic produce, nutritious food would be less expensive. Purchasing fresh veggies should not be more expensive than a fast-food meal; yet, preparing a healthy meal costs more because of the subsidized insurance program for corn, wheat, and other products: primary ingredients in fast-food.  As a result, why would a farmer choose to plant organic tomatoes, a more valuable and nutritious crop, when the government will effectively “insure” a crop such as corn by guaranteeing a price for corn even if the market price is actually lower?

The end result is that healthier food is less abundant and more expensive, which predominantly impacts lower income families who must choose between feeding their families a fast-food meal or one vegetable dish. These families are more likely to suffer from obesity and preventable diseases such as diabetes. To address these concerns, I support amendments to our current federal subsidized insurance policies by incentivizing farmers to produce organic, profitable and nutritious crops. I also support the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (HR 1414) which provides the opportunity for schools to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables and increases funding for community food projects as well as the seniors’ farmers market nutrition program.

Bees are critical to the successful yields of our farms and orchards, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken action to protect pollinators from pesticide spray and dust applications, specifically prohibiting the use of certain neonicotinoid pesticides when bees are present. In addition, the EPA works to advance the science of protecting pollinators and providing risk management data.  While a multitude of factors can result in the premature death of bees and collapse of their colonies, strong correlations are evident between pesticide misuse and bee colony performance. The Trump Administration and incumbent Congressman Doug LaMalfa, have voted to cut the EPA’s budget despite its valuable role to our agricultural industry.

I support increasing the EPA’s budget and coordinating efforts between the EPA and local agencies to protect our farms and pollinators.

We can improve the productivity of our agricultural industry by providing federal grants, loans and low-interest mortgages to purchase farmland for farms that emphasize the production of organic produce, practice water conservation, employ technology to improve soil conservation, and maximize crop yields.  For example, increased usage of drones to monitor crops as well as software applications to measure the quality of soil improve the profitability and output of our farms. According to Dominic Calabrese, a professor of physics at Sierra College, in his column in the Auburn Journal, “Federally funded scientific research has resulted in new agricultural innovations-GPS systems that guide combines, [and] high-tech alloys that optimize harvesters” as well as satellite images, and sensors which can determine sap-flow to optimize watering. According to the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), precision technology such as soil mapping provides farmers with an aggregation of soil samples and use zones to show soil types, soil nitrate levels, and pH acidity. By investing in research and development and improved soil sensor technologies, farmers will have access to real-time data on soil texture, organic matter, and pH level.

Most of the farms throughout the United States are owned by mega corporations and absentee land owners, not small, family-owned farms. As a result, the $20 billion or more paid in farm subsidies is received primarily by big, rich farmers. Farm subsidy recipients have even included Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen (rock stars), members of the Walton family (the owners of Walmart), and our very own Congressman, Doug LaMalfa. The LaMalfa Family Partnership took in over $5.2 million in farm subsidies from 1995-2013. These individuals are not low-income or struggling farmers. According to the Government Accountability Office, between 2007 and 2011, $3 million in subsidies were paid to 2,300 farms which did not even grow crops!

I support innovation, efficiency and sustainability in farming, and as your next Congresswoman, I would co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2017 (HR 4316) which increases opportunities for beginning farmers while incentivizing responsible environmental practices. The Act specifically reduces the number of operating years required for a beginning farmer to qualify for a real estate loan, provides access to credit for young farmers between the ages of 19-35, and provides vocational training for veterans. I also support the Growing Safe Food Act of 2009 (S 2758) which educates farmers about safe and sustainable farming practices as well as providing grants to farms that have – or are transitioning to – certified organic production.

Our farms also depend on the hard work and dedication of our immigrant workers, many of whom now live in fear or who have come under attack because they are undocumented. California is home to over two million undocumented immigrants, and it is estimated that nearly 6 out of 10 farm laborers are undocumented. Farmers agree that it is difficult to recruit native-born Americans for labor-intensive farm work, and without immigrants, many farms would suffer severely, leaving crops on the field.

I would also co-sponsor legislation in support of the “blue card” program to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented farm workers. Many of our farmworkers live in the shadows and under exploitative labor practices like wage depression and unsafe exposure to pesticides and toxins. We can do better, and we can change this!

Agriculture continues to play a key economic role in rural America, including California’s District 1.  We can improve crop yields and access to healthy, fresh food by providing farmers with incentives to use advanced technologies to produce organic and nutritious crops sustainably. In addition, we must improve opportunities for beginning farmers and Veterans by providing access to funding in order to purchase land and increase reliance on innovations to improve water consumption and soil conservation while providing a path to citizenship for those who perform some of the most labor-intensive work on America’s farms.

COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS

In our rural district, many families enjoy the sport of hunting and shooting and are responsible gun owners, including my husband, Vincent.  However, we recognize that critical and long-overdue legislation is needed to protect our children and prevent murders and mass shootings while allowing those who enjoy target practice and hunting to continue to enjoy these outdoor activities.

Since the beginning of 2018, we have witnessed over 17 school shootings in less than 3 months. The murderer in the horrific mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, obtained an AR-15 legally, leaving 17 dead and 14 wounded. 

In 2017, Las Vegas was struck by the deadliest mass shooting to occur in the United States.  On October 1st of last year, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured. The gunman committed this atrocity by using a bump fire stock to allow his semi-automatic weapon to fire at a rate similar to a fully automatic weapon.  He purchased the guns and bump stock legally. Yet, following this massacre, not a single law has been passed at the federal level to prevent this bloodshed from occurring again.

How can we stop this nightmare and give our families the assurance that their kids will not be victims to a mass shooting when they are dropped off at school? How can we prevent firearms from getting into the hands of the wrong individuals?     

Federal law currently allows gun purchasers to acquire firearms without any form of background check, whatsoever, at gun shows and from private parties. This loophole puts everyone at risk.  And, arming our teachers is not the solution. In fact, more accidents are likely to occur. Instead, I would co-sponsor legislation requiring instant background checks and a safety license permit.  Such a permit could be obtained by attending a gun safety training course and receiving authorization from the instructor that the prospective gun purchaser understands key safety considerations in connection with operating a firearm.  Background checks and safety license permits should be required not only at the time of purchase of firearms at retail locations, but also on the secondary market such as gun shows or from private sellers.

I support legislation that would ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines of over ten rounds, as well as bump stocks which effectively convert a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic weapon. Responsible gun owners who currently own semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines would be permitted to keep such weapons and magazines. However, all bump stocks would be categorically banned.  Data obtained by Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts demonstrates that during the ban on assault weapons, gun massacres fell by 37%.  Following expiration of the ban in 2004, gun massacres increased by 183%! If we could save just one life by implementing a ban on the sale of semi-automatic weapons, it would be worth it.

We must prevent firearms from getting into the hands of those who are a danger to themselves and to others by reinstating regulations (which the current administration revoked) requiring the Social Security Administration to provide quarterly disclosures to the national gun background check system about individuals with mental illness. In addition, we must provide our law enforcement with the power to seize firearms from individuals whom they determine pose a threat to the community.           

Why hasn’t this common sense legislation been passed?  Because of the donations which hundreds of Congressional representatives receive from the NRA towards their campaigns for re-election. This is unacceptable! We need a Congresswoman in California’s District 1 who takes the pledge never to accept a donation from the NRA and will fight against NRA tactics to prevent the passage of common sense legislation to keep our families and communities safe.  We will not let the NRA dictate its special interests in favor of the gun lobby over the lives of our children and all Americans.

Education

Greater investment in our public schools and access to higher education, including universities and vocational training, is essential if we want to ensure the best career opportunities for our children and grandchildren and remain competitive in a global and an increasingly automated economy. Throughout the United States, significant disparities in the quality of public school education between the wealthiest regions of our country and economically depressed communities, particularly in rural areas. Many teachers are required to buy books and pencils for their students out of their own paychecks, and the United States consistently ranks below many countries including Vietnam in math and science. 

We cannot further undermine our public schools by extending vouchers for private school tuition. Instead, we must provide more federal funding for our public schools, particularly in rural and less prosperous communities to ensure all of our American children have the skills they will need to start businesses, find high paying and fulfilling jobs, buy a home and be able to raise their families with peace of mind.

With the sky high costs of college tuition, many Americans decide that they cannot afford a college education or for those who are able to obtain loans, they may graduate with debt well into the six figures. This level of debt is crippling for those graduating from college who are beginning their careers, trying to save for a home, and pay for daycare. Our graduates may spend many of their working years simply trying to climb out a mountain of student debt rather than being able to build savings. Americans on both sides of the political aisle agree that what they love about their country is the opportunity to make a better life. College education was not always as expensive as it is today. Tuition at the University of California schools was free until the 1980’s. However, from 1980-2014, the average annual increase in college tuition grew by nearly 260%, over twice as much as other consumer goods. However, those opportunities are not available if the best education is not affordable or accessible to all Americans. For that reason, it is high time we offer tuition-free public universities and vocational training.

Growing up in a family of seven kids and living below the poverty line during most of my childhood, I know the value of higher education. Because of federal financial aid and grants, I was able to receive my undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and my law and MBA degrees from the University of California at Davis. Higher education provided me with the tools to break the barriers of poverty and make a better life.

I want to serve you as your Congresswoman to ensure that opportunities for higher education are available to all Americans, not just the children of wealthy families.

For the many Americans who are struggling to repay their student loans, I support debt forgiveness programs for our teachers and doctors who commit to serve our country in rural areas, such as our district. And, we must cap the interest paid on federal student loans to 2% to relieve many working families of the burden caused by student loan payments and its hindering effects.

Access to free higher education and vocation training is critical to our nation’s future and ensuring the next generation has access to opportunities for a better life and to give back to the community.

ENDING DARK MONEY IN POLITICS

As a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, American democracy is being undermined by the ability and power of special interests and billionaire families. These wealthy contributors can essentially buy politicians and elections by spending hundreds of millions of dollars in support of the candidates of their choice. In fact, because some of the contributors can create business entities behind the donations, we may not even know where the contributions came from. We must end Citizens United and move toward public funding of elections so candidates who truly represent their constituencies can run for office without being beholden to the wealthy and powerful.

How does a Democratic candidate in the North State challenge an entrenched Republican incumbent who has signed the “Koch Brothers’ Pledge”? Our current Republican Congressman, Doug LaMalfa, pledged that he would vote against all climate change legislation which causes a net increase in government revenue, which means, according to the New Yorker (Jan. 30, 2013), “the pledge essentially commits those who sign it to vote against any meaningful bill regarding global warming.”  It also means that the Koch brothers and members of the fossil fuel industry were heavy contributors to LaMalfa’s 2016 campaign.

Incumbents, such as LaMalfa, even if disliked and incompetent, have a significant advantage over grassroots campaigns, such as ours, because they have substantial resources to pay for advertising and mailers. By way of example, we have over 700,000 people in our district, and to send a mailer to only 100,000 residences can cost approximately $80,000 for printing and postage.     

Although it isn’t necessary to match our opponent in fundraising, it is necessary to have enough funds for key voter software and outreach that would lead to victory in November. To date, all of our donations have come from individual donors, just like you, and are showing LaMalfa a race like he has never seen before, and we are honored to have the endorsement of Tech Solidarity, Supervisor Heidi Hall,  Mayor Will Stockwin among other leaders and associations in our community.

Just as Conor Lamb, Congressman-Elect in Pennsylvania, raised individual donations from supporters from throughout the country, we also have been able to reach individuals interested in helping us compete against LaMalfa and his special Interest donors.  

Fortunately, this combination of gained support from change-minded persons living in and outside of our district has led our campaign to be one of seven insurgent Democratic candidates in California who outraised their Republican incumbents in the most recent FEC reporting period (Oct.- Dec. ’17).  

Our campaign has been noted in the press statewide; San Jose Mercury News, Chico Enterprise Record, and the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and we are demonstrating to the nation that a grassroots candidate can beat an incumbent who is the puppet of special interests that work against us.  We must move towards public funding of elections and a limit on the amount of private donations that can be spent on supporting a particular candidate or legislation.  However, in order to elect a Congressional representative who will fight to end Citizens United, and because of our current system, a grassroots candidate must fundraise in order to reach voters.  To date, all of our donations have come from individuals, and I would only accept PAC or corporate PAC donations from organizations, such as unions, and companies that are fighting for our same values and rights.

ENVIRONMENT

We know climate change is real, and over 90% of scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans.

Because of warming temperatures, drought is more frequent and dead trees are more common in our forests which lead to an increase in the risk of wildfires. In our beautiful North State, which includes Lassen Volcanic National Park, our forests are one of our greatest treasures. The forests provide the watersheds that flow into our streams and rivers, which make fisheries and agriculture possible, as well as provide water to our growing population. However, reduced rainfall and increasing temperatures have led to endemic bark and ips beetle infestations which have led to a high percentage of the trees – although still standing – to either already be dead or dying. These circumstances contribute significantly to the fuel load which feeds wildfires.

The damage and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes is increasing due to rising sea levels which increase the risk of storm surge which cause high floods, leaving populated coastal cities particularly vulnerable. And, heavy rainfall during hurricanes increase with rising temperatures.    “Water is the big killer in hurricanes, not wind,” said Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist with MIT. “Wind gets everyone’s attention, but it’s water that kills, and it’s often water that does most of the damage.”

With California’s rich agricultural economy, increasing droughts, and growing population, our long-term water security is a key concern. I support federal funding to expand the storing and banking of groundwater in California’s hundreds of basins which would significantly help Californians through periods of drought. We currently allow most recycled water to flow into rivers and the Pacific Ocean. Instead, the recycled water could be used to replenish reservoirs and groundwater, being treated before being recirculated. Recycled water has been estimated to be one of the single largest sources of water supply for California over the next 25 years. By capturing the hundreds of billions of gallons of treated sewage that flow into the ocean, the estimated water saved could yield up to 1.1 million acre-feet of water annually, enough to supply 8 million people.

I am opposed to the Centennial Dam along the Bear River as well as the Sites Reservoir. Instead, I would co-sponsor The Rebuild America Act which would invest $12 billion per year to repair dams that provide drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and flood control. A lack of investment and prioritizing infrastructure repair of our at-risk dams and reservoirs led to the collapse of the Oroville Dam spillway and the subsequent evacuation of 200,000 residents in our district. The Act would also invest $6 billion per year for states to improve our access to clean drinking water and another $6 billion to improve wastewater plants and storm water management.

And, climate change threatens our National Security by spawning terrorism due to increased famine, drought and natural disasters. This state of upheaval provides fertile soil for terrorists’ recruiting efforts.  How does this happen? In regions suffering from drought and famine, terrorists can control access to critical resources such as water. For example, in 2015, ISIS closed Iraq’s Ramadi dam, taxed water in Raqqa and then used it to flood residents.  ISIS has also been accused of poisoning drinking water.

We can thwart the power of terrorist groups, such as ISIS and Boko Haram, by working with our allies to curb climate change and increase the access and affordability of renewable energy such as solar.

I support legislation to increase our reliance on renewable energy and our participation in the Paris Agreement. Renewable energy will also put money back in the pockets of many families by helping them save on utility costs. I will also co-sponsor the Low Income Solar Act to provide low-income families with access to solar power installed on their own homes and promoting access to community solar projects. In addition, I support the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program which help lower bills for low-income and rural families and make their homes more energy efficient.

It is imperative that we work to combat climate change by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and increasing affordable access to renewable energy. Protecting our environment extends beyond being good stewards of our earth. It is vital that we fund programs to curb forest fires and drought, preventing the severity of natural disasters, improving our long-term water supply, and limiting the power of terrorist groups. In addition, increasing our reliance on renewable energy will benefit our nation economically and improve our security objectives with our trusted allies while protecting the one planet we share.

Forests & Wildfire Prevention

Our forests in the North State are one of our greatest treasures. The forests provide the watersheds that flow into our streams and rivers, which make fisheries and agriculture possible, as well as provide water to our growing population. However, to ensure the continued health of our forests and access to water, the forests must be actively managed.

The Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project estimated that in pre-settlement forests, when native American forest management practices dominated – an acre of forested land contained between 40-100 mature trees per acre. Now, we can find up to 1,000 trees per acre.

The reduced rainfall and increasing temperatures have led to endemic bark and ips beetle infestations which have led to a high percentage of the trees – although still standing – to either already be dead or dying. These circumstances contribute significantly to the fuel load which feeds wildfires. Native American prescribed burning techniques have helped to buffer the forests against past climate change events and made the forests more resilient. Also, fire helps to improve sap flow in the pines, which naturally works to minimize these infestations.

The decades-long practice of suppressing all fire in the forest has had disastrous and unintended consequences. Suppressing the restorative function of fire to enhance ecosystem functions and reduce wildfire risk through reduced fuel loading is lost. More flashy “fuels” (leaf litter, grass, and logging slash) tend to propagate fire quickly. These unwanted fuels serve as ladders that carry fire up to the lower limbs of mature trees. From the limbs, fire reaches the canopy with such heat intensity that the crowns of the trees flame like torches. This intense heat creates wind storms of ashe that can be blown up to a half-mile, leaping over fire breaks and natural barriers and leading to downwind devastation.

Another unintended consequence leading to the degradation of our forests is the introduction of non-native, invasive species. For example, Caltrans’ landscaping with broom (Spanish, Scotch or French) along many mountain highways has had disastrous effects. It was planted because of its beautiful, scented yellow flower as well as the fact that broom requires no watering to establish itself and thrive. Unfortunately, this non-native species outcompetes all other plants (including our native manzanita), is toxic (animals won’t eat it), and it is highly flammable when green. Once established, broom is difficult to eradicate, in part because its seeds remain viable for up to 50 years.

We must implement forest management practices developed to return our forests to a healthy state. To this aim, the stakeholders, including Forest Services, Bureau of Land Management, CalFire, lumber companies, PG&E, academia, county elected officials, and residents of the Wildland Urban Interface organized in local fire safe councils have developed a network of County Fire Safe Councils. The North State is fortunate to have the Butte County Fire Safe Council. This model council, under Executive Director Calli-Jane DeAnda, has developed innovative programs for thinning brush from the forests through hand crews and reintroducing controlled fire on the ground.

These programs help keep ingress and egress open for residents and firefighters by creating shaded fuel breaks along crucial arteries. They also run a chipping program that takes brush and branches gathered by forest residents while clearing their 100 ft defensible space around their homes and reduces it to small chips which are left on site. These chips suppress brush growth and enrich the soil by adding organic matter.

Unfortunately, sporadic funding sources have often severely limited the effectiveness of the Fire Safe Councils. Redirecting significant federal funds into supporting best fire management practices through Fire Safe Councils will, in the long run, reduce federal expenditures in fighting fires.

The California Conservation Corp. creates employment opportunities in the mountainous areas by undertaking forest thinning activities which have the dual benefit of creating meaningful employment by thinning the forest and encouraging local youth to stay in their communities instead of migrating to the urban areas. Unfortunately, this program is woefully underfunded and could benefit from a federal-state partnership and a sizeable infusion of funds.

The economics of a preventative program like this makes sense. Fire suppression is significantly more expensive than prevention. According to Dept. of Finance statistics “in nine of the past ten years, firefighting bills in California have exceeded budget.” And according to Scott McLean, CalFire spokesman, “as of Dec.6, 2017, CalFire had incurred expenses totaling $490.3 million…to put out large wildfires.” This total does not include the billions of dollars in lost residential structures nor the value of over 500,000 acres destroyed by fire.

As your Congresswoman, I will fight for federal funding to manage our forests, prevent forest fires, and provide job opportunities in our North State.

HIGH-SPEED INTERNET FOR RURAL AMERICA AND NET NEUTRALITY

The North State, one of the most stunning regions of California, which includes Lassen Volcanic National Park, the Sierras and Cascades, and eleven counties which reach the Nevada and Oregon borders, is a desirable area of our state for residents in terms of natural beauty, cost of living (compared to our state’s urban areas), safety, and outdoor activities.  However, many college students and vocational school graduates leave our district in search of jobs in urban areas only to never return. And it’s fact that a large number of residents in our district are underemployed or in low-paying jobs. The lack of work and business opportunities in our district are due in large part to the lack of high-speed internet access. The need for reliable broadband in rural communities in District One is just as essential as electricity or water for most small businesses. Indeed, every business and household should have access to high-speed internet as a utility.

During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7037 to establish the Rural Electrification Administration to fund rural electric systems. Shortly thereafter, more than 1.2 million farms had electric service and the standard of living in rural areas quickly improved. In the same way, we can close the prosperity gap between urban and rural America by bringing high-speed internet to rural communities.

Nearly 40 percent of rural Americans don’t have broadband access, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Why? Because, it’s not profitable for the telecom companies to bring broadband to rural and sparsely populated communities, particularly areas with difficult terrain. To better understand where your home stands on the FCC’s Fixed Broadband Deployment map, click here.

Fixed broadband deployment

The United States is ranked 16th in the world in terms of broadband access. As your Congresswoman, I would co-sponsor The Rebuild America Act which will invest $5 billion per year specifically to expand high-speed internet in underserved areas of the country.

While traveling throughout our District, I have spoken with residents in Plumas County who were greatly concerned when their local hospital lost access to broadband over a span of several days and could not obtain electronic records on patients. And, many throughout our District are frustrated that schools and residents in their communities may only have access to dial-up internet, if at all. As a result, students have extremely limited access to the information they need for further learning, and a large population of constituents working in our communities cannot work from home, making “telework” impossible, or not an option. Entrepreneurs also cannot operate their businesses online, and therefore choose not to live in those areas lacking reliable broadband access.

And, for small businesses to thrive, net neutrality and an “open internet” is essential.  A broadband provider should not be able to dictate how quickly we can access content. For a broadband provider to be able to control the content we wish to see or want to share with others would be as absurd as the telecom companies limiting who we could talk to and about what subjects on the phone. Every business needs an equal opportunity to provide their services and products to their customers online without hindrance from broadband providers.

Open access to communication and information was the founding principle of the Communications Act of 1934, which prohibits discrimination of content on networks in the United States.

Eliminating net neutrality especially hurts small businesses. I support legislation that restores access to an open internet and prohibits broadband providers from acting as barriers to consumers. No company should be able to control our content and the ability and level of growth to our businesses, particularly in rural locations which depend on unlimited online outreach beyond a traditional brick and mortar location. Net neutrality is foundationally critical for the success of small business and our freedom to access information.

IMMIGRATION REFORM
Whether our ancestors came to America many generations ago or whether we were born overseas and America is now our home, such as for my husband, Vincent, who is originally from a farming community in The Netherlands, we have always been proud of our diversity and ingenuity and the hard work and entrepreneurship of immigrants who have made America the prosperous nation we know today.

When my great grandmother and great grandfather immigrated to northern California, they took in laundry and poured cement to make a living and ensure a stable life for their children. Like my great grandparents, many of our current immigrants and first generation Americans are prepared to perform difficult work harvesting our fields and building our homes and key infrastructure while enriching our communities. For these reasons, I am a fierce advocate for immigration reform, including the “blue card” program supported by Senators Feinstein and Harris to provide a legal pathway for undocumented farm workers to stay in America and eventually obtain citizenship.

For most of the children of undocumented immigrants who came to America while very young, our country is the only country they know. They are our friends and neighbors, fellow students and co-workers. I have had the honor and sincere pleasure to get to know two DREAMers in our district who are leaders in our fight for the rights of all immigrants nationally and by meeting with members of the Silicon Valley business community, including Mark Zuckerberg, and our senator in California, Kamala Harris.

Our nation’s greatest leaders, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez, fervently fought for our civil rights and the rights of farm workers. And, in decades past, we have made progress against racism and discrimination through the Civil Rights Act and legislation to protect those who perform dangerous and labor-intensive work. Yet, the current administration and attorney general would turn our country back not only to a pre-Obama era but a pre-Civil Rights era. We will not let America slip backwards. We are moving this country forwards, and we are electing members of Congress who firmly condemn white supremacy and neo-Nazism.

We will not stand by silently in the face of injustice. We will continue to rekindle the flame held by the Statute of Liberty and carry the torch for our immigrants and refugees.
America is now and will always remain a land of immigrants.

IMPROVING RURAL JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Our beautiful district in the North State includes eleven counties which reach the Nevada and Oregon borders. As you drive in the direction of Chico and Redding, you will pass orchards, rolling hills and farm country. Yet, despite the desirability of living in this district, the median household income remains low for California at approximately $50,000 per year, compared to the median household income in San Francisco of $78,000. Many residents of our district are underemployed or in low-paying jobs. In addition, many graduates from Chico State University and the district’s community colleges leave our district for job opportunities in Sacramento, the Bay Area, and Southern California.

One of the reasons for the exodus of talent is the lack of well-paid opportunities in our rural communities. Technology companies can’t come to the area due to inadequate infrastructure and many workers cannot work remotely in areas of our district due to unreliable and slow broadband access. In addition, many living in our district are far from hospitals and would greatly benefit from access to telemedicine. Even the schools in our district do not have adequate internet connection to educate our students.

The United States is ranked 16th in the world in terms of broadband access. As your Congresswoman, I would co-sponsor The Rebuild America Act which will invest $5 billion per year to expand high-speed internet in underserved areas of the country. In addition, this Act would put more than thirteen million people to work in a wide range of infrastructure projects. In connection with these federally-funded projects, I support the Davis-Bacon Act, Section 13(c) transit labor protections, and the use of project labor agreements.

Our district is also in critical need of major infrastructure improvements including unsafe and dilapidated roads and repairs to our leaking pipes and dams. The Act will also invest $12 billion a year to repair and improve the high-hazard dams that provide flood control, drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and recreation; and the flood levees that protect our cities and our farms. The Oroville spillway collapse that resulted in the evacuation of 200,000 residents was the result of neglecting critical maintenance to the Oroville Dam in our district.    

Small businesses require support through access to funding. To encourage the success of startups in our district and attract new companies, we must provide access to grants and low-interest loans to companies which open businesses and employ workers in rural areas, develop agtech innovation, and promote women-owned businesses. In addition, we must increase funding for the small business administration, and preference for SBA loans should be given to companies with less than 10 employees and with revenue below $500,000 per year.  

To retain and attract key talent, we must also support co-working spaces and startup incubators where entrepreneurs can collaborate, meet business leaders, and develop early-stage companies with affordable office space. In addition, many working families must choose which parent can work because of the high cost of daycare. I support increased federal funding to ensure daycare is more accessible and affordable as well as incentives for employers to provide onsite daycare programs.  

Businesses look for quality of life and “liveability standards” for their workers, and I support federal funding for small cities to restore downtown districts and incentivize developers to build affordable housing within walking distance to commercial centers.  

As to managing our forests, limited funding sources have curtailed the effectiveness of the Fire Safe Councils which prevent fires and improve the health of our forests. Directing federal funds to supporting best fire management practices through Fire Safe Councils will, in the long run, significantly reduce federal expenditures to suppress fires and compensate victims.

The California Conservation Corp. also creates employment opportunities in the mountainous areas by undertaking forest thinning activities which have the dual benefit of creating meaningful employment especially for our youth by thinning the forest and encouraging local youth to stay in their communities instead of migrating to urban areas.  

Through federal funding for key infrastructure projects such as broadband access in rural communities, grants and loans to small businesses and startups, and incentives for talented workers to stay and move to our district, we can bridge the urban-rural prosperity divide.

Medicare for All: Healthcare for All Americans

Americans spend more per capita than any other country in the world, amounting to one-sixty of our economy. Yet, despite the hefty price tag, the United States remains the only developed country which does not provide universal healthcare to its citizens.

Americans deserve the right and assurance that regardless of age or the nature of the medical care required, they have access to healthcare, without exclusions and without limits.

Universal healthcare would lower the costs of services and prescription medication through a single payer plan with reduced administrative costs by removing the involvement and interference of private insurance. Although median household incomes have not increased significantly since the 1980’s, healthcare costs have risen exponentially. Business owners and their employees have been shouldering the burden of these high costs. Even for those workers who have insurance through their employers, the costs passed on to workers particularly for coverage of a spouse and children are outpacing increases in a worker’s income.

By lowering healthcare costs, employers will have greater flexibility to raise wages and lower the contributions for healthcare required by employees, resulting in more take-home pay for working families. Americans would no longer need to make the difficult choice between paying for rent and food or paying for healthcare, or filing bankruptcy because a family could not afford the high cost of a medical procedure.

Through universal healthcare, our citizens who have the courage and aspire to start new businesses will have greater flexibility and freedom to ensure that they and their employees have access to healthcare.

The Affordable Care Act significantly expanded access to healthcare for millions of Americans through subsidies, eligibility for Medicaid, and the increased protections against lifetime limits on coverage and exclusions due to pre-existing conditions. Universal healthcare would build further on the achievements of the ACA by ensuring all Americans have access to coverage by putting the interests of our citizens first above the profit interests of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

Rural communities are especially in need of expanded access to medical care and services provided by local clinics. By providing expanded student loan forgiveness to healthcare professionals and promoting communities which are welcoming of new members regardless of their race or religion or who they love, we can attract talented healthcare providers to our rural districts. I support funding to increase access to medical services in rural communities to meet the needs of residents in remote locations and to encourage more families to live in our beautiful region of California.

NATIONAL LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA

As of January 1, 2018, California legalized recreational marijuana, joining eight other states and Washington, D.C. And, to significantly reduce violent crime resulting from the smuggling of marijuana from Mexico and cannabis operations on a cash basis, we must legalize recreational marijuana nationwide.

According to the study, “Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime,” legalization of marijuana along the US-Mexican border reduces violent crimes by the Mexican drug cartels which control much of the marijuana consumed in America. When marijuana is grown locally, US suppliers undermine the demand for smuggled marijuana from Mexico which has one of the highest profit margins for the cartels: a pound of marijuana can be produced for $75 in Mexico and sold in the US for $6,000. As a result, legalizing cannabis at the federal level could improve the safety of our borders.

The lack of access to banking for the cannabis industry also invites crime and inhibits cannabis businesses from operating safely. Providing businesses in the industry with access to bank accounts, financing and SBA loans would reduce crime, improve tax collection and allow cannabis businesses to succeed as fully legitimate operations.

California growers and cannabis businesses have been trying to operate in an uncertain “twilight zone” in which cannabis is legal at the state level, but still listed as an illegal Schedule I drug at the federal level. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions recently rescinded a U.S. Justice Department policy which instructed federal prosecutors to defer to state laws in prioritizing cases. This policy provided assurance to those in the cannabis industry that they would not likely be subject to criminal reprisals so long as they were in compliance with state law. Sessions’ rescission of the policy has not made our communities safer, but simply instilled fear in those involved in the cannabis industry and uncertainty for the future of their businesses.

As your Congresswoman, I would co-sponsor the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize cannabis nationwide which would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances. The Act would end the destructive “war on drugs” policies pertaining to cannabis which have harmed individuals and families. The bill includes a remedy for those who have been affected by cannabis convictions, including low-level cannabis possession. In these instances, the conviction records could be expunged and those currently serving sentences for cannabis crimes could potentially have their sentences reduced. The bill also includes a community reinvestment fund, including job training and criminal record expungement services.

The criminalization of cannabis has been particularly harmful to communities of color: the ACLU estimates that black Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for cannabis possession compared to white Americans, despite almost equal rates of cannabis usage.

Marijuana convictions have wrongfully and unnecessarily hindered many from obtaining worthwhile employment, education, or housing instead of pursuing opportunities to lead productive and successful lives. These convictions have come at an unduly punitive cost to individuals and their families and wasted our taxpayer dollars. The Act would allow our police forces and district attorney’s offices to focus their resources on crimes that truly impact the safety of the community, not on cannabis possession.

In addition, the national legalization of cannabis could create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs over the course of the next decade in all aspects of the supply chain from farmers to transporters to sellers.

Marijuana usage has also proven to be effective in reducing chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and treating patients with MS-related spasticity and is an alternative to the use of opioids for pain-related symptoms. In a study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, marijuana proved effective in reducing seizures from 12.4 to 5.9 per month. Having a regulated market for marijuana helps ensure the consistency of medical marijuana products and their concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol versus cannabidiol.

Medical marijuana has become common in treating nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. In fact, the oral THC preparations nabilone and dronabinol have been available for chemotherapy-induced symptoms for more than 30 years.

Additional research is necessary to further understand the health benefits and risks of marijuana for medical usage. However, the fact that marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I drug inhibits researchers’ ability to obtain funding and conduct research on the medicinal effects of marijuana.

Federal legalization of cannabis is not a matter of “if” but “when.” It is time we end the detrimental effect of the War on Drugs with respect to cannabis, the harm caused to families and communities due to unnecessary criminal convictions and provide opportunities for the success of the cannabis industry.

NATIONAL SECURITY

The world continues to look to the United States for leadership on foreign and environmental policy as well as military and trade matters, all of which are closely aligned. In fact, the United States served as a prime example for democracy, security, diplomacy, and prosperity to nations trying to rebuild following World War II. However, the United States has lost its standing among our allies due to the current administration’s failure to support the State Department, our exit from the Paris Agreement, and the misguided and dangerous deployment of our National Guard along the Mexican border. As a result, we are conceding our leadership in the world to potentially hostile powers which puts all Americans at risk.

Strengthening America’s Diplomacy and Trade. I support expanding the work and resources of our State Department to assess and advise on our reaction to conflict around the world through an effective diplomatic corps. By working with our allies throughout the world, we can prevent conflict. In addition, our international trade agreements, as well as our energy and climate change policies, impact the security and well-being of Americans and our relations with other countries.

The current administration’s plans for global tariffs, particularly on aluminum and steel, could not only endanger American industries which depend on these commodities but our national security and alliances by alienating nations which contribute to our defense and international stability.

I also, support fair trade agreements which allow American companies to prosper and provide well-paying jobs while maintaining key trade relations with our international partners which assist our military, security, and intelligence operations.

Protecting Our Men and Women in the Military. My younger brother, Beauregard, recently retired from the Air Force after several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are very fortunate that he returned home without suffering any casualties, but there were many men and women who did not. My family and I know firsthand the fear that families face when their loved ones are away from home, serving overseas. And that is why it is essential that the safety of our military and civilian personnel be a top priority to all members of Congress, not just to those whose districts include military installations.

In an age when our men and women in the military are combating terrorism across continents, we must ensure we have sufficient military intelligence and a well-established strategy in place to keep them safe. Our diplomatic efforts are critical to defusing conflict and gathering information before sending our forces potentially into harm’s way. War must always be the last resort.

The current administration’s decision to deploy U.S. troops to the border of Mexico in an effort to address immigration risks and drug trafficking is not only irrational but misguided. “Calling up” members of the National Guard means pulling those men and women – folks living as our neighbors in our communities, out of their homes and jobs and sending them to the border of Mexico.

These brave men and women have a dual mission – serving both community and country. This decision takes the Guard away from critical work here at home in California. I shudder at the thought of not having a readily deployable force like the 1,700 troops that were deployed to aid with wildfires, mudslides, and flooding just last year. I support a force that is ready to respond when disaster strikes here at home.

I strongly oppose the building of a wall along our southern because I do not believe that it will improve the security of our nation. In fact, plans for the wall have strained relations with our key ally, Mexico, and undermined our ability to cooperate with Mexican leaders to reduce crime along our shared border. A better solution is more trained U.S. Customs agents at our border crossings, and ports of entry. We should deploy enhanced technology, such as drones, to provide increased surveillance for border agents limiting the risk to their safety.

And, if our goal is to undermine the power and resources of the Mexican drug cartels, the federal legalization of marijuana would reduce the demand for smuggled marijuana from Mexico. The legalization of marijuana in California, Arizona, and New Mexico has already significantly reduced violence along our southern border.

Ensuring the Authority of Congress to Declare War. Article 1 of our U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall have Power…To declare War…” However, the power of Congress has been undermined by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in 2001 which bestows power on the president to wage war at any time for almost any purpose.

The AUMF not only undermines the intentions of our founding fathers and mothers but places Americans at an increased risk of conflict and attack due to a misguided and unilateral decision by the president without the approval of our Congressional representatives. For these reasons, I will vote to repeal the AUMF.

Combating Climate Change to Protect Our Security. There is no question among credible scientists that climate change is real, and over 90% of scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans.

And, climate change spawn’s terrorism due to increased famine, drought and natural disasters. This state of upheaval provides fertile soil for terrorists’ recruiting efforts. How does this happen? In regions suffering from drought and famine, terrorists can control access to critical resources such as water. For example, in 2015, ISIS closed Iraq’s Ramadi dam, taxed water in Raqqa and then used it to flood residents. ISIS has also been accused of poisoning drinking water.

We can thwart the power of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, by working with our allies to curb climate change and adopting increased access and affordability of renewable energy such as solar. I support legislation to increase our reliance on renewable energy and our participation in the Paris Agreement.

The safety of America depends on a well-planned security strategy and reliance on effective information gathering and diplomatic efforts. We must also work alongside our trusted allies by establishing and maintaining fair trade relations, combating climate change, and protecting the safety of our men and women in the military. Our foreign policy decisions cannot be made in isolation, but with a comprehensive review of their long-term ramifications and global stability.

PROTECTING OUR SENIORS

We must ensure that Americans in their golden years can continue to rely on Social Security, affordable access to Medicare, live in safe and accessible housing, and be able to obtain the long-term care they may need and deserve.

In 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to be 88.5 million, nearly double its current population due to the aging baby boomer generation.

For this reason, the solvency of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and affordable housing for seniors is critical.

Since Medicare was signed into law in 1965, Americans over the age of 65 have been able to pay for needed health care services, manage chronic illness, and live healthier lives without fear of bankruptcy, homelessness, or an early death.

Over the years, Medicare has become more privatized, and seniors must pay for supplemental coverage for services that traditional Medicare does not cover, such as prescriptions drugs. I am opposed to the increased privatization of Medicare or converting Medicare into a voucher system which would limit options for health care for seniors, leaving them to fend for themselves. I also oppose raising the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67.

If a voucher system were to be implemented, many seniors would find themselves bankrupt, homeless or without any way to obtain coverage for the healthcare they need. According to the Congressional Budget Office, by 2030, Medicare vouchers would be about $9,750 a year while the annual medical costs would be about $30,460, leaving seniors with an average bill of $20,700 which they would be required to pay out-of-pocket.

Ensuring that Medicare and Social Security remain sufficiently funded must be a key priority of Congress to ensure we meet the needs of Americans during their retirement years. Social security and Medicare have been two of the most successful federally funded programs by providing an income to seniors and ensuring they have access to healthcare. Prior to the existence of social security, many seniors lived in poverty.

And, to provide all Americans with access to affordable healthcare, I support federal legislation that is modeled on the California Medicare for All bill (SB562). Specifically, this bill would improve Medicare benefits for seniors by:

  • Eliminating the private pharma and supplemental insurance for seniors from $225-$325 per month
  • Including currently uncovered vision, dental, licensed alternative care (chiropractic, acupuncture, etc.), and long-term care
  • Extending Medicare benefits to ALL persons residing in California
  • Saving approximately $35 billion annually in connection with the cost of healthcare by eliminating private insurance from the equation

To help ensure social security remains solvent, I support legislation that lifts the cap on taxable income in connection with payment into social security. Currently, the cap is $118,500 which means that a billionaire pays no more than someone earning this capped amount into social security. This approach is unfair and threatens the long-term viability of our social security system. By lifting the cap, we can not only protect the solvency of social security but potentially extend social security benefits.

We must also improve the conditions in which retirees live, particularly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I would expand vocational training and programs similar to AmeriCorp and the Peace Corps which provide high school and college graduates with sponsored housing and a salaried position to gain the opportunity to work in geriatrics and hospice care facilities. I would also support federal funding for expanding senior assisted living facilities which include low-cost housing for college students who provide companionship and care for seniors in their residence facilities.

Americans who reach the age of 65 will need long term care for an average of three years, and few can afford the care they will need.  Medicare does not cover long term care (accept for 100 days after a hospitalization). And, most long-term nursing home care is not covered by Medicare, leaving care to family members who are often uncompensated. Some of these family members find themselves in dire financial circumstances because they cannot work at another job while providing care to a parent, grandparent, or elderly family members. I support a minimum hourly wage of $15 for homecare workers and an opportunity to earn paid vacation and benefits, including an opportunity to contribute to a retirement or defined benefit plan.

My own family benefited the from the food stamp program, and we must also ensure that programs such as meals on wheels remain funded, and I would sponsor legislation to expand the current SNAP (food stamp) program to include deliveries of fresh, local produce to recipients. I oppose any legislation that would substitute our current SNAP program and meals on wheels with the delivery of non-perishable food items.

As we enter our golden years, we will need housing that meets our needs as well as communities that provide readily available access to public transportation, grocery stores, medical services, and local activities. We must provide more affordable housing options to ensure Americans can purchase homes which they can own debt-free in their retirement years. I support the expansion of HUD 202 for the construction or rehabilitation of low-income housing for the elderly and provide rent subsidies to improve the affordability of these construction projects.

As your Congresswoman, I will fight to ensure:

  • All Americans have access to Medicare for All and Social Security remains funded
  • We can attract and retain home workers to help seniors live independently
  • Our seniors can live healthier lives with peace of mind in affordable, safe housing
Renewable Energy is America’s Future

It is imperative for America’s economic future and the sustainability of our planet that we prioritize the development and utilization of clean energy technology.

For every one job in coal, there are five jobs in the solar industry which continues to add jobs at a faster rate than our overall economy.

Businesses and many households, including my own, have benefited from the savings of reliance on solar power. Contractors and businesses in our district and throughout America have benefited from the increased demand in solar energy. We obtain a greater return on our investment for every dollar spent on renewable energy versus fossil fuel. We also have the benefit of increased energy independence from commodity price fluctuations and geopolitical uncertainties in Russia and the Middle East. Through solar and wind tax credits, we have been able to power millions of American homes. I support the extension of tax credits for renewable energy installation and storage.

Of paramount importance is our ability to reduce carbon emissions through increased reliance on renewable energy. The pace at which the earth is warming is resulting not only in the loss of significant wildlife habitat but poses an immediate threat to our security. As ocean temperature warms, catastrophic storms such as hurricanes gain increasing strength to wreak havoc in our communities. Additionally, increased and extreme droughts and flooding forcing farmers throughout the world to abandon their lands and seek employment elsewhere which results in economic desperation, the spawning ground for radicalism. By reducing our reliance on climate altering energy sources such as fossil fuels and coal, we protect our nation and planet from the dangers and costly damage of global warming as well as the political instability and terrorist threats which arise from economic devastation.

Renewable energy will put money back in the pockets of many families by helping them save on utility costs, and I support the Low Income Solar Act introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders to provide low-income families with access to solar power installed on their own homes and promoting access to community solar projects. In addition, I support the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program which help lower bills for low-income and rural families and make their homes more energy efficient.

Let’s move to the top and join world leaders in renewables, such as Sweden and Costa Rica, while improving our economy by increasing our reliance on clean energy.

Unmanned Technology for The North State

Rural areas must innovate and aggressively advocate for common sense measures to meet their unique challenges. Responsible and innovative use of unmanned technology, particularly unmanned aircraft systems, or “drones,” have significant potential to protect lives, monitor forests and infrastructure, help fight wildfires, enhance agriculture and positively affect our lives in many ways. Some of the most suitable jobs for unmanned systems can be described as those that are dull, dirty or dangerous.  Reliance on unmanned technology can reduce risk to people, dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of manned aircraft operations and, in many cases, actually do the work better.

Last year, an article in the Rural Monitor described the first drone delivery approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Media from four continents covered the historic flight in Wise Co, VA. You may have seen more sensational stories about Amazon’s urban drone delivery aspirations, but what is unique about this case is that the drone-delivered lifesaving prescription medicine to overcome transportation challenges in a rural county.  

The adoption and well-considered use of unmanned technology represents another tool to address the healthcare disparity in our District. In addition, the same technology can be used to improve crop yields, identify diseased trees, provide rapid accident scene surveys by law enforcement and dramatically improve search and rescue success. Firefighters are using sophisticated unmanned systems to map hot spots and track the flame front at night when manned firefighting aircraft are unable to fly effectively. This approach allows manned aircraft to begin firefighting operations earlier the next day, increasing their effectiveness.

Realizing the full benefit of rapidly advancing unmanned technology will not be a quick or easy undertaking. Safety considerations, individual privacy protections, federal preemption in airspace regulation and other factors create important challenges. Nonetheless, smart and safe ways to take advantage of the technology exist right now. In 2016, the FAA published the first set of rules that permit some commercial unmanned aircraft operations – generally at very low altitude and only within the sight of the operator. Public services and businesses can achieve certain goals under these regulations.

We can leverage the North State’s unique rural areas to join the national and global evolution of unmanned technology. The sparsely populated rural nature of our District provides a favorable environment for both using and safely developing future unmanned technology. As your Congresswoman, I would support responsible use of unmanned technology enabled by the current regulations and advocate for the Department of Transportation and the FAA to continue the evolution of safe and efficient regulations. At the same time, I would oppose unnecessarily restrictive regulations that would interfere with responsible progress. Finally, I would also support limited activities in the District to help create a California State addition to one of the existing FAA Unmanned Aircraft Test Sites, bringing together schools and universities, cutting-edge businesses and those providing key services to our District, such as healthcare services, first responders, firefighters, and farms.

The citizens of our vast District are proud of their rural heritage, but they face challenges that are distinct from urban areas.  I ask you to work with me as I lead the effort for expanded use of unmanned technology here and throughout the country.

WATER: OUR VITAL RESOURCE

With California’s rich agricultural economy and our growing population, water is an increasingly scarce resource. Our groundwater which supplies about 40% of human-used water in wet years and 60% in dry years is disappearing rapidly. The risk of continued drought and the lack of ground water supply pose a threat to farmers and our communities. Increased federal funding to expand the storing and banking of groundwater in California’s hundreds of basins would significantly help Californians through periods of drought.    

According to the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, our underground aquifers contain at least three times the storage capacity of the state’s 1,400 existing reservoirs. In addition, water does not evaporate from underground storage nor does the water need to be released preemptively to avoid flooding. Underground aquifers are also typically less expensive than reservoir expansion. Reliance and accounting can be improved with careful monitoring of how much water is stored and subsequently withdrawn.  

Conservation of water in California is also critical to our long-term water security. When Governor Brown called for a 25% reduction in urban water use in 2015, Californians rose to the occasion and reduced water consumption to comply with the mandate. Californians traditionally use 100 to 300 gallons per day, and we require more precise data through metering of all water withdrawals and discharges to manage our water usage as well as an online database which includes information on all surface rights. In addition, California has demonstrated that incentives for drought tolerant landscapes have been effective, including “cash for grass programs”: payment to home and building owners for lawn replacement with drought-tolerant landscaping. According to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, removing one square foot of grass in Southern California saves 42 gallons of water per year.  

Farmers and agricultural water districts have also invested in irrigation efficiency. Nonetheless, in 2014, it is estimated that California farmers substituted groundwater for over 75% of the irrigation water which they did not obtain from surface systems. Farmers had increased their pumping of groundwater to one billion gallons per day, and it is well known that this level of usage is not sustainable. Recycled water is another key solution. We currently allow most recycled water to flow into rivers and the Pacific Ocean. Instead, the recycled water could be used to replenish reservoirs and groundwater, being treated before being recirculated. Recycled water has been known to be one of the single largest sources of water supply for California for the next 25 years. By capturing the hundreds of billions of gallons of treated sewage that flow into the ocean, the estimated water saved could yield up to 1.1 million acre-feet of water annually, enough to supply 8 million people.  

In terms of managing our water supplies, canal irrigation has remained technologically stagnant, and federal funding is key to providing states, counties and water districts with the resources needed to repair aging infrastructure, prevent water loss, improve data collection and operate the canals more efficiently. With the proper management of canals, farmers’ can access water throughout the year which allows for flexibility in crops which can be planted and improves yields that boost rural incomes. In addition to the proliferation of drip irrigation, micro-scale irrigation can bolster productivity of crop yields.                 

We must support a federal farm bill which provides increased incentives for development and usage of technology for water conservation and to stem the tide of farm nutrients and waste runoff into streams, putting our drinking water, animals and plant growth at risk. I support the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to install irrigation systems that help prevent groundwater contamination.   

Rather than prioritizing new reservoirs, we must first repair our existing levees and dams, 4,000 of which are considered in disrepair. I will fight for funding to repair aging pipes and faulty meters of our drinking water infrastructure which result in the loss of 2 trillion gallons of treated drinking water each year.        

I would co-sponsor The Rebuild America Act which would invest $12 billion per year to repair dams that provide drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and flood control. A lack of investment and prioritizing infrastructure repair of our at-risk dams and reservoirs led to the collapse of the Oroville Dam spillway and the subsequent evacuation of 200,000 residents in our district. The Act would also invest $6 billion per year for states to improve our access to clean drinking water and another $6 billion to improve wastewater plants and storm water management.       

Managing our forests is critical to our access to clean water. More than 60% of California’s developed water supply originates in the Sierra Nevada where forests play a key role in our water quality. Many of the Sierra forests are overgrown, resulting in high-density, smaller trees and undergrowth which compete for resources, such as water, and pose a risk of increased fires, impacting the quality of our water. Forest thinning is therefore directly related to our access and quality of water. According to the Nature Conservancy, if the current scale of forest restoration is increased three-fold, there could be up to a 6% increase in the mean annual streamflow for individual watersheds.  

In order to ensure that our access to clean water is available to all Californians, not just special interest groups, I oppose any federal regulations, such as H.R. 23, that reverse California state water laws and jeopardize our environment.  

Through increased federal funding, we can improve California’s quality and access to water; from underground basins, by improving the infrastructure of our current reservoirs, and by managing our forests while fighting to protect our environment and the long-term viability of our water supply.

WEALTH & INCOME INEQUALITY

While median American household incomes have only risen modestly since the 1980’s, the costs of healthcare, higher education, housing, and daycare have risen exponentially, leaving many families in debt and unable to save. For parents earning minimum wage, they must often work multiple jobs to pay the rent. Some families must choose between being able to heat their homes or buying food for their kids. No family should need to make such a choice! America is one of the richest countries in the world, and yet most of that wealth is in the hands of a few.  

One in five American kids are born into poverty, and I was one of them. I’m the oldest of 7 kids, and we were at times homeless or living in poor conditions and without health insurance. I remember a time before I started kindergarten when a campground allowed us to stay if my father agreed to collect the garbage, and a time when the only food in our fridge was a half stick of butter. I’d return to the fridge time and again to see if other food had appeared. It seemed like a hopeless situation, but it was my grandmother who taught me that if I did my homework and got good grades I could make a better life.  Thanks to federal financial aid programs, I was able to attend college and law school and escape poverty. However, that bridge to a better life, a chance at the American Dream, is being taken away from us while the super-rich continue to grab the lion’s share of wealth. This must change!

How can we bridge the income inequality gap and the prosperity divide between urban and rural regions of America?

  • We have a tax system that is unfair and largely favors the rich at the expense of working Americans.  The tax rate on long-term investment and passive income is significantly less than earned income and includes several loopholes. For example, a billionaire real estate investor may actually pay less tax than a teacher or his own construction workers. The most recent tax law passed in 2017 provides 83% of the benefits to the top 1% while many middle-class Americans, especially in states such as California, may actually pay more in taxes. What’s more is that the tax law is projected to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit while cutting key federal programs.  Not only does the law favor the rich and large corporations, it is fiscally irresponsible and harms the vast majority of Americans. Our tax system must be overhauled to benefit working families and our long-term economic growth, not the short-term interests of the rich and those who don’t need to work to earn a living. More specifically, tax loopholes such as the 1031 exchange for commercial property must be closed, and corporations cannot be permitted to continue to send their profits offshore to tax havens without paying their fair share. In addition, the corporate and passive income tax rates, and the tax rates for America’s wealthiest individuals, must be raised.     
  • While median incomes have only risen modestly since the 1980’s, the costs of healthcare, college tuition, addiction treatment, housing and daycare have skyrocketed. As a result, few working families can save enough to retire in dignity.  
    • By passing legislation to support Medicare for All, every American would be ensured affordable access to healthcare.  
    • We must provide low-cost and accessible addiction treatment centers, particularly in rural areas of our country, where families and communities have been ravaged by the opioid addiction.    
    • Many of our higher-education students are graduating with crippling debt in excess of over $100,000, which hinders their ability to buy a home, start a family and get ahead in life. We can and must provide tuition-free universities.   
    • Our housing policies do not sufficiently support first-time home buyers or families that plan to live in their homes versus companies that buy homes as investments. We must enact policies that provide working families not just with access to affordable rentals but homeownership which is frequently a family’s largest asset and provides a stable living environment in retirement.  
    • The cost of daycare has risen exponentially to the extent that parents must often choose which parent must stay home to watch the kids even if both parents want to work or go back to school. Providing universal and high-quality childcare would allow both parents to further their careers and increase their savings while their kids are being looked after. In addition, I support mandatory pre-school which would ensure that our kids have access to education during their most formative years.  
  • While the average cost of a gallon of milk in the US is $3.50, a loaf of bread is $2.50, and the average rent per month nationwide is $1,231, the federal minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour.  Even working full-time, anyone earning the minimum wage cannot afford to make average rent, let alone buy food for their families. I spoke with a clerk in a grocery store who told me she only ate two meals per day to ensure that her son could eat three meals and that they could still make rent.  Many Americans face this dilemma and it is inhumane and unacceptable! We must increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. In addition, we must pass legislation to require that all US employers must prioritize the needs of their workers by providing at least 7 days of paid sick leave, 2 weeks paid vacation and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.    
  • Expand the SNAP, or food stamp program, to ensure that more families have access to healthy and fresh foods.  It is not unusual for a family of four to spend $200 per week on groceries, and parents working with modest incomes cannot afford to provide fresh and healthy food for their kids. By raising the income eligibility thresholds for SNAP, more families will have access to the food their children need.       
  • Under the current farm bill, subsidized crop insurance primarily benefits large and wealthy commercial farmers to the tune of billions of dollars rather than family-owned organic farms which foster soil regeneration and water conservation.  
  • As your Congresswoman, I would co-sponsor The Rebuild America Act which would provide well-paid and unionized job opportunities in our district on major infrastructure projects, including broadband access in rural communities.  
  • I would co-sponsor legislation to provide incentives to hire and train young workers and veterans and to continue our fight for pay equity for women.  
  • Many seniors depend almost entirely on Social Security to meet their most basic needs, and we must ensure that Social Security will be funded and can be expanded with the rate of inflation by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000.
  • For over a generation, the power of our unions to fight for fair wages and benefits has been undermined. I would co-sponsor legislation that restores our collective bargaining rights and the ability of unions to ensure workers are paid the prevailing wage on significant infrastructure projects.  

Together we can bridge the gap of income inequality and the rural-urban prosperity divide with a fair tax system and a budget that prioritizes the majority of Americans over the super-rich and large corporations. I know what it is like to go without food and health insurance and without a secure place to call home. Let’s ensure that every family can afford housing, food, and healthcare.

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Your contribution today is key to the success of our campaign and our district.

PAID FOR BY JESSICA HOLCOMBE, DEMOCRAT FOR CONGRESS