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A robust educational system is critical to prepare students for a successful future. Luke will always be a reliable advocate of expanding infrastructure investment in public schools, raising teacher pay, expanding early childhood education, internet access, Career and Technical Education, and making childcare safe and affordable to all Virginia parents.
Child care plays a crucial role in both the development of children and the ability of parents to participate in the workforce. While some believe that child care programs should include a work requirement, such thinking is backwards and does not make child care available to all families that need it, especially those for whom access to child care is a barrier to reentering the workforce. When government can step up to provide resources that people so desperately need, it can have a greater impact on our economy. This can be address by increasing funding for child care subsidies, encouraging employer-supported child care programs, and increasing public awareness about what ensuring access will mean to so many families in the Commonwealth.
Legislative efforts could also be used to address bus driver shortages, such as including incentives for higher pay and better benefits. Regulations should be drafted to improve working conditions and ensure driver safety.
Virginia must continue to oppose school vouchers that divert taxpayer funds away from public schools and toward private or religious schools, which may not be held to the same accountability and non-discrimination standards as public schools. Vouchers may also exacerbate existing inequalities in education by providing more resources to affluent families who can afford to pay for additional education expenses.
Luke has long been a staunch supporter of reproductive and LGBTQ rights. He believes that abortion care is health care, and reproductive decisions should be made between an individual and their medical provider. Luke will ensure all Virginians have access to a full spectrum of reproductive care and will be a brick wall against all legislation aimed at limiting access or eroding LGBTQ rights.
Laws and policies that protect the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming children can help ensure that they are treated fairly and have equal access to education, healthcare, and other resources. Many medical and mental health professionals believe that affirming a child’s gender identity and providing support can help alleviate distress and improve outcomes for children who are transgender or gender nonconforming.
Virginia needs an assault weapons ban and strong, common-sense gun control laws. Luke will fight for legislation that helps protect all Virginians, especially our children.
Virginia needs laws that require storing firearms away from children for the following reasons.
Accidental shootings: Children are naturally curious and can be tempted to play with firearms, which can lead to tragic accidents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, firearms are the second leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States, and more than 80% of these deaths are the result of accidents.
Suicide prevention: Firearms are the most common method of suicide in the United States, and suicide rates are higher among households with firearms. Storing firearms safely away from children can reduce the risk of accidental or intentional self-harm.
Theft prevention: Firearms are a common target for thieves, and stolen firearms can end up on the black market or in the hands of criminals. Storing firearms securely can reduce the risk of theft and keep your community safer.
Gun owners should have a legal responsibility to store their firearms safely, and failure to do so should result in consequences if someone is injured or killed as a result of negligence.
Support changes to simplify the Smart Scale process for allocating transportation funds to reduce time and costs to prepare and review applications.
Continue to support the expansion of passenger rail to the New River Valley by providing funding to extending Amtrak rail service from the Roanoke Valley to the New River Valley.
Support and fund the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan without implementing tolls which would place a financial burden on motorists.
It is important to recognize that for many, their main mode of transportation is bicycling, that it contributes to sustainability, and that while biking is a hobby to some, for many others its a huge part of their lives and vocations.
We need legislation that supports allowing bicyclists to proceed on walk signals and yield at stop signs. Data shows that these measures increase safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle operators. While statewide solutions are needed, local option should be considered as well so those jurisdictions ready to adopt ordinances can to reduce crashes and adopt street safe initiatives that will save lives.
These are just some of the efforts that will help transform Vision Zero from being a hope into reality.
Support funding for the planning, development, and implementation of a multi-jurisdictional trail system interconnecting existing trails. Connecting the trails will create a long distance network through Southwest Virginia including Montgomery County’s first phase - the Valley to Valley Trail - to connect the New River and Roanoke Valleys.
Investing in the Office of Outdoor Recreation to promote economic growth, job creation, and public health by supporting and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities. It can also protect natural resources and wildlife habitats, and enhance environmental education and conservation efforts. The office can serve as a hub for collaboration and coordination among stakeholders in the outdoor recreation industry.
Accelerating the transition to clean energy is essential to mitigate the impacts of climate change, reduce pollution, and eliminate dependence on fossil fuels.
Virginia needs to provide resources to reduce the energy burden experienced in low-income households that often spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy bills, making it difficult to meet other basic needs.
Investing in electric buses can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and save on fuel and maintenance costs, making them an important tool for sustainable transportation.
Virginia's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will help the state meet its carbon reduction goals and drive investment in clean energy and energy efficiency. It will also create job opportunities and improve public health by reducing air pollution. Staying in RGGI will ensure Virginia's leadership in the fight against climate change.
Making updates to the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act to rein in slumlords. Additional measures could include stricter property maintenance and inspection requirements, increased penalties for code violations, and the establishment of a tenant rights and advocacy office.
Support for Housing First that prioritizes getting people into permanent housing as quickly as possible, before addressing other issues such as substance abuse or mental health problems because stable housing can provide a foundation for addressing other challenges that homeless individuals may face.
Luke is committed to supporting legislation that confronts systemic racism and violence against Black people. That is why Luke stands by the criminal justice and police reform efforts put forward during the 2020 Special Legislative Session. Additionally, it is important to learn about the history and ongoing effects of systemic racism to gain a better perspective on racial injustice.
It is important to take action and make a sustained effort to address racial injustice and create a more equitable society.
Medical aid in dying (MAID) empowers individuals with terminal illnesses to have control over their own end-of-life care and alleviates unnecessary suffering. It allows patients to die with dignity and provides a compassionate option for those facing unbearable pain and suffering. It also provides legal safeguards and ensures that the decision to end one's life is voluntary and well-informed.
Under Virginia law, a person 21 years of age or older may cultivate up to four cannabis plants for personal use at their place of residence, but many people are not able to grow at their residence.
Expanding the system to authorize a “designated grower” would allow an individual to transfer their right to cultivate, helping to ensure broad access to a safe and reliable supply. This kind of system can also provide economic benefits for small-scale growers and reduce reliance on corporate dispensaries.
Virginia needs a statewide paid family and medical leave social insurance program that administers benefits of up to 80 percent of an employees average weekly wage for up to 12 weeks in an application year. While this program will need funding by mechanisms such as assessing premiums on employers and employees, a successfully established program will have benefits such as increased productivity, worker retention, improved gender equity, and reduced reliance on public assistance.
Providing 40 hours of earned sick time per year is an important measure to support the health and well-being of workers and their families, while also benefiting employers. Virginia needs to amend §40.1-33.4 to eliminate the limit on employees preventing them from using or accruing more than 40 hours of paid sick leave in a year unless an employer selects a higher limit.
Virginia needs to expand eligibility for Medicaid long-term care benefits, increase funding for caregiver support, and develop models that allow for freedom of choice. Inadequate caregiver pay is a significant barrier to addressing the problem. It is hard for caregivers to remain in the workforce if they make less than $15/hr. without benefits, and when it comes to family caregivers, Virginia needs to increase tax credits for eligible expenses while encouraging the federal government to do the same.
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