Jan 152015
 

Most instances of violence in our schools are still limited to fisticuffs between students. However, serious school violence does occur in both suburban and urban schools. Although most gun violence occurs at large high schools, middle school students are more likely to bring weapons to school. A recent study found that 95% of students said they felt safe in school. However, nearly a quarter of these students also said they knew students who regularly carried weapons to school. Surveys of high school students found that about 6% of all students had carried a gun or knife to school within a month of the survey. Nearly 8% reported being threatened or attacked with a weapon in the previous year. In 2003, teachers were targeted in about 5% of violent school crime events, while school bus drivers were attacked the most often. Many communities have responded to school violence by training school staff in emergency procedures and increasing school security –often by hiring armed guards. As a result, many schools have instituted “zero tolerance” policies in response to student misconduct. These policies call for extreme disciplinary measures such as suspending or expelling offending students. Some advocates are now calling for fewer school guards and more moderate discipline policies. A recent study found that the more police are placed in our schools, the more minority students are arrested. A theory called “From Schoolhouse to Jailhouse” suggests that one reason a disproportionate number of minorities are now incarcerated is because many of these offenders were suspended or expelled from school and subsequently got into trouble while on the streets. Supporters of this theory say that students who have not committed egregious offenses are better socialized by remaining in school. Applying this theory, some schools have greatly reduced suspensions for fighting, stealing, talking back or other disruptive behavior. Before resorting to punishment and automatic suspensions, students are being asked to listen to each other, write letters of apology, work out solutions with the help of parents and educators or engage in community service. These solutions are referred to as “restorative justice.”

Pending Legislation:

S.145 – Save Our Students Act

S.148 – A bill to safeguard America’s schools by using community policing strategies to prevent school violence and improve student and school safety

I oppose reforming current school safety policy and wish to defeat S.145 and S.148

I support providing funds to states submitting specified plans for using National Guard personnel to: perform administrative functions normally performed by state and local law enforcement personnel in order to enable such law enforcement personnel to be dispatched to keep schools and students safe from violence; help conduct school security assessments and safety plans; conduct capital improvements related to enhancing school and student safety, and wish to pass S.145

I support making grants to local governments and Indian tribes to provide for school resource and safety officers, who are career law enforcement officers, at schools; requires establishing guidelines for programs that train school resource and safety officers; and ensure an equitable geographic distribution of grants among regions of the United States and among urban, suburban, and rural areas, and wish to pass H.R.148

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill funding pilot projects to evaluate restorative justice methods; determining the effectiveness of these methods in solving student behavior problems as an alternative to student suspension or expulsion; encouraging states to direct their local educational agencies (LEAs) to adopt these methods if found effective

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Most Social Security benefits are paid to older Americans who have contributed a portion of their lifetime wages into this retirement fund. These benefits are currently calculated using the CPI-W, or the Consumer Price Index for urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. This process analyzes the price change in a “basket” of goods and services these workers typically purchase. The resulting increase or decrease of these prices over time reflects the amount of inflation in our economy. To counteract the effects of inflation, our Social Security Administration periodically increases benefits by what it calls Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). Not long ago, our current administration proposed using a different CPI, Chained CPI, to set COLA increases for these benefits. Studies show this method would reduce Social Security benefit increases but would save the government $13 billion/year. Also, advocates claim the CPI basket of goods and services used to calculate inflation is different for the elderly than it is for younger consumers. Studies have shown a much higher rate of inflation for essentials such as housing and healthcare on which seniors spend much of their income. Advocates say seniors need their own CPI for Social Security benefits to keep pace with inflation.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.1585 – Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current Consumer Price Index and wish to defeat H.R.1585

I support directing Department of Labor to prepare and publish a monthly Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers that indicates changes over time in expenditures for consumption which are typical for individuals in the United States age 62 or older; amending title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act to: require the use of such index to compute cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits; and to provide, in the case of individuals who have attained age 62, for an annual cost-of-living increase of at least 3%, and wish to pass H.R.1585

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to use Chained

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Our Constitution’s Fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibits government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Nearly 100 years later, the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibited government from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Patriots claim these iconic laws affirm the same basic principle -that our Constitutional right to vote is essential to our democracy. They also say these voting laws are needed to protect this sacred right from constant threat. In 2013, our Supreme Court struck down Section 4(b), the heart of the Voting Rights Act. This section required states with histories of voter suppression to receive pre-clearance from the Justice Department before any changes could be made to a state’s election procedures. The Court ruled these pre-clearances are not longer needed and told Congress to pass a law updating Section 4(b) -but few give this Congress much chance of doing so. Supreme Court opponents claim states will now be free to enact previously-illegal voter suppression laws which are designed to restrict minority, elderly, disabled and student citizens from voting. Indeed, several states passed such laws within days and weeks of the Court’s controversial ruling.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current Voting Rights Act policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to update Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

According to the World Health Organization, elder abuse is “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” This harm is usually committed by a person known to the victim, such as a spouse, partner, family member, friend, neighbor or those on which the older person relies on for services. In addition to neglect or abandonment, the abuse of elders can be physical, emotional or financial. In 2010, nearly 6 million elderly Americans, or 10% of our elderly population, were abused in some way. Two-thirds of these abuse victims were white females whose median age was 78. About 60% of all elderly abuse cases involved neglect, while physical abuse accounted for about 16% of these cases, followed by financial abuse (12%). In roughly two-thirds of these cases, the perpetrator of the abuse was an adult child or a spouse of the victim. More than 40% of all murder victims older than 60 are murdered by their own child or killed by a spouse (24%).

Pending Legislation:

S.1019 – Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act

S.975 – Court-Appointed Guardian accountability and Senior Protection Act

I oppose reforming current elder abuse policy and wish to defeat S.1019 and S.975

I support improving the capacity of state and local adult protective services programs to respond effectively to abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults, including home care consumers and residents of long-term care facilities; increasing public awareness of elder abuse and financial exploitation, and removing barriers to elder abuse education, prevention, investigation, treatment and the reporting of elder abuse; requiring an entity that receives a grant for an older individuals’ protection from violence project to use it to research and replicate successful models of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation prevention and training; awarding grants and entering into contracts with eligible organizations to carry out projects to engage volunteers over 50 years of age in providing support and information to older adults (and their families or caretakers) who have experienced or are at risk of elder abuse, and wish to pass S.1019

I support awarding grants to the highest courts of states to conduct demonstration programs that assess adult guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, including the appointment and the monitoring of the performance of court-appointed guardians and conservators; and implementing changes deemed necessary as a result of these assessments, such as mandating background checks for all potential guardians and conservators, and establishing systems that enable electronic filing and review of the annual accountings and other required conservatorship and guardianship filings, and wish to pass S.975

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Affirmative action programs were created in 1965 to redress the effects of past discrimination. Under these programs minorities, particularly African Americans and women, were given preferential treatment in securing school placement, jobs, promotions and business contracts. The intent of affirmative action programs was also to increase representation of minorities and women in occupations that traditionally had been unavailable to them. However, the racial quotas which were used to insure that minorities were getting good jobs and into good schools were found unconstitutional after complaints of reverse discrimination. Critics claim affirmative action is unconstitutional and has already attained its goals. Supporters claim that without a means to compensate for racial, cultural and economic prejudices, minorities will loose hard-fought representations in our schools, work place and society. Recent public opinion polls show that 75% of Americans oppose affirmative action in college admissions but 68% of Americans favor the principles behind affirmative action. It also found that 82% of African Americans want to retain affirmative action programs compared to 68% of Hispanics and 34% of Whites. Recent Supreme Court rulings on the legality of school quotas did not overturn affirmative action. Rather, it said universities must first consider non-race based plans to include minorities at their schools and added that affirmative action plans could only be used as a last resort to diversify a student body.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current affirmative action policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to prohibit affirmative action programs

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to promote affirmative action programs

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

More than 11 million Americans need long-term care to assist them with performing essential every-day tasks. About 60% of this growing group of Americans is over the age of 65. Childhood disabilities, adult injuries, chronic illness and the aging process all contribute to the increasing need for adequate long term care. Medicaid helps states provide nursing home care for many of these people. Nursing homes and community-based settings such as assisted-living facilities provide registered nurses, licensed rehabilitation therapists, and home health aides employed by certified agencies. Home healthcare services may also be delivered to the homes of elderly, disabled or ill persons in need of medical, nursing, social or therapeutic treatment. Long term care services are usually paid by Medicare and private insurance companies. As our baby boom generation ages, perhaps 30 million more Americans will either choose or be forced to seek long term care. As insurance companies scramble to capture as much of this market as possible, there have been inevitable disputes with policyholders. Advocates say our elderly can be vulnerable to the unscrupulous tactics used by the representatives of these companies.

Pending Legislation:

S.998 – Home Care Consumer Bill of Rights Act

I oppose reforming current long term care policy and wish to defeat S.998

I support allowing third-party reviews of disputes from long term care policyholders by: requiring such an insurance issuer to develop and implement claims dispute resolution procedures that shall be designed to expeditiously resolve claim disputes; providing for the application of one or more alternative means of dispute resolution involving independent third-party review under appropriate circumstances by entities that are mutually acceptable to the issuer and the enrollee involved, with the decision of such reviewer being binding on the issuer, and wish to pass S.998

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The 1968 Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion or national origin. Later, laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender, those with disabilities and families with children were added. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is charged with enforcing fair housing laws. It is estimated there are about 4 million cases of housing discrimination each year. Despite legal measures to protect all Americans from housing discrimination, the most commonly targeted victims are still African Americans. Redlining is still prevalent in many areas even though it has been outlawed. Studies have found that minorities who apply for mortgages are three times more likely to be rejected than similarly-qualified Caucasians.

Pending legislation:

H.R.285 – Housing Fairness Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current housing discrimination policy and wish to defeat H.R.285

I support directing the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to conduct a nationwide testing program to: detect and document differences in the treatment of persons seeking to rent or purchase housing or obtain or refinance a home mortgage loan; measure patterns of adverse treatment because of the race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability status, or national origin of a renter, home buyer, or borrower; and measure the prevalence of such discriminatory practices across housing and mortgage lending markets; directing the Secretary to implement a competitive matching grant program to assist public and private nonprofit organizations in: conducting comprehensive studies of the causes and effects of housing discrimination and segregation on education, poverty, and economic development or on veterans and military personnel; and implementing pilot projects that test solutions to help prevent or alleviate housing discrimination and segregation, and wish to pass H.R.285

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Record numbers of women have entered the workforce in recent decades. However, they often earn less money than men who are working at similar or identical jobs. The male–female income differential, also called the gender pay gap, refers to the ratio of female to male yearly median earnings among full-time workers. In 2010, the median income of full-time workers was about $43,000 for men and $35,000 for women. The female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.81, meaning that, on average, female workers earned 19% less than their male peers. Studies show much wider gaps exist for women of color and working mothers, and these disparities exist in both the private and government sectors. Women make up about half our workforce and more than 70% are mothers of young children. Some say the pay gap is a myth, arguing that women’s choices, not discrimination, account for the wage gap. Others disagree saying that in most cases, mothers do chose to have children, but they don’t choose the discrimination that often accompanies that decision. They claim women earn less than men even when they work the same number of hours, a gap that exists across every educational level. They say hundreds of studies which have confirmed gender pay differences can only be explained by continued intentional discrimination, or the lingering effects of past discrimination. Advocates say pay disparity greatly undermines the stability of many American households and the quality of life of many American families.

Pending Legislation:

S.84 & H.R.377 – Paycheck Fairness Act

H.R.951 – Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs

I oppose reforming current pay gap policy and wish to defeat S.84 & H.R.377 and H.R.951

I support requiring employers to show pay disparity is related to job-performance rather than gender; prohibiting employers from firing employees who disclose and discuss their salaries publicly; increasing compensation women can seek for pay discrimination and allowing women to not only seek back pay, but also punitive damages; approving grants to strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills and requiring the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to eliminate pay disparities, and wish to pass S.84 & H.R.377

I support increasing low-income women’s participation in high-wage, high-demand occupations in which women make up less than 25% of the current workforce by authoring grants to provide technical assistance to eligible entities and to state registered apprenticeship programs and sponsors and joint apprenticeship training councils in meeting their enrollment goal for low-income women in nontraditional occupations; develop policies and protocols that set goals for hiring specific percentages of women into registered apprenticeships and permanent employment openings in publicly assisted projects; and engage in outreach activities and provide training to overcome stereotypes about women in nontraditional occupations as well as gender inequity among employers, and wish to pass H.R.951

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The 1990 Americans with Disability Act (ADA) is a broad civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on one’s disability. It provides protections against discrimination for Americans with disabilities in much the same way as the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination against race, religion, natural origin and gender. A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity. These activities include seeing, walking, sitting, lifting, breathing, learning, working and many more. It is estimated that 20% of all Americans have at least one diagnosed physical or psychological disability. There are more than 40 million Americans who are disabled today. One of the main reasons for the ADA is to insure access and accommodations for Americans with disabilities in our places of work. Advocates say removing the barriers to employment, transportation, public accommodations and services enable people who are disabled to better contribute to society, benefiting us all. Most of the opposition to the ADA comes from businesses, churches and other public places that require physical modification of their facilities. ADA critics say we’ve gone overboard on these regulations. They claim unscrupulous attorneys often file lawsuits against property owners before giving them an opportunity to respond or correct problems related to limited access to their facilities.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.994 – ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current Americans with Disabilities Act policy and wish to defeat H.R.994

I support prohibiting an aggrieved person from commencing a civil action for discrimination based on the failure to remove a structural barrier to entry into an existing public accommodation unless the owner or operator of such accommodation: is provided a written notice specific enough to identify such barrier; and has, within specified time periods, either failed to provide the aggrieved person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to remove such barrier or provided such description and failed to remove such barrier, and wish to pass H.R.994

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

People have long proposed paying reparations to the descendants of American slaves. This plan is similar to agreements that have paid settlements to Holocaust survivors, American Indians and Japanese Americans imprisoned during the war. It has been suggested the amount of reparations for a two-adult African American family should be about $35,000. Some people have suggested reparations should be used to promote African American businesses or establish scholarship funds for descendants of slaves rather than paid as individual cash benefits. Reparation supporters claim our government owes a debt to African Americas because slavery was protected by our Constitution and slave labor was used in the construction of our nation. Several American cities have passed resolutions supporting slavery reparations. Opponents say any reparations that were due these decedents have already been paid by our Civil War and 30 years of affirmative action programs. They also claim there is no way to know who is eligible to receive benefits from possible reparations since not all African Americans are decedents of former slaves.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.40 – Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act

I oppose reforming current slavery reparations policy and wish to defeat H.R.40

I support establishing the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies, and wish to pass H.R.40

 Posted by at 12:00 am