Corey M. Nichols | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Corey M. Nichols

Political party: 
Question 1: 
What’s your vision for Kentucky? How will the lives of Kentuckians be improved as a result of your time in office?

My vision is one that enriches our communities by supporting our public schools, expanding our workforce and creating new sectors of revenue (like sports betting and medicinal/recreational marijuana), and enabling affordable access to good healthcare.

Question 2: 
Even after Governor Beshear's December 2019 executive order, over 170,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past are still ineligible to vote. Do you support a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to all Kentuckians with felonies in their past once they've served their time, probation, and parole? Please explain.

Absolutely. As a criminal defense attorney, re-enfranchising our citizens will be a high priority. Those that have paid their debt to society, whatever that may be, should be restored the most important civil right they have: a voice in our government.

Question 3: 

What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, same-day voter registration, extended hours at polling locations, offering ballots in multiple languages, and other election reforms? Do you support legislation requiring that Kentucky voters present a photo ID on election day even though many Kentuckians do not have that kind of ID? Why or why not?

Any measure that gives Kentuckians a reliable and secure way to vote as easily as possible is worthwhile. I support extended access to polls by allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, and even making Election Day a state holiday. Our voice is the most important thing we have: we should not have to bend over backwards to speak up.

I would oppose a mandatory photo-ID law. I can understand that we want secure elections, but the type of voter fraud that would prevent simply does not happen in any significant way in Kentucky. That burden would be unduly hard on our minority and immigrant population, as well.

Question 4: 

Kentucky has a tax code that does not raise enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth’s budgetary needs – a problem that was made worse by the legislature's tax shift of 2018. After years of budget cuts, the funding for pensions, public education, infrastructure, and other essential programs have reached dangerous levels of disinvestment. How would you work to create a more equitable state tax structure – where everyone pays their fair share – that raises adequate revenue, fights poverty, and invests in Kentucky’s under-resourced communities and the services we all need?

A more modernized and progressive marginal tax bracket would allow everyone to contribute equitably to our public projects. We also need to infuse our budget with additional revenue, by creating and taxing new sectors like sports betting and recreational marijuana.

Question 5: 

Many Kentucky’s local governments have a policy that people will not be questioned about immigration status by local authorities, and that local police will only assist federal agents in enforcing immigration laws when there is a warrant signed by a judge or a risk of violence. What is your view of these types of policies and what would you do to expand support and resources toward our immigrant population, undocumented or otherwise?

I'm proud to live in Lexington, where all are welcome. I would support keeping those policies in place -- it's not our job to enforce those federal laws, and we shouldn't spend our taxpayer money to do it.

I would look for every opportunity to allocate/expand resources to support organizations like Kentucky Refugee Ministries, who provide valuable help to our most vulnerable populations.

Question 6: 

Is acting to address the climate crisis a priority for you? What policies do you support to ensure that solutions – such as clean energy jobs and reducing high energy bills – benefit all Kentuckians, including low-income communities, communities of color, and those who are most impacted by the changing climate? And what policies would you support to ensure that all Kentuckians have clean air and water, no matter the color of our skin, income, or zip code?

Absolutely a priority -- I have two kids who are going to have to live on this planet hopefully long after I'm gone. It's irresponsible to not address climate change with every option available to us.

Specifically, I would focus on making more effective and efficient public transportation -- starting in our urban centers and moving outward. There's a bus stop in Lexington on New Circle Rd. that's on the shoulder, in a ditch, with no cover and no protection from nearby traffic. We can do better to have a safe, affordable, and effective public transportation system that helps minimize our carbon footprint.

Question 7: 

What is the role of the Kentucky legislature in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people, Latinx people, immigrants, those who are undocumented, and all people of color in our state? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose while in office to address racial and systemic inequalities.

It is the job of anyone with a voice to speak up for the voiceless. Our Legislators have the opportunity to speak up the loudest.

Specifically, I would advocate for specialized outreach and substance abuse treatment to support community-based substance abuse treatment programs targeted to minority populations.

I would also propose a program that helps health care providers develop integrated, community-wide systems that serve the uninsured and under-insured. The program would be designed to increase access to health care by eliminating fragmented service delivery, improving efficiencies among safety net providers, and by encouraging greater private sector involvement.

Question 8: 

Kentucky has the ninth highest incarceration rate in the nation, is second in the nation for incarcerating women, and has the second-highest rate in the country of children separated from a parent due to incarceration. In addition, Black Kentuckians make up 8.3 percent of the state population but 21 percent of the state’s incarcerated population. Are you committed to ending mass incarceration in Kentucky? Why or why not? If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration and reinvesting resources into the communities most impacted by this system?

Absolutely. Our (privatized!) jails are overcrowded, and our criminal justice system lends itself to incarceration at an inordinate rate. In my work as a criminal defense attorney, I most often see that other sentencing options, like diversion, rehabilitation, and/or supervised probation are more effective at deterring our Defendants, while jail time only leads to more jail time, and no real change.

Our substance abuse laws need pretty fundamental overhaul -- we need to focus on curing the addiction instead of punishing the addict. For example, our current laws punish anyone who drove home from their methadone treatment with a DUI -- regardless of whether they were actually "under the influence." We need to make access to rehab and treatment as easy as possible, instead of incarcerating those who try to get better.

Question 9: 

Do you support a statewide Fairness law to protect LGBTQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) from discrimination in housing, employment, financial transactions, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity? What will you do to support LGBTQ Kentuckians?

One hundred percent, yes. It should be obvious that your ability to find a place to stay, or to work, or to keep a bank account, shouldn't be impeded by your sexual orientation or gender identity. I will support ANY legislation that protects the rights of ALL citizens to be treated with respect as fellow human beings.

Question 10: 

Nearly 400,000 low-income Kentuckians qualified for health care – including vision, dental and mental health – for the first time under the Affordable Care Act. But there are major challenges here in Kentucky. The Bevin administration failed to respond to Kentucky’s Hepatitis A outbreak, local health departments are underfunded and are slated to lose about a third of their workers, and the legislature has recently passed a bill restricting access to reproductive health. The legislature has a role in getting Kentucky on track for better health. What would you to build on the progress of Medicaid expansion and to ensure that all Kentuckians have access to quality, affordable health care?

Answer 10: 

Our healthcare has regressed substantially in the last four-five years, much to my disappointment. Gov. Steve Beshear had one of the most successful Medicaid expansions nation-wide, and every Kentucky tax dollar was matched and exceeded in Federal dollars. I'd help the legislature pick up where he left off and undo all the damage from Gov. Bevin's regressive policies, to make sure we're taking advantage of all the assistance we have available to us.