Lydia Coffey | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Lydia Coffey

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? What legislative committees will you request to serve on once elected? 

My vision for Kentucky is that all hard working Kentuckians are able to make a living wage with benefits. Access to affordable quality healthcare for all Kentuckians is a right each should have as a citizen of our Commonwealth. Education is the foundation for positive change. It is important to fully fund public education and pensions of educators so we can continue to draw the brightest and best into the teaching field.            No Kentuckian should be without clean drinking water, but sadly we see too many places in our state that do not have accessibility to clean drinking water or wastewater treatment that is up to date. These improvements must be made to protect the health and welfare of our citizens.            I would like to serve on the Education and Health and Family Services committees.

Question 2: 

Even after Governor Beshear's December 2019 executive order that restored voting rights to 152,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past, over 170,000 Kentuckians 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? Why or why not?

I support giving full voting rights to non-violent offenders after they have served their time. The victims of violent crimes never gets their life back as it once was. Therefore, I do not support the restoration of voting rights for those that have perpetrated violence on another. I can support a constitutional amendment as long as it is only for non-violent offenders.

Question 3: 

During the 2020 primary, Kentuckians voted in record numbers as a result of mail-in absentee voting and early voting. But we can improve on what we learned in the primary and make voting more accessible for all Kentuckians. 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? Would you uphold or work to repeal Senate Bill 2, which makes it harder for voters who don't have particular kinds of photo ID to vote, knowing that many Kentuckians do not have – and face barriers to obtaining – those forms of ID?

We must modernize state election laws by building off of the steps taken during the June primary. We must continue to allow early voting, no excuse absentee ballots, extending the hours at polling locations, ballots in multiple languages, and voting machines that have a paper trail such as the e-scan. With our elections being attacked by other countries we must be able to verify votes not only electronically, but with a hard copy. It also concerns me that voting machine companies are donors to campaigns and political parties. Kentucky has a voter ID in place that did not cause hardship on the voter. Senate Bill 2 is a voter suppression bill that makes it hard for the poor and minorities to have certain types of ID to vote.

Question 4: 

Even before COVID, Kentucky’s tax code did not raise enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth’s needs. We’ve reached dangerous levels of disinvestment in pensions, public education, infrastructure, and other essential programs. While there may be federal aid to buffer some of those impacts, we still need our own sustainable, long-term revenue solutions. What would you do 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?

We must update our antiquated tax code to make it fair and equitable for all Kentuckians. Closing loopholes and taxing luxury items would be two major steps. The tax burden should not be on the backs of the middles class and the working poor as it is now. The tax incentives given to corporations or big business to locate in Kentucky must have some benefit to Kentucky. The jobs these companies would generate must pay a living wage with benefits in order to be consider for tax write off. It is sad that we give away more in tax incentives than we put in the general fund.            We can not continue do the work of the state without sources of revenue. It is time to legalize medical cannabis which will benefit those that traditional medicines do not help, but would also generate jobs in areas of our state that lack job opportunities. I am willing to further study the legalization of marijuana. Colorado and Michigan are both seeing the benefits of legalization. It is past time to pass legislation to allow Kentuckians to vote on gaming from sports betting to casinos. We must look at every possible avenue of revenue so Kentuckians do not live in fear of losing their pensions or healthcare or much needed services.

Question 5: 

Many undocumented and mixed immigration status families here in Kentucky do not have access to government aid, stimulus payments, and other resources offered during this pandemic, while they’re simultaneously more likely to be essential workers and are at the highest risk for COVID-19 infection. What would you do to expand support and resources to Kentucky’s immigrant families, undocumented or otherwise, in the time of a global pandemic and beyond?

Immigrant families provide much needed services to all Kentuckians. They pay taxes and work jobs that many are not willing to take. It is important that they have access to unemployment benefits if they have lost work. Their children should receive food services from the schools like all other students. It is vital that they have access to interpreters so they understand what is happening during the pandemic and can be guided to programs that will benefit them. We are called to love our neighbor not only in good times, but especially during times of despair. The state should compile a list of available services in communities throughout the state.

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?

During the shutdown we could see our earth was getting a much needed rest from pollutants. Deregulation of regulations to protect our environment are playing havoc with our air and water. We need statewide recycling programs that will incentivize Kentuckians to participate such as money for returning bottles, cans, and plastics like Michigan has in their groceries.            Crumbling infrastructures of water and wastewater facilities must be addressed. Martin County and other counties should not have to haul water or rely on bottled water in order to have water to drink.

Question 7: 

Kentuckians from across the state are coming together to say Black Lives Matter and to demand that all Kentuckians can move through our communities without fearing for our lives or our loved ones. What is the role of the Kentucky legislature in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people, 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.

The state legislature must address the blatant racism within the legislative body before it can successfully move on legislation that addresses the systemic racism we see in our communities across the state. I have personally witnessed racist actions and remarks against our black legislators. We have watched legislators support white supremacy and hate on our capitol grounds. The passage of Senate Bill 2 is a voter suppression bill against minorities and the poor. We must propose legislation that promotes hiring equities in jobs and schools. Our minority students in most school districts do not see anyone like them as a teacher.            The lack of healthcare has shown us inequities in minority communities during this pandemic. Making healthcare available and accessible in these communities could change the course for healthier communities.

Question 8: 

Kentucky has the ninth highest incarceration rate in the nation, is second for incarcerating women, and has the second-highest rate of children separated from a parent due to incarceration. In addition, Black Kentuckians face disproportionate arrest, conviction, and incarceration, and a heightened risk of police brutality. And people in many parts of our state face racial profiling, intimidation and unjust detainment and detention by federal and local authorities due to immigration status or perceived status. Many Kentuckians are calling for various measures to stem the tide of racialized criminalization, police brutality, mass incarceration, and detention and deportation – from police reform, to increased community investment, to a complete defunding and abolition of the police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration in Kentucky and reinvesting resources into the communities most impacted by this system?

Many Kentuckians are incarcerated because their release is contingent on having the financial ability to make bail. If they remain in jail while waiting trial they are losing income and employment. A law with uniform guidelines for bail needs to be passed. The inequity from county to county is appalling. Decriminalizing minor drug offenses would go far in eliminating mass incarceration. If drug treatment programs were more readily available for those that are suffering from addiction they could actually move on to being productive citizens. Possession of marijuana should not be a reason for one to be incarcerated. Until laws are changed for marijuana possession this cycle will continue. Community service would be more beneficial to both the community and the offender.            We must face full on systemic racism in our state from employment, healthcare, and policing. We must require our police and those working in criminal justice to have sensitivity and racial profiling training. Defunding police automatically triggers a negative response and does not help when trying to make positive change to policing. Redirecting money for social workers, youth services that can incorporate the police, housing, and other programs that promote positive change should not be an argument. Police should not be equipped like they are going into a war battle. To protect and serve, not create fear.

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? Do you support a statewide ban on the practice of LGBTQ conversion therapy, which would protect Kentucky youth from a harmful and medically discredited practice?

I support statewide Fairness laws. Discrimination has no place in our society. Conversion therapy is archaic and harmful. This practice should be outlawed.

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 major challenges remain, and many are exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. What would you do to make sure Kentuckians can get and stay healthy? What are your health-related legislative priorities? 

Answer 10: 

We must continue do all we can to make sure Kentuckians have health insurance through their workplace, the Affordable Care Act,and/or medicaid expansion. Access to healthcare without traveling long distances is needed in many parts of Kentucky. The shortages of doctors in rural areas is a real concern. Incentives such as student loan forgiveness to doctors that attend our state medical colleges to locate to an area in need of medical professionals would benefit those areas in need of quality healthcare. Small town hospitals have saved many lives, but many are finding their survival hanging by threads. It is time to sit down with those running small hospitals what is needed to stay in operation for the people in rural Kentucky.