Martina Jackson-Haynes | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Martina Jackson-Haynes

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 for Kentucky is to improve the quality of life for all of us. Kentucky has a high poverty level, we have some of the poorest counties in the nation It takes investment in healthcare and education, tackling child abuse and poverty, addressing poverty by increasing our minimum wage to a living wage, and to act on environmental issues such as access to clean water, and investment in renewable energy.

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.

I support restoring voting rights to Kentuckians with felonies in their past once they have served their time, probation and parole. They have made an effort to pay back for what they did. And to take someone's right to vote away is un-American. I would support a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights under the conditions they have satisfactorily paid their debt to society.

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?

The modernization of state election laws, should consider offering ballots in multiple languages if we aren’t already. Someone who is a new citizen may still be getting comfortable with English. So allowing someone to have a ballot in their first language would be significant. And ease anxiety around voting. Language access is a form of justice. We have to provide interpreters in our hospitals, and court rooms. It should be the same practice in our elections. Same day voter registration, as well as extending hours at the polling locations should be considered. The folks who work hourly jobs would be able to potentially vote without having to take off work. Any reasonable means in which we can make voting accessible to all voters, is the direction we should be going. The current Voter ID bill I am concerned about because it has a variety of barriers that are placed on people to exercise their right to vote. I believe what is required for identification now to vote is sufficient, but we could do more at making voting more accessible.

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?

Kentucky does need to reevaluate, and assess our tax code impact on the every day Kentuckian. Just last session in 2019, the GA approved of a flat sales tax that was implemented immediately, when it could have been rolled out incrementally. And it was a sales tax that was on randomly selected services like, gym memberships, salons, laundry services, auto mechanic services, etc. These aren’t luxuries things across the board. And would largely impact small business owners. It also means consumers carry the burden of the sales tax. Instead of forcing small business owners, and everyday Kentuckians pay more, our tax code should be taxing corporations. Whom pay very little of their fair share of taxes. It won’t deter them from doing business, rather gives them an incentive to make sure that we foster a sense of social awareness of the people and customers they rely on to make their profits from. Revenue streams are as equally important, and seeing the legalization of medicinal cannabis would be well received by many Kentuckians. Our government leaders need to truly listen to the people.

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?

Our local law enforcement officers already have a demanding job, it shouldn’t be their responsibility to also act as federal agents. I think in only extraordinary cases that local authorities already coordinate with federal agents. And by that, I mean extreme cases like human trafficking, terroristic threats, or an immediate threat to public safety. Kentucky should be welcoming of all people. Immigrants are part of Kentucky’s powerful story. It is a fact that we have a growing immigrant population, and opportunities for our law enforcement to have a positive interaction with them is a great step. Community policing is a means for building trusting relationships with any community. It would be great to see a more robust effort to recruit candidates from a diverse background to be able to build bridges among different communities.

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?

Our state has so many wonderful natural renewable resources that we can tap into now. Kentucky needs to invest in our infrastructure across the state. Maintaining water sewer systems is crucial to having clean and safe drinkable water. We have to remove those barriers for Kentuckians. Our role as leaders is to pave a way for success. And by investing in renewable energy, our infrastructure will reduce the economic impact of rising utility and electric bill costs on many households, as well as combat the challenges of climate change.

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.

The unfortunate cost of systemic racism, sexism, and economic injustices can and has led to crippling ramifications across the commonwealth. Kentuckians understand we have to take care of one another. My initiatives would be to examine our current infrastructure for community based mental health services, as well as targeted policies to ensure quality housing protections for renters. The end goal would be to develop and implement a policy that provides better results for accessibility for Kentuckians to healthcare, and meaningful housing protections. As a legislator, I would begin to target health disparities in our healthcare system for women, especially women of color. Access to wellness and mental health screenings covered through Medicaid or reduced costs for low income, or uninsured persons should be made available consistently in communities where very few providers exist. Community based organizations can play a role in making this a possibility, and the government should do a better job at creating partnerships to do so. In order to truly tackle issues like drug addiction, and incarceration we must have better infrastructure for low barrier health services across the state. Kentucky has an opportunity to be both a leader in urban and rural models for quality housing. From Pikeville to Paducah, people have similar struggles just different settings. I would support the state wide adoption of Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA), renter protections that includes domestic violence victims to servicemembers to the everyday Kentuckian against bad landlord practices. It is currently optional for counties to adopt URLTA.

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?

Our justice system requires us to protect the innocent, and be smart on crime. We have major challenges in our justice system, which includes high incarceration rates, and racial disparities. Kentucky has an opportunity to address those two challenges. One of the solutions to addressing the high incarceration rates is through bail reform, specifically addressing the use of cash bail. It disproportionately impacts people of color, and low income people. The use of bail is to make sure that person comes back to court, it is not a measurement of their innocence or guilt. Cash bail for low risk offenders should be reevaluated. One shouldn’t have to buy their freedom when they have not been convicted of a crime. This is also why I would encourage our state leaders to rethink mental health services, and imagine other possibilities to make it more accessible to help reduce the number of people incarcerated, but can seek treatment for things like substance abuse.

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?

I support a state-wide Fairness law. It should include provisions to address topics such as discrimination in housing, employment, financial transactions, and allowing same sex couples to foster and adopt.

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: 

I support the expansion of Medicaid, and know it will make a direct impact on many Ketuckians. It will mean people gain access to healthcare who have not had it before, or had a lapse in coverage. This gives people hope. Kentucky is going to have to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to our public health, especially on a tight state budget. I believe it will be a great opportunity to turn to our community based organizations as a means to make a direct impact, and provide direct services. I see the state potentially strengthening our relationships with community based organizations and or community health clinics to better navigate public health challenges. I strongly believe in working with people who are on the front lines of doing this work. There are so many people who are doing amazing work across the commonwealth in regards to public health, and advocating for affordable healthcare that those individuals and organizations should be further examined to see what models work in Kentucky. What models for addressing public health issues have had the greatest impact in Kentucky. I strongly believe we must continue to build the infrastructure to support public health.