Nima Kulkarni | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Nima Kulkarni

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 a safe,healthy, inclusive place that fully invests in education, protects its environment, and treats black, brown and all people with dignity and respect. I am working to fully fund education, stop attacks on the immigrant community and stand up for organized labor. My voting record shows my compassion, dedication, and proves my vision for the state. I currently serve on the Judiciary, Economic Development, and Licensing & Occupations standing committees, and will likely request the same in the coming term.

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?

100% Yes. Once someone pays their debt to society, they should to able to fully participate in society. Given the stakes in the upcoming election, and witnessing recent efforts by other states to thwart voter registration by citizens who have had their voting rights restored, we must ensure that every single Kentuckian who is eligible to vote is registered to do so. Ensuring automatic restoration of voting rights would remove many unnecessary bureaucratic and administrative hurdles that stand in the way of their constitutional rights.

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?

Our election laws are outdated and designed to hamper the process of voting. I support all voting reforms that have been discussed for years, and am also a proponent of utilizing technology to make the voting process as easy and secure as possible for all Kentuckians in the future. We saw record turnout in the last primary, and in District 40, much of it was as simple as having the option of more than one day to vote early. Senate Bill 2 is purely political grandstanding. There is not a single instance of fraud that was cited in support of it, and the Sect. of State touted the lack of fraud and security of votes in this primary, which saw greatly expanded absentee voting without requiring a photo ID. It will, however, have real world impact in the ability of many Kentuckians to vote and may discourage others entirely. It is a tool of voter suppression, and I am working between now and the election in November to try and register voters and encourage everyone to vote despite efforts to discourage our citizens.

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?

Budget cuts that are the direct result of the 2018 tax cuts have have left our communities crippled. I support undoing the tax giveaways to the wealthy and working for a more equitable tax structure. I also support ways of increasing revenue, including legalizing cannabis, sports betting and several additional proposals. This past session, I was proud to be a cosponsor on the medical cannabis bill, which is an important first step, as well as a comprehensive progressive tax reform bill. I will sponsor and cosponsor bills that increase revenue, reform our tax code, and prioritize funding for the real needs facing our state.

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?

As an immigration attorney and advocate, I talk to and try to help our immigrant communities every day. They are bearing the brunt of this pandemic, being forced to work (undocumented status is excused during this pandemic) while remaining unable to access basic resources and healthcare for themselves and their families. Suddenly, we call them essential, yet we refuse to treat them with basic human dignity. This administration takes pleasure in tormenting immigrants, and Congress has abdicated its role as a check and balance on the rampant xenophobia and racism we are witnessing. On a state level, the very least we can do is allow immigrants to drive and get car insurance regardless of immigration status. The very least we can do is work everyday to make sure healthcare, food, and basic supplies are provided to them regardless of immigration status. I am working with city officials and community organizations to make sure they address language barriers, disseminate information to immigrant communities, and encourage immigrants to use the resources that are available without fear. We must all help each other through this crisis. It is an opportunity to highlight how essential immigrants are to our country and our commonwealth and change our policies accordingly.

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?

Climate and clean water are two of the most important issues of our times. While climate is a global issue we in Kentucky must do our part. Clean and renewable energy solutions will not only help preserve and improve our climate but will also economically benefit all Kentuckians. I fully support the solar tax incentive bill, along with legislation supporting transparent utility rates and fair net metering rates, among other bills aimed at helping stem our climate impact. Kentuckians deserve clean drinking water, and clean waterways. I support all policies that will result in carbon neutrality as soon as possible and policies that mandate the use of renewable energy in all government buildings. I will also continue to support policies that provide incentives for research and development in clean energy solutions, as these initiatives will provide a cleaner environment, new jobs, and strengthen our economy.

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.

Implementing serious policing and criminal justice reforms are the only way forward. This pandemic has only highlighted the stark racial inequalities communities of color have been living with for so long. The deaths of Breonna Taylor and so many others at the hands of law enforcement that we should be able to trust to protect us has been a lightning rod for change. I am serving on the Civilian Review Board Working Group in Louisville to create a level of real oversight for LMPD. As a state legislator, subpoena power for the CRB must be enacted in statute. I am also working on several state-level policing reforms along with colleagues from both sides of the aisle. Banning no-knock warrants, defining consistent body-cam policies, revising the collective bargaining agreement between Jefferson County and LMPD, defining qualified immunity in state statute so it is no longer used as an impenetrable shield for any police accountability, restructuring the police, their training, incentives, and changing their role as militarized law enforcement to community based policing are some initiatives that I am working on at the moment.

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?

Mass incarceration is a scourge in our Commonwealth. We must give judges more discretion and focus on restorative justice.The system is inherently broken and needs to be reformed. I am completely opposed to private prisons and private companies profiting from incarcerating our citizens. We must invest more in treatment centers and educational and vocational opportunities for our families. The recent examples and threats of federal aggression in our communities should be a wake up call to us. The unchecked abuse of power that is possible in an administration like the one we have at the moment is a danger to us all. Dismantling DHS and severely restricting its state counterparts is now a priority as well.

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 fully support Fairness for all and have cosponsored legislation establishing statewide fairness every year that I've served. I am proud of the success of local Fairness ordinances throughout Kentucky, but I strongly believe a statewide Fairness law is necessary. I was endorsed by CFAIR in my last election, and I strongly believe in the equality of all people. I have many LGBTQ+ constituents and am proud to work for them.

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 fully support our local health departments, who are desperately in need of more state revenue. I fully support the affordable care act expansion because I believe healthcare is a fundamental right. I have sponsored legislation to restore vision and dental care, which was cut by the former governor, and will continue to support legislation that will expand affordable access to healthcare for all Kentuckians. Especially during this pandemic, it is crucial that all Kentuckians have access to medical care to stop the spread and devastation caused by COVID-19.