Paula Clemons-Combs | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Paula Clemons-Combs

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?

I envision a House District where the economy is experiencing an upswing, where school children are provided the same opportunities that their peers in more affluent parts of Kentucky are receiving, where workers are respected and encouraged, where no one has to spend an inordinate amount of their annual income on utilities, where our political rhetoric no longer drowns out the cries of our most vulnerable populations, and where elected leaders actually represent those who voted for them. I will be working on Day 1 to bring these visions to life in our district.

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.

Yes, the voting rights for those who have served their full sentences should be restored. To streamline this for everyone involved (from the voter to the county clerk), we need a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights. Once the time is served (whether through probation, parole, incarceration), then to deny restoration is an unlawful penalty in my opinion.Did not respond.

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?

In order to allow participation for all citizens of the Commonwealth, Kentucky needs to modernize state election laws. Early voting, mail-in ballots, extended hours, these are some ideas that can easily be implemented. To require a photo ID on Election Day isn't unreasonable but we will need to make provisions for citizens to obtain such ID's at no cost and perhaps go out into the communities and take said ID's in mobile units.

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?

The tax code must be re-visited because the working class cannot sustain the corporate tax breaks. True tax reform cannot occur until a fair and balanced tax rate is established.

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?

Immigration is regulated at the federal level and should be governed by federal agents. To put that burden on local cities and counties would create a financial crisis, especially in our most cash-strapped areas. Simply put, in a time when our local municipalities can scarcely afford to purchase gravel and salt for their crumbling roads, they can't be expected to take on the job of federal agencies that do have the financial resources of federal funding and the proper equipment to ensure safety of their agents.

What we can do at the state level to support immigrant populations is to offer educational and health services to immigrant children. Children are at the mercy of the adults no matter what, to have them languish without an education or basic medical services while adults go through legal proceedings is unconscionable.

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?

For too long, our mountain region has been in an economic slump and our people have suffered from that. Coal is an important part of our culture and our economy and should not be abandoned, but we need diversification. Solar and wind energy -we have reclaimed strip mines where direct sun and winds can provide a lot of our communities' needs in partnership with coal. Utilizing these three sources, our power plants can produce cleaner energy for our people and create new jobs that boost our local economy. We need to work at the state and federal levels to insist on having basic needs met that support human life - clean water and clean air.Did not respond.

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 role of the legislature is to have legal protections for all races - pay equality and programs to advocate for education that leads to positive change. "Not group that promotes hatred of any race shall be tolerated" is the message we need to convey. Two policy initiatives would be to promote empathy programs in community classrooms and PSA's for voting registration and voter rights in all areas of Kentucky and in several languages.

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?

As a whole, Kentucky needs to re-visit the reasons why one becomes incarcerated and financially if the sentence fits the crime. Does jailing someone for years over small amount of cannabis really give taxpayers a good deal? Does putting children into the foster care system because their mother was jailed due to not showing up for court really do service to justice? We need to explore the expanded use of electronic monitoring systems (where it is safe to the public of course) to cut down on costs and reduce overcrowding in jails/prisons.

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?

Reading on official Commonwealth documents, one would think that Kentucky has a Fairness law, "The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, ancestry, age, disability, political affiliation, genetic information, or veteran status in accordance with state and federal laws", so I was surprised to learn we did not. All law-abiding citizens should be protected and have no fear of interference from the government, public institutions, or hate groups.

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: 

We need to look at healthcare not just as "healthcare" but as a financial cornerstone of our economy. Not only would expanded access create jobs directly tied to the healthcare field but there are ancillary jobs that would also be created. For the consumer side of expanded healthcare, remember that sick people cannot work and be part of building a healthy economy. If we cannot get our message out on compassionate ears then let us address those who have financial acumen.