Cherlynn Stevenson | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Cherlynn Stevenson

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? 

I want to live in a Kentucky where every citizen is healthy, happy and hopeful. A Kentucky where quality, affordable healthcare is available to everyone, every child gets a quality education, jobs pay family supporting wages and each citizen feels valued. I currently sit on Transportation, Small Business and IT, Natural Resources, Health and Family Services, as well as the Budget Review Subcommittee for Health and Welfare.

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?

Absolutely! Once that debt to society has been paid, the right to vote should immediately be restored. We cannot keep asking folks to permanently pay for mistakes of their past.

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?

I will actively support any effort to make voting easier and more accessible. I have co-sponsored several bills during my service aimed at doing just that. I will continue to fight against GA20's Senate Bill 2. I voted no to the bill initially on the House floor and voted to sustain the Governor's veto.

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?

On top of adequately taxing gaming that is already happening in Kentucky, we should repeal corporate loopholes and restore some safeguards that prevent multi-state corporations from shifting revenues to avoid taxes. We should expand the sales tax to luxury services; increase the standard deduction; cap itemized deductions; expand the family size tax credit to a higher percentage of the poverty level; and unfreeze the hospital provider tax. Married couples should always have to file income taxes jointly. We could increase the pension exclusion back to $41,110, then phase the exclusion out dollar for dollar so that people with lower incomes benefit, while removing the exclusion for the wealthy. There are many options, and we can't ignore the need any longer.

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?

First, I think it is important to say that while immigration is mainly a federal issue, I support a path to citizenship that is much faster and cheaper than it is now. Legal immigration has been the lifeline to building this country. As the pandemic has shown, we need to make sure that the most vulnerable among us, documented or not, essential workers or not, have the resources they need. Immigrants are vital members of our community, pay taxes and contribute to the future economic well-being of Kentucky. I will continue support for our local health departments as they make sure that there is language access and accessibility for immigrant and refugees to Covid-19 information and testing, along with other basic health services. I work with the local school system to make sure that all families with limited English capacity have access to computers, internet access and skills training so that they can continue to build on their education. Support refugee resettlement organizations, food banks and other community and social services that serve immigrants and refugees is key during this time by connecting these organizations to business leaders and faith communities that can help provide funding, volunteers and resources, including basic needs such as masks, food and school supplies.

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?

A better Kentucky is one where our Bluegrass goes GREEN! We must invest in renewable forms of energy to replace the steep decline in coal. Our environment is begging us to be better to it, people are begging for jobs and I know I'm not the only one would love to see our utility bills go down. We also must invest in our water infrastructure. Water is essential for life and we cannot expect people to continue to pay for water they cannot drink or in which they cannot bathe. This problem comes with a hefty price tag that only grows with each passing year, taking us back to that desperate need for new streams of revenue!

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.

We should begin by ensuring folks are paid a living wage and passing legislation that supports an economy where prosperity is shared by all. Ensuring that public education is fully funded and finding ways to curb costs of healthcare both will help bring equity to the minority community. Those are large, sweeping ideas, but there are very small things we can do, too. Rep. Scott's ban on natural hair discrimination and requiring Black and indigenous histories are taught in schools would have a large impact. Banning no-knock warrants, body camera mandates, and a chokehold ban are all certain to be issues we discuss in the upcoming session!

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?

We all know criminal justice reform is needed. Our first major step is acknowledging that we cannot incarcerate our way out of the drug crisis. The vast amounts of taxpayer dollars we spend prosecuting and incarcerating needs to be spent on prevention and treatment. We should reduce minimum and maximum sentencing. Also, no prison should be for profit, ever!

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?

Yes! I have cosponsored this legislation already and will continue to advocate for it's passage.

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: 

I fully support Governor Beshear's efforts to reestablish KYNECT so that we can get each and every person covered. Our state budget needs to reflect health as a priority for all Kentuckians. I filed legislation that would protect families from surprise medical billing, from gaps in health insurance, to cover the costs of Epi-Pens for children and that would enable doctors to prescribe non-pharmaceutical pain treatment to help combat the opioid epidemic. I worked with my colleagues in the house to file legislation that would work to ensure more Kentuckians have access to medicine and resources that can save their life. Together, the House was able to pass measures I cosponsored that would cap the cost of insulin and to legalize medical marijuana. I have great hope we can get both through the Senate next year. I surveyed my district this winter and the rising cost of healthcare was overwhelmingly the biggest issue families reported they faced, so health and healthcare will continue to be a top priority for me. I plan to file my legislation over and over again until they pass. Kentuckians deserve quality, affordable healthcare not just to survive, but to thrive and stay healthy.