Gene Detherage Jr. | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Gene Detherage Jr.

District/Office: 
Political party: 
Nonpartisan
Incumbent: 
No
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 one in which politicians are no longer operating as party pawns but strive each day to be the servants they are to the people they have been elected to serve. This vision includes public policies across a wide spectrum of issues but most importantly uses evidence and data, along with a genuine balance of interests, to drive policy goals. The lives of Kentuckians would be improved through greater access to, and transparency from, their government. I would hope to enable each and every Kentuckian the ability to pursue the best interests of their community through real representative government. Further, I would hope my time in office would allow me to target specific regulations which cut out special interests for small groups and prevent equitable access to our economy and stifle innovation, I would further hope to challenge or circumvent similar Federal regulations. I would hope to serve on the following committees: Agriculture Appropriations & Revenue: Sub. on Justice & Judiciary Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Judiciary Natural Resources & Energy State & Local Government

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?

Yes. Once someone has paid their judicially derived 'debt to society' it is senseless cruelty to forever strip them of their civil rights, degrading them to a second-class of the citizenry, and removing the natural incentive they have to participate in and better society.

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 would be in favor of performing an extensive review of the state's election laws. I support mail-in ballots, same-day voter registration, extended hours at polling locations. Further, I support the notion of moving election day to a weekend to further voter access and participation. I would also be willing to hear considerations and discussions about the adoption of a 'Preference Choice Voting System'. I'm uncertain about offering ballots in multiple languages since the vast majority of Kentucky's population is homogenous, but I would be willing to listen to arguments. As to Senate Bill 2, although I do believe in the importance of verifying the citizenship of those wanting to vote in local & state elections, I would pursue a reviewing and revisement of the bill's text to look into options which provide multiple pathways of voter access so as not to exclude those who face significant barriers obtaining specific types of ID.

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?

In every and all tax scenarios, there are winners and losers. I don't wholeheartedly subscribe to either major party's views on taxes. I would support a tax code that provided for maximum control at the local level while simultaneously trying to identify those statewide policies which absolutely demand everyone's participation. In many cases, state and federal investments go to either short-term grant programs which do not create a meaningful or lasting impact on any social issue, likewise, many long-acting programs do little if anything to address root causes of poverty or provide meaningful education or pathways ahead in life. All that to say, I would support a tax code in which 'all boats rise' because of a tax structure that only benefits one or some small segment of society is unsustainable. Finally, if the tax system doesn't meaningfully equip communities to solve their issues through the funding it provides, it is bad code.

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?

This is essentially a Federal issue. Unfortunately, Federal policy creates an environment where there is a greater economic incentive to immigrate illegally than to immigrate legally; additionally, there is little will at the Federal level to create a meaningful revamp of immigration policy. Kentucky is beholden to these Federal policies. That being said, I would hope to explore carveouts in Kentucky law which would allow immigrants and their families to join us in the Commonwealth creating more diverse and thriving communities. I would join with colleagues and the Governor to put more pressure on our Federal legislatures to create meaningful immigration reform.

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?

Acting to address the climate crisis is a top priority for me. I would support policies that increase access to rooftop solar and eliminate policies that create a policy structure that only benefits large energy producers. I think that our major energy companies and rural co-ops could benefit from tax incentives and subsidies to provide rooftop solar conversions for single-family homes which benefit both parties in terms of energy costs and business costs. All public dollars going toward housing initiatives should account for and include clean energy solutions and materials. Industrial hemp also a bright future in the Commonwealth and should be invested in through wise public-private partnerships; in this way, Kentucky can play a national role in providing more sustainable goods while creating jobs here at home in both agriculture and manufacturing. In our urban areas, blighted and unsalvagable homes in low-income neighborhoods which are likely already owned by local governments (or could be purchased for little) can be repurposed into community gardens and greenspaces. Also, low-income and communities of color should be given the resources and tools to eliminate urban and suburban food deserts through policies that help them establish food co-ops and grocery stores. Finally, in rural … answers exceeds word limit

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.

1. I would promote a policy agenda that shifts public dollars away from inflated police budgets and militarizing police toward policies that create meaningful pathways to reinvest in communities and provide them with the necessary resources to address their underlying socio-economic issues. Therefore, police could focus on community safety instead of trying to fulfill dozens of different social functions. 2. I would support a full-throated policy agenda aimed at removing the treatment of substance use disorders from the criminal justice system as well as ending as many portions of the 'War on Drugs' as state law would permit.

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?

1. I would promote a policy agenda that shifts public dollars away from inflated police budgets and militarizing police toward policies that create meaningful pathways to reinvest in communities and provide them with the necessary resources to address their underlying socio-economic issues. Therefore, police could focus on community safety instead of trying to fulfill dozens of different social functions. 2. I would support a full-throated policy agenda aimed at removing the treatment of substance use disorders from the criminal justice system as well as ending as many portions of the 'War on Drugs' as state law would permit.

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, but this shouldn't be used as a weapon against religious institutions. The law should unequivocally protect the public interests of LGBTQ persons but this should not allow for the persecution of religious minorities unless those minorities expect to receive money from the public chest. I support a statewide ban on the practice of LGBTQ conversion therapy as it has been shown to cause extreme mental and emotional harm to those subjected to it.

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 would work with a coalition of states in an attempt to refute federal law by creating a multi-state region for private health insurance. By and large, the challenges of the health care industry lie with Federal law. However, my biggest focus for Kentucky would be working closely with our rural hospitals and major hospital systems to create a more integrated state network for healthcare and healthcare-related cost. My hope would be enabling transparency and accountability to public dollars which demand that our state's healthcare providers create pricing parity with one another for any state and federal subsidies they receive. Additionally, I would seek to reinvest in our public health services and health departments to reduce unnecessary ER visits and promote a statewide preventative health initiative that would create an environment that promotes health instead of treating illness.