John Whipple | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

John Whipple

District/Office: 
Political party: 
Democrat
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? 

There is too much uncertainty in our lives today. Institutions, such as schools, which should be the foundation of our society, are under attack. Families worry about providing basic necessities, such as food, shelter, and health care. This is wrong. Workers should not have to be afraid of losing their jobs.            My goal is to help provide the security we need for families, farms and businesses to prosper. I am a public school teacher; I would like to serve on the Education Committee.            I am a Veteran; I would like to serve on the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. I am a CASA Volunteer; I would like to serve on the Health and Welfare Committee.

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?

In English there is no word to describe a person who has honorably and fully served his time in prison, unless that word is “CITIZEN”. Disenfranchising an individual is revoking citizenship, and there is no authority in our state or federal government which can do that. While in prison convicts are wards of the state, and do not have the right to vote. But the moment they once again become free men it is wrong for us to restrict their voting rights. I fully support a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to Kentuckians with felonies in their past once they've successfully served their time, probation, and parole.

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?

We need to quit talking about “election law” and talk about “voting rights law”. Our state board of elections ought to be renamed the “State Voting Rights Board”. This would emphasize how important voting rights are to the Commonwealth. Ensuring the right, and opportunity, of every Kentuckian to vote should be the emphasis. Instead we focus on the process. And the process is too difficult. It is designed to hinder voting, rather then encourage it.            I fully understand the need for a secure election. And when there is a threat, we need to act.            Early voting, mail-in ballots, same day voter registration, extended polling hours, foreign language ballots are not threats to election security. They are a means to provide increased access to voters, they protect the democratic process. I will work to support voting rights.

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?

We need to make our income tax more progressive and reduce tax breaks. This would build revenue and put money back in the pockets of low- and middle-income families.           Our sales tax fails to keep up with our economy. We now require on-line retailers to pay sales tax. However many luxury goods and services are not taxed. We give too many exemptions and tax credits for transportation needs (large trucks/jet fuel/aircraft repair/maritime supplies). Bringing these back into the base allows us to keep our consumption tax lower while still bring in necessary revenue.           We need to tighten corporate tax loopholes and better verify that businesses are due the tax breaks that they claim. Many tax breaks are questionable, we have no way of knowing how well they work. We have corporations not paying their fair share. Our 5% corporate tax rate is nearly the lowest in the nation. We are leaving money on the table. Raising it to 7% would be a boon to the treasury. The threat of driving corporations out of state due to the tax rate is a myth, taxes are a small part of business expense.

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?

One of the greatest failures of our federal government is its inability to establish a modern immigration policy. This leadership failure leaves state and local officials trying to solve a national problem at the state level. Kentucky has a very small immigrant population, only about 4%. And only about 1% of them are undocumented. But they make a significant positive impact on our economy.            Our laws should not make people criminals. Most undocumented want to live here legally and follow our laws as best they can. We should not put barriers in their way. They need access to state services, like drivers licenses, public schools, SNAP and CHIP. Many undocumented have jobs and pay taxes, they are not the welfare cheats that many think them to be. It is not the state of Kentucky’s job to enforce federal immigration law. It is our job to provide services to the residents of our state. And when a person has a legal claim to those services we should make them available, regardless of their immigration status.

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?

Kentucky needs to be a leader in the Green Revolution. Planning for clean energy and water should be considered in all state legislation. We need incentives for all new construction to include Green technology, from schools and roads to manufactured housing. There need to be incentives for retrofitting, or even replacing out of date systems in existing structures. This will create new jobs and businesses to strengthen our economy. We must educate our workforce, so that they are prepared for those jobs. We have to create programs for local governments so that they can build projects to support infrastructure for clean energy and water.

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 do not have enough teachers of color in our schools. We still have too many schools where the only person of color is the custodian or a lunch lady. Minority children need to see people who look like them in the classroom. White members of the community need to see people of color in positions of authority and responsibility. I would demand that we pass legislation that would establish programs to train and recruit minority educators and administrators in ALL areas of Kentucky.            I do not like the term “Defund the Police”. I believe that the police need to be fully funded, but only by the state of Kentucky. I will propose a policy that Kentucky does not accept any federal grant money which militarizes our law enforcement. We need to allocate resources which train our police to be better able to listen and deescalate a crisis, rather than to reflexively draw their weapon.

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 cannot focus on the police and expect to find a solution to this problem. The police, the court system and the state legislature all contribute to this issue. It will take an effort by the state legislature to consider racial equity when passing any future legislation. The state legislature must make a dedicated commitment to examine all state laws, policies, and regulations for any signs of bias, either intended or unintentional when it is first passed. It must be part of the process. Judges must ask themselves and be aware of the problem. And our police, the men and women on the front line, must focus on social justice as well as criminal justice.

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?

The answer to both questions is yes. No one should live in fear because some in society consider them different. If we do not protect one group, all groups are in jeopardy. Discrimination is wrong and we need to legislate to make sure that all are protected by the law.            Being LGBTQ is not a choice. And it is not a mental or physical disease which can be cured by “therapy”. It is simply the way some people are. Conversion therapy does not work and should not be offered as a treatment to minor children.

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: 

The states with the best health care programs are the ones that built their own. Massachusetts is the best example that I can think of. When we are dependent on a federal program we have to follow their rules and we are subject to the whims of whichever party is in control. Kentucky needs its own health care program, one that best suits the needs of Kentuckians. We suffer from many problems. Obesity. Smoking. Substance abuse. These are difficult problems, but not impossible ones to solve.

           

One thing that Kentucky has the resources to do is conduct health screenings. Too many minor problems turn into life threatening problems because people don’t find out about them in time. If we were to start a program offering health screening to the public we could identify and avoid many health issues. A good place to start screenings is in our schools. Students could get screened in elementary, middle and high school. Many have no idea if they are in good or poor health and physical condition. A screening, by a professional and shared with a parent would make a difference in many students lives.