Paula Clemons-Combs | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Paula Clemons-Combs

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? 

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. Legislative Committees I would like to serve on are the ones that have a direct impact on HD 91 economic development, education, transportation.

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, 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.

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?

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.If this accommodation cannot be made for our citizens, then the voter ID law should be challenged.

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?

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. What Kentuckians are facing right now is a disingenuous attempt at "reform" where those who can least afford it are being unfairly targeted while losing millions in tax revenue each year to large corporations.

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?

“Treat your neighbor like he’s your kinfolk” is an old adage that we should follow in combatting the COVID-19 virus. We need to pool our resources from the outreach programs which exist within these communities as they have first-hand knowledge of the individuals who live there. Medical care to prevent or treat one individual has the potential to slow or stop the spread of the virus from that individual to scores of others – including you and me. In helping others, we help ourselves, our family, our friends.

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.

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.

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 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?

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? 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?

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. LGBTQ conversion "therapy" needs to be banned as it is not only harmful to participants but bilks large sums of money from those duped into pay for it. This removes medical charlatans who seek to financially profit from vulnerable people.

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 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.