Here Is What I Am Fighting For
Gun Safety Reforms
“Mass Killing in Indianapolis is a Distinctly American Story” should not ever be the headline. The most recent incident, the FedEx Mass Shooting in Indianapolis, has really struck a nerve with Americans across the country. Unfortunately, just like in the previous mass shootings, several lives were lost, families are heart-broken and we do not understand why the gunman committed this heinous act.
As a registered gun owner and member of the NRA, I support the Second Amendment wholeheartedly. In addition, I recognize and respect that the majority of gun owners take their weapons seriously such that they are not out here causing problems and shooting up public places. The amendment was established so that American citizens can retain the right to bear arms. I will work diligently to ensure that the Second Amendment will continue to be upheld. I have no interest in taking away registered guns from law-abiding American citizens. However, I will work diligently to support, draft and pass legislation for:
Universal criminal background checks:
This is extremely important and is warranted due to several mass shootings that have occurred recently. A criminal background check is only as good as the information that it contains. But, the investigator who is authorized to run background checks will need to know whether a handgun or rifle can be sold to the buyer. This is where issues pertaining to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountibility Act (HIPAA) law needs to be addressed. Because medical records, inlcuding mental health records, are protected under this act, there is no way for the investigator to determine if, in good conscious, that an individual may have or have had a history of mental illness or not. Everything is digital now inlcuding your medical records. There has to be a way that, when the background check has been initiated, a special code is returned with the results that informs the investigator that the buyer is NOT eligible to purchase a firearm. The code will not be configured to reveal the reason why. Most importantly, the coding system will not disclose any kind of diagnosis. If the seller bypasses the results of the background check and sells the firearm anyway and an incident occurs with that particular buyer, the seller may be held criminally accountable to a certain extent.
More requirements for Handgun Qualification. This includes a minimum of 15 hours of target shooting at the range with qualified instructors.
No one under the age of 21 will be allowed to purchase a handgun or shotgun. There may be exceptions to this rule if the individual has accepted a position as a police officer, armed security guard or other law enforcement professional.
We are facing unprecedented challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the Maryland economy and left millions to suffer. Wages are stagnant, unemployment is high, record numbers of small businesses are closing, and millions of everyday Americans are facing economic hardship through no fault of their own. While these trying times are daunting, we Marylanders are stubborn; no challenge can compete with our hard work, resourcefulness, and tenacity. With the proper help from our representatives, we can overcome tribulations and come back stronger than ever before.
Congress must act now to help hardworking Americans get back on their feet and recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic. As a member of the U.S. Senate, I pledge to:
Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour so that everyone can have a decent living.
Work to provide all parents with paid parental leave, so they can care for their newborn children without fear of failing to provide or losing their job.
Provide continued COVID-19 relief that helps devastated small businesses rather than large corporations.
Invest in small businesses owned by women and minorities.
Fund a plethora of physical and cyber infrastructure projects that will create thousands of jobs, give many access to clean water, fix our aging and broken-down roads and bridges, and protect our democracy and our economy from continued cyberattacks.
Push Congress to reduce gasoline and oil prices and to stabilize the economy by concentrating more on controlling inflation.
Support and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act to the fullest. Americans cannot afford to suffer from another financial meltdown.
There are a few things that are more basic rights than the right to good healthcare. Everyone deserves the comfort of knowing that if they get sick, they will not be financially doomed. While so many other nations provide their residents with quality healthcare and universal insurance, the United States has opted to continue with its jumbled mess of a health care system.
The U.S. can no longer let Americans suffer from soaring healthcare costs and medical bankruptcies. As a member of the U.S. Senate, I pledge to:
Support Medicare for All, so that no American will have to worry about financial hardship while they are sick.
Eliminate all deductibles and co-pays for any American currently on subsidized healthcare.
Fight soaring drug costs by encouraging competition, cutting regulation on drug importation, and having the federal government directly negotiate drug prices with producers.
Support legislation to eliminate the cap on the coverage of mental healthcare.
New FOIA Amendments
Additional Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
As a federal government contractor for several years, I have worked with the FOIA extensively. From issues
involving civil rights to issues involving law enforcement, national security, policy and statistics, I have worked behind the scenes reviewing, redacting and releasing federal records while at the same time always thinking of the possible harm that could be caused to an agency should certain records be released by mistake. In addition, I have noticed two common major issues that have continuously plagued the agencies I have worked for during my career:
The filing of lawsuits on the 21st business day, and
Requests for records that are voluminous.
Many requesters believe and/or think that, when they submit a request to an agency, employees can easily
retrieve the records, review and redact them all within the twenty business day timeframe as established by Congress. In most situations, this is NOT the case. A plethora of federal records have been retired and are stored at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or the Federal Records Center (FRC). Someone will have to locate and retrieve these records if they exist. Other records have been destroyed according to the agency’s retention schedules. Furthermore, there are many other kinds of records that may require consultations with the custodian(s) of the records. This takes time. Also, because many employees have been retiring lately, those positions have not and probably will not be backfilled thus, causing a shortage in staffing.
To help alleviate some of the problems associated with responding to FOIA requests, I will propose the following:
A bill to be drafted ending the filing of lawsuits on the 21st business day when requests have not been answered. Many requesters know that it takes much longer to locate, review and redact certain types of records. So, they will constantly request these kinds of records for the purposes of getting legal fees paid to them. This could be considered abuse of government resources and taxpayer’s money since this is an easy way to “get paid” but only if the plaintiff prevails. In September 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the Report to the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate titled, Freedom of Information Act: Litigation Costs for Justice and Agencies Could Not Be Fully Determined. At the time when this report was published, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 3,350 FOIA lawsuits had been filed against agencies resulting in a 57% increase in lawsuits filed since 2006. These lawsuits have placed a strain on federal resources and have become overwhelming for the attorneys that are litigating them.
For simple track requests, agencies should be able to respond within the twenty business day timeframe. However, for complex requests (mainly involving policy), the agencies will need a minimum of 90 - 120 business days. This will allow for more quality reviews and allow for consultations, if needed. Most importantly, this should help decrease mistakes in releasing records that should not be released.
Living in satisfactory housing conditions is one of the most important aspects of people's lives. Housing is essential to meet basic needs such as shelter. However, it is not just a question of having a roof over your head. Housing is definitely much more than that. It should offer a place to sleep and rest where people feel safe, have privacy and personal space. It should be a place where they can raise a family. All of these elements help to make a house a home. The problem question is whether people can afford adequate housing or not.
In addition, housing costs take up a large share of the household budget and it represents the largest single expenditure for many individuals and families. By the time you add up elements such as rent, gas, electricity, water, furniture and repairs, the budget for the month is almost depleted. This is the case with many Americans that are living while earning a low income, fixed income and/or are living in poverty. This includes military veterans, senior and homeless citizens.
Homelessness is a problem in the state of Maryland, especially in Baltimore. I want to change this and ensure that Maryland’s homeless population is no longer homeless. Thus, every homeless Marylander will have a home of their own to go to provided that I focus on the following as your Senator:
For a homeless person, a government ID is key to becoming self-sufficient. An ID makes it possible for a homeless person to apply for a job, get public benefits and find a place to live. Individuals can obtain an ID without having a permanent address and I want to ensure that this is not a problem in any state as well as Maryland.
Seek out available lands in areas that are near public transportation and consult with contractors to build small energy efficient homes similar to those that were built by the Veterans Community Project. These homes will accommodate all homeless persons.
Ensure successful job placement and adult continuing education and give incentives to businesses that hire these people.
Our Military Veterans
Issues Pertaining to Our Military Veterans
Unfortunately, many Americans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars need mental health care. However, they aren't always getting enough from the Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Administration, according to the results of a congressionally mandated investigation. Go here: Gulf_War_Illnesses
The military is aware of what the veterans have been exposed to, especially the ones that went to combat. Many of these veterans have witnessed their friends/colleagues get killed. Also, they have had to endure the intense bombing campaigns that released chemicals and dust into the air. As a result, many of these veterans currently suffer from disorders such as sleep apnea, respiratory problems and mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression and addiction.
It is important to note that these veterans, men and women, were taken overseas as healthy individuals and several of them became broken. When they returned home, these broken individuals did not get fixed. The Veterans Health Administration repeatedly denies benefits to veterans depending on one of the eight priority groups to which they belong.
Most veterans are eligible for VA’s medical care but must enroll to receive treatment. Veterans are assigned to one of eight priority groups based on their service-connected disabilities, income, combat status and other factors when they apply. VA determines how many priority groups it can serve with the funding approved by the Congress. Veterans in the lowest-priority groups would be the first to be denied service.
Go here: VA_Spending
The bottom line here is that no military veteran should be denied the right to receive medical care. In addition, military veterans should receive the same high-quality care that the active duty personnel receive on the military bases. Thus, the VA hospitals and clinics should be structured such that the same high quality of care is afforded to them if they are not able to access the bases. After all, our military veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice for us which is to protect our homeland and our freedoms.
As your Senator, I will fight for the following for our military veterans:
Propose legislation to create specialty mental health centers with the primary focus of treating the underlying cause of the mental health issue and not just treat the symptoms,
Examine how the VA hospitals and clinics can be structured such that military veterans receive the same high quality of care as the active duty personnel, and
Ensure that funding is restored to the Veterans Administration and propose legislation that this funding is never cut under any circumstance.
Mental illness is real and has had devastating effects on thousands of families across the U.S. Let’s cut out the bureaucratic bullshit and take care of our military veterans.
Child Support Amendments
Amendments to Current Child Support Laws
Often times in child support cases, the mothers have the upper hand with respect to the courts ordering fathers to pay. However, there have been several instances where the fathers have ordered paternity testing that has resulted in negative outcomes. Men should not have to continue to pay child support for children that are biologically not theirs. Furthermore, the courts should reverse the decisions and clear their records.
In instances where men have signed birth certificates and the paternity tests confirm negative results afterwards, the birth certificates should be corrected/amended with the removal of the incorrect father’s name. While it is important that the states recover, as much as possible, the funds spent on welfare programs, it is totally unfair for any man to pay support for a child once the paternity testing has confirmed the negative results. It is not my intention to make changes to the current child support laws. As your Senator I will:
Fight for the men that have been wrongfully ordered to pay child support for children that are not biologically theirs.
I will propose legislation that will allow those fathers to obtain a state tax credit for funds that have already been paid during the course of the child support orders where the DNA test has proven otherwise. At this point, it would not be feasible for the courts to order mothers to pay back child support funds in civil proceedings because of willful deception or if it was an honest mistake. The men will have to take the responsibility of filing civil complaints against the mothers if they choose to do so. Hopefully, that option will be available depending on the state that they reside in; not all states allow this.
Propose legislation to make it mandatory for the custodial parents to provide an annual statement to show what the child support funds were spent on. Many fathers have complained that the mothers have been spending the funds on themselves. Nevertheless, the goal is for the annual statement to show accountability on behalf of the custodial parent.
Criminal Justice Reform
In the state of Maryland, approximately 75% of the inmate population consists of African Americans. Also, the Maryland State Prison System is overcrowded which is not uncommon. Unfair sentencing guidelines, the inability to pay fines and fees, and many people sitting in jails simply because they either cannot afford to make bail or they have violated the conditions of their probation/parole is the result of our inefficient and repressive criminal justice system. This is usually the case throughout the country. The bottom line here is that the prison systems are inundated with too many people that do not need to be there for long periods of time especially for convictions of non-violent crimes.
According the the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2018 Update on Prisoner Recidivism: A 9-Year Follow-up Period (2005-2014):
The 401,288 state prisoners released in 2005 had an estimated 1,994,000 arrests during the 9-year period, an average of 5 arrests per released prisoner. Sixty percent of these arrests occurred during years 4 through 9.
An estimated 68% of released prisoners were arrested within 3 years, 79% within 6 years and 83% within 9 years.
Almost half (47%) or prisoners who did not have an arrest within 3 years of release were arrested during years 4 through 9.
More than three quarters (77%) of released drug offenders were arrested for a non-drug crime within 9 years.
44% of released prisoners were arrested during the first year following release, while 24% were arrested during year 9.
82% of prisoners arrested during the 9-year period were arrested within the first three years.
These statistics clearly show that there is a serious problem with inmates being released without the preparation for reentry into society. For many of the formerly incarcerated, securing employment, adequate housing and healthcare has been extremely difficult. As a result, these issues have led some of these people right back into the streets to do what they know best – to live a criminal life just to survive.
As your Senator, I will push Congress to:
Pass the Next Step Act of 2019 which was introduced by Senator Cory Booker. It is time to reform sentencing, the prison system, recidivism and law enforcement practices and it is long overdue.
Propose legislation to provide incentives for businesses to hire formerly incarcerated men and women in an effort to assist them with assimilating back into society while at the same earning a living wage so that they will be able to support themselves financially and not have to go back into the streets.
Ensure that formerly incarcerated persons are not denied housing and can secure affordable rents either with or without housing assistance.
When I first purchased my home, approximately once each month someone was knocking on my door offering for me to switch how my electricity was being delivered to me, from fossil-fuel to wind and/or solar power. To do my part and help the environment, I purchased solar panels for my home. This was an awesome and rewarding investment. During the summer seasons, I barely get an electric bill. The main reason for this is because my home gets full sun approximately 12 to 14 hours each day during the spring and summer seasons and 6 to 9 hours during the fall and winter seasons. For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of experiencing the benefits of having solar energy to power my home while at the same time decreasing pollution. I feel great about this positive contribution to the environment. However, this is not enough.
The health of the environment is extremely important if we want to continue to inhabit this land for hundreds of years to come. As of now, we need to make some serious changes to restore the health of our planet. Pollution from fossil fuel combustion, oil spills, plastics and other trash in the oceans is drastically changing the climate, killing precious species, destroying ecosystems and causing severe lung and other health problems for humans around the world. It is imperative that we transition to clean energy sources and reduce carbon emissions in our country and globally. This will help to increase energy efficiency.
In the Senate, I will work diligently to:
Support legislation geared towards reversing the Trump Administration’s rollbacks of clean air, clean water and fuel economy standards.
Propose that special clauses are included to prevent future sitting presidents from tampering and/or rolling back these key components again.
Push for the U.S. to re-enter the Paris Climate Accords and work with other members of Congress to draft a more robust treaty that will force the most polluting nations around the world to take aggressive action on decreasing pollution that is being emitted into the environment by switching to clean energy. The developing nations around the globe are not historically responsible for the majority of the world’s increased emissions. Nonetheless, we will all need to work in unison to make this right – no excuses.
Bilateral Relations/Foreign Policy
Since 2016, the U.S. has experienced the greatest drop in global confidence. The world's trust in our country, which is extremely divided politically and has stirred global alarm over the U.S. killing of an Iranian general during the previous presidential administration, has dropped by more than 50%. According to the 2020 Best Countries report, this is the sharpest drop of any country assessed.
The U.S. cannot afford to be in a position where its global relationships and partnerships are strained due to coarse, discourteous and ethnocentric attitudes towards other nations. This, of course, is not the proper diplomatic way to communicate and conduct business.
With respect to Ukraine, I understand that strategically and geographically this country lies at the crux between Russia and Europe only because they broke free from the Soviet Union in 1991. But, since Ukraine was recognized as an independent country, there has been a hodgepodge of incidents dealing with this country while at the same time causing the U.S. to be at odds with Russia. This right here sounds like there is a bit of Cold War rivalry occurring with Ukraine all up in the middle of it. Although the Cold War is over, the U.S. still sees Ukraine through the lens of Russia. So, is Ukraine going to lean East or West? Did the U.S. get played like “Pacman” when Congress authorized a $400 million military aid package for Ukraine in 2019? When presented with the offer to investigate a U.S. presidential candidate and his son in exchange for the military aid package, the president of Ukraine carefully considered doing so. The look in his eye said it all.
On that note, as your Senator I will push for the U.S. Congress to:
Work on strengthening bilateral relationships with its top ten allies. This is of the utmost importance and the U.S. must accomplish this. Regardless of what occurs in this world, the U.S. will forever remain militarily vigilant and stand its ground at all times.
Work closely with our foreign relations experts and security advisors to mend these broken relationships with the goal of regaining the world’s trust in the U.S. and building new partnerships.
Now more than ever, members of the public are making their own assessments of use of force encounters by the presence of cell phone video recorded by third parties and by police dashboard camera or body-worn camera footage that is then distributed via social media and provided to the news media. As more of these encounters are captured on video, members of various communities are demanding that law enforcement agencies take additional steps to hold personnel accountable and prevent some of these deadly uses of force from occurring in the future. As your Senator:
I will support legislation that emphasizes the role of daily problem-solving, as well as more intensive problem-oriented policing, to address community problems and proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues.
I will push for more funding to be directed towards the establishment of community recreation centers, annual refresher and diversity training for police officers, and to conduct periodic town hall meetings so that the community can meet the police officers, sergeants and captains that are assigned to their districts with an emphasis on building a bridge of comfort and trust between them and the community.
In December 2020, the unemployment rate in my state was 6.3%. Approximately 198,384 civilian workers were unemployed. As your Senator, I will:
Push for cutting tax rates to boost aggregate demand, more education and training opportunities to help reduce structural unemployment.
Propose legislation for geographical subsidies to encourage more businesses to invest in depressed areas and employment subsidies to encourage more businesses to hire the long-term unemployed.