How would you go about addressing health disparities and similar healthcare needs among Missouri’s women, where the maternal mortality rate exceeds the national average and disproportionally impacts women of color? This is a very sad aspect of our healthcare industry that is going to require oversight and a structural shift in mentality of healthcare workers. There is no easy answer for this because of the complexity of the problem. The problem is built on generations of misunderstandings such as being black doesn’t mean you feel as much pain to claiming to be in pain in order to feed an addiction. I believe oversight, review, and training as well as pushing for further diversity in our healthcare industry will aid ending these misconceptions and further aid helping end these disparities.
What policies would you support to increase the availability of mental health personnel and services in rural and underserved parts of the state where COVID-19 has exacerbated widespread stress and anxiety? I would support pushing for supporting programs to boost college education to improve the availability of mental health care professionals. A more immediate stop-gap fix would be to promote infrastructure to increase broadband availability to these regions so that at the very least, we can make mental healthcare professionals available at least through some level of medium to those in rural areas. Unfortunately with the time of COVID-19, we are learning just how critical our mental healthcare professionals are though this is a problem that rural areas have long known about. Suicide among farmers has been on the rise for years and by sending me to Congress, you will have an opportunity to communicate these issues to the Congressional floor.
How do you propose supporting efforts to equitably combat opioid use and fatalities? First, we need to stop attacking opioid users as criminals. Most opioid users are victims of overprescribing being pushed by drug manufacturers. We need to make treatment for addiction to opioids cheap and widely available in regions hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
What policies would you support to enable agricultural producers to provide a healthy, affordable, and sustainable food supply while mitigating negative environmental or health impacts? I support finding ways to co-exist with nature as best as possible while finding ways to boost production. This is something that farmers have tried to do for generations with terracing, finding crops that reduce the need for several applications of spray chemicals. We have learned in the past about the delicate balance of our fertile crop fields and how crop rotation aids in boosting yields instead of using fertilizers. I support using CRP programs to give some land a break and giving back to nature for a few years. We should also take into account the toll farming does have on our water supply. There is a very delicate balance there, but when we have large farm operations such as we do in rural Missouri, we run the risk of runoff from those operations polluting our water supply. We need to push those industries to find creative solutions to make their waste less toxic to our environment and hold them accountable if they fail to do so.
How would you make programs and funding in the next Farm Bill science-based? This could be done by adding research based grants to aid farmers. We also need to bring scientists into the discussion on farm bills. This includes our nutritional aid that goes into programs like SNAP. Climate change is going to change the landscape and we need research into how to address those changes but also keep a sustainable food supply for the world, not just the United States.
What is the federal government’s role in protecting farmers and landowners from extreme weather events? Our federal government’s role is to keep the our farmers financially going during these times of trouble as well as work towards finding ways for farmers to become more resilient to extreme weather.
How would you propose funding and supporting long-term research on climate-smart and regenerative agriculture practices? I propose creating long term grants to secure funding over multiple years proposing those grants with milestones to present each year to track progress in a way that will give future administrations benchmarks to determine if these programs are worth continuing. Some of these programs need to be distributed out to various states and districts in a way that others will see benefit to long term research funding.
Environment & Energy
How will you ensure that science and research play a critical role in monitoring and remediating water quality in Missouri’s impaired streams, rivers, and lakes? I will do my best to make certain that the EPA is properly funded and that protections for large polluters are minimized. I believe my best way I can show you this now is to reject any donations from industry polluters.
What role should renewable sources of energy play for energy consumption in Missouri? My district is one of the main sources of wind energy in Missouri. We should continue to fund and improve renewable energy sources like wind energy to first minimize the amount of fossil fuels we use and then push further through research and development to improve energy distribution, reduce energy consumption through weatherization programs, and look towards high efficiency appliances and equipment. This includes improving our infrastructure and broadband connection.
How would you support businesses, organizations, municipalities, public utilities, and individual home owners to implement more sustainable waste-management and energy-use practices? I would promote use grants through energy companies to promote weatherization and drive down energy costs as well as promote waste management education so that people can learn the benefits of sustainable living.
Research shows that floods are increasing in intensity, forest productivity is diminishing, and mosquito and tick-borne illnesses are becoming more prevalent in Missouri – What policies would you support to protect ecotourism and environments under these changing conditions? We need to create protected wetlands to give overflow of rivers while finding ways to compensate or protect farmers. We need to work with state environmental departments such as the Missouri Department of Conservation to establish these as areas that promote ecotourism.
STEM Education and Workforce Development
What advisory mechanism would you implement to ensure that scientific findings are a critical voice in your policy-making process? I would like to return a scientific thinktank of experts to Congress. Losing those voices years ago has left Congress short of the expertise needed to make informed legislation.
Science and technology are increasingly key economic components. What policies would you support or introduce to make such industries a greater part of Missouri’s economy and ensure workers are prepared for jobs in this sector? We need to better fund science education and scientific research in Missouri. Missouri is a diverse state in their agricultural economy which could lead to innovation for the rest of the country. Yet we need to make certain that our education in these areas are affordable and that we can recruit students that are interested in those fields.
In an age dominated by complex science and technology, how can we ensure that students receive adequate STEM education? We have to find ways to make STEM appealing to younger and younger students to get them interested at an early age. We need to have our science super stars like Bill Nye and Neal DeGrasse Tyson and have them appeal to younger generations the way Patrick Mahomes inspires our youths to take up football.