We were honored to host Lauren Lareau, the Democratic candidate competing for the 142nd District seat i nteh Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Lauren joined us remotely as our meeting contine via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She talked briefly about why she was running
I KNOW WE CAN DO BETTER.
Pennsylvanians deserve better. I am a Democrat running to be your State Representative because there is nothing I want more than to build a stronger foundation for our children, our communities, and our state. Harrisburg needs hard-working professionals with experience outside of politics, who can see the big picture, reset priorities and find pragmatic solutions.
"My first priority is to make our state more competitive and to increase opportunities. This includes:
Lowering health care costs with the PA Healthcare Plan
Increasing state funding for K-12 and college education
Committing Pennsylvania to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050"
and her background. Her family is from Pennsylvania; and she was born in Johnstown, the grand daughter of a Philadelphia police officer who raised his family in East Falls after he served in the Navy, and the daughter of the first person in her family to get a college degree. When it came time to raise my own family, I moved to Langhorne to make a life for myself, and my son, Lucas.
"Education is my life's passion: I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education with a Master's Degree in Human Development, ahead of schedule and with honors. I am a proud small business owner of a tutoring company, and have dedicated my career to helping high school students prepare for success in college and beyond. There's no greater thrill in my life than helping adolescents realize their potential" she told us.
Her commitment to education is one of the major reasons she is running to be your State Representative. Her son was a member of the last graduating class from Oliver Heckman Elementary, and she was appalled to learn that cuts in state funding contributed to its closure, and the consolidation that recently took place in the Neshaminy School District. "We can't afford to put off paying for our children's education– our future is riding on it!"
Prior to starting her tutoring business, and before the Affordable Care Act was passed, Lauren was a Cancer Information Specialist for the National Cancer Institute where she spoke to thousands of callers who had questions about different types of cancer, and where they could get treatment. Ninety percent of the callers also needed help paying for treatment, because so many people were being dropped from their insurance, or denied treatment claims by their insurance company, or couldn’t afford the premiums because of a pre-existing condition. She becaem determined to make sure we keep premiums low and healthcare affordable.
Lauren is also committed to protecting the environment, and shocked to learn that Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn't have an extraction tax, while 90% of what gas companies extract is sold out of state. "We are destroying our land for this resource, without compensation, while gas companies make a fortune. We need an extraction tax, and I will fight with my fellow Democrats to achieve this goal. We can use the proceeds to invest in renewable energy, so we can finally begin the transition to a green energy economy, with cleaner air and water for our community."
Furthermore, as a small business owner, she knows how important small businesses are to the local economy and pledges work to keep taxes low, and ensure that entrepreneurs have the necessary investment and guidance through the municipal bureaucracy to become successful businesses that hire members of our community.
More detailed positions on those and other issues can be found on her website and hae been included below.
Improved access to affordable healthcare has always been essential to our community. That’s why Lauren supports the PA Healthcare Plan. This is a plan that will work for all Pennsylvanians because it:
Lowers health care costs and premiums
Protects the ACA’s coverage of all pre-existing conditions
Protects and expands Medicare and Medicaid
Lowers prescription drug costs for seniors
Enforces the Parity Law for Mental Healthcare
No one should ever have to choose between paying for their home or their food, and paying for medical treatment. Healthcare is also a social justice issue that must be addressed; People of Color are more likely to work in jobs that lack access to healthcare.
Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth, so we should all benefit from our common wealth.
We must be more responsible with our environmental resources, which is why Lauren supports a moratorium on new fracking wells, in addition to a shale tax on gas companies. Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn't have a shale tax, and that is simply irresponsible since PA is the second largest producer of natural gas in the country.
The proceeds of this tax should be used to invest in renewable energy technology and infrastructure projects, so that Pennsylvania can be a leader in renewable energy job creation and the conversion from fossil fuels to a green energy economy. Lauren wants to see Pennsylvania committed to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Access to a clean environment is also a social justice issue that must be addressed. Historically, poor communities have been taken advantage of by large corporations that use their communities as a dumping ground for the toxic waste from their factories.
Education is essential to the foundation of our society. Local public schools don’t just serve students; they act as community centers and help raise property values. We must continue the work Governor Wolf is doing to restore public school funding at the state level because Pennsylvania still ranks 44th in the country when it comes to school funding.
With expected future revenue losses coming up in this year’s budget debate, Pennsylvania public schools are looking at a serious shortfall in state funding next year. We can’t let that happen, so we need to elect leaders like Lauren who will fight for public education funding.
While charter schools may have their place in some communities, funding of charter schools should never deplete funds from the public system. Every child in our state deserves equal access to a quality education.
Access to a quality education is also a social justice issue that must be addressed. Education is the great equalizer, and the path to success for those not born into wealth.
HIGHER EDUCATION AND STUDENT LOAN DEBT:
Students in Pennsylvania are weighed down by ballooning debt that can take a lifetime to pay off. This reality is not only bad for students, it’s bad for our economy. When young graduates are forced to delay buying a home or car, they are prevented from contributing to our economic growth.
Lauren believes we can and should help more students afford state and community colleges, which is why she supports the Pennsylvania Promise to make education free for Pennsylvania residents in public colleges throughout PA.
Access to affordable higher education is also a social justice issue, as students from lower income families need different support in order to successfully complete their degree.
I support a Constitutional Amendment that creates an Independent Commission responsible for drawing all voting districts within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Drawing these districts should not be left the whim of either party, and and independent commission is the only way to end gerrymandering, and ensure that fair maps are always drawn after each Census.
Anyone who works a full time job should not be living below the poverty line, or qualify for government assistance. Period.
Every state that borders Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage than we do— even West Virginia has a minimum wage of $8.75 per hour (that’s $1.50 more than PA per hour!). And none of these states experienced job losses when they raised their minimum wage, which is what we continue to be warned by politicians who refuse to consider raising our state’s minimum wage. There is no excuse that we can’t help working Pennsylvanians earn more, which is why Lauren supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, and tying it to inflation going forward.
This is also a social justice issue, because People of Color are more likely to work in minimum wage jobs.
Unions are the foundation of the middle class.
With recent Court decisions in favor of "Fair Share" legislation, unions are in danger of losing the actual fair share of fees they need to collect in order to represent non-members. It is now more critical than ever that we stand up and protect Pennsylvania's workers, and the ability of unions to defend workers’ rights.
Lauren vows to fight against so-called "fair share" and "right to work" laws that are designed to weaken unions' abilities to protect workers, and will do everything in her power as a state legislature to defend the Bacon Davis Act.
Women’s health has been under attack at the federal and state level for too long. There is a lot we can do here in Pennsylvania to protect women’s access to healthcare and reproductive rights. But we need to elect leaders who will consistently fight for women’s healthcare, not just when it is politically expedient.
Planned Parenthood is a life saving medical clinic that provides primary care in communities that need it most, and should be funded as the vital community resource that it is. Studies have shown that increasing access to birth control and health education significantly reduce the number of abortions. When a woman does have to make a heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy, that decision belongs in the privacy of her doctor’s office, and not on the floor of the State Assembly.
No one should face discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Period. Anyone who identifies as LGBTQ is not currently protected under PA state law, which is why Lauren supports adding this group of individuals to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
As a small business owner, Lauren knows first hand how important it is to support the backbone of our local economy. In order to do that we have to keep taxes low on small businesses.
We can also partner more effectively with Small Business Development Centers by adding more grants to help entrepreneurs develop their business ideas, so more small businesses have a chance to grow into the thriving business that boosts our local economy.
PROTECTING AND SECURING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS
Lauren supports the second amendment as a constitutional right, and she believes in respecting the "well-regulated" piece of this amendment. That means Lauren supports:
universal background checks
eliminating the gun show/private buyers loophole
ban domestic abusers from possessing guns
red flag laws
For too long, our state legislature has ignored the plight of those in need. Too many members of our community suffer from homelessness, untreated mental illnesses, drug addiction, and youth violence. We need to address these issues directly by increasing access to affordable housing, increasing funding for medicaid and mental health services, drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation services, as well as invest in positive youth development.
Instead, our legislature has pulled support for Medicaid and Medicare, and the Parity law for insuring mental health remains unenforced, so we don’t have enough support to help those struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction. The result of these decisions at the state level causes an undue burden on our police force, as they are forced to clean up the issues left ignored by our state legislature. The stress of being unequipped to deal with these problems manifests itself in dangerous police practices that leave our communities less safe, and some members of our community under threat.
Diversity is our strength, and immigrants have historically come to our shores to make America the great nation that it is. The debilitating and systemic racism against new comers to this country, as well as our country’s foundation in slavery, is a stain on our history, and we must seek to address the current social crisis that is unfolding as a result of centuries of inequity and injustice. In order to achieve peace and unity, I support the following policy changes at the state level, as well as changing the way we employ police to serve and protect our communities:
Prohibit the transfer of offensive military equipment to police departments
End "qualified immunity," so police officers can be held civilly liable for abuses
Require agencies to make records of police misconduct publicly available
Develop Citizen Advisory Boards at the municipal level that can hold local police departments accountable for police misconduct.
The Club thaked Lauren for again joining our meeting and wished her well th eupcoming November 3rd election.