Where she stands: Amy Klobuchar

One in a series profiling Democratic presidential candidates – in their own words:

 

https://amyklobuchar.com/policies/

 

Infrastructure

As President, Senator Klobuchar’s plan will:

  • Boost federal infrastructure investment. In parts of our country where communities are not as densely populated or former hubs still adjusting to the loss of manufacturing jobs, it can be difficult to attract private investment. That’s why Amy’s plan includes more than $650 billion in federal funding for infrastructure. … For projects supported by direct federal funding, Amy will maintain Davis-Bacon wage standards (and where possible, a living wage floor) and other worker and environmental protections. … And she will ensure that these projects use materials produced in the United States through strong Buy America provisions.
  • Help states and localities leverage private funds. Amy will establish an independent, nonpartisan Infrastructure Financing Authority to complement existing infrastructure funding. The Infrastructure Financing Authority will help states and localities better leverage private funds to build and maintain the nation’s outdated infrastructure. Amy would allocate $25 billion in seed money to support an additional $250 billion to $300 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancement. It would also direct funding to projects in rural areas. …
  • Issue “Move America Bonds,” “Build America Bonds,” and Clean Energy bonds. Amy would bring back the Obama Administration’s “Build America Bonds,” which provided states and local governments a direct 35 percent subsidy in lieu of the traditional tax-exempt bond and generated more than $180 billion to finance public infrastructure projects. Amy also supports the “Move America Bonds” which … allocate tax credits to private-sector purchases to attract capital investment to public infrastructure. Here, an $8 billion investment from the Treasury would support more than $200 billion in investments in infrastructure projects over 10 years. She would also establish a Clean Energy bond program to expand clean energy tax incentives.
  • Ensure revenues collected for the maintenance of our infrastructure are used for their intended purpose. … For example, Amy will make sure that money paid by shippers into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used for its intended purpose. Currently, collected revenues in the trust fund are not being used to pay for maintenance.
  • Pay for infrastructure proposals with a series of corporate tax reforms. To pay for this infrastructure investment, Amy willmake a number of corporate tax reforms including adjusting the corporate tax rate to 25%, closing loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move jobs and operations overseas, establishing a financial risk fee on our largest banks, and increasing efforts for tax enforcement.

Climate change

As President, Senator Klobuchar will:

  • Get the United States back in the Paris International Climate Agreement on day one. 
  • Restore the Clean Power Plan, which set emissions standards for states with respect to reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. She will negotiate even stronger emissions standards that account for the progress states have already made.
  • Bring back fuel-economy standards, which are key to making an immediate impact on the emissions of cars and light trucks. …
  • Introduce sweeping legislation that will put our country on the path to 100% net zero emissions by 2050. 
  • Set ambitious goals to reduce the carbon footprint of the federal government. … As President, she will … increase the efficiency of federal buildings, data centers, and vehicles, reduce water consumption, and increase the use of renewable energy.
  • Reinstate the National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee to start addressing the climate crisis. The National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee was charged with translating the findings of the National Climate Assessment into concrete goals. During the first 100 days of her administration, Senator Klobuchar will reinstate this committee.
  • End federal fossil fuel subsidies. 
  • Make politicians accountable to voters, not special interests. … As President, Senator Klobuchar will put people first by working to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens Unitedand get dark money out of our politics, as well as establish a campaign finance system that increases the power of small donors through a matching system for small donations. She will investigate potential wrongdoings and hold energy companies accountable.
  • Provide production and investment tax credits.Senator Klobuchar will create a technology neutral tax credit to support production of or investment into clean sources of energy. She will also create a clean energy bond program so that tax-exempt entities can benefit. The credits will be phased out as overall emissions are reduced.
  • Upgrade energy grids and storage capacity.Our country’s electric grid needs an upgrade to account for the irregular nature of certain clean energy sources, accommodate distributed energy production, and facilitate smart metering and other innovative technologies. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create a competitive grant program and a new investment tax credit to promote investments in grid improvements and storage. She will also provide rural electric cooperatives access to technical resources and expertise to overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements based on a bipartisan bill she leads in the Senate.
  • Streamline renewable energy production on federal land. 
  • Empower municipal utilities and electric cooperatives to lead on clean energy.… She will make sure smaller producers, including municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, have a seat at the table when decisions are made about federal energy policy. …
  • Strengthen enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws.
  • Reduce methane leakage from oil and gas production. Methane has as much as 84 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. … As President, Senator Klobuchar will restore and strengthen EPA and BLM methane rules.
  • Ban new fossil fuel permitting on federal lands … To help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, Senator Klobuchar will ban new fossil fuel permits on federal lands. …
  • Invest in electric vehicle infrastructure and promote electric vehicle sales. 
  • Strengthen transit and commuter rail networks and support low- and no-carbon alternatives.As President, Senator Klobuchar will refocus federal transportation grants to prioritize transit projects, first and last mile connections, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements. She will also develop new incentives for transit systems and school districts to replace their bus fleets with low- and no-carbon alternatives.
  • Revitalize freight and passenger rail.… As President, Senator Klobuchar will encourage investment in short-line and freight rail networks. She will also address safety concerns including by mandating two-man crews, improving braking systems, and ensuring communities are prepared to respond to derailments involving hazardous cargo. In addition, she will build on her work pushing for greater competition in freight markets by providing fair treatment for captive shippers, appointing well qualified members to the Surface Transportation Board, and reviewing and addressing consolidation in the freight rail industry. She is also committed to expanding high-speed rail and Amtrak service in rural America.
  • Assist businesses transitioning to green manufacturing processes. Senator Klobuchar … will increase technical support through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and regional development strategies and encourage partnerships with community colleges and research universities. She will also expand manufacturing tax credits to support upgrades and investments to reduce greenhouse gas pollution for manufacturers of all sizes.
  • Build a market for new and existing climate-friendly products. As President, Senator Klobuchar will … promote federal procurement policies that account for low-carbon energy sources and climate conscious processes.
  • Create a “Buy Clean” product labeling system.
  • Institute an import fee on carbon-intensive goods.
  • Retrofit buildings to reduce their emissions. 
  • Promote effective zoning rules to minimize climate impacts. … Senator Klobuchar will prioritize areas that have updated their zoning rules when awarding federal housing and infrastructure grants.
  • Expand the Land and Water Conservation Fund … which preserves natural resources while supporting outdoor recreation through investments on our public lands. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push to permanently fund the LWCF.
  • Help American companies become global green leaders.As President, Senator Klobuchar will increase support for businesses looking to export green products and technologies through a new initiative across U.S. export promotion agencies.
  • Invest in wind and solar, and support rural energy development.As President, Senator Klobuchar will invest in interregional transmission lines and grid improvements to support the development of renewable energy. She will launch a grant program to help rural cooperatives develop energy storage and microgrid projects for renewable energy generation, transmission and storage. She will also support increased investment in small, distributed wind, solar and biogas projects.
  • Provide technical resources for small, rural energy producers and distributors.As President, Senator Klobuchar will push for new economic and environmental opportunities in rural America by investing in rural renewable energy development and by passing and signing into law her bipartisan Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy (EASE) Act to provide rural electric cooperatives access to technical resources and expertise to overcome the barriers to renewable energy storage and grid improvements.
  • Protect native sod and improve soil health. Senator Klobuchar pushed for a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that closed a loophole allowing some non-insured crops to be planted four consecutive years without a reduction in crop insurance assistance for succeeding insured crops. As President, she will expand nationwide the sodsaver’s prohibition to substitute crop insurance yields on native sod that is converted to cropland. She will also expand the Soil Health and Income Protection Pilot Program to help provide farmers an alternative to cropping less productive cropland.
  • Upgrade levees to account for more frequent and severe floods. The floods we saw throughout the Midwest last year show why we cannot wait to upgrade our levees. …
  • Strengthen LIHEAP and SNAP to protect the most vulnerable Americans.To be sure that the most vulnerable Americans do not bear the costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation, Senator Klobuchar will strengthen two important programs for low-income Americans — LIHEAP, which helps with home energy costs, and SNAP, which provides nutrition assistance.
  • Use disaster funding to build more resilient communities. As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to end the Stafford Act prohibition that prevents disaster funding from being used for significant infrastructure improvements. She will also increase funding for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
  • Establish meaningful enforcement of international climate goals. The United States is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, but still only accounts for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Preventing catastrophic global warming will require meaningful enforcement mechanisms to ensure other countries also meet their emission reduction goals, which means making accountability for climate commitments a central part of our international agenda, taking on China’s efforts to promote dirty energy sources in other countries, and considering climate goals in all types of international assistance.

To pay for these investments, Senator Klobuchar will:

  • Work with Congress to put a price on carbon that does not have a regressive impact on Americans. … Most economists agree that the most efficient way to promote a transition away from fossil fuels is by putting a price on carbon. …
  • Develop Clean Energy Bonds. As President, Senator Klobuchar will create Clean Energy Bonds that will support investment in clean energy projects. Investors would earn back their full investment as well as interest from energy savings to the government and loan repayments for clean energy projects. Estimates suggest that these clean energy bonds could raise up to $50 billion and leverage $150 billion for clean energy innovation and the creation of more than 1 million jobs.
  • End federal fossil fuel subsidies. 
  • Make a series of corporate tax reforms.  Senator Klobuchar will … adjust the corporate tax rate to 25%, close loopholes that encourage U.S. companies to move jobs and operations overseas, establish a financial risk fee on our largest banks, and increase efforts for tax enforcement.
  • Increase the capital gains rate … for Americans who make more than $200,000.
  • Close the trust fund loophole. 

Domestic terrorism

  • Empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of hate-motivated violence, including against minorities, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community.
  • Direct the Department of Homeland Security to resume its work tracking right wing extremism, including white nationalism.
  • Require federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess the threat of domestic terrorism and increase training and resources for state and local law enforcement to address it.
  • Prevent people convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms.
  • Make lynching a federal hate crime.
  • Require the Justice Department and the Department of Commerce to assess how current forms of communication are being used to spread hate and recommend ways to combat threats.
  • Address the root causes of domestic terrorism.
  • Increase protections for places of worship and schools.
  • Restore Voting Rights Act protections for voters immediately in states with a recent history of discrimination.
  • Fully staff and fund the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, which provides communities facing racial and other conflict with services.

Gun violence

Senator Klobuchar has laid out a plan for her first 100 days that includes executive action she can take to address gun violence:

Immediately close the “boyfriend loophole” … by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms.

Consider gun violence as a public health issue in CDC studies … and help identify approaches to reduce gun violence and save lives.

Crack down on gun manufacturers and dealers that break the law. …

Prevent people with severe mental illness from acquiring guns. Senator Klobuchar will restore a rule requiring the Social Security Administration to submit records of people with severe mental illness to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Prevent federal funding from being used to arm teachers. … She ensured that this provision was included in the school safety package that was signed into law after Parkland.

Rural housing

  • Increase affordable rental housing in rural communities … which includes expanding affordable housing programs serving Native Americans.
  • Improve access to information about rural housing programs. To take advantage of federal support for new rural housing, developers must first know about the programs available to them. Senator Klobuchar will improve training for state, local and federal agencies so communities and developers can better access housing opportunities. Senator Klobuchar will also improve and expand programs that provide technical assistance to rural nonprofits to connect rural communities with resources to develop housing.
  • Encourage innovative strategies to attract private investment. Americans living in rural areas need access to mortgages, but rural housing markets present specific challenges for private investors. Through the purchasing power of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Senator Klobuchar will encourage lenders to use their mortgage portfolio data to better serve rural mortgage markets. Senator Klobuchar will also provide incentives for community financial development institutions to provide access to credit in rural communities using the expertise of local financial institutions.
  • Invest in Housing Choice Vouchers. The Housing Choice Voucher program helps provide the stable homes families need to succeed, but demand far exceeds the number of vouchers available. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment to make vouchers available to all qualifying households with children.
  • Give renters access to emergency funds. The path toward eviction can start with an unexpected emergency expense. Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called UP Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies — including non-routine expenses like rent payments in situations like a lapse in earnings, a car accident, or family leave. Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career.
  • Support housing for people with disabilities. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen housing programs that assist people with disabilities. She will also invest in the successful Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program.
  • Encourage mobility for renters. An effective way to break the cycle of poverty is to move to a neighborhood that provides greater opportunity. Senator Klobuchar will expand the pilot for mobility housing vouchers that allows families to use their vouchers in higher opportunity neighborhoods. She will expand incentives to encourage relocation and work with regional and federal housing agencies to reduce obstacles.
  • Increase the supply of affordable housing in high opportunity neighborhoods. The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is a critical tool for developing affordable rental housing. Senator Klobuchar will push to expand allocations to support the construction of additional units. …
  • Reduce homelessness. More than half a million Americans experience homelessness every night. Senator Klobuchar will make a major investment in homeless assistance grants that provide emergency and long-term housing and build on her work in the Senate increasing access to case management services like counseling and job training. This also means addressing the unique challenges of specific homeless populations including those living in rural areas, domestic violence victims, and the formerly incarcerated.
  • Help seniors age in place. By 2040, one in five Americans will be over 65, but the current supply of rental housing is not equipped for this Silver Surge. … She will update regulations for reverse mortgages to make sure seniors have access to safe products that make it easier to stay in their homes, as well as expand support for affordable senior housing. She will direct affordable housing programs to allow retrofitting of rental housing and encourage a share of new rental housing to be built in a senior friendly way.
  • Revitalize and build value in neglected neighborhoods. … Senator Klobuchar will advocate for a new federal tax credit, similar to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, to encourage investment in family-owned homes in distressed neighborhoods.
  • Promote homeownership through down payment assistance and credit development. Saving for a down payment and building a credit history are two of the largest obstacles new homebuyers face. Senator Klobuchar will build on programs that allow certain types of rental housing assistance to be used for home ownership expenses. She will also work to pass legislation that expands access to capital for down payments and makes it easier to build a credit history by allowing credit bureaus to use on-time payment data from cell phone bills, utilities, and rent in calculating credit scores.
  • Protect the Community Reinvestment Act. During the first 100 days of her presidency, Senator Klobuchar will … develop policies to encourage financial institutions to make loans and investment in local communities, especially communities in need, and conduct greater outreach to assess the true credit needs of certain areas.

To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will raise the capital gains rate to the income tax rate for households making more than $400,000, and raise the corporate tax rate to 25%.

Senior citizens

Support caregivers for those living with Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions.

Senator Klobuchar … will expand training and support services for families and caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia as well as other chronic conditions, improve caregiver well-being and health, allowing patients to stay in their homes longer.

Make it easier for people with Alzheimer’s and their families to get the medical care they need.

… Senator Klobuchar will take action to expand Medicare covered services for Alzheimer’s and she will expand efforts to make patients and their families aware of the care planning and services that are covered. She will also support an ongoing investment in public health infrastructure for Alzheimer’s that reduces risk, improves early detection and diagnosis, and focuses on tribal, rural, minority, and other underserved populations.

Strengthen the National Institutes of Health and invest in research for chronic conditions.

… And Senator Klobuchar will invest in research into health disparities. Significant and persistent disparities exist in health outcomes for minority populations in the United States. …

Improve mental health care for seniors. …

Implement and extend Kevin and Avonte’s law and expand dementia training.

Senator Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation signed into law last year that helps families locate missing people with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, or developmental disabilities, such as autism. As President, Senator Klobuchar will make sure the program is fully implemented and she will also establish federal partnerships with state and local governments to provide dementia training for public sector workers who interact with seniors.

Protect Social Security and make sure it is fair.

… As President, Senator Klobuchar will work to lift the Social Security payroll cap. Currently the payroll tax applies only to wages up to $133,000. Senator Klobuchar supports subjecting income above $250,000 to the payroll tax and extending the solvency of Social Security. And Senator Klobuchar will make sure people are treated fairly by the Social Security system. As President, she will work to strengthen and improve Social Security benefits for widows and people who took significant time out of the paid workforce to care for their children, aging parents, or sick family members.

Expand retirement savings.

… Senator Klobuchar will work to create innovative, portable personal savings accounts called Up Accounts that can be used for retirement and emergencies by establishing a minimum employer contribution to a savings plan. Under her plan, employers will set aside at least 50 cents per hour worked, helping a worker build more than $600,000 in wealth over the course of a career. And Senator Klobuchar will work to reduce disparities when it comes to retirement savings. According to a recent study, the median wealth for white families was more than $134,000, but for African American families it was just $11,000.

Defend pensions.

… As President, she will support legislation to ensure retirees can keep the pensions they have earned and, in her first 100 days, she will recommend that Treasury heighten the scrutiny of any applications to reduce retiree benefits under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014.

Negotiate better drug prices.

Seniors should have access to their medicines at the lowest possible prices. As President, Senator Klobuchar will push to allow the government to directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D.

Strengthen Medicare.

Senator Klobuchar opposes cuts and schemes to privatize Medicare. … She will … reform payment policies through measures like site neutral payments and provide incentives for getting the best quality health care at the best price, including bundled payments and telehealth.

Expand coverage for dental, vision and hearing under Medicare. …

Create a refundable tax credit to offset long-term care costs.

… The credit will be available for qualifying long-term care costs including both nursing facility care and home- and community-based services, and additional expenses like assistive technologies, respite care, and necessary home modifications. The credit will be targeted towards those who are most in need of support. Senator Klobuchar will also stand up to efforts to cap Medicaid spending.

Reduce the costs of long-term care insurance and increase access.

… Senator Klobuchar will propose a new targeted tax credit equal to 20 percent of the premium costs of qualified long-term care insurance. Senator Klobuchar will also establish incentives and make it easier for employers to offer their employees long-term care insurance on an opt-out basis. In addition, she will explore updating federal policies to combine long-term care policies with life insurance.

Provide financial relief to caregivers and ensure paid family leave for all Americans, including those who care for elderly or disabled relatives.

Senator Klobuchar is proposing a tax credit of up to $6,000 a year to provide financial relief to those caring for an aging relative or a relative with a disability to help offset expenses, including the cost of medical care, counseling and training, lodging away from home, adult day care, assistive technologies, and necessary home modifications. As President, Senator Klobuchar will also support legislation to provide paid family leave to all Americans.

Support a world class long-term care workforce, increase long-term care options, and tackle disparities in long-term care.

Senator Klobuchar believes we must invest in and address shortages in our long-term care workforce. She is committed to increasing wages, improving job conditions and promoting other recruitment and retention policies, especially in rural communities facing workforce challenges. She will also support training for long-term care workers and new loan forgiveness programs for in-demand occupations that includes our long-term care workers. In addition, she will expand long-term care facilities and beds as well as home care and telehealth services. Research also suggests that there are significant racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of long-term care as well as disparities in coverage for long-term care. Senator Klobuchar is committed to tackling disparities in care through expanding access to long-term care with a focus on reducing inequities as well as addressing the costs of long-term care services for people in the greatest need of assistance.

Fight senior fraud and elder abuse.

… Within her first 100 days as President, she will establish a senior fraud prevention office to educate consumers, expedite the handling of complaints, and coordinate prevention efforts across the federal government. Senator Klobuchar will strengthen enforcement of age discrimination laws, and she will also take action to tackle elder abuse, strengthen oversight and accountability for court-appointed guardians, support training for employees at long-term care facilities, and increase tracking of incidents and investigations to help prevent and better respond to elder abuse.

To pay for these policies, Senator Klobuchar will close the trust fund loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes on inherited wealth.

Addiction and mental health

  • Promote early intervention for mental health disorders and drug use: … She will expand funding for states and localities to detect and respond to mental health conditions, including mental health programming and resources for schools and school counselors, as well as training for pediatricians and primary care physicians. She will also lead new initiatives focused on the risks of alcohol and alcohol addiction and support school and community drug early-intervention programs. …
  • Launch a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health awareness campaign … including a focus on veterans, farmers, LGBTQ and tribal communities. To expand the tools and data available, Amy will invest in suicide prevention programs, expanded resources and health services that address suicide among students and share information with parents, mental health research and data reporting.
  • Prevent opioid addiction: … Amy will prevent doctor shopping by supporting the mandated use by doctors and pharmacists of prescription drug monitoring programs. She will also make a major investment into research and development of pain alternatives to opioids. And to build upon successful federal and local drug take-back programs, Amy will launch a national effort to create additional safe and responsible ways to dispose of unused prescription medications and controlled substances in every urban and rural community.
  • Tackle alcoholism and prevent drunk driving: Amy will support incentives for state governments to enact ignition interlock laws for those convicted of drunk driving to help reduce repeat offenders. Since problems with alcoholism often start early, Amy will support educational initiatives that focus on the risks of alcohol as well as early identification and treatment of alcoholism.
  • Expand access and increase beds for mental health, alcohol and drug treatment services: In 2017, an estimated 21 million people needed substance use treatment, but fewer than 20 percent were able to access it. Under her plan, Amy will expand access to treatment and recovery services by increasing the number of beds in mental health and substance use treatment centers, supporting public and nonprofit entities, expanding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and treatment facilities, investing in treatment services in the hardest hit communities and launching an aggressive national awareness campaign to combat stigma associated with seeking treatment for substance use and mental health conditions. Amy will also target increased investments in early intervention and treatment programs for drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine.
  • Invest in research to develop effective substance use and mental health treatments: … Amy will make a dramatic federal investment in the National Institutes of Health for research on the impact of substance use on the brain and body and the development of safe treatments. She will also invest in public health surveillance and biomedical research to help develop the most effective substance use treatments.
  • Improve training for health care professionals and address workforce shortages. …
  • Prioritize mental health and substance use treatment over jail for non-violent offenders: … As President, Amy will increase federal support for drug courts, mental health courts and treatment alternatives to incarceration and expand wraparound services and regular follow-ups. …
  • Train and equip law enforcement officers to address challenges including crisis intervention: About 1 in 10 police calls involve someone who has a mental illness, but many police officers do not have the training they need to handle these calls or respond in a crisis situation. Amy will work with local and state authorities to ensure that crisis intervention is a core part of law enforcement officer training, and expand crisis intervention training to public health departments, first responders and school personnel. Amy will also provide funding for state and local agencies to equip first responders with life-saving naloxone. She will also direct the federal government to negotiate a discounted price for naloxone and promote law enforcement efforts to follow up with people and direct them to harm reduction services. In addition, Amy will increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in federal prisons and expand treatment in state and local prisons. She will also work with law enforcement to help stop synthetic opioids from being shipped from foreign countries to the United States.
  • Provide economic and housing opportunities and support ongoing recovery in communities: For those recovering from addiction, including formerly incarcerated people, a job can support recovery, provide income and a sense of purpose. Yet the unemployment rate among those who are recovering is more than twice the national rate. Amy will invest in training, employment and social services that connect people recovering from substance use disorders to housing and economic opportunity. In addition, Amy will significantly expand access to transitional or supportive housing and homeless shelters that can help people with mental health issues and prevent homelessness. She will also invest in existing and new recovery community organizations that meet the ongoing needs of people as they return to work, school and their families.

To pay for her plan, Amy will hold opioid manufacturers responsible for their role in the opioid crisis. She will place a 2 cent fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill to be paid by the manufacturer or importer, establishing a permanent revenue stream that will be used to provide and expand access to substance use and mental health treatment. And she will make opioid manufacturers pay their fair share to fix the crisis they helped create by crafting a Master Settlement Agreement that provides money directly to the states for the cost of addiction treatment and social services. The plan will also be paid for by requiring hedge fund managers to pay their fair share of taxes on investment earnings and by ending pharmaceutical company tactics that prevent generic competitors from entering the market.

Native Americans

As President, Senator Klobuchar’s priorities will include:

  • Making sure there is meaningful consultation with Tribal officials by all federal agencies, promoting a strong government-to-government relationship, and partnering with Native American tribes in the development of all federal policies that affect tribes. She will consult with 573 Tribal Nations on all matters of federal policy.
  • Pushing for the passage of Savanna’s Act to address violence against Native American women and girls and investing in efforts to help tribal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies combat violence and human trafficking in Indian Country.
  • Expanding broadband deployment in Indian Country by connecting every household to the Internet by 2022.
  • Increasing Native access to voter registration sites and polling locations, requiring automatic voter registration for eligible citizens when they turn 18, and bolstering Native American voter registration, education and election participation efforts in Indian Country.
  • Prioritizing and fully funding federal and tribal law enforcement efforts, expanding support for tribal judicial systems, and providing resources for and directing the Department of Justice to aggressively prosecute violent crimes in Indian country.
  • Building on her work to provide resources for tribal schools by increasing teacher pay and funding for schools, providing resources and school infrastructure investments in Indian Country, and making sure that the rising costs of post-secondary education aren’t a barrier to opportunity.
  • Working with Tribal officials to put forward a plan to cut childhood poverty in half across the country in 10 years, including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Care Tax Credit, SNAP benefits and overhauling our country’s housing policy, with a focus on Indian Country.
  • Continuing to work with tribes to settle litigation and resolve long-standing disputes over trust assets and natural resources.
  • Supporting the Indian Health Service, defending the Affordable Care Act, pushing for advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service, and focusing on prevention and treatment of diseases where there is a severe health disparity between tribes and non-Indian communities, including cancer, diabetes and suicide.
  • Working to prioritize VA health care services, employment, and housing for Native veterans and advocating for our Native veterans so they have access to a good education and good jobs when they come home.

The circle of life in one day

A young couple I know announced their first pregnancy.

A (slightly) older couple celebrated their anniversary.

A friend’s son is hoping to get into an addiction detox center.

Another friend’s younger brother died from complications of a stroke.

I received word of all four events on the same day.

The circle of life.

Birth, anniversary, struggle, death.

I received word of those events in that order, ironically.

The first two were announcements of joy.

Birth

New life is a miracle. It happens the same way every time, but it’s still a miracle. One cell becomes two, then four, then … a living, soon-to-be-breathing human being.

I still remember the birth of our first son. I held a camera in my hands to take photos of the new arrival.

I was so in awe of the moment of David’s birth, I froze. The nurse shaped her hands like a camera and pantomimed taking a picture. I snapped out of my reverie and took a few frames.

Our lives changed forever.

New birth does that.

Anniversary

Anniversaries are special, too, as the couple celebrates thriving through the inevitable ups and downs of marriage – hopefully more ups.

Long-lasting marriages tend to stand out in today’s society, don’t they?

Marriage is not easy, and involves plenty of compromises. But if husband and wife are both committed to the relationship, it grows and deepens.

That’s the ideal, anyway.

The second two events were presented as prayer requests.

Struggle

My friend has prayed for years that her son would overcome his addiction. Apparently, the severe side effects have finally forced him to seek help.

Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we can get better.

I’ve thought about that every so often over the years. Do I have to hit rock bottom before my life can truly change? Why else would I ask Jesus Christ to change me, if I didn’t realize I needed changing?

I’ve never had a chemical dependency (except for the caffeine in coffee, I admit it) or faced a crisis for which I see no way out.

Or, have I?

When my family moved out of state before my ninth-grade year, I was afraid. Since I knew no one in my new school on the first day of class, I searched for something or someone to lean on – and found nothing. The following summer, I was introduced to Jesus in a very personal way, and that began a lifelong process of getting to know Him as my Lord as well as my Savior.

In a sense, then, I did hit rock bottom. I reached a point where I knew I needed something I didn’t have. This is not envy or jealousy. No material possession was going to answer my deepest need.

My friend’s son is at that point too, whether he realizes it or not. If he eventually comes clean from his addiction, that would be a wonderful answer to prayer. But then what? How would he fill that vacuum in his life? The answer to that would determine whether he relapses or not.

That’s down the road for him. Life is a process, not a one-time-decision-live-happily-ever-after moment.

Our pastor, in his current sermon series, calls this “discipleship.” It’s the lifelong process of growing ever closer to God after making the decision to follow Him.

We find our purpose in life through that process. The end game is very real, but so is the journey.

Where are we going?

Addictions are extremely difficult to break. You and I both have seen this over and over.

Experience is not always the best teacher. Not all experiences are worth having. Why can’t we learn from the mistakes of others?

Death

Eventually, we all die. It’s inevitable. Our bodies will wear out sooner or later, unless something unforeseen takes our lives suddenly.

Strokes happen to many people, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. My father-in-law suffered a heart attack followed by a stroke in his mid-50s that incapacitated him. For a man who owned a business and was a leader in his field, that was a difficult pill for him to swallow. He lived for about 15 years after that.

My friend’s brother survived only a couple of days after his stroke.

Either way, life is not fair, is it?

Every one of us can lament something. Perhaps it’s physical health, a relationship that didn’t work out or is causing us pain, a job loss, family issues … something traumatic and/or something chronic. Each of us can identify something that we’re lamenting.

Choices

How do we handle such struggles? With grace and optimism, or with anger and blame?

Do we seek help when necessary? Or do we fight through it, unwilling to even admit our issues? Frequently this is my problem. I am not good at asking for assistance, even though there are a number of people in my life I could turn to if I truly needed them.

But it’s hard to admit need, isn’t it?

Which brings us back to the baby our friends are expecting next summer.

So pure, so beautiful, so dependent … that’s what babies are.

What kind of a world will he or she be born into? Will that baby know joy, or sorrow?

Probably both. The soon-to-be parents know Jesus as their Savior and Lord, so their child will get off to a great start. He or she will be loved and will learn to love in the deepest sense of that word.

As the child grows, he or she will learn the struggles of life, and hopefully how to overcome them.

There will be anniversaries, and eventually death.

The circle of life continues.

Is your circle bright, or is it gray like the rain – or worse, black?

The night is blackest as it nears dawn. Sunrise is coming.

Eventually, the rain will stop, the clouds will disappear and the sun will shine brightly.

In these days of partial sun and plenty of clouds and rain, I’m preparing for full sunshine. Are you?