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Veterans and service members
Florida’s 1st has the highest percentage of veterans of any Congressional district in the United States. Nearly one-fifth of every adult in the district served in the United States military, and Eglin Airforce Base employs nearly 15,000 civilian and military personnel today. Though Eglin today boasts aggressive environmental protection policies, once upon a time Eglin tested a range of chemical weapons, including Agent Orange, that caused disease to military and civilian personnel.
I want to make it easier for veterans exposed to toxic substances to access Veterans Affairs benefits.
Veterans and service members suffering from diseases caused by toxic exposure during their service should not have to fight to see a doctor or receive benefits they earned through their service. These include burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a range of chemicals, dispersants and herbicides tested and deployed by the military.
My legislation would allow Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits for anyone with a disease connected to their service.
Eglin Air Force base in Florida’s 1st tested Agent Orange, in addition to other toxic herbicides (Agent Purple, White and Blue), from 1952-1970. The disclosure of this information in 2020 enabled service members who developed diseases as a result of these tests access to veteran’s benefits. Civilians who worked as contractors still do not qualify for relief caused by these exposures, however, and I want to change that.
Bills concerning military service and toxic exposure
Unseal records of historical chemical testing, use, and exposure to allow VA benefits access to veterans exposed to these toxic elements during service.
Expand benefits to civilians who, working as military contractors, suffer from diseases caused by toxic exposure.
Expand and further define the medical definitions of what is considered toxic exposure in the US Military to better represent the science on the issue.
Expand VA care and healthcare access, address coverage gaps, and facilitate private-practice care. No loss of TRICARE coverage or increase in costs for military retirees after 20 years of service.
Establishment of a trust and a designated capitol memorial for service members and civilians with service-acquired diseases.
Establish an office within the VA to identify and notify all military and civilian personnel who were exposed to known carcinogens and other toxic substances during their service so they can get the early screening and tests needed before an undetected disease takes another life.
Environment and Climate Change
Florida’s panhandle averages between 4.5-6.0 (kWh/sq.m./day) Direct Normal Irradiance annually, which makes the 1st a prime location for solar energy production. Getting and staying out of the affairs of the Middle East, reducing our carbon footprint, and creating energy independence for Floridians should be a top priority, and solar energy is one of many avenues for us to do that. Per kilowatt hour, solar energy is the cheapest energy on the planet. Divesting from fossil fuels into the energy of today makes good business sense - Chevron even knows that, which is why they're a top investor in renewable energy.
Florida's 1st stands to gain more than most places by a robust renewable energy plan. Providing affordable options for solar energy, including low-interest loans, grants, and community planning projects funding would help Florida's residents take control of their energy needs, budgets, and independence.
Florida incentivises solar installation already, but only at 26% reimbursement of cost. A federal program that provides a match for state reimbursement would encourage solar panel installation, use and maintenance, reducing the stress put on energy grids during heat events and securing energy independence.
To see if your home is a good fit for solar panels, click here.
Environmental issues inherently intersect infrastructure issues. Whether beach-front roads or aging dams, changing landscapes require increased scrutiny and support for updating aging infrastructure. The costs of not upgrading those structures has been put into sharp focus lately, from the lingering issues brought on by Hurricane Sandy to the condo tower collapse in Surfside, Florida.
Rapid coastal development without the necessary expansion of critical infrastructure continues to create problems across the coast. Republicans and Democrats both agree that clear-cutting wooded areas of barrier islands is not a sustainable practice, yet the GOP "leaders" elected in this area only want to grow bigger as quickly as they can line their pockets and run.
Smart growth entails long-term planning and includes community feedback, green infrastructure elements, habitat preservation, and the infrastructure planning and development necessary to grow our communities safely and without the slash-and-burn/cash-the-checks approach favored by our current representatives.
As much as we try to practice good conservation by turning off our faucet while brushing our teeth, keeping the air in our homes at 78°F, and making sure our lights are off when we leave home, climate change is a global issue that requires global solutions.
Our world has come together to confront global environmental issues in the past. The Montreal Protocol in the late 1980's saw a global coalition work to reduce ozone-depleting chemicals from atmospheric circulation. And it worked. The United States should be leading the world on this issue - not trailing behind as we are now.
China and India continue to develop at lightning speed, making them the first and third largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet, respectively. Confronting climate change necessitates holding China and India to similar standards put on the United States and other major emitters like Russia and Japan.
Research, Development, and Science
Federal restrictions on funding for a range of scientific issues, from disease control to medicine, should be repealed. The government has a vested interest in developing the most advanced science in the world, and our place as global leaders in scientific discovery and ingenuity must be restored.
Bills concerning scientific, medical and research freedom
Remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs to allow for research and development of potential benefits and risks of medicinal marijuana.
Repeal the Dickey Amendment to allow doctors and researchers to study all forms of disease. We can't develop legislative solutions to problems we have not fully studied.
Increase federal funding for research and planning for communities impacted by extreme weather and climate change, including sea level rise, drought, wildfire, invasive species, water scarcity and water quality issues, toxicity and exposure, and more.
Increase funding to develop better warning systems for emergencies, including the development of primary and secondary tornado warnings in rural communities.
The "Right to Science Act" will allow citizens to request copies of all scientific studies and/or reviews conducted or considered in making legislative decisions through a new and prioritized category of the Freedom of Information Act, and require that science and transparency be integral in any legislation concerning science policy.
Modern instrument infrastructure act - to update aging technology and improve geographic coverage of environmental monitoring systems, including radar technology, buoy locations and instrumentations, and expanded coverage of LiDAR technology across North America.
Taxes on American Families
In the United States, 90% of people earn less than $90,000 per year. The median income in the United States is $27,000 per year - meaning half of all people in America earn less than that amount.
Yet, those in the middle and lower classes carry the heaviest tax burden. Here in Florida, we enjoy not paying state personal income taxes, relying on the businesses and industries in the state to pay their fair share of the tax burden. We should apply that policy nationally, where those considered lower class pay 0% personal income tax, those in the middle class pay just 10% (2%-14% lower than the Trump tax rate), and those in the top 10% pay higher rates that increase with income.
Before the Reagan era, when America’s middle class was strongest, the richest Americans paid tax rates as high as 94% on income over $2.5 million. Trump dropped the tax rate on American’s wealthiest few while raising it for everyone else. A strong economy means a strong middle class.
Our entire economy is income-taxed based - meaning 90% of the federal government’s money comes from our income taxes. Only 10% comes from business and other taxes. Those proportions are one of the many reasons why our federal deficit continues to climb.
Check out this tool from the Wall Street Journal that tells you what percent you are based on your income in the USA, and this website that details how tax rates have changed under former President Trump.
Looking for more? We're just getting started. Check back regularly for more details about my legislative agenda.
Is there something you'd like to see Congress do? Send us YOUR ideas for legislation at: Info@RebekahJonesCampaign.com
My father-in-law served as a United States Marine Corps Sargent in Vietnam. He joined in 1968 at just 19 years old.
During his service, he was exposed to carcinogenic herbicides, including Agent Orange.
Forty years later, he died from the disease caused by that exposure (Non-Hodgkin's lymphona), leaving his then 19-year-old son (my husband) without a father.
My and my husband's family are proudly made up of current and former service members.
During my masters degree and then later in my career, I studied and published peer-reviewed research on coastal processes impacting the migration and translocation of the Gulf’s northern barrier islands, from the Chandeliers to Cape San Blas.
I developed geospatial models for sea level rise and hurricane storm surge under varying future climate scenarios, surveyed dune structure and integrity, and worked with coastal communities on sustainability and adaptability.
My work earned some of the highest honors in my academic field, including the Best Thesis Presentation from the Paleoenvironmental Change group and the Gilbert F. White Award for Best Graduate Thesis/Dissertation from the Association of American Geographers.
I then worked as a coastal scientist for the State of Louisiana before coming to Florida State to start my Ph.D.
Coastal science drives my doctoral research as I work to expand the historical hurricane record so that we can better project hurricane intensity, frequency, and geographic distribution during different oceanic cycles (like El Nino) and climate phases.
The chances of your house being hit by a major tornado are about one in 10 million (10-7) per year, on average.
Those odds bring no comfort when it's your home destroyed, your neighbors killed, and your life turned upside down.
I know. It happened to my family on Easter Day, 2020.
An EF-4 tornado touched down less than 5 km from my parents' house, destroying our home and killing three of our neighbors.
There was no warning, no siren, no alert of any kind.