Legislative Agenda

Is there something you'd like to see Congress do? Send us YOUR ideas for legislation at:
Info@RebekahJonesCampaign.com

 

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

  1. Unseal records of historical chemical testing, use, and exposure to allow VA benefits access to veterans exposed to these toxic elements during service.

  2. Expand benefits to civilians who, working as military contractors, suffer from diseases caused by toxic exposure.

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 

  5. Establishment of a trust and a designated capitol memorial for service members and civilians with service-acquired diseases.

  6. Establishment of a trust and designated memorial for women service members right here in Pensacola - the first and only such memorial in the entire United States.

  7. 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.

  8. Establish a full-service VA Medical Hospital in the first district to serve those current and former service members requiring emergency and in-patient services in our region.

  9. Oversight of spending through VA grant programs, including mandatory reporting of how funds are spent, how many veterans were served, and metrics to calculate the success of programs.

  10. Removal of cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs, allowing veterans to use their VA benefits to pay for medicinal marijuana prescriptions. 

  11. Require defined metrics and reporting for all organizations receiving VA funds, create transparency in those reporting metrics, and prioritize funding for programs where funds are spent on services for veterans - not the organization's CEO.

  12. Repeal the recently passed measures requiring a monthly fee for retired service members to maintain their VA benefits, and reduce all copay amounts for current and former service members.

Environment and Climate Change

Energy Independence:

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 incentivizes 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

Infrastructure:

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. 

Climate change

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 

  1. Remove cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs to allow for research and development of potential benefits and risks of medicinal marijuana.

  2. 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.

  3. Increase funding to develop better warning systems for emergencies, including the development of primary and secondary tornado warnings in rural communities.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Tele-health amendment requiring medical insurance to cover the cost of telehealth appointments and to allow patients to attend certain types of therapy and medical check-ups remotely in all 50 states. Access to remote counseling increases access to mental health resources tremendously, and will be critical in combatting issues of teen self-harm and suicide, regular therapy for disabled and non-disabled persons, and veteran treatment for PTSD. 

  7. Require states to allow those with pending criminal cases to appear for non-trial court hearings to attend remotely via video conferencing. One of the lessons learned through the COVID-19 pandemic was that people want to make their court appearances but often are unable to do so due to a lack of childcare, inability to take off work, lack of transportation, medical limitations and more. Court appearances in everything from immigration court to criminal court increased dramatically with the allowance of virtual appearance for non-trial and non-sentencing hearings. Remote appearance should be a permanent option for the innocent-until-proven-guilty stuck in the cycle of continued and never-ending case management hearings to reduce those who are jailed for failure to appear because of limitations they cannot control. 

  8. Establish a medical bill of rights for minors to make medical decisions without parental consent related to preventative medicine, birth control, and vaccinations.

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.

Just a few immediate tax policies that need to be implemented:

  1. Comprehensive tax reform bill that removes loopholes companies use to evade taxes.

  2. Establish a 0% federal income tax for all persons earning less than 200% of the poverty level in the zip code they lived in for the longest period of time each year. 

  3. Increase the child tax credit amount to offset daycare and educational costs of families without raising taxes on working families

Education

Federal Funding and Universal Pre-K

While communities and states carry most of the burden in funding schools, the feds could do more to ensure every child has access to a quality education from pre-K through graduate school. Universal Pre-K would relieve working parents from a statewide average of $6,647 per year in childcare costs alone.

Higher Education

While rich kids coast through college with D's and $0 in debt, working-class kids depend on a mix of scholarships and student loans, often requiring a minimum GPA and putting students in debt for decades with interest rates exceeding 6%. Our nation's best and brightest carry a collective debt of $1.57 TRILLION.

 

Eliminating student loan interest will reflect our nation's priorities of furthering scientific and medical discovery through advanced study, and would allow brilliant students to embrace their gifts without sacrificing 10% or more of their income every month for 25 years.

Supporting Teachers and Families

When the state of Florida refused to publish data about COVID-19 in schools, I stepped up and led the effort to do so nationally. As an advocate for students and teachers, I believe early education should be a community effort that unites parents, teachers and students.

Specific Education Bill Proposals:

  1. Increased pay for all teachers – not just new teachers

  2. Better opportunities for experienced teachers to enter long-term contracts

  3. Academic freedom at all levels of education, and the removal of tyrannical political influence in all forms, including banning history, speech or requiring anyone to answer political surveys

  4. A federal “bill of rights” for students, recognizing that students, teachers and school staff are entitled to safe learning and work environments without the hostage-taking we’ve seen by a small group of parents during the last two years

  5. Teacher unions, especially in states which have been hostile to those in the past

  6. Keeping federal funding from being routed to private, religious and/or “charter” K-12 schools

  7. Adding educational facilities to the national infrastructure bill 

  8. Mandated bias education and awareness in all schools regarding race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual identity, and other forms for implicit discrimination

  9. Funding to schools to fully staff offices with mental health specialists for youth in crisis

  10. Funding  and oversight for students with physical, mental and learning disabilities

  11. A “Modernize American Textbooks” act to supply low-income students with updated textbooks and library resources, including technology resources and upgrades for school libraries

  12. Universal pre-kindergarten programs in public schools across the country

Housing

  1. Ban foreign corporations from purchasing residential housing units for the purpose of renting to Americans

  2. Enable rent control measures as part of home-rule laws nation-wide

  3. Mandate affordable housing availability in all multi-unit rental properties as a percentage of units available, with affordable housing defined as 20% of the median income for each zip code or comparable municipal zone

  4. Expand loan access for low-income and poor-credit borrowers, enabling every American family to own their own home. If you can afford the rent, you can afford a mortgage at the same price. 

Government Accountability, Transparency and Ethics

  1. Randomized drug testing of all illegal narcotics - no one should be able to force drug testing on vulnerable populations without subjecting themselves to the same standards, nor should they be allowed to partake in activities or use substances which are illegal

  2. Pass a law prohibiting members of Congress from taking money from corporations while sponsoring or voting for legislation directly impacting that industry or company

  3. Ban elected officials from trading stocks while serving in office, or acquiring new stock related to bills and topics they are directly impacting. 

  4. Pass a law nullifying the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. More information here.

  5. Ban representatives from sponsoring or voting on legislation in which they, their candidate committee or their associated PAC receives contributions from a corporation or industry committee directly benefiting from said legislation.

  6. Improve whistleblower protections for non-federal employees, particularly in areas that impact human health, safety or the environment.

  7. Institute national vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration for federal elections.

  8. Pass a law prohibiting any state from denying any United States citizen 18 years and older the right to vote in any federal election for any reason, including overturning bans in states based on criminal records, outstanding court fines/fees, and other levels of felony disenfranchisement.

Civil and Human Rights

The government should not be invading the privacy of its citizens through legislation designed to punish and restrict rights based on a person’s religion, education, gender, age, disability, sexuality, gender identity, race, ethnicity or nationality.

Women's and LGBTQ+ Rights 

Specific legislation to address these issues has already been proposed, but needs growing support to become law. That includes The Equal Rights Amendment, which states that: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” 

Yet, states like Florida continue to skirt our equal protection laws, going so far as to allow school officials to ask children to show them their genitals before participating in school sports (a law Ron DeSantis signed during 2021 Pride month), and proposed bills to criminalize health care for LGBT youth. DeSantis even stole funding from the Pulse shooting survivors and from organizations housing and providing resources for LGBT youth during pride month in 2021.

Our nation already chronically under-funds resources for LGBT youth who face discrimination, violence, and homelessness at a much higher rate than non-LGBT youth. 

Human and Civil Rights laws:

  1. Ban the harmful practice of "conversion therapy" from being allowed to abuse gay youth nationwide.

  2. Modernize hate crime laws to include protections for women and transgender Americans

  3. Require fair and equal access to healthcare for trans Americans. 

  4. Ban so-called "bathroom" bills as violations under equal protection laws

  5. Protect the rights of all adults - married, single, straight, gay - to adopt children, to serve as foster parents, and to have access to all facilities, businesses, and locales regardless of sexuality or gender identity.

  6. Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

  7. Secure a federal ban on laws that target women or their reproductive rights and bodily autonomy 

  8. Establish mandatory paid leave in the United States for the first time, including paid sick-leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, and family leave reflective of first-world nations.

  9. Ban child marriages at the federal level with no exemptions or loopholes

Protecting Children from Predators

The United States allows states to make up their own rules regarding child marriage with no federal standards.​ Because there is no federal ban on child marriage, 12 states have no minimum age for marriage. Children as young as 10 have been forced into marriage through various loopholes, often allowing pedophiles to escape criminal prosecution by enslaving their child brides.​ Child marriage is yet another archaic and barbaric practice still legal in the United States that I will end when elected.

Religious Freedom

​The government should also not be passing laws that seek to favor or punish any particular faith or religion. If the proponents of invasive government think the state can or should tell people how to pray, who to pray to, when to pray, and what to pray for, I ask them to consider how they would feel if someone of a different faith had the power to dictate that for them. A government that mandates religion is antithetical to our entire constitution.

Legalization of Marijuana

​I fully support the legalization and regulation of Marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, as there is no reasonable, moral or legal basis for maintaining its status as an illegal narcotic so long as alcohol and tobacco are sold in the United States. I also support expunging the records of anyone who was charged with possession/consumption/growing of marijuana for personal use. 

 

Smaller government means government that doesn't care what you do in the privacy of your own home so long as no one is getting hurt and everyone consents. 

Healthcare

  1. Expand Medicaid while we work toward a plan for universal healthcare

  2. Pass legislation regulating the ratio of nurses-to-patients in healthcare facilities to reduce nursing shortages and burnout and ensure patient and staff safety

  3. Pass a Medical Bill of Rights for minors, giving young men and women the right to make decisions about their bodies, medications and vaccinations in consultation with licensed physicians without required parental consent

  4. Pass hospital pricing reform bill to regulate hospital prices, improve price transparency and increase competition among hospitals to mitigate the already high and ever-increasing costs associated with hospitalization in the United States

  5. Force prescription drug companies to negotiate drug prices with the government in the same way Medicaid operates, but for all insurance providers.

Communications

  1. Repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. § 230)

  2. Apply equal time to all forms of political broadcasting, including cable television and their associated online content

  3. Modernize our communications laws to address bias and corporate censorship in social media acting as public utilities of information

  4. Increase broadband infrastructure in rural and low-income areas

  5. Increase internet access at under-served public schools

  6. Create a law allowing the FEC to fine any broadcast or internet organization, group or company that repeatedly shares, disseminates, or repeats misinformation regarding civic, health and scientific issues after two notices of doing so.

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

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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.