Priorities

LIVING WAGE

Emily Kinkead has heard all of the arguments made by right-wing pro-business groups, but she isn’t taking the bait, which is why she supports a $15 minimum wage in Pennsylvania as the essential first step to a true living wage.

The state’s current minimum wage of $7.15 has not been raised since 2007 and is now between 18 and 83 percent lower than our neighboring states. No wage that puts a full-time worker under the poverty level should be acceptable under any circumstances.

Emily not only supports a $15 minimum wage, but she also supports indexing that wage to automatically annually adjust with inflation to ensure hard-working Pennsylvanians maintain the buying power needed to afford their basic living expenses.

HEALTHCARE

Health is fundamental to our Founders’ idea of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet, our State Legislature has let a paywall exist between our state’s most vulnerable residents and quality healthcare. Emily Kinkead will fight for expanded access to healthcare for all of District 20, and all of Pennsylvania.

Emily Kinkead will fight to build a healthcare system for all Pennsylvanians that will be immune to Donald Trump's efforts to repeal protections of the Affordable Care Act such as pre-existing conditions and preventative care. She supports closing corporate tax loopholes to fund patient care and taking on big pharmaceutical drug companies to lower prescription drug prices.

Emily will also push to stop the practice of insurance companies cutting off access to those fighting opioid addiction prematurely just to save money and fight to improve access to adequate care for the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

We need to do more to increase the state share of education funding for our local schools. Pennsylvania is now ranked 46th among all states for contribution to K-12 education. This leads to a greater disparity in funding for children in less affluent districts.

The blame for this disparity lies solely at the feet of the State Legislature. Despite their claims to the contrary, Republicans have continually drained state funding for public education in the state budget; even worse, they rely on loopholes and semantics to imply they have actually increased funding. But parents, teachers, and school administrators know the truth.

Additionally, the current scheme of funneling taxpayer dollars to prop up failing cyber charter schools is a complete disgrace. Funding for public education should go into the classroom, not into the pockets of special interest donors who have for too long been able to use public dollars as their own personal piggy banks.

Emily Kinkead knows a quality K-12 education is the foundation of success for our children, which is why she will be the vocal advocate for public education that the 20th District has sorely lacked for far too long.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

For too long the neighborhoods and boroughs in the 20th District have been without leadership with the political will to ensure that development and investment in the area is sustainable and equitable. Lawrenceville and the Strip have seen broad investments but the growth has only benefitted a select group and long-term residents are being priced out.

At the same time, the North Side and Northern Boroughs, like Bellevue and Avalon, have been left to fend for themselves. The great potential for investment and development that exists in these areas in being squandered.

Emily Kinkead is committed to working with communities and developers to ensure that all of the areas in the 20th District get investment, that it is sustainable, and that it centers and benefits the residents of the 20th. Families who have lived in these neighborhoods for generations should be the primary beneficiaries of economic investments rather than finding themselves displaced and pushed out by the economic developments they have been seeking for decades.

OPIOID CRISIS

Politicians love to talk about the opioid epidemic, but very few have any ideas about actually trying to address it. Emily Kinkead believes that community problems require community solutions, which is why her plan includes bringing law enforcement, community groups, local business owners, and residents together to help educate people about opioid abuse, what to look for, and how to safely report suspicious activity.

LGBTQIA+ RIGHTS

In 2004, the Vermont Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the state and it set off a nationwide anti-LGBT backlash with constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Unlike far too many of those serving in the State Legislature, Emily has never needed to be convinced that equality for the LGBTQIA+ community was fundamental and she is committed to championing the laws and policies we need to achieve that goal.

Emily supports the immediate passage of the Fairness Act, which will make it unlawful to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Additionally, Emily supports requiring LGBTQIA+ information in our state’s sex education programs, increasing funding and programs aimed at providing affirming mental health care to all Pennsylvanians, but particularly LGBTQIA+ youth, and banning the practice of conversion therapy. She supports requiring all jails and prisons across the state to house transgender inmates with the gender with which they identify and provide all necessary care and treatment for those who are transitioning while incarcerated.

REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

Women’s ability to thrive personally and economically depends entirely on their ability to make the personal choice of if, when, and how they have children. But reproductive justice must be inclusive and address the wide range of issues cis women, trans men, and nonbinary individuals face when making reproductive choices. Emily Kinkead acknowledges that each of us should be able to birth, raise, and care for children with dignity and freedom from violence, discrimination, or denial of our basic human rights.

Emily Kinkead knows that it is not the role of the state to interfere with a woman’s reproductive decisions. She believes that the women of Pennsylvania deserve peace of mind in knowing that politicians will not be playing politics with their personal rights. Accordingly, she will fight to enshrine the protections of a woman’s right to have a safe, legal abortion unencumbered by government interference or other barriers, as outlined in Roe v. Wade, into law in Pennsylvania.

Emily will champion the expansion of accurate and comprehensive sexual and reproductive education and healthcare. She will work to end policies that allow healthcare providers to refuse to provide care on the basis of personal beliefs. She will advocate for funding for research and innovation focused on expanding access and equity in sexual and reproductive healthcare, with a commitment to social justice and centering underserved populations. She will also fight for funding for programs to address the implicit biases of healthcare providers to ensure that women, particularly women of color, are taken seriously in their needs and provided adequate care.

Because nothing happens in a vacuum, Emily intends to couple this work with her work to foster economic opportunity, create communities free from violence, secure access to affordable healthcare for all, and ensure non-discriminatory, culturally-competent treatment for all individuals both inside and outside the healthcare setting.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Everyone makes mistakes and our criminal justice system must reflect a commitment to providing even those who commit crimes with the ability to become thriving, contributing members of society with opportunities to succeed, support their families and make a positive impact on their communities.

We need to invest in people at every stage from reducing police interactions with children in school and increasing access to diversionary programs to focusing on restorative programs that benefit victims of crime, the accused, and the community in order to make everyone whole.

As a lawyer, Emily Kinkead has seen from the inside the need for change in our system. She is committed to returning our police forces to serving neighborhoods through community policing. This requires working with police and community stakeholders to rebuild trust. Emily supports the establishment of independent citizen review boards with subpoena and disciplinary power to review police misconduct complaints. She also supports encouraging police investment in the communities they serve through rewarding police officers for positive community interactions.

Emily is also committed to expanding restorative justice programs and ensuring that these programs are available to those accused of crimes without the requirement that they plead guilty. She believes that cash bail should be abolished for all non-violent offenses and that the state should be required to affirmatively demonstrate why a defendant cannot be released on their own recognizance before they are denied their freedom prior to any conviction.

Emily believes that schools should be a place of learning and that school infractions should not put students into the criminal justice system. She also supports increasing funding to provide a greater counselor-to-student ratio in school, as well as funding to provide alternatives to detention and suspension that will keep students in school and engaged.

Finally, Emily supports funding programs that train lawyers, court officers and judges, police officers, teachers, and school administrators about implicit bias and effective ways to counteract the unconscious cognitive associations that often lead to the racial disparities we see in our criminal justice system.

LABOR

Labor unions built our region and despite their critical status in growing and maintaining a robust middle class, they are under attack. Emily Kinkead knows that supporting our unions is about more than just voting the right way. She will work to protect collective bargaining rights, expand penalties for union-busting employers, and pass legislation that will counter the devastating impact of Janus v. AFSCME.

Collective action benefits not only union members, but non-union workers and the community at large. Unions have been the impetus for improved workplace standards, expanded access to healthcare and living wages, and the acknowledgement that workers are the true job-creators in this country. The Republican attack on unions is one of the leading causes of our nation's growing income inequality and stagnant wage growth and Emily will fight these anti-union tactics in Harrisburg.

Emily opposes right-to-work (for less) legislation. She supports the passage of the Workplace Freedom Act, which would streamline union formation and allow union representatives direct access to new hires to explain the benefits of union membership. Emily supports efforts to institute industry-wide bargaining.

Emily supports allowing workers to sue employers who illegally interfere with unionizing efforts. She favors imposing financial penalties on employers who illegally fire employees that attempt to unionize and requiring businesses to immediately reinstate these employees while their cases are pending. Emily also supports more severe punishments for employers who violate labor laws. She supports the creation of OSHA-style protections for public employees.

To combat the impact of Janus, Emily supports legislation that would permit unions to control and limit the time period for opting out of membership. Moreover, Emily would like to explore requiring direct reimbursement from public employers rather than employees for the costs of collective bargaining.

But building robust labor unions requires more than just actions against bad actors. Emily supports guaranteeing unions access to good data on membership, which means being provided new hire and bargaining unit lists. She also supports permitting unions to recruit at employer trainings, in-services, and other employer-mandated gatherings of employees.

Allegheny County, with its world-class labor unions and world-class universities, is eminently qualified and nimble enough to be a leader in the coming green economy. As a representative in Harrisburg, Emily will make the case for prioritizing our unions and making Allegheny County a production hub for the 21st century economy.

Emily is dedicated to ensuring that all workers are treated fairly and respectfully and are able to readily form and join unions without fear. To that end, she is committed to an open-door policy with labor leaders that will allow her to best serve the interests of union members, labor in our region, and the needs of all workers across Pennsylvania.

THE ENVIRONMENT

We only have one planet, and right now, our leaders are ignoring the existential crisis of human-made climate change. Emily Kinkead understands Southwestern Pennsylvania’s delicate balance between economic growth and environmental protection, but she also understands that we do not have to accept the false narrative that we can’t have good jobs while fulfilling our moral obligation to ensure clean air and water. Emily knows we can have both, which means standing up to corporate rhetoric and demanding true accountability from companies who are focused on profits over our planet.

Emily also supports greater accountability for the government agencies tasked with protecting our environment. Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury investigation into both private energy companies and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection highlights the danger associated with allowing government regulators to operate without proper oversight. And because clean water and clean air transcend legislative boundaries, what happens in other parts of the region is very much our business as well.

Emily is vehemently opposed to HB 1100, a bill that seeks to allocate nearly one billion dollars in subsidies to petrochemical companies to build cracker plants in Pennsylvania. While most subsidies require reauthorization every one to two years, this massive giveaway would linger for 30 years - an entire generation. Allegheny County has the worst air quality and some of the worst water quality in the nation because of a generations of pollution from industries propped up this way. **This bill was recently vetoed by Governor Wolf but there is growing support to override the veto. **

Emily recognizes that Pennsylvania's economy needs to be transitioning to clean, renewable energy sources today. However, she also recognizes that we cannot abandon the petrochemical industry workers, as we have our coal miners and steel workers in the past. Our path forward to a healthier, greener future must include everyone, at all levels. As a member of the PA State House, Emily will fight tooth and nail to protect our environment and our working families.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Sustainable infrastructure is the lifeblood of economic development; broken bridges mean broken communities. Our current representative has stayed quiet while the needs of the 20th District have gone ignored for far too long. Emily Kinkead will not sit idly by while the district’s infrastructure needs go unfulfilled; if that means rattling some cages in the State Capitol, then she is ready for the fight.

MASS TRANSIT

For many people in the 20th District, mass transit isn’t a convenience; it is the means of their economic survival. Employees rely on mass transit to get to work, and local businesses rely on mass transit to keep customers coming through their doors. And while grandiose regional transit plans have their place, Emily Kinkead knows we cannot lose sight of the absolute necessity of maintaining and expanding the local transportation needs of the community.

GOVERNMENT REFORM

Our democracy and government belong to the people. But Pennsylvanians are losing faith in our government to do what is right, just, and necessary to take care of the people it serves. Emily Kinkead has spent over a decade working to bring attention and change to the biggest threats to our democracy: the corrupting influence of money in politics, gerrymandering, and lack of transparency around decision-making.

Currently, Pennsylvania has no campaign contribution limits. As a state representative, Emily will introduce legislation to put caps on campaign contributions and fight to establish a system of public financing for elections because if the people who own politicians are the ones who pay for them, then it should be the people - not wealthy special interests.

Emily supports establishing an independent citizens redistricting commission to redraw the boundaries of our legislative districts because people should pick their politicians, not the other way around.

Emily is committed to providing information and transparency about the work of the government. Once elected, she will advertise every bill that comes up for a vote, what it will do for the people of Pennsylvania, where she stands, and why. She will be out in the community talking to her constituents so that they know that they have a leader they can turn to when they need help.

VOTING RIGHTS

The right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy. Republicans in Harrisburg are constantly attacking the rights of Pennsylvania citizens to vote under the guise of stopping nonexistent “voter fraud.” It is a shameful solution looking for a problem with the intent of discouraging people from participating in their own democracy.

Emily Kinkead supports automatic voter registration and options for early voting. She believes that Election Day should be a state, if not federal, holiday to encourage greater voter participation.

But she also acknowledges that elections are too important to leave them vulnerable to outside interference from hostile foreign powers or rogue hackers. Emily supports the universal use of hand-marked paper ballots with disability-accessible machines in each precinct.

SENIORS

After a lifetime of hard work, older Americans have earned the right to age with dignity and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Emily Kinkead knows that we need to keep our promise to these hard working men and women that they will be secure as they age. Once elected, Emily is committed to ensuring that older Americans have access to affordable health care, are protected from scams and financial fraud, and have the resources and support they need for a dignified retirement.

Emily believes that no one should have to go without life-sustaining healthcare or medications simply because they cannot afford to pay for it. But older Americans, many on fixed incomes, are struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing costs of premiums and out of pocket costs on prescription drugs. Emily supports following the lead of states like Colorado and Illinois to cap the out-of-pocket cost of essential drugs like insulin. She believes that the government should be working to bring more generic drugs to the marketplace and crack down on dirty tricks that big pharmaceutical companies use to prevent competition. Moreover, Emily supports passing legislation that would allow Pennsylvania to import cheaper drugs from Canada.

Similarly, Emily acknowledges the increasing need for all households to have access to communications services like cable, internet, and cellular phones, regardless of income. Nevertheless, lack of infrastructure limits competition and allows for a relative few companies to increase prices unchecked. Accordingly, Emily wants to create and expand programs that build our communications infrastructure and allows ready access to every Pennsylvanian without the price-gouging from giant corporations.

Emily also believes that we need to do more to protect seniors from predatory scams. Pennsylvanians are being hit with unprecedented numbers of robocalls and increasingly sophisticated email scams. These are more than an annoyance; they can mean serious financial risks for older Americans. Emily supports passing legislation to enforce the prohibition of robocalls and give Pennsylvanians more resources to report and block numbers and emails that seek to take advantage of our seniors.

Emily believes that every person should be able to age with dignity and live out their days in the environment that is most comfortable for them. For this reason, she supports expanding programs and financial supports that allow seniors to stay in their homes and that assist families in providing the care that their loved ones need and deserve. Quality long-term and in-home care should not just be available to those who can afford it, but to every Pennsylvanian who needs it.

Finally, Emily believes that all workers deserve an opportunity to earn a living wage and be treated with respect. However, too often age discrimination creates obstacles for older workers to obtain or keep employment, threatening their financial security when it is most important. Older Pennsylvanians are a vital part of our economy and should not be sacrificed for the bottom line. Emily supports expansion and robust enforcement of anti-discrimination laws to ensure that every Pennsylvanian who wants to work can do so in a safe, healthy environment.

ANIMAL RIGHTS

Emily Kinkead is a lover of animals of all varieties and a proponent of animal rights. She grew up surrounded by animals of all kinds - dogs, cats, fish, birds, turtles, hamsters, and rabbits. Emily now has three rescue cats of her own. As an attorney, she has seen in real life how animal cruelty is often a precursor to other violent criminal acts. She believes that we need to take animal cruelty more seriously and be better about enforcing the laws on the books.

She also believes that we need to do more to end cruel and inhumane practices like pigeon shoots. That our law currently specifically excepts this practice is egregious. She will vote to protect animals, to ensure that they are treated humanely, and to hold those responsible for harming the defenseless accountable.