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Spirit of unity wanted in Harrisburg – Bucks County Courier Occasions

opinion

By Wendi Thomas
 |  Bucks County Courier Times

The pandemic revealed much about the state of our politics today — and it was not flattering. We argue, we fight and we bicker around the edges of so many challenges, but as this year unfolded we were forced to focus on actual priorities — educating our children, protecting seniors, ensuring those who needed medical care had access to healthcare professionals, saving jobs, and other critical needs.

These last months showed us there is much to heal, but also reaffirmed there is rarely just a Democratic or Republican answer to problems. The answers are found as they’ve always been in our great democracy: by working together, building consensus and talking TO each other, not AT each other.

That’s what I do as Representative, authoring bills that pass with broad bipartisan support. Most recently, my bill to better protect long-term care residents passed the House 202-0.

We can nearly all agree the Governor’s emergency powers in times of crisis make sense, but we can also nearly all agree those powers should be tempered by full transparency and reasonable time limits, a reliance on medical and scientific data, and equally applied by building coalitions of ALL stakeholders — not just the partisan few.

Recovering from COVID-19 — and from our response to it — is the biggest need we must address. To do so we must work TOGETHER, especially with small businesses, medical professionals, citizens and government officials at every level. We must save restaurants and small businesses that make our district and Bucks County a destination. But we must work together to do so — bringing a willingness to listen and a healthy dose of common sense.

This is how we can address healthcare costs — building on efforts like expanding telemedicine and my legislation to create a Paid Family Leave program and my legislation to codify the bipartisan pieces of the Affordable Care Act like coverage of preexisting conditions; how we tackle gun violence — not by tearing up the Constitution but by addressing the root causes of things like bullying and mental illnesses that can lead to violence (I authored legislation to address mental health issues in schools); and how we manage education costs to provide opportunity to everyone — from enhancing community colleges, building up career and technical education, and challenging state universities to control costs while being transparent about what parents and students are actually paying for.

It is how we root out racism and ignorance in our country, our community and in our own hearts. We have started legislatively by unanimously passing two reform laws in July.

There is so much more that unites than divides us. There always has been. Even on the worst days this year, neighbors were helping neighbors regardless of political party, communities were rallying behind local businesses, and grandparents were experiencing Facetime and Zoom to share love and joy from a distance.

That’s the spirit we need in Harrisburg to tackle the challenges we all face together.

I will continue to do that to the very best of my ability.

After all, I don’t fit into a partisan box. My record — which is more important than political promises — shows my ability to bring together Republicans and Democrats to build consensus and achieve positive results.

It’s why I’m proud to be endorsed, rated highly or supported by a diverse array of groups across the Commonwealth like Moms Demand Action for gun sense, Pennsylvania’s teachers (the PSEA), business organizations (PA Chamber), law enforcement (FOP Lodge 53) and organized labor (AFL-CIO, AFSCME, UFCW1776).

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