The Importance of Space

Thursday evening I met with my Space Policy Advisor, and we spoke for several hours about Trump’s budget proposal, climate research, the aerospace industry, and what it all means for Colorado.

Colorado has the nation’s second-largest aerospace economy with more than 400 companies employing over 188,000 Coloradans in space-related jobs. Under Trump’s budget, launch of the Europa Clipper mission will be delayed and there are no robotic Mars missions after 2020. Proposed cuts to this industry will impact hundreds of thousands of employees in aerospace and related industries.

NASA also plays an important role in Colorado’s higher education system, but its Office of Education will be closed. The Space Grant Program, funded by NASA and involving 21 institutions of higher learning in Colorado, is completely eliminated in Trump’s budget proposal; NASA also directly provides hundreds of millions of dollars in research grant money for CU Boulder.

One of the most alarming aspects of the budget cuts hits climate research: The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 and instrumentation on the DSCOVR spacecraft. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 is needed to trace the carbon cycle on our planet and enforce any international treaties regarding CO2 emissions. The DSCOVR spacecraft launched in 2015 and the cuts save ~$1 million in data analysis; we already planned, launched, and succeeded in the mission but now won’t evaluate the results of that mission!

I view these cuts as indicative of the overall narrative of the Trump administration and its anti-science stance against the very real threat of climate change. The administration acts with indifference to what is one of the most important issues facing our country and world, as shown by the placement of senior officials that have spent careers rebutting climate science, withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, and hamstringing of the EPA.

Posted on 09 Jun 2017, 11:51 - Category: Current Issues



Day of Rememberance

Yesterday was Memorial Day.  It’s a day where we honor our fallen service men and women, and honor those heroes who answered a call to serve their country and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of its ideals. As I went about my day, I kept them in my thoughts and silently thanked them. This year, in addition to the members of our armed forces, there were two more Americans I needed to thank: Rick Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, who died defending complete strangers from an anti-Muslim attack on a Portland train. They had no reason to believe May 26th, 2017 would be the day when they would give up their lives defense of others, but just like those whom consciously heed a call to serve this country and take an oath to defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, these two men put themselves in harm’s way in defense of two teens unable to protect themselves. They are heroes and their names will join the thousands of others we memorialize.

 

Posted on 30 May 2017, 16:20 - Category: Current Issues



Questions Answered

Below are some responses to questions I've received that I thought other supporters would like to see. 

What tactics do you have for decreasing the opioid epidemic without demonizing patients that legitimately need them?

I know many patients legitimately need large doses of opiates. As a pharmacist I'm also well versed in the differences between tolerance, dependence, and addiction. The manner through which I intend to address the opiate epidemic stems from prevention and treatment. My strategy begins by decreasing the number of people who receive opiates in the first place when it may not be needed or first line therapy. Opioid Free Emergency Departments have been garnered increased interest since 2015. Opioid-Free is a misnomer, it's more like "opioid-light." Essentially there are other medications that can be used, extremely effectively, to treat pain. 

At the Federal level I would propose tying Opioid-Light Emergency Departments, again using alternative modes and medications for pain relief when indicated, to an incentive program similar to the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program. Hospitals that adopt these programs and meet pre-specified benchmarks would be eligible for incentive payments from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Secondly, resources for opioid addiction treatment need to be increased. There are not enough treatment staff to take treat patients. The spending agreement that funds the government through the end of this fiscal year (September) provided a large spending increase for treatment as well as assistance with mental health programs. 

What is your plan for income equity?

According to Our Revolution:

The reality is that since the mid-1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country.

Despite huge advancements in technology and productivity, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. The real median income of male workers is $783 less than it was 42 years ago; while the real median income of female workers is over $1,300 less than it was in 2007. That is unacceptable and that has got to change.

In order to address the issue of income equity I support:

  • Enforcement of wealthy and large corporations paying their fair share in taxes, ending loopholes and the practice of shifting profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying US income taxes.
  • Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
  • Investing in infrastructure to put more Americans to work.
  • Creating 1 million jobs or disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in youth jobs programs.
  • Signing the Paycheck Fairness Act, or any other legislation that address the issue of women earning less than men, into law.
  • Making tuition free at public colleges and universities.
  • Guaranteeing healthcare as a right, ending the era where Americans go bankrupt due to medical expenses.
  • Requiring employers to provide paid medical, family, and sick leave.
I'd love to hear more about your positions on energy and the environment.

Energy policy is one area where I move to the center, because the science supports a centrist view. Energy and Environment are topics where passions run high, so following the science seems the best way to proceed. I will say this; the environment comes first. We have prioritized our needs for resources without taking care of the planet for so long that continuing to do so is no longer sustainable. Treating the two realms equitably is no longer sustainable. The environment; clean air, water, soil all need to be the priority now. 

However, we still need oil and natural gas for our everyday lives. We have drug our feet on putting in place the needed infrastructure to transition to 100% renewables, likely even in my generation. In my medical profession we rely on petroleum products (plastics) for every single patient. While driving a Tesla, Prius, Volt, or other electric car is wonderful, the power to charge may not be as green depending on where you live. And electric vehicles still need rubber tires. 

Just because these fossil fuels continue to have a place in our society doesn't mean they get a free ride. Oil companies shouldn't get to drill wherever they want and I'm against opening up the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, Arctic Reserve, or National Parks/Public Lands to oil and natural gas extraction. Environmental regulations should take priority. I'm at a loss as to why protections put in place to ban dumping of coal dust into streams was reversed. Capturing methane is part of the cost of doing business and should not be flared because processing it isn't profitable due to the low price of natural gas. 

Moving forward we need to continue to push for the transition to renewable sources and stop dragging our feet. I am 100% behind wind, solar, hydroelectric, and nuclear energy. 

Marijuana

I received several questions related to my position on cannabis, including recreational and medical marijuana. Some of these questions were extremely specific, related to specific bills, and others more vaguely asking where I stand. I'm not an expert on marijuana and its uses, especially medical uses. I've seen Laura Borgelt give a lecture on the topic at a conference I attended and she provided ample evidence to support its many medical uses including: epilepsy, chemotherapy-related nausea, Multiple Sclerosis, severe chronic pain, and muscle spasms.

My overarching belief is that marijuana should be federally decriminalized with continued regulations similar to what we've seen in Colorado. For patients needing medical marijuana, they should continue to have access to less expensive and lower taxed product. When growing their own plants they should be able to grow the amount needed for their required dosage. 

 

 

Posted on 02 May 2017, 10:57 - Category: Current Issues



Science and Politics

This weekend my treasurer and I were excited to join 20,000 Coloradans in their support of science and the positive impact it has on our lives. Before the March for Science I met with a supporter, and even though he already knew about my platform, it was a great interaction and opportunity to answer the questions he had for me. 

Followers of my Twitter (@Leitzel4CO) already read about some of my attempt to work through the pushback of involving science in politics. The March for Science billed itself as apolitical, but many of the politician speakers made the line clear of those who understood and supported science's role in our policies vs. those in Washington who don't. At its core, science isn't political. The pursuit of unbiased knowledge doesn't have a side of left, right, or center. But it is in the spinning, ignoring, or denying of that unbiased knowledge where politics and science intersect.

Now there is a growing feeling that science is under attack; fueled by defundings, denial of facts, and outright oppression of scientific departments within the current administration. Science tried to remain apolitical but politicians brought it into their wheelhouse, twisting it to fit into their ideologies. This is why I stand with the wave of scientists now looking to become politicians, to become colleagues with representatives and educate them. To sit on committees where science, the environment, and other issues that become policy are discussed. To allow our knowledge and expertise to serve the greatest good.

 

Posted on 24 Apr 2017, 11:56 - Category: Current Issues



I'm Against SJ Res 18 and HJ Res 69

Today the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, of which Cory Gardner is a member, will be voting on SJ Resolution 18. This is in conjunction with joint resolution HJ Res 69, of which Doug Lamborn (HD 5) and Scott Tipton (HD3) are members. 

These joint resolutions will roll back predator protections (wolves and bears) on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. If you've seen reports about killing wolves, bears, and their cubs in dens this is it. Additionally it permits the use of leg hold traps and wire snares.

The scientists and wildlife managers directly involved in the care of these areas have determined that the predator-prey relationship in these areas does not require intervention to protect the population of caribou or other game animals. Additionally, I'm against the use of these inhumane traps and this type of hunting on lands designated as wildlife refuges.

For the record I'm not against hunting. I am against traps that lead to suffering and killing animals in their dens on land where they are supposedly protected.

Posted on 21 Mar 2017, 15:15 - Category: Current Issues



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