Thu. Nov 14th, 2019

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

UMW hosts 17th District State Senate debate

2 min read

Candidates for the 17th Senate District in Virginia debated on campus October 29. (Amy Laufer | Facebook.com)

by JOSEPHINE JOHNSON

Staff Writer

State Senate candidates Amy Laufer and Bryce Reeves discussed gun control, ERA ratification and Virginia right-to-work laws, among other issues, at their Oct. 29 debate at UMW.

Here are some of the candidates’ notable responses.

Gun control

“I happen to know a lot about gun laws,” said Republican incumbent Bryce Reeves.

Reeves worried that red flag laws, which would allow family members or police officers to obtain permission from a court to remove weapons from someone who could pose a risk to themselves or others, will infringe on citizens’ 4th and 2nd Amendment rights.

Calling back to his days as a police officer, Reeves said in all the arrests he has made, no one had obtained their guns legally. Red flag laws, in his opinion, will not prevent the bad guys from getting guns.

Laufer supports red flag laws, a stance she said is rooted in her concern for children’s safety in the event of mass shootings.

According to Laufer, her young son asked her, “Do you really think we can all fit behind the teacher’s desk?”

“We have to realize what kind of trauma we are creating in our society with these mass shootings,” Laufer said.

ERA ratification

The candidates also differed in their positions on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Laufer spoke in favor of ratification.

“This is about equal pay for equal work,” Laufer said. “I will not allow my daughter’s generation to have to fight this: it ends with us.”

According to Reeves, the ERA is unnecessary and unlawful.

Right to work

Laufer is concerned on behalf of workers and supports changing Virginia’s right to work status. She believes we should be able to have a state good for business and good for workers, and said Virginia should be the example.

Reeves says Virginia is number one for business because of the right to work laws. He strongly believes the right to work laws are critical to business. “It allows the right to work without being hindered.”

Both candidates were followed by disruptive applause from their supporters in the audience.

Climate change

Both candidates agree that climate change is a real problem.

Reeves wants to protect both the environment and taxpayers. “We have to look at it rationally and make sure it is affordable,” he said.

Laufer has experience with climate change with a degree in geology and a history of teaching about climate in middle and high school.

“This is the fundamental issue for the students in this audience,” she said.

She plans to allow those with solar panels on their homes to sell it back to the grid unimpeded.

Laufer also wants to look at expanding Virginia’s light rail – the Virginia Railway Express – to North Carolina.

Reeves is concerned that lightrail’s plan will take too much money from taxpayers. He wants stricter rules on spending tax money meant for fixing traffic.

On gerrymandering, both candidates are in favor of redistricting reform.

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