About Laura

Laura Jens-Smith comes to politics from a desire to do good.

Laura grew up in Port Jefferson Station, receiving her Associates Degree at Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing, and, upon graduation, worked as a cardiac care and recovery room nurse. Eventually, Laura went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree from Pace University, putting herself through school.

While politics was not in Laura’s career plan, public service was and is…That led Laura to serve six years as a School Board Trustee of the Mattituck-Cutchogue Board of Education, eventually being elected Board President.

Laura then went on to become the first woman elected to the office of Town Supervisor in Riverhead’s 225-year history. As Supervisor, Laura focused on comprehensive long-term planning, fiscal stability, economic development, farmland and open space preservation, protecting the environment, downtown revitalization and public safety. Laura was honored to receive the 2019 Leadership Award from the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO for her work on behalf of organized labor and working families. She was recognized by Minority Millennials Inc. for her efforts to improve the quality of life of people of color and young people. Laura was also awarded the 2019 Pass the Torch award by the Butterfly Effect Project for her advocacy for young women.

Laura is a Mother of two grown children and lives with her husband in Laurel.

About Laura

Laura Jens-Smith comes to politics from a desire to do good.

Laura grew up in Port Jefferson Station, receiving her Associates Degree at Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing, and, upon graduation, worked as a cardiac care and recovery room nurse. Eventually, Laura went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree from Pace University, putting herself through school.

While politics was not in Laura’s career plan, public service was and is…That led Laura to serve six years as a School Board Trustee of the Mattituck-Cutchogue Board of Education, eventually being elected Board President.

Laura then went on to become the first woman elected to the office of Town Supervisor in Riverhead’s 225-year history. As Supervisor, Laura focused on comprehensive long-term planning, fiscal stability, economic development, farmland and open space preservation, protecting the environment, downtown revitalization and public safety. Laura was honored to receive the 2019 Leadership Award from the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO for her work on behalf of organized labor and working families. She was recognized by Minority Millennials Inc. for her efforts to improve the quality of life of people of color and young people. Laura was also awarded the 2019 Pass the Torch award by the Butterfly Effect Project for her advocacy for young women.

Laura is a Mother of two grown children and lives with her husband in Laurel.

Laura Jens-Smith

I look forward to being able to represent you as your next New York State Assemblywoman, District 2.
– Laura

Laura’s Common Sense New York Platform

Beating COVID 19

The crisis over Covid 19 is the greatest challenge to this nation since World War II. The amount of cases and deaths is staggering. Our weak national response is not befitting a great nation like ours. It didn’t have to be this way. Here in New York, we went from worst to first in terms of the impact of Covid. That happened because of strong leadership and cooperation among all. We must remember, if we are not diligent, Covid can rise once again.

As a former nurse, I believe we should always follow science, that the medical community should lead the way in crafting our plan against the coronavirus. New York State government should continue to bolster its testing and contact tracing efforts to keep our state among the best in the nation at finding and eradicating this deadly virus.

The haphazard distribution of unemployment and other benefits at the outset of the pandemic is a something we don’t want to repeat, therefore we need to organize, today, the way we will ultimately distribute a future Covid-19 vaccine should one become available. A cure is only a cure, if it can get to people.

We must do whatever it takes to ensure that those with lapsed health care coverage, due to layoffs can keep high quality healthcare. We have to cut waiting times for our citizens to receive aid and unemployment benefits, and we have to better communicate with our people so that all New Yorkers have the latest information that is vital to their health and well
being.

Improving Healthcare

In a nation as great as ours high quality health care should be a basic human right. No one should have their lifespan, or quality of life compromised by an inability to pay. The long-term solution to this issue needs to come from Washington, but,
in the here and now, there is much we New Yorkers can do. I will fight to eliminate “Surprise Billing” in which patients get socked for huge bills when they receive care outside their insurer’s network.

I’ll work to protect patients by eliminating needless paperwork from health care providers. I will advocate for policies to make health care more affordable and accessible immediately. I’ll propose increased funding for community health centers and substance use treatment centers to help keep our kids and at risk adults off of opioids and other substances, and expanding Medicaid coverage. And, I will work to close the loopholes exploited by pharmaceutical companies at the expense of patients. I will vote for policies to lower drug prices and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable.

Middle Class Families first

I will spend every day I am in Albany
searching for new ways to reduce to tax burden on the State’s Middle Class
and working class. To create opportunity. To make Long Island a better place to raise a family, build a business and chart a life. For too long our tax policy has been tilted towards the ultra rich. Tax breaks for Wall Street. Top earners paying personal taxes at the same rate as lower level wage earners. New York’s tax policy is upside down.

New York works best when it works for all. The “Empire State” years of New York’s heyday were when our tax policy put money into the pockets of a solid Middle Class. It’s time to get back to that New York. Our current tax policy is a drop in the bucket for those at the top, and practically confiscatory for middle wage earners. Front office workers are paying at the same rate as CEOS and board chairs. That can’t continue.

I will view every bill I see, and submit, through the prism of what’s best for hard working New Yorkers.

Infrastructure

New York is the Empire State, yet our roads and infrastructure are beginning to resemble those in underdeveloped nations. A high quality, easily navigate transportation system is a prerequisite to prosperity. The poor condition of state roads like Routes 25 and 25A is unconscionable, this has occurred because of a lack of will and the incumbent not fighting for our fair share of road dollars. I will ensure that the North Fork and Brookhaven receives its fair share of state funds.

I will fight for electrification of the LIRR out to Port Jefferson. I will work diligently to see that services on telephone polls are buried on the North Fork as they are on the South.

I will promote and bring in monies for “Scoot” trains and other innovative transportation strategies that will ease the traffic woes that beset the North Fork, particularly during summer and “Pumpkin Picking” season.

Police

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the men and women of law enforcement who wear the uniform. Our police officers confront danger daily. Their job is difficult and our police deserve our support.

There are things we should be doing to bring resources to at risk individuals and communities. I support efforts to address reform bring community and police together to solve the issues before us.

I will fight for all I’m worth against the dangerous policies coming out of NYC that put our officers in harm’s way, empower criminals, and make our communities less safe.

A Suburban Caucus

I’m not running for the State Assembly to be beholden to Bill de Blasio: far from it, I’m running to be a strong voice for Long Island. For too long, Albany has been dominated by the whims of New York City. From the MTA to massive education subsidies to bail reform, the city has been the tail wagging the dog. That’s why I propose a Suburban Caucus, where regions across New York, like Long Island, Westchester, Putnam, who have more in common with each other than with the city, can advocate for the needs of the suburbanites, who send in tremendous amounts of tax dollars to the state, and get little in return. It’s time to that we on Long Island got our fair share for education, to repair our crumbling roads, and to get Long Island working again. Buffalo got its
billions, what about us?

The Budget Process

The most important part of every legislative session comes down to a just few days, when the budget is adopted. Those few hours are when you need your elected officials to deliver. We need people in public office who understand how to craft a budget, negotiate on behalf of working people, and how to get funds and resources for the betterment of their constituents.

$178 billion, or close to it, will be spent next year by New York State. The question is  how much of that will go to help working people, and how much of it will go to IDA tax giveaways or to special interests? How much will be scooped up by New York City, and what’s left for us?

We need to not only preserve funding for education, for healthcare, for job creation, and for housing, but we need to make sure that the funding comes to Long Island. I
will be a very loud voice for Long Island.

Reimagining College for the 21st Century

We have some of the best public institutions in the country and in the world right here in New York — and, our community colleges here on Long Island do a terrific job. But we can, and we should, do better.

I firmly believe that public colleges and universities are the future of higher education—They deliver great educations, for a fraction of the price of their private counterparts, which are closing by the droves on Long Island. Stony Brook University has been recognized pioneer in groundbreaking research. Suffolk Community College provides a flexible, well regarded and solid education geared towards working people.

What we lack is the array of colleges that Long Island used to have, where you could get a quality education, close to home without breaking the bank. We should be siting new institutions that would offer four year degrees, technical training, intern and externship programs with apprenticeship interface with local businesses and government. These schools should be accessible to people who need flexibility as they navigate getting an education with
supporting themselves and their families.

Gone are the days where it makes sense to go away to college, paying $30,000 or more a year for four years. We need more quality institutions that can educate our children right here at the affordable rates than only a SUNY can provide.

Let's Reform Bail Reform

Sometimes, good intentions can have bad
consequences.

It is true there have been New Yorkers, stuck in jail, for minor, non-violent infractions, awaiting trial, who were locked in jail, simply because they didn’t have the money to make bail. That’s both, unfair and unconstitutional.

So, I understand the need for bail reform, but I don’t understand why New York had to reinvent the wheel so poorly when other states charted much better paths forward.

In neighboring New Jersey, they did bail reform right. People arrested in New Jersey, just like in New York, are innocent until proven guilty, and are brought before a judge to determine whether they should be held or released pending trial. Judges in New Jersey are permitted to take into account the risks to the community in releasing defendants, assessing “dangerousness.” That has been illegal in New York for over 40 years, and it is illegal today, even after the recently passed “fixes” to bail reform.

Releasing nearly everybody without judges having a say, even when accused of heinous crimes like domestic violence, was a mistake. Judges should have the discretion to hold people who have shown to be dangerous or a flight risk, while those accused of nonviolent crimes or who have no history of violence should be released on their own recognizance, including with a GPS ankle bracelet if the court deems proper. It’s common sense.

Our Precious Environment

The North Fork and Brookhaven’s North Shore contain some of the most beautiful natural vistas and coastline of any place in the nation.

Here our environment is our economy. We must protect what we have, not just because nature enriches us, but, because our environment is the infrastructure of our communities.

I am fully committed to preserving farmland and open space. I will stand up for clean drinking water. I will spearhead the effort to increase the amount of parks and recreational properties in my district. I will make sure existing parks do not fall into decay, or become dumping grounds. I will work hard to steer monies to cleaning up known hazardous sites. I will work with environmental enforcement to identify new pollution sources and bring polluters to justice. I believe climate change is real. I trust science.

Educating the Next Generation

As a former School Board President, I know that education is what builds opportunity. Education is the key to America continuing to be a leader in a highly competitive world. While our Suffolk County public schools are among the best in the state, we are losing our edge because our incumbent Assembly member hasn’t been bringing home the bacon.

I will be a strong voice to get the North Fork and Brookhaven its fair share of state aid and fully fund our schools. For too long, Albany has gotten away with dictating policies with little regard for the financial impact on school districts, nor any concern for how to pay for Albany’s whims in the short run. I will work tirelessly to ensure that we stop the “unfunded mandate”.

More than just money, we must reform education, we need to reinstate the General High School Diploma, which will offer students a career track in addition to our already solid academic track in our high schools. This option will allow more students the opportunity to enter job training and apprenticeship programs after they graduate.

I will be a hands on advocate, and work hand-in-hand with the leadership of the school districts I would represent, to  improve education for the next generation.

Our Veterans

New York has to respect those who sacrificed for America. That means providing our Veterans with no red tape services. Services like property tax exemptions, free unlimited EZ Pass for disabled veterans, survivor family death benefits, and Adult day care for our senior Vets.

I believe in Civil Service Credit preference for Vets and Military Service Credit for State and Local Retirement System Members. New York State Regents Awards for the children of Veterans, as well as, Military Service Recognition Scholarships. I will dedicate myself to going the extra mile for those who did the same for us.

The Surge of Opiods

We all know the toll opioids and other drugs have taken in our communities. Drug addition can hit any household, any family, any economic strata. Our picket fence communities are suffering an epidemic of hopelessness.

I support “Treatment on Demand”.  We need to place someone in treatment the moment they make the call for help. I support counseling and coping strategies that will provide families tools they need to help their loved ones help themselves.

We need to rethink how we view treatment — Crafting Individualized Care Plans that guide recovery. Our Insurance and Reimbursement policies must be reformed to include better drug treatment. Our Criminal Justice and Judicial systems need to embrace the new realities of drug addiction, to provide strategies for cure, not just placing the addicts behind bars.

Ethics

People deserve and expect a government that is clean, open, honest, transparent, and above board. I favor online record keeping that is always available to the public and transparent. I believe in rigorous enforcement of open meeting and “Sunshine” laws. I favor the timely execution of Freedom of Information requests.

I oppose the way our current legislators abuse their office by sending out “Newsletters” that are nothing more than thinly disguised campaign mailers, paid for by the taxpayer. We would all benefit from a full-time State Legislature, so, I favor banning outside income and providing a professional salary for legislators.

We should tighten financial reporting requirements for public officers affording the public a better vantage point to more easily spot conflicts of interest.

I want to see a ban on “Dark money”, let’s get the secret money away from politics. I believe we should further empower Joint Commission on Public Ethics [JCOPE]. I want to see complete and open disclosure of lobbying activity. I am for the full disclosure of an Assembly member’s outside business interests.

LAURA JENS-SMITH

New York State Assembly

District #2

PO BOX 214

Laurel, NY  11948

631-298-1195

laura@lauraforassembly.com

 

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November 3, 2020

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© 2020 |Laura Jens-Smith for NY State Assembly | Designs By Dave O.

© 2020 |Laura Jens-Smith for NY State Assembly | Designs By Dave O.