Daniel A Duncan – South Carolina – State House – District 14
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I’m a lifelong progressive Democrat originally from a town of 200 people. I excelled in school (4th in my HS class) and received a B.A. in history from Arkansas State where I led the Gay Straight Alliance and the Unitarian Universalist Student Union. I moved to Laurens County, South Carolina, in 2006 and have been working 50-70 hour weeks almost the entire time since, trying to get ahead. Thanks to the support of my wife, Theresa, and our families, we’re finally at a comfortable level, but it has not been easy. Had I not been a truck driver during a labor shortage, I have little doubt my wages would still require me to max out my legal driving hours and never have time for my family.
What are the 3 biggest issues facing your community?
We have to fix the roads in this state. Not only is it unsightly, but it’s dangerous to drive at highway speed and pop a tire. Truckers have to slow down and only hit the shallow potholes, and this slows down our commerce. And the vehicle damage affects the poorest the most because they’re less likely to be able to afford tires or more extensive repairs.
Education is fundamental to operating in a competitive workforce. If we want to have an educated populace, we must pay teachers enough so that it’s worth their time. We also have to reduce class sizes to enable teachers to educate children effectively, not just hand out worksheets and hope the students understand the material.
The working poor among us are priced out of healthcare, so we have to expand Medicaid. These people are ignoring issues that could be treated simply and cheaply, and eventually ending up in the emergency room after it’s too late. Then those of us fortunate enough to have insurance end up paying the excess prices when the working poor cannot afford the ridiculous medical bills. If we’re going to be paying these bills anyway, let’s help people on the front end and get preventative care for the 300,000 uninsured and under-insured in South Carolina.
How do you propose to solve those problems?
South Carolina currently has a billion-dollar or more surplus due to people getting higher wages post-pandemic. The Republicans want to waste that on a tax cut for only the top tax bracket. I would use that money to pay the state’s bills, as described above. Let’s take advantage of already funded federal programs to repair roads and bridges. This would also increase jobs as we would have to hire workers to complete these repairs. The surplus taxes could fund a teacher pay increase. Medicaid Expansion, with the federal funding, would likely be revenue neutral, as it would add more healthcare jobs to meet the increased demand. It would also help free up emergency rooms, so that people are able to be seen in a timely manner and the staff aren’t distracted by minor complaints.
What is your stance on environmental and climate concerns that are facing your community?
Climate Change is the biggest existential threat to our world. I support fining businesses that pollute to the point that it is no longer profitable to operate in such a fashion. Any fine that is less than the profits the company can make will just be the cost of doing business. We have to expand renewable energies and nuclear power if we are going to end our dependency on fossil fuels. I also support a tax credit for people purchasing an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid EV on the second-hand market to make this technology available to the people that need it most.
What commonsense gun safety measures would have the most impact on your community?
Ending open carry would be a great step forward. Seeing someone armed in your vicinity spikes adrenaline and makes people more likely to act rashly. When multiple people have guns openly, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Expanding background checks and making sure they are complete before a sale goes through makes sense. I understand there’s an argument against that, and that there will be edge cases in which people are unfairly delayed or denied. That’s something we have to weigh against the rights of people to live safely.
I’ve held various stances on gun reform over the years, and at the end of the day, I still enjoy my firearms. I appreciate having them when coyotes and other wild animals threaten my dogs. I like to target shoot, and I would prefer to have a weapon and not need it than the alternative. Most importantly, though, our Supreme Court has determined that the 2nd Amendment allows for personal possession of firearms, and that’s the law of the land. So frankly I don’t expect to prioritize gun legislation without a Democratic majority and governor.
How would criminal justice reforms impact your community?
The first thing we must do is legalize cannabis to remove one of the most common excuses for unnecessary search and seizure. The drug war in general is a total failure, and continuing to police and prosecute petty drug offenses for relatively harmless cannabis is a waste of resources. This must also include amnesty for nonviolent cannabis crimes in the past and eradication of such crimes from the criminal record. We have to give people who were harmed by these policies a genuine second chance.
How would you work to protect a woman’s reproductive health?
I believe that medical decisions are private, and so a person who becomes pregnant ought to be able to consult with their doctor for the best advice. If a doctor is found to be a bad actor giving unethical treatment to their patient, that may require sanctioning by the medical board or criminal charges. But the patients ought to have the right to do what they wish with their own bodies. This includes taking birth control, accessing tubal ligation, abortion, hysterectomy, augmentation, or gender-affirming care. These are the values that would guide any votes that come up, and I would sponsor bills that work to remove current government restrictions on such care.
What measures would you advocate to ensure that your constituents have the right to vote?
When Lynne West at the Laurens County Election Commission tells me we have extremely secure elections, I believe her. Existing measures ought to give everyone confidence that concerns about election integrity are overblown. When one stops to think about the massive amount of coordination it would require to change the result of any election, and also looks at the very few documented cases of voter fraud around the country, it becomes clear that this is a non-issue. However, since the Republicans insist on making it an issue, I support providing free, convenient identification to every citizen of South Carolina. I’d introduce legislation to provide state funding for more poll workers and machines, allowing swifter voting on election day. I support the current move to allow two weeks of no- excuse early voting at multiple sites per county, which will allow workers who are not able to take a Tuesday off an opportunity to cast their ballot in person.
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