Democratic Weekly Radio Address: February 1, 2019

Take a listen to the Democratic Radio Address!

“I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas

Arkansans work hard. And maybe none more so than our First Responders. We all know this. Many of us have seen their work firsthand, and know it can literally mean the difference between life and death. That’s especially true when vital services get stretched thin, sometimes critically out in rural Arkansas.

Despite our shared values and support for firefighters, police, and paramedics – our politics fail us, and fail them. But I know we can do better.

Our politics must live up to our values. It’s about who we are, it’s about what we want this state to be. And our priorities must put our firefighters, our police, our EMTS first. Let’s put Arkansas First.

Over the next few months the Arkansas Legislature is meeting at the state Capitol in Little Rock. There is real opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together, and do what we all know is best. I have faith that as Arkansans, we can pull together, we can do this.

There will be opportunities to advance real relief, some real support for those that give their all, day in and day out for our communities. The men and women who selflessly serve our communities deserve our support.

Our state troopers risk their lives to protect and serve. They don’t deserve the second lowest pay in the nation. Let’s do better. Let’s do right by them.

Our firefighters, who would literally walk into the fire for each and every one of us, make even less. These brave men and women also face a unique danger. They aren’t just battling flames, but they’re risking exposure to toxic elements that can cause diseases such as cancer. As a result, 70 percent of firefighter line-of-duty deaths are from cancer.

You’d think our values, our priorities would make sure that at the least, we took care of them when they are down, when they get sick. But the sad truth is, we often don’t. Arkansas is one of only two states that doesn’t give firefighter’s cancer disability benefits, and we don’t provide cancer-sick leave either.

Right now, our state is asking our firefighters to fight cancer at the very same time they are putting out our fires. They have our backs in times of crisis, it’s time for us to do the same for them. Let’s do better. Let’s do right by them.

The good news, is that the solutions are simpler than we think. There is a bill in the Legislature right now, backed by firefighters, that would provide cancer-sick leave so that firefighters battling stage 4 cancer won’t have to be asked to run into a burning building, but instead will be able to fight for his or her own life.

I have faith that there will be many opportunities in this legislative session to help out hardworking Arkansans. Democrats have good ideas to put on the table, like the bill to protect firefighters battling cancer. That idea comes from a freshman Democratic legislator. It’s her very first bill, and it’s a good one. There are good, new ideas, on both sides of the aisle that just make common sense.

Let’s not let politics get in the way. Let’s recognize that there is much that unites us all. And let’s continue to put Arkansas First.

I’m Michael John Gray, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas”