Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.
The daughter of a doctor and nurse, Barbara Bollier grew up in Fairway and Mission Hills where she attended Kansas public schools all her life. She graduated from the University of Kansas and went on to earn a medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. In 1987, Barbara joined her father in his anesthesia practice at Surgicenter of Kansas City. She also taught in the Bioethics Masters program at Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience.
After retiring from her medical practice, Barbara ran for public office and went on to serve in the Kansas Legislature for 11 years. She spent three terms in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2009-2016, and served one term in the Kansas Senate from 2016-2020.
While at medical school, Barbara met and married fellow classmate, Rene Bollier. She and her husband have two children, Anne-Marie and Bobby.
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What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
At this moment of profound cultural reckoning, every elected leader in America has a moral obligation to listen, to learn, and to finally acknowledge the systemic racism that has devastated our communities of color throughout much of our nation’s history. This is the time to make it right. I am wholly committed to championing their fight for racial justice as a member of the United States Senate.
Millions of Americans are only just now learning what Black Americans have been living through for decades. The data proves that people of color are disproportionately harmed by police brutality and our criminal justice system as a whole. While I do not support defunding law enforcement, I wholeheartedly support reforms to combat the horrific racial injustices plaguing our criminal justice system and our public institutions.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
I support reforms in the Justice in Policing Act, such as banning chokeholds, reforming qualified immunity, limiting the transfer of military-grade weapons and equipment to police departments, ending the use of “no-knock” warrants among other much-needed reforms.
Ending systemic racism will require more than reforms in policing, however. Elected leaders in Washington must also build on the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act and so we can stamp out inequality throughout our criminal justice system. For starters, I support decriminalization of marijuana and re-evaluating mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for nonviolent crimes. I will also work to increase funding for public defense attorneys to help level the playing field for defendants.
Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?
First and foremost, I believe every level of government must prioritize community policing programs that strengthen relationships between police officers and the communities they serve — from Washington D.C. to cities and counties in Kansas. Communication and trust helps prevent crimes before they occur.
I also support increasing anti-racism and anti-bias training for our police force, banning chokeholds, additional de-escalation training, and increasing transparency — among other reforms. We all must work together to make our communities safer and end racial inequality throughout our country.
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. has responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?
As a doctor and as a Kansan, the federal government’s inconsistent and woefully inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply troubled me. We need elected leaders who will work together to ensure that the federal government serves as a reliable and nonpartisan partner to state and local governments in times of crisis. Science and data must guide our decisions, and federal leaders must prioritize what nonpartisan health experts say is necessary to keep COVID-19 at bay until a vaccine is made widely available. That means we must increase testing as much as possible and ensure that states, hospitals, and frontline workers have all the personal protective equipment they need to keep themselves and other people safe. Most importantly, federal leaders must stop politicizing and confusing response efforts so we can save lives, get our kids back to school, and reopen our economy for good.
Do you support more stimulus money? If so, how should Congress pay for the stimulus?
The coronavirus flipped the unemployment rate in Kansas from a 40-year low to a record high in a matter of months. Both parties agree that it is imperative to enact a new coronavirus relief package, and I absolutely agree with them. We need to help unemployed and furloughed workers, so I support considering extending supplemental unemployment insurance. Thousands of Kansans are without work by no fault or choice of their own. We must also continue to support small businesses by extending relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Plan, which saved millions of jobs in the previous relief package — including many businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
What are the top 3 things you think deserve your immediate attention in Washington and what action would you take on them, including how you’d compromise with members of the other party?
Nothing deserves more immediate attention right now than a coherent, well-coordinated, bipartisan COVID-19 response effort that also aligns with a robust and innovative economic recovery plan.
Beyond this urgent global public health pandemic, I’ll work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight to expand access to affordable healthcare for all by ensuring Kansans can keep their private insurance or have access to an affordable public option. I’ll also work to drive down the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, and I will continue to champion efforts that end surprise hospital billing.
Do you believe our healthcare system needs to be reformed? If so, what will you do to change it?
As a retired physician and former Vice Chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee in the Kansas Senate, improving our healthcare system has always been one of my top priorities. I’ve been a leading champion for expanding Medicaid so that 130,000 working Kansans can access affordable healthcare. I’ll continue my fight to improve our healthcare system as a U.S. Senator. That starts with protecting Kansans’ right to keep their private insurance if they choose. It also will require the federal government to provide an affordable public option. Additionally, I’ll work to drive down the cost of prescription drugs so that no Kansan is forced to choose between paying for their medicine or other essentials, like gas or groceries. I support proposals to expand Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug costs so we can get prices down. I’ll also continue my work to ban surprise medical billing that impacts people all across the country.
Give us your stance on gun control/2nd Amendment rights.
I learned to shoot and hunt from my father. It was a wonderful experience and I very much support the 2nd Amendment.
As a physician, I’ve seen the consequences of gun violence firsthand. It is absolutely possible to support guns rights and reasonable gun safety legislation. I try to just look at this as a public health issue. Right now, our children aren’t safe – and we simply must do more. Just about everyone, including the majority of NRA members, supports universal background checks and reasonable gun safety training standards.
Do you think we need immigration reform and what changes would you support?
Our immigration system was broken long before President Trump was elected. Unfortunately, Congress has repeatedly failed to confront this problem, playing politics with the issue and failing to enact meaningful reforms.
I absolutely support strong border security, including smart, new technology that increases effectiveness of efforts to stop illegal border crossings. We also must prioritize providing a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, who were brought to this country by no fault of their own — 6,000 of whom are working, contributing members of Kansas communities. We should also preserve policies that have been in place for decades to allow an expedited path to citizenship for people who serve in the military. Most importantly, Congress must work together to finally craft comprehensive immigration reform that is humane, keeps families together, and keeps America safe.
What steps would you support to strengthen the nation’s security?
America needs to resume its global leadership position in international institutions, and promote human rights and democracy abroad. We need to maintain and strengthen relationships with our allies to help protect against threats and ensure the safety for all Americans.
What are your thoughts on climate change? What should Congress do about it, if anything?
As a doctor, I believe in science. Science clearly indicates that climate change and extreme weather events pose some of the most significant threats for Kansas and our entire country, both now and in the years ahead. For decades, the federal government has neglected its duty to responsibly address this issue and its causes. Now, the consequences are serious; Kansas has experienced historic drought, flooding, and wildfire in recent years, hurting our communities and our economy — particularly our agricultural economy.
Climate change is an “all hands on deck” crisis and it will require the public and private sector to work together like never before — both in the United States and around the globe. In Kansas, we must continue to aggressively reduce carbon emissions, build on Kansas’ position as one of the nation’s top wind energy producers, expand our renewable energy portfolio to invest in more solar power, diversify our crops, and modernize our infrastructure to increase the resilience of our electric grid. Kansas is uniquely positioned to lead these innovations.
Would you vote in favor of spending bills that add to the deficit?
The Brownback-style tax plan Congress enacted in 2017 is on track to explode our national deficit to over $1 trillion and endanger Medicare and Social Security. I strongly believe in the core Kansas value of fiscal responsibility, and will bring that belief to the United States Senate.