On my website you will see my favorite quote about Leadership – front and center:
Leadership is knowing when to lead and when to follow – but it always requires action and results.
That’s what leaders do. They act. And that action brings about results. That’s what I’ve done time and time again in the 19th District.
It’s one thing for a leader to act when the issue is a popular one, but another for that leader to act when the issue he or she faces may not resonate so well in public.
Around the country, and especially here in Pittsburgh, we are seeing first-time drug offenders receive sentences much harsher than the crime should warrant. In particular, we have an arcane law on the books which strips the offender of his driver’s license – even if they were caught with drugs while NOT behind the wheel.
In alcohol related cases, the judge, at his or her discretion and after the offender displays a certain level of responsibility, can grant an occupational limited license (OLL) that allows the offender to drive to and from home and work.
However, this exception has not been granted in drug related offenses, even minor ones, which affects many people in the 19th District. Those who can no longer drive and who can’t afford expensive bus tickets lose almost all mobility. This has the potential to lead to that person losing his or her job and not being able to provide for himself or his family. All because of a minor offense.
That’s why I took legislative action – developing a bill that would bring parity to the practice of granting occupational limited licenses, and to allow judges to grant them for first-time drug offenders who pay their fines on time and display a certain level of responsibility after the offense.
Some might consider this being soft on crime – and that point of view couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not soft on crime – nor do I advocate for lessening of penalties on serious crimes. Rather, I seek to bring parity to the law and to allow first-time offenders who quickly realize their mistake and make up for it the ability to earn their licenses and their mobility back.
“Soft on crime” is an old way of thinking about this approach. This is smart on crime.
Leadership comes in many forms – but a true leader displays courage when fighting important issues – even when they might be seen as unpopular by some. In this case, it’s the right thing to do.