Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach, whose district includes part of Montgomery and Delaware counties, is considered one of the most progressive legislators in the state.
There isn’t a progressive cause, from gay marriage equality to lowering the cost of higher education, to banning shark fins, that he does not champion. Hardly a week goes by without him introducing a new bill.
One of causes close to him is the decriminalization of marijuana. He has introduced a bill to make it legal in the state.
"During the 1920s, we proved that Prohibition does not work," said Leach. "People should not be unemployable nor have their careers destroyed because they smoked weed. The status quo of marijuana remaining illegal is costing the state a billion dollars when you add up the lost tax revenue, wages and additional costs of law enforcement, prosecution and imprisonment."
Leach, who is running for Allyson Schwartz’s seat in Congress, has seen interest in his proposal from GOP lawmakers. He jokes that his bill to legalize marijuana would pass if his fellow legislators could vote by "secret ballot."
"One Senate member told me if the bill passed, he could finally smoke on his porch instead of in the house," said Leach.
With the cost of college education soaring, the progressive has proposed an innovative solution, which would make college affordable for Pennsylvania residents. His bill, Pay it Forward, Pay it Back, will allow students to borrow money for college from a fund created by taxing Marcellus Shale revenues.
The money will be interest free and will be paid back through a 4 percent garnishment of wages.
Leach argues, "With Pennsylvania having one of the lowest college graduation rates in the country, the state vitally needs an overhaul of its higher education system so its citizens will have the skills to work in this economy and jobs don’t need to be sent overseas."
Supporting LGBT rights
The colorful Leach, whose persona is the opposite of buttoned-down, does not just show his support for gay rights by voting in support of these issues in the Senate. Leach has been officiating at gay weddings since Montgomery County Register of WillsD. Bruce Hanes ruled them legal.
"I became a minister online in the Universalist Life Church to perform my brother’s wedding," he said. "The only religious question that they asked was: 'Do you have the money to pay our fee?' I have officiated at five gay weddings with two more planned."