Do you support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education? Are you committed to funding associated reforms, and if so, how?
Lysczek: Yes, I support the findings of the Kirwan Commission. Children are our future-we should be investing in education and the funding that was to be for education, should be lock-boxed and used specifically for education.
Is Maryland’s transportation spending appropriately balanced between roads and transit? Does the state have the resources to meet its transportation needs? With the cancellation of the Red Line and the advent of BaltimoreLink, is the Baltimore region adequately served by transit?
Lysczek: I can’t speak to the balance of transportation spending, as we have little public transit options in Western Maryland. Our part of the state mainly requires funding for the maintenance of roads and infrastructure.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Lysczek: I do support legalization, given the outstanding reports out of Colorado. Legalization has done wonders for their economy, expanded business growth in other industries, reduced opiate prescriptions, and they’ve seen no increase in crime. Additionally, multiple polls show widespread public support of legalization. The people have spoken and they believe it’s time to end cannabis prohibition. Politicians that don’t support legalization are simply not listening to the majority of their constituents.
At a time when the federal government’s commitment to Chesapeake Bay restoration is questionable, what new steps should Maryland take to protect this resource?
Lysczek: Maryland needs to stick to its existing environmental policies. Some argue that environmental regulations are bad for business. Personally, I think shifting regulations with each election is even worse-because businesses won’t be able to keep up with the most up-to-date regulations. As a state, we need to look to the future, and that involves protecting our environment. It’s possible for us to continuing protecting the environmental resources that make our state great and encourage business growth, simultaneously.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Lysczek: Healthcare is one of the biggest spending priorities in our state, currently. In order to reduce healthcare spending, long-term, we need to focus on public health education. Most Americans are not ‘health literate,’ and public health education can solve that problem. With a more educated public, we’ll be able to focus on preventative care, ideally reducing healthcare costs down the road.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Lysczek: Violence is an epidemic, and we need to treat it as such. Doctors have succeeded in containing and responding to viral outbreaks in third world countries with very little resources. The same public health methods used to contain TB, SARS, AIDS, etc. can be applied to violence. In general, we’ve got to 1. Interrupt the ‘transmission’ by detecting & finding first cases (trained social workers can help with this step) 2. Then we try to prevent further spread with outreach workers in violent neighborhoods and communities and 3. We simultaneously engage in public education and community activities designed to shift cultural norms & create a ‘group immunity’ to violence, in a manner of speaking. This methodology has been implemented as a response to violence in places like Chicago, New York, even South America and shown efficacy .
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Lysczek: Maryland is a tough climate for businesses, partly due to its geography. I live in the narrowest part of the state-you can travel 3 miles and be in PA, MD, or WV. Travel 40 miles and you’re in VA. That creates a very competitive business environment. Many in Western MD are concerned that our state leads businesses to re-locate to adjacent states in favor of less regulation/taxation. In our region, we need workforce development and resources for small business owners. It would also be helpful to gather regional data (as opposed to state-wide data) that can be presented to larger employers how/why Western Maryland is a great place to live, work, and own a business (a business attraction package).
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Lysczek: Yes, gerrymandering is a problem that hurts our democracy. Politicians shouldn’t be drawing their own lines (we see where that has gotten us).
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Lysczek: One of the key issues I see with the LEOBR is the reliance on polygraph examinations. Polygraphs are permitted (and can be performed without a lawyer present) even though the State does not consider such exams to be admissible evidence in criminal trials. Science does not back-up the use of polygraphs and continuing to use this obsolete discovery method has long-term negative effects on police officers. A failing polygraph can follow an officer throughout their career, even if the ‘failed’ questions were benign. It impedes their ability to testify and jeopardizes cases.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Lysczek: My answer here is relatively similar to my answer to Question 12. The opioid crisis is an epidemic, and there are effective methods for responding to an epidemic. We’ve got to help those actively struggling with addiction, deploy intervention specialists in neighborhoods where it is spreading rapidly, and continue with our public education efforts. Also, studies have shown medical cannabis to have a significant effect on reducing opiate reliance. We should actively research the potential for an expansion of our medical cannabis program as yet another method of responding to this crisis. Long term, however, we need to re-evaluate the way we look at mental health. Mental health needs to be viewed (and treated as) an essential component of physical health. Insurance companies need to cover mental health and simple mental health checkups need to be included in everyone’s healthcare regimen. I understand this is a broad sweeping change, which won’t happen overnight.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Lysczek: Tough question: there isn’t an easy fix. Our economy has changed, significantly. Most of the old manufacturing sector, which was a large employer for entry-level people, is gone. Personally, I don’t think it’s coming back. I think we’ve shifted into a new economic era. Bottom line, we need to 1. Train people for jobs that exist in our current economy and 2. Encourage entrepreneurship/self-employment. That’s about the only way an individual can take ‘control’ over their income. This goes hand-in-hand with changing the business climate in Maryland (see Answer 13).
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Lysczek: Technically, those laws permit some ‘oversight,’ but I think what most citizens are concerned with is the ability to provide input and feedback (and have their concerns addressed). This goes beyond mere oversight, obviously. I think the laws are sufficient, however. It is (and should be) up to the individual government bodies whether and how they will consider citizen feedback.