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?
Dougherty: I support the Kirwan Commission recommendations and want to focus on New Teacher Recruitment to replace retiring teachers; K-8 Literacy Programs that help Literacy Specialist get/keep children on grade level; funding for Pre-K expansion; and, grants to address performance of schools in high poverty areas. The use of existing funds from gambling revenue is the best place to start. The creation of the so-called “lock box” for the Education Trust Fund proves many elected officials cannot be trusted. Marylanders were promised the funds from gambling would be added to education funding, but the funds were used to balance other budget holes. I will support the “lock box” funding as long as the formula is reviewed every two years.
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?
Dougherty: Transportation funding is a juggling act that always leaves someone complaining. The Governor and legislature have not dedicated enough funding for road projects and mass-transit expansion. In Frederick County, our priority is the expansion of the I-270 Corridor, in order for us to connect to employment hubs in Montgomery County and DC. We have been waiting more than 20 years for the widening project and have no draft plans for expanded mass transit (Metro) to Frederick. Expansion of mass transit, either in Baltimore or DC suburbs, pays for itself in air quality improvement, less congestion, and quality of life. Currently, no jurisdiction is adequately served by transit. We need more help from our federal partners since Maryland continues to be a fast-growing state.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Dougherty: Yes. We have effectively created a “legal” use of marijuana when the State decriminalized its use in small quantities. Marylanders support the legalization of recreational use and we can take advantage of the economic and social benefits at the same time. If we legalize marijuana, we can regulate it for safety; tax it to benefit education, health care, and transportation; reduce police costs of enforcement; and reduce the costs to the courts and jails. We can look at the best practices of other states to avoid mistakes of the transition from “de-criminalized” to “legal.”
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?
Dougherty: As a former mayor, I know the local cost of storm water management is budget-busting. Maryland Department of the Environment is helpful with making grants/loans available, as a State Senator, I will push for funds to remain available to local governments. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has introduced Environmental Impact Bonds to help local governments pay for local projects that are effective and proven to improve the green infrastructure in Maryland. I will introduce a professional internship program for recent graduates with degrees in forestry, environmental studies, etc. to manage, protect and maintain the Frederick Watershed and Monocacy River. Once the model is proven, we can expand it to target other regions.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Dougherty: We should continue to support Maryland Health Connection with four target audiences: Basic Health Care for Individuals and Families; Veteran Care; Aging and Senior Populations; and Special Needs (ranging from chronic illnesses to Alzheimers). By understanding the cost of no/inadequate care,the legislature can focus its work on funding streams and minimizing legislative red tape that hampers the health care delivery system. By performing financial analysis on the impacts of no/inadequate care, we can better invest in solutions for health care.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Dougherty: The State should not be interfering in the operation of local government operations unless requested by the Mayor/Council or required by Consent Orders. The State can help all Marylanders by addressing the expansion of opioids/heroin, human trafficking, and gang violence. What municipalities need is a source of funding for police training, closed circuit tv cameras, and Drug Court options that minimize the demands on the Courts.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Dougherty: Businesses come to Maryland because of the strong economy, they do not come because we are free of red tape. I am a small business owner, some of the requirements are outdated, tedious, and unnecessary. On the up side, we are a relatively safe, clean, and successful state with many benefits: a well-regarded educational system, adequate public transit, good health care options, varied entertainment/recreational options. The State should continue to use its economic development tools to focus on strong jobs in life sciences, business services, and hospitality. Now, the State is bundling a multi-billion dollar offer for Amazon, which has the promise of creating jobs with six-figure salaries. In addition, the State should continue to support and expand home-ownership tools to assist young people, public-sector employees, and veterans to buy homes in Maryland.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Dougherty: Yes. The “tribal” nature of today’s politics has been detrimental to our system and we have to take steps to repair it. By putting the decision into the hands of residents, it will still be political, but the ability to micro-target will be severely limited.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Dougherty: The LEOBR is a good tool to protect police officers under investigation, but it has not been updated to address public concerns. I support more opportunities for public review - a Civilian Review Board - to improve oversight and trust.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Dougherty: It’s a health crisis that has a crime component. We have put so much of the burden on police officers and first responders that we have been slow to develop adequate counseling and residential care facilities. My focus will be on creating a 24-7 drop-in center in Frederick as a pilot program for a professional internship opportunity. We will recruit recent graduates with degrees in counseling, social work, etc. to operate the center under the supervision of the Health Department, State’s Attorney Office, and local health care providers. It will serve a double purpose - offering professional development opportunities for young professionals and providing a safe, counseling place for recovering addicts.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Dougherty: While the State cannot require businesses to pay more than the minimum wage or provide more paid time off, it can make sure that State employees are fairly compensated with adequate, competitive benefits. State contractors must also be held to a standard of fair pay and benefits so that we reward companies that value their employees and add to the economic strength of the state.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Dougherty: The burden of proving a violation of Maryland Open Meetings’ Act and sifting through the requirements of the Public Information Act do not favor transparency and openness. The Public Information Act is designed to provide the public an opportunity to see the documents used by public officials in their decision-making, but often, the public does not know exactly what to request. Further, the Act is expensive, giving the false impression that the cost to produce documents is high. In fact, by transmitting materials electronically, makes the cost negligible. Finally, the timing of responses from the government allow extended time to pass, sometimes preventing the public from being able to make informed objections to public decisions.