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?
McCaskill: To my knowledge, the Kirwan Commission has not yet released its findings, and its process for issuing recommendations with regards to funding reforms has been delayed until later this year. As an early learning professional, I am keenly aware of the importance of investing in our children and their learning, I will continue to monitor closely and be prepared to respond appropriately on behalf of the Baltimore City and County kids.
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?
McCaskill: NO- Governor Hogan’s irresponsible decision to cancel the red line is one of the many reasons why its of vital importance that Maryland elect a new Governor with a responsible attitude towards ensuring that ALL of District 44’s residents have access to transportation which facilitates an easy commute to areas where more jobs are located. I believe that the State absolutely has the resources to meet our transportation needs, it is a simple matter of appropriate prioritization. This is one of the chief areas where I believe our District needs a more energetic voice in Annapolis advocating for the needs of West Baltimore and Western Baltimore County.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
McCaskill: Given the enforcement regime’s disproportionate impact on young men of color, I believe that the just thing to do is to legalize the possession of small amount of marijuana, provided that it is by adults and is not used in public or while operating a motor vehicle or while in the company of young people.
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?
McCaskill: I support raising the State’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030. I support finally passing a Joint Resolution through the Legislature to make clear the Assembly’s opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling i support legislation that would have banned the use of polystyrene (foam products) as they are terribly damaging to the Bay and its attendant fragile eco system.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
McCaskill: I support Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous’ Medicare for All plan as the best and fastest way to ensure vitally needed health care services are available to the broad spectrum of Marylanders in need.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
McCaskill: I believe that the State should be a partner in funding critical early intervention programs such as Safe Streets and CeaseFire Baltimore. I believe strongly that underwriting and increased resources for indigenous, community based violence prevention programming is perhaps THE single most important thing the State can do to stem the tide of violent crime in the streets of Baltimore.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
McCaskill: I believe that, currently, Maryland businesses mostly get a fair shake in Maryland. This is evidenced by the continued increase in the profitability across most business sectors. To the extent, however, that Maryland or Baltimore City or County have business regulations that are overly restrictive or redundant or potentially conflicting- I believe that it is our responsibility, as lawmakers , to make that right.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
McCaskill: I would support an independent body, but only in concert with neighboring states that lean as heavily Republican as Maryland does Democratic- Otherwise- for Maryland to enter into a non partisan process as States like West Virginia and Ohio continue to gerrymander their Congressional Districts in favor of Republicans amounts to unilateral disarmament on the part of Democrats and as a proud Democrat, I strongly feel that would be a mistake.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
McCaskill: NO- I believe that the LEOBR tilts too heavily towards protecting the right of police officers at the expense of the community who has seen far too many instances of police misconduct in its midst. My district contains one of the epicenters of the unrest following the tragic death of Freddie Gray- for policing to work in communities across the 44th, we MUST do all we can to ensure a greater level of community connection with the vital function of law enforcement- disproportionate measures like LEOBR work to erode that level of trust and connection- while there are many improvements I would look forward to considering- we should immediately start by placing civilians on review boards in Baltimore City.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
McCaskill: I believe that first and foremost- we must commit to the resources to provide treatment on demand for Marylanders suffering under the weight of addiction who make the courageous choice to finally get well. In addition, I believe that increased resources for working with young people to prevent them ever starting down the path that leads to addiction is also a critical piece of the puzzle.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
McCaskill: There are numerous ways but we can start with immediately passing the Fight for $15 bill, which would gradually raise the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 hour- while its not nearly enough as the rise in the minimum wage has fallen woefully behind the cost of living index, it is a modest start on the journey towards ensuring the dignity of work and we must get started NOW ! In addition, as a Union member, I have seen first hand the power of collective bargaining to enhance the lives of represented workers and ensure greater pay and fairness in the work place. As a legislator, I would do all I could to ensure that all Marylanders have the same right, should they choose, that I did- to join a Union and join together with fellow workers to negotiate pay and benefits with a common employer.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
McCaskill: No- I believe there is much that we can do to facilitate Marylanders’ access to their own government. First and foremost- we should lead by example in Annapolis and allow for the video taping of floor sessions and committee voting sessions where the vast majority of the real work gets done.