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?
Jones: As one of eight Legislative Members serving on the Commission, I support the Commission’s preliminary recommendations and look forward to the completion of our work prior to the end of this calendar year.. I am committed to funding the associated reforms through our work during the 2018 interim to develop greater specificity for each of our recommendations in order to “cost out” their fiscal impact. As a result, we will be in a better position to make recommendations for adequate funding in our final 2018 report.
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?
Jones: It is my opinion at the present time, Maryland’s transportation spending is not appropriately balanced between roads and transit. Legislation that passed during the 2018 Legislative Session will go a long way in addressing the resources needed. The closure of the Baltimore Metro Subway in February of this year brought attention to the Maryland Transit Authority Operating Budget which was not increased annually to keep up with inflation. House Bill 372 -Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act which requires the MTA’s Operating Budget to grow at least 4.4%(year over year) for fiscal years 2020-2022, requires a supplemental appropriation of $29.1 million in fiscal years 2020-2022 for the capital needs of the MTA. MTA is also required to develop the Central Maryland Regional Transit Plan to meet the needs of it’s “core service area”(those jurisdictions that are served by light rail, metro, or fixed bus route service) by October 1, 2020.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Jones: I am personally opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
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?
Jones: We should continue to work with our Federal Partners to press the importance of the resoration as well as be in dialog with the six other states who along with Maryland signed on to the Chesapeake Bay Program in order to protect this valuable resource.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Jones: The Maryland House of Delegates already took steps by forming an Affordable Care Act Workgroup to address the issue of the rising cost of care due to insurance market uncertainty and the individual mandate repeal by Congress. There were two key pieces of Legislation passed this Legislative Session to address the two issues: HB1795-Maryland Health Benefit Exchange -Establishment of a Reinsurance Program- Will lower premiums in the individual market by seeking a Federal waiver for flexibility to use Federal funds to help create a state-run reinsurance program. HB1782-Health Insurance-Individual Market Stablization(Maryland Health Care Access Act of 2018)- Will authorize the State to collect 2.75%($380 million) in suspended federal fees from insurance companies to pay for a state reinsurance pool. It also requires a study to explore further long-term solutions for the insurance industry and stabilize individual market rates.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Jones: The state’s role would be to provide resources to deter an individual from getting to a place where violent crime would even be a way of life. Starting early in a child’s life with early childcare education, where a child can learn that he or she is important and that learning is the way to be a success in life. The state’s role is to not make guns so easy to purchase for those who use them for the sole purpose to kill another person and to keep repeat offenders off the street. The state’s role is to work in concert with the City in addressing this violent epidemic.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Jones: I would characterize Maryland’s business climate as good for those doing well economically, not as good for those who are not. The state has and can foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs by expanding access to education, including college and career technology programs, by giving incentives to small businesses to provide their low- income workers with paid sick leave, by increasing the childcare subsidy rates to provide higher-quality and lower cost child care to low-income families, by providing wrap- around services in the community where the family lives and/or works to name a few.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Jones: Yes, if the body is truly non-partisan and truly independent.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Jones: I do not feel the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balances protections for police and the public. I feel it needs to be reviewed to determine if it adequately addresses the changes that law enforcement face today from pre Freddie Gray,usage of body cameras as well as other 21st Century Law Enforcement technology. Just as there are Police Citizens Academies to enlighten the public on what Police Officers go through on their jobs and their type of training, there should be a similar vehicle for the Police Officers to go through from the Community’s perspective.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Jones: The House through HB 1092-Behavorial Health Crisis Response Grant Program will establish a competitive grant program that awards funding to local behavioral health organizations to expand capabilities of crisis reponse programs and services. These programs and services include: mobile crisis teams, 24⁄7 walk-in services, crisis residential beds as well as other crisis reponse programs. I also feel that Doctors need to be cognizant of the type of prescriptions that they write for pain for their patients or at a clinic or at an emergency room that is an opioid when something else less addicting could be prescribed for the pain.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Jones: Although Maryland is considered the most wealthiest state in the Nation, Baltimore City has the highest level of income inequality, followed by Talbot and Worcester Counties. The State should really do an assessment of what needs to be done and what can be done in the highest level of income inequality areas. Look at what other states have done to close the gap. Think outside of the box, ask the people living in those areas, what they think, what they feel needs to be done to close the gap.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Jones: It depends on the perspective of the individual. Some individuals request information because they can. Others may not be aware that they can get information from the State or what they can ask for.