Amy Blank

Amy Blank
  • Democrat
  • Age: 60
  • Residence: Owings Mills

About Amy Blank

Education

  • Secondary Education, Milford Mill High School, Baltimore, MD. - Undergraduate Education, B.A. in Community Service Administration, Metropolitan State College, Denver, CO.

Background

1980 - President Carter’s White House Conference on Families, youngest Delegate appointed by a Governor. 1986- Barbara Mikulski’s Historic US Senate race, Director of Volunteers. 1987- Planned Parenthood of MD, Public and Government Relations. 1990- Government Affairs Director for the Associated; Baltimore Jewish Council. 1990- Strategist for Question 6 Choice referendum, codifying Roe V. Wade in Maryland’s Constitution. 1991- Public Policy Director at Advocates for Children and Youth. 1995- Directed the University of Maryland- College Park Scholars Advocates for Children Program. 1999- Director of Volunteers for Martin O’Malley’s Mayoral Campaign. 2000- Trained Assistant Secretaries of Health to advocate for reproductive health care in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa for JHU Center for Communication Programs. 2000- Developed communications strategies for Gacaca, the Rwandan community tribunals set up to address the crimes against humanity committed during the genocide. 2008- Managed the Baltimore Regional office for Obama’s Presidential Campaign. 2012- Served on the Marriage Equality campaign as a Strategist. 2016- Managed the Baltimore Regional office for Hillary’s Presidential Campaign. 2017- Declared candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates for District 11.

Questionnaire

1
Kirwan
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?
Blank: I support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, which include enrichment for children in child care, preschool and kindergarten; tuition remission for teacher education and career training, rigorous academic preparation for teaching professionals and the freedom and resources for teachers to create curriculum that addresses the learning styles of every student. The teaching profession must be elevated through higher salaries and benefits to be commensurate with other professionals with comparable training and education, to attract and retain outstanding teachers in our state. I am committed to funding these strategies by “lockboxing” gaming revenues and dedicating a portion of stadium revenues to education. If marijuana is legalized, all of those revenues should also be dedicated to education. Additionally, out-of-state online retail purchases should be taxed for educational purposes.
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2
Transportation
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?
Blank: Transportation spending needs to reflect current and future transit needs, taking into consideration the impact on the environment of different modes, alleviating commuter times, and the differing needs of rural and urban communities. A cost-benefit analysis for competing solutions must also take into account Maryland’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 2020, as well as the aging infrastructure of roads, bridges and rails. In this analysis, Baltimore City would appear to be best served by a renewed commitment to building the Red Line, with a concomitant effort to secure the federal and regional funding necessary to accomplish such a project. The safety of Maryland’s bridges and rails must take the highest priority in infrastructure spending, and new road construction must be balanced with improvements to mass transit, so that the greatest numbers of citizens will benefit.
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3
Marijuana
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Blank: Too many citizens, especially in the African American and rural communities, have been harmed because they have a criminal record due to drug use. However, in the states where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized, the process has been rushed—criminal penalties have been removed without the necessary regulatory process to insure that usage is safe for the user as well as the general public. There are currently no uniform standards for measuring doses; setting limits for intoxicated driving or operation of boats or heavy machinery; or determining the “half life” for different methods of ingestion, including edibles. Additionally, research is incomplete for early use by adolescents, whose brains are still developing, and the effects of long term use in adults on motivation, memory, acquisition of new knowledge, impulse control, depression, and the onset of dementia. Until standards are agreed upon for dosages, methods for measuring intoxication levels are developed, and more research is done, decriminalization is a more responsible approach than legalization, to reduce the mass incarceration of vulnerable communities and remove the stigma of drug use. The ultimate goal of legalization, if that is the consensus, should be a staged process that only takes place after more of these safeguards are in place.
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4
Chesapeake Bay
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?
Blank: The Chesapeake Bay is a one of our state’s natural treasures and must be protected for future generations to enjoy. I believe that we need to be more proactive instead of reactive by focusing on limiting pollution at the source. The overabundance of chicken manure on the Eastern Shore should be distributed to farms around the state to alleviate runoff of nitrates while encouraging transition to organic farming techniques. The remaining manure must be placed in properly-lined landfills to prevent the pollutants from getting into the bay. I also support requiring that all new homes built with septic systems include state of the art nitrogen pollution removal systems. Additionally, any older houses that have to replace their septic systems should be subject to the same requirement. These measures will reduce nitrogen pollution into streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
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5
Health Care
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Blank: Preventative healthcare and an investment in health maintenance on the front end, saves money on expensive emergency room visits and chronic disease management on the back end. Providing cradle to grave health care to all Maryland residents, including vision, dental, mental health, and the full range of reproductive health services, ensures equitable treatment for our entire society. To accomplish this, the state of Maryland should establish Medicare For All based on the current model that allows for people to buy a supplemental policy to cover additional costs. We should also expand Medicaid to include all low income and disabled people who are not currently covered. We should recognize and reimburse integrated health care modalities, as well. To control costs, I support establishing a reinsurance pool to cover the sickest patients and lower premiums for everyone else, a measure which has been endorsed by the state’s largest insurer, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. We should also request federal help to support the long term health of these reinsurance funds. Because the federal mandate expires in 2019, it is also essential to pass a state mandate in 2019–funds originally intended as a penalty would be able to applied to the mandate. Finally, eliminate price gouging by regulating name brand drugs, in addition to generics, and investigate further saving on prescription drugs through applying statewide procurement practices.
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6
Crime
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Blank: The epidemic of violent crime is a symptom of the pervasive social and economic inequities that have gone unaddressed for centuries. This kind of generational deprivation requires a holistic response. We need to insure a good education and a pathway to family-sustaining jobs to change the course for the next generation. This includes funding for afternoon, weekend and summer recreational, cultural, and employment opportunities for youth, as well as academic enrichment. Prevention and early intervention of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect will prevent future violent behavior. Wraparound social services that address housing, health, addiction, and employment will help people achieve their full potential. The decriminalization and legalization of marijuana will reduce gang violence by breaking up drug cartels. I also support enhanced gun safety laws, including more thorough background checks, lengthier waiting period, mandatory gun safety education for gun owners, and liability insurance, as ways to keep more guns out of the hands of people who will potentially harm themselves and others.
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7
Business Climate
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Blank: In 1996, I lobbied for the original legislation allowing for 2% of the pension fund to be used for venture capital, which historically has provided higher returns to the pension fund than traditional investments. This has been a very successful program for stimulating innovative entrepreneurship, targeted at students who were leaving the state for a more business-friendly climate. This proven program for retaining talent instate should be expanded from 2% to 10% to continue our investment in the next generation of innovators who will plant roots here and create high-income, sustainable, family-supporting jobs in their communities. The state also needs to focus on public-private-nonprofit partnerships between public school systems and potential employers, to identify current and future sustainable jobs and careers that will provide opportunities for entrepreneurship, vocational training in the trades, and apprenticeships, that lead to family supporting jobs. This reduces the need for expensive out-of-state recruitment, lengthy training, and relocation costs that are currently incurred by potential employers searching for skilled employees. Maryland is strategically positioned to expand its cybertech and biotech industries throughout the state, drawing on the obvious strengths of our university and medical systems, and our proximity to major government agencies like NASA and Goddard Space Center, to attract new businesses in this sector to our state.
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8
Redistricting
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Blank: A non-partisan, independent commission should be established to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census. It should respect the integrity of established communities, reflecting the cultural, religious and ethnic composition of the residents.
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9
LEOBR
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Blank: I believe that we need to demonstrate impartiality and transparency in law enforcement. Law enforcement officers are entitled to Constitutional due process, but they should not be immune from consequences for criminal conduct performed in their official capacity. I support the formation of statewide civilian review boards that give civilian oversight over police actions.
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10
Opioids
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Blank: Opioid use should be viewed as a public health problem, not a crime. A multi-pronged approach similar to the response to the AIDS crisis should include: a public health campaign to reduce the stigma of opioid use, decriminalization, safe sites for self-administration, and free Narcan distribution and training. To begin to eliminate the black market, opioids should be legally prescribed and regulated for current addicts, coordinated with wrap around services for treatment, job training, housing, and social work. Holistic approaches, such as acupuncture (employed by Penn North, for example), should be incorporated into this public health model. Hospital emergency triage should include a unit for transitioning opioid patients into treatment, and urgent care facilities should have similar protocols. At the same time, criminal penalties for opioid trafficking and exploitation should be strengthened and enforced.
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11
Income inequality
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Blank: I believe the state has the ability to better facilitate economic growth and thus close income disparities, by setting a higher standard of pay, supporting education institutions at varying levels, and strengthening safety net programs such as Medicaid/Medicare, SNAP, EITC and CTC. I support raising the minimum wage to $15/hour. All employees should earn living-wages that meet the needs of themselves and their families and these wages should be indexed annually to keep pace with the cost of living by jurisdiction. I also believe that education is key to alleviating income inequality gaps, and that the state can provide a better education for all young Marylanders. I served as the lobbyist for Advocates for Children and Youth, and from that experience I became an advocate of universal Pre-Kindergarten and instructional enrichment for children in child care. I also hope to expand on this early childhood education base by making community colleges tuition free, providing interest free loans for public 4-year education, and tuition remission for teaching professionals within the state. We need to provide transit to help people reach potential jobs, and develop jobs within communities.
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12
Transparency
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Blank: We need to use better methods for publicizing open meetings, such as aggressive use of social media and diligent posting on agency websites. Penalties for violations of the Open Meetings Act need to be strengthened, including fines, and enforced. Open meetings should be streamed live and minutes should be posted within 3 days on the agency’s website and video and minutes should archived for future reference.
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