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?
Yates: The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education is a work in progress but whatever action that can be taken to reverse the steady decline in US student achievements should be supported both at the state level and at the county level. We should fund associated reforms that appropriately match long term improvements.
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?
Yates: A sizable amount of resources should reflect the fact that roughly 90% of transportation in Maryland uses the vast network of highways and roads. Our current budget does not take this into consideration. According to Maryland’s 2017 Operating Budget Allowance by Mode (Total Spending: $1.9 Billion), the Transit Administration receives 41 % of the budget while the State Highway Administration receives only 14%. Since Maryland commuter time is ranked as the longest (worst) in the nation according to the US Census Bureau, we need to stop ignoring this problem. Despite the transportation revenue increases passed in 2013, Maryland’s ability to fund its transportation programs falls well short of identified needs. The impact on Baltimore hurts both commuter travel and transit.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Yates: In an atmosphere of recanting the evils of smoking over the last 60 years, it seems arguably wrong-headed to unleash recreational use of marijuana as a healthy advancement to society.
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?
Yates: Chesapeake Bay restoration is not the sole domain of Maryland. In what should be a state consortium to achieve proper stewardship of our national resource, Maryland should take the lead and advocate for a cooperative effort with adjoining states to include promoting public awareness and participation in the restoration and protection of the water quality and aquatic and land resources of the Chesapeake Bay region.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Yates: Lowering the price of health care would insure the broadest access for the public to acquire and sustain health coverage in Maryland. Currently there are only two providers in support of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Care First and Kaiser Permanente. Greater competition would greatly slash costs if there were more health care providers in Maryland. Allowing purchase of insurance across state lines would add a major boost in this direction. At the root of the problem is the soaring cost for insurance plans purchased on the individual market, which has skyrocketed, increasing by 10 to 50 percent each year. Without state intervention, health insurance premiums would rise by so much next year that it would cause the Affordable Care Act in Maryland to implode. Although lawmakers in the General Assembly are working quickly to avert the crisis by agreeing on a new $380 million tax to stabilize the individual insurance market, a long range fix is needed. Governor Hogan is creating a negotiating team to work with a group of Democratic leaders to find a solution. We need to support this as it is the only viable effort in sight.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Yates: The City of Baltimore has the best overview and authority to address violent crime. The state should be in a defensible position for the citizens of Baltimore should the city request assistance.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Yates: In 2017, Maryland had the best year for business in 15 years and the best year for job growth in a decade according to Governor Hogan. Maryland went from losing 100,000 jobs to gaining more than 110,000 jobs and ranked fourth among 50 states for entrepreneurial business growth. The state is on the right track to foster additional business growth that would truly extend to the family oriented market.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Yates: Redistricting is the process by which new congressional and legislative district boundaries are drawn. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the United States Census. The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity. In Maryland, the primary authority to draw both congressional and state legislative district lines rests with the state legislature. I support Governor Hogan’s effort to create a non-partisan, independent commission to draw districts that more fairly represent the community’s interests within a geographic area. Even though his bill was killed last year, it should be seen as viable alternative over previous efforts to redistrict the state.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Yates: The Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights is intended to balance protection for police and the public. As of April 2015, Maryland passed legislation to codify their own variations of this Bill of Rights. Since the Bill provides extra rights to the police not afforded to the public a new review should be undertaken.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Yates: The strategy as developed by Governor Hogan in establishing the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force has the hallmarks of effectively addressing a Maryland health crisis. Heroin and Opioid drug dependency surged in Maryland over the last decade, resulting in an urgent and growing public health threat affecting all demographics and geographical settings in Maryland. This strategy will help focus state and community resources to irradiate this threat.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Yates: When a street cleaner earns the same wages as a brain surgeon than the inequality is in the services rendered. Some jobs have more value than others.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Yates: As the Vice-Chair of the DC Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable Working Group (a Maryland movement dedicated to resolving excessive aircraft noise pollution), I can speak with first hand knowledge that the Public Information Act and conducting open meetings more than adequately ensures Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government.