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?
Kaiser: Every child deserves a high quality education, no matter their zip code. I am committed to all the preliminary findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (aka Kirwan Commission), including: improving pre-Kindergarten education, supporting teachers, getting the best and brightest into our classrooms, providing more support for struggling learners, and keeping our schools safe. As Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, I play a key role in guiding K-12 education policy, and I also serve on the Kirwan Commission. Given that a budget is a reflection of our values and priorities, and given that education is our #1 priority, we must increase education funding in order to meet the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.
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?
Kaiser: I support a robust public transportation system with dedicated funding. I also believe that road improvements, and in some cases, new roads are needed to ensure a comprehensive transportation infrastructure. Our state’s economy may be impeded in the future if we do not make better progress in transit-oriented development and committing to other infrastructure improvements.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Kaiser: I voted in favor of medical marijuana. I also voted in favor of decriminalizing possession of small amounts marijuana. I remain open, but not committed, to voting for legalization in the future after we learn and analyze the experiences from Colorado and Washington State.
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?
Kaiser: Offshore drilling, suburban sprawl and road congestion are major problems Maryland must continue to address. We must invest in and protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the crown jewel of our state. Given my strong environmental record, I have been endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. The state must step-up our commitment to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Kaiser: As a member of the House of Delegates, I have a responsibility to my 126,000 constituents to increase access to high quality health care, help fight the rising cost of prescriptions, help address the opioid crisis, and seek better mental health solutions.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Kaiser: The state needs to work with the leadership and police in Baltimore in developing the appropriate strategies. Furthermore, the state needs to increase funds for these efforts.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Kaiser: The state’s business climate is good, but could always be better. Businesses come to Maryland because of our educated workforce, our research universities and excellent K-12 education system. In fact, Amazon’s interest in locating in Montgomery County is a reflection of how attractive Maryland is to businesses. I was the primary sponsor of legislation this past session (the Single Sales Factor Apportionment bill) that is designed to reward Maryland based businesses that have invested in our citizens and by building infrastructure.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Kaiser: I support a fair equitable method of ensuring proper representation of Congressional and legislative districts. Congressional and legislative districts should not be drawn in a partisan manner. Gerrymandering is an impairment to full representative democracy.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Kaiser: Police officers are not different from people in other professions, with mostly good actors and a few bad actors. We need policies that balance the need to punish bad actors while protecting the rights of everyone else.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Kaiser: The state made strides in 2017 and stepped it up further in 2018. This year we established a competitive grant program that awards funding to local behavioral health organizations to expand capabilities of crisis response programs and services. We also passed legislation to require pharmaceutical drug companies to file reports of suspicious orders to the Attorney General’s office. We must stay vigilant in dealing with the crisis and provide support to those addicted to opioids.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Kaiser: The state can deal with income inequality from many angles. First and foremost, we must provide all kids with an adequate education that leads all students to being career and college ready. Second, we need policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit which provides financial incentives to the working poor. Finally, we must ensure that pay equity is the reality for women and minorities.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Kaiser: Nothing matters more than citizens involvement in government. Everyone needs to register to vote, educate themselves about the candidates and the issues, and then must ultimately vote in every election. Citizens also have the opportunity to testify in Annapolis and be a part of the legislative process. Accordingly, every public body must abide by the open meeting laws.