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?
Queen: Yes, I support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwin Commission). The commission’s recommendations are data-informed and comprehensive. Therefore, I supported HB 1415 which starts implementation of Kirwan Commission recommendations to improve teacher recruitment, greater resources for low-income schools, greater options for career technical education. The Casino Lockbox bill would dedicate casino money to supplement K-12 educational initiatives.
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?
Queen: I support a robust and well-connected mass transportation system which is important to address access to employment; and reduce traffic congestion. A comprehensive State transit plan is needed that incorporates assessing funding and infrastructure needs from a regional perspective. As a year of implementation approaches, assessing the effectiveness of the BaltimoreLink overhaul is warranted, especially with connectivity between bus-to-rail. To address the funding needs for transportation efforts, during the 2018 Legislative Session, HB 372 passed which allocates $178 million to the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) over the next three years to be used for the Baltimore Metro Subway system or other MTA systems (MARC commuter trains or commuter buses). Furthermore, the MTA is required to conduct a comprehensive assessment of all of its capital assets, such as Baltimore buses, MARC locomotives, and the tracks and cars of its Metro and light rail systems. The outcome will help highlight the resources needed to meet the State’s transportation needs.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Queen: Not yet. While I support efforts to decrimalize small amount of marijuana for personal use and medical marijuana usage, before enacting State legislation to allow recreational marijuana, the State needs to ensure the medical marijuana industry in fully functional with leveling-the-playing field for access to the industry; and fostering reasonable competition with price stabilization for patients. Until the federal government moves to legalize medical marijuana, state tax policy for business owners is hampered. Consequently, taxing and regulation of recreational marijuana will be problematic. Once Maryland gets medical marijuana operation, regulation, and taxing under control, efforts to move towards recreational use of marijuana can be explored.
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?
Queen: In response to a President Trump Administration that is implementing regressive environmental policy, I supported efforts by the Maryland General Assembly to require the Governor to join the U.S. Climate Alliance of states committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission and not withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative without approval from the State Legislature. To protect Maryland’s waters and coastline businesses,I supported legislation to establish a liability for an entity that causes an oil or gas spill while engaged in offshore drilling activity. The agriculture sector in my District understands that cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay is an important priority for the State. I champion bay clean-up and maintenance efforts including the Stormwater Management program to reduce erosion and sediment control, implementation of cover crops and use of manure transported from the Eastern Shore. Future legislative efforts are needed to incentivize greater use of technology such as software applications by Monsanto that help farmers have sustainable food growth while protecting nature resources that can survive environmental changes; this can be achieved with subsidies, grants, or tax-breaks that enable more farmers to utilize decision-support systems that adhere to our State’s environmental objectives, including reporting requirements.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Queen: Despite the Trump Administration’s sabotage of Obamacare, Maryland ranks among the top of all states in new-enrollees, young people signing up for coverage, and lowest number of uninsured. However, more efforts are needed to increase access to quality health care for all Marylanders. I support legislation to keep insurance costs down, to stabilize rates, and provide more health provider choices. For the 2018 Session, I supported Reinsurance Program (HB 1795) which allows insurance companies to subsidize the cost of care for high-risk individual market enrollees; and Health Care Access Program (HB1782) allows collection of suspended federal fees; and requires a study to explore long-term options to stabilize individual market rates.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Queen: The state should view this pervasive culture of violence, as a health issue; and implement a multi-facet approach with addressing this disease using data-driven, best practices that focus on causes, acute and long-term treatment, and prevention of violent crimes. In the 2018 Legislative Session, the state has started some progressive efforts to address gun violence in Baltimore, but more efforts are needed. The state should foster via incentives a collaborative effort involving academia, medical professionals, business, law enforcement, Corrections, Judiciary, and community advocates to develop a comprehensive strategic approach to addressing violent crime in Baltimore, and throughout the state.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Queen: Maryland’s is a great place for business with its educated workforce and educational institutions capable of providing training and certifications to realign employee skills to business needs; more collaboration between business, government, and schools is needed to align goals. Maryland has a good transportation infrastructure to facilitate access a workplace. With more comprehensive transportation plans and dedicated funding to implement, access to quality jobs is improved for more working families. With efforts to improve public education, increase affordable housing, increase workforce development, provide recreational options, and reduce crime, Maryland is a more attractive place to live than neighboring states.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Queen: Yes, I support a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census. Unfortunately, issues with redistricting has put Maryland in the national spotlight; and efforts to remedy apparent issues aren’t forthcoming. Due to the national implication of redistricting results, I support a regional approach involving multiple states that will use the same independent body to redraw the boundaries.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Queen: The intent of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) is to provide a uniformed level of due process for Law Enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing which provides reasonable protections for law enforcement without avoiding appropriate discipline and limiting transparency to the public. Until Law Enforcement works more aggressively to self-discipline itself to rid its ranks of “bad apples” and proactively works to restore public trust in Baltimore and others were community trust is erroded, there will always be public outrage about too much police protection under LEOBR when allegations of police misconduct surface. In such cases, efforts are needed to increase transparency and civilian oversight.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Queen: For the 2018 Legislative Session, efforts continue to address the opioid overdose crisis including - a behavioral health crisis response grant program that awards funding to local behavioral health organizations to expand capabilities of crisis response programs and services such as mobile crisis teams, 24⁄7 walk-in services, crisis residential beds, and other crisis response programs. Other legislation requires pharmaceutical drug companies to file reports of suspicious orders of opioids to the Attorney General’s office in addition to federal government reporting. I support more efforts to limit use of opioids by medical professionals for pain management; greater education and public service campaigns targeted to youth and adults on the dangers of substance-abuse and drug addiction.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Queen: I support state policies that level-the-playing field in education, employment, housing, and career mobility, especially policy to eliminate poverty by addressing impediments to upward mobility via training, certification, and apprenticeships; eliminating gender-biased hiring practices; and more mentoring programs to develop a pipeline of diverse corporate managers.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Queen: Yes, I believe Maryland’s Public Information Act (PIA) and open meeting laws are adequate. Maryland’s PIA grants residents access and rights to information about government activities without unnecessary cost and delay. This is essential for a democratic government to ensure public trust. Maryland’s PIA applies to all three branches of Maryland state government as well as local government entities. Unfortunately, most residents are not familiar with the process to request information; or understand the scope of information access. Likewise, many residents do not take advantage of the open meetings laws, especially related to Law Enforcement reviews. This may be an areas in which community groups and advocates can educate residents on this process.