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?
Qi: I do support the preliminary findings of the Kirwan commission and look forward to the full report. In particular I support the push for universal Pre-K education for all students. I am committed to funding education reform through a combination of casino “lockbox” funding, revising funding formulas, and raising the percentage of state contributions across the board.
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?
Qi: I support an “all of the above” approach to transportation including roads and transit, with a strong focus on investing more heavily in public transit. I was thrilled to see WMATA receive a dedicated funding commitment from all three local jurisdictions, but expanded transit with a focus on BRT is also needed in the fast-growing Upcounty region of Montgomery County. I was a supporter of the Red Line and was disappointed by Hogan’s decision to withhold state funding. While BaltimoreLink is a step forward in the region’s bus system, I do not believe it adequately serves the region.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Qi: I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana but do support medical use.
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?
Qi: As a symbol of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest and also the dirtiest estuary. Cleaning the Bay should be an ongoing priority for Maryland, which is why the Trump Administration’s decision to stop funding for the Chesapeake Bay is irresponsible and outrageous. The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure we must protect for our future generations. The State Department of Natural Resources’ Oyster Management Program has helped restore the oyster stock through sanctuaries in the Bay because the oysters are natural protectors of clean water with their unique function as the “sanitary workers” of the Bay. The DNR program to limit the harvest of female blue crabs has also led to a healthy come-back and increase of crab population. We should continue and enhance such programs with appropriate staffing and resources. While much more needs to be done to clean up the Bay at an accelerated rate, Maryland has been generally doing a good job (compared to other states) in the Bay cleanup efforts. I support Maryland’s Storm Water Management program to reduce storm water runoff into the Bay. In particular, I support Maryland’s current phosphorus-management program that help farmers calculate how much chicken manure they can safely spread on their fields to limit the amount of the run-off into the Bay. I also support the State’s current program to reduce lawn fertilizer runoff into the Bay that leads to algae growth and kill natural habitat.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Qi: I believe in monitoring and regulation for drug corporations and the formation of drug cost review commission. Drug costs should never be so high that only the highest earners can access life-saving medicine.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Qi: Last year when the federal government passed over Baltimore for National Public Safety Partnership funding it was a blow to the city. The state needs to invest heavily in public safety programs, community policing tactics, and outreach to at risk youth to address the growing violent crime statistics in Baltimore.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Qi: Maryland is improving in our business climate but our business and jobs growth should be stronger for a state with unrivaled institutional and human assets. We need to do more to minimize duplicate processes and unintended consequences in government regulations that either hinder business growth or sends an unwelcoming message to entrepreneurs and businesses that want to put down their roots here. We need to be more competitive with Northern Virginia, especially, in our ability to attract and retain talent and investments so our residents don’t have to drive long distance for good jobs and so our quality of life from schools to roads to senior care can be funded with an expanding tax base.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Qi: We should adopt a new way of drawing district lines by moving away from letting the State Legislature create districts and exploring the creation of an independent commission. Anytime elected officials are drawing district lines, there will be the temptation to create boundaries to bolster themselves or their party. I believe in order to have truly equitable districts we need an independent commission armed with the proper data and mathematical modeling tools.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Qi: I do not believe the Officers Bill of Rights balances protection for the police and the public. I support the creation of civilian oversight committees to give citizens a voice in police investigations.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Qi: The opioid crisis is affecting communities all across Maryland. As usage spins out of control, we need to focus our efforts on stopping the abuse of painkiller prescriptions and make sure treatment is readily available. I support establishing new guidelines on prescribers, increasing funding for treatment programs to allow all residents, regardless of economic background to receive help, and securing funding to make sure all municipalities have Naloxone on hand.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Qi: I believe we should have a multi-pronged approach with statewide minimum wage increase, heavy investments in workforce training to be ready for growing industries of the future that bring quality middle wage jobs, and make it easier for residents to start businesses to build asset and help their communities. In order to truly address income inequality, we need to provide our citizens with the tools and systemic support such as a strong entrepreneurial support network, which is what I have been championing and working on.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Qi: Maryland’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws provide our citizens with strong access to oversee government activities. I support the creation of a central agency in charge of PIA requests and eliminating “reasonable fees” from requests.