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?
Kipke: I do support many of the reforms suggested. However, I do not believe we can move forward with increasing funding for public education without first establishing a statewide inspector general office as suggestion by Governor Hogan in the recent legislative session. There have been far too many cases of scandal in our public school systems and before we increase funding we need to establish a better system to guard against theft, waste, corruption, and mismanagement. Each year the legislature passes tens of millions of dollars worth of new spending mandates. I believe we should have a moratorium on new spending to allow state resources to be directed to education, specifically to reduce class size and make teacher pay more competitive.
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?
Kipke: I support Governor Hogan’s plan to fix all deficient bridges, roads, and to support every local government’s top road projects. He’s made great strides to alleviate some of the most dangerous and congested roads problems statewide. He’s also supporting mass transit projects that make economic sense including the purple line that is being completed for far less dollars than the previous administration projected. I applaud the Hogan administration’s modernization of the bus routes in Baltimore City with BaltimoreLink and expect that the Governor will continue to make progress improving the transportation system in the region.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Kipke: I support Maryland’s Medical Cannabis program.
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?
Kipke: Maryland is making great progress to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Governor Hogan has fully funded the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays trust fund each year. Those resources are being used to make capital improvements that, with many other investments, are producing measurable improvements. I am also very excited to see real efforts going into a pilot project, initiated by Governor Hogan, to dredge the Conowingo Dam and recent EPA coordinated efforts to develop a real long term solution to this problem.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Kipke: We worked this session to establish a reinsurance program for our individual group market. This will mitigate the risk of insured individuals with high costs to produce a more affordable overall market. Prices have to be affordable for health people to purchase insurance.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Kipke: The state is supporting the city with new laws that will get tougher on repeat violent offenders; I am so glad to see that those bills passed this session. We are also supporting the city with many millions in new funding to attack the crime problem with preventative measures such as the safe streets initiatives. I am also supportive of existing programs that are currently being utilized to allow law enforcement from many agencies both state and local to help improve safety in the region.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Kipke: With Governor Hogan Maryland has begun to shed it’s anti-business culture. State agencies are working to support job creators and he’s helped us stop the constant parade of tax and fee increases. Maryland policy makers need to realize that we compete with other states in the region, nation, and world for jobs. Our corporate tax rate continues to be far too high in comparison to other states in our region, lowering this would be an important fix to help us attract more jobs.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Kipke: Yes. I’ve cosponsored legislation requested by Governor Hogan every year this term.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Kipke: I support fully law enforcement but when an officer behaves unethically or illegally I believe there should be no unreasonable impediments to justice.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Kipke: I’ve spent the last few years working on this problem as a member of the House Opioid Workgroup. I am proud of how we are tackling this problem in a bipartisan way with Governor Hogan, County Executive Steve Schuh, & Speaker Busch. We are doing everything we can think of related to prevention, treatment, and enforcement. We next need to pass a law that will allow the data in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to be accessed by Maryland version of the DEA to analyze prescribing trends to identify prescribers operating “pill mills.”
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Kipke: Cutting burdensome and unnecessary regulation helps smaller entrepreneurs compete with larger corporations. We also need to support awareness of and access to vocational careers for our youth.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Kipke: Yes, the system works well. It ensures access to public documents, agendas, meetings, etc.