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?
Hovermale: The preliminary report of the Kirwin Commission indicates that in order for Maryland to be competitive nationally and internationally reforms to our education system are necessary. The fact that Maryland schools have gone from being ranked first in the nation to sixth reaffirms that reforms are needed. I support the preliminary recommendations of the Kirwin Commission. Approval by Marylanders of the constitutional amendment to use casino funds for education is the first step toward funding these much-needed reforms. Our public schools must be strengthened so that all of our children become problem solvers, innovators and critical thinkers. We have an obligation to provide the foundation and framework so that all children have the opportunity to excel and reach their full potential.
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?
Hovermale: A reliable and efficient transportation system is necessary for economic growth, equal opportunity and quality of life. Funding to maintain and build additional public transit must be a priority to ensure affordable and reliable access to jobs and to reduce carbon emissions. Our region is not adequately served by public transportation and we need to continue to seek innovative ways to fund an expansion of public transportation.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Hovermale: I support the decriminalization of marijuana and believe we should evaluate the feasibility of expunging past convictions. Given recreational marijuana has been made legal only in the past few years in a few states, it seems prudent to evaluate the effects legalization has had on these states before making a decision for Maryland. From what I have seen, the data on the impact is inconclusive.
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?
Hovermale: We have made headway in improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and we must not slip backwards. We need to return to a smart growth approach to development and continue to invest in science to study and find solutions to restore the bay. The state needs to adopt policies that protect our most important forests and that reduces impervious surfaces that create runoff. It is imperative that we work with surrounding states to find and fund regional solutions. The Chesapeake Bay is one of our greatest assets and we must restore and protect it particularly in light of the Federal government’s actions relative to environmental issues.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Hovermale: We need to ensure good, affordable health care is accessible to everyone giving us all the opportunity to live healthy, active and independent lives at every stage. Given the situation with federal health care policy Maryland must be a leader and continue to move forward with the work done to provide affordable health insurance options and to control rising prescription costs. Aging, economic disparities, changes in the work environment and increasing costs have left many people to choose between medical care and other necessities. We are better than this and must continue as a state to work for affordable healthcare for all.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Hovermale: It is the state’s responsibility to be an active partner with the city in addressing violent crime in Baltimore. The state needs to provide resources to aid in identifying and correcting root causes. Education, affordable housing, job opportunities, health care, substance abuse care, transportation options – these all impact the community. Residents of Baltimore City are also citizens of Maryland and it is the responsibility of the state to create a strong economy that will provide economic opportunity to all citizens of the state.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Hovermale: To attract businesses to Maryland that pay good wages and provide good benefits, Maryland must offer a trained and educated workforce, a reliable and efficient transportation system, affordable housing near jobs and ensure regulations are reasonable and can be readily complied with. Policies that support working families such as sick leave and an increased minimum wage should be adopted with a reasonable time-frame for implementation. People should not have to work multiple low wage jobs to support their families. Partnerships and collaboration between schools, colleges, vocational training centers, and businesses to ensure students are prepared for available jobs will benefit both the student and the business.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Hovermale: The challenge of fair districts extends well beyond Maryland. Nationwide districts have not been drawn to ensure that every person’s vote counts. It is critical to America that redistricting be done across the country following the census based on common sense boundaries and designed so that all citizens are represented equitably.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Hovermale: Transparency and ethics at all levels of government is paramount. All government employees and officials at every level must be held to the highest standards. All people have the right to constitutional due process and we must ensure that policy is not only in place but is equitably applied so that both police and the public are protected. Given some of the issues that have come to light recently it is critical that we review and update policies. We need to focus on community policing, use of de-escalation techniques and training to reduce conflicts.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Hovermale: Addiction to opioids and other substances is destroying families and robbing children of the promise of a future that will allow them to reach their full potential. We must invest in prevention and treatment programs throughout the State so that treatment is available regardless of what county or city you live in. The effects of opiate withdrawal do not disappear during a 3-day detox period so long-term follow-up and care is needed to help people successfully re-enter their daily life and the work force. We need more early intervention, more beds and more long-term support.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Hovermale: There are many actions necessary to address Income inequality. We must ensure our public schools are removing barriers to learning and educating our young people so they are prepared for the jobs of the future. We need to support our community colleges that provide re-training when workforce demand changes. Higher education and training must be affordable and within reach of all. Social services and programs that provide a safety net for working mothers, single parents and all working families is crucial. Criminal justice reform is necessary so that people are able to re-enter the workforce after incarceration to support themselves and their families and to ensure people are not incarcerated when there are other alternatives for rehabilitation that will allow them to continue to support themselves and their families. Discrimination against any person relative to education, housing, the workplace, medical services, banking or the legal system prevents our society from being its best and cannot be tolerated. We must ensure policies already in place are enforced consistently and work together to strengthen policies shown to be ineffective and to identify new policies to fill gaps.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Hovermale: Transparency and holding government officials accountable to the highest ethical standards is crucial for a society to thrive. The state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws are somewhat effective in safeguarding the public’s ability to monitor the government. However, to be the most effective, swift and real actions must be taken when the PIA and open meetings regulations are violated. Educating citizens about the PIA and open meetings requirements should be done during the voting process or at the points a citizen interacts with government.