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?
Lopez: Largely speaking, I support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. We specifically need commit to major investments to pre-K and early childhood education, which is key to cutting the achievement gap. My mother has been a public school teacher for more than 30 years and I fully recognize the importance public school funding. There are multiple opportunities to fund the commission’s reforms, including using revenues from casinos and legalization of marijuana.
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?
Lopez: The state’s transportation’s need are not being met. Maryland needs to continue to invest in affordable public transportation that services all residents. In the DC area, recent WMATA improvements are a start to get riders to start utilizing Metro services again, but they have been insufficient. I would like to see the state continue to invest in high-speed rail and bus rapid transit in higher density areas. Our spending on infrastructure also needs to continue. I believe that we can explore innovative ways to reduce traffic on I-270 and I want to take a leadership role on transportation issues when I’m a Delegate.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Lopez: Yes, I support the legalization of recreational marijuana and support using the taxes generated from sales to reduce the deficit in school funding.
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?
Lopez: I am strongly committed to ensuring that Maryland protects the Chesapeake Bay, especially as our federal government continues to dismantle environmental regulations at an alarming rate. Maryland can adhere to the UN’s Paris Climate Accord, even if our federal government has recklessly backed out of it. We can work to ensure groundwater is protected from pollutants so that the Bay remains an important ecological and economic point to Maryland for generations to come. I’m proud to have earned the endorsements of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Lopez: I strongly support the right of all Americans to have access to affordable, quality health care and moving toward a single payer system. I serve on the Montgomery County Board of Social Services, which advises Montgomery County and state officials on issues related to social service programs. I also serve on the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Board where I help to ensure that Marylanders have a right to reproductive justice.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Lopez: Overall, I support criminal justice reform and believe it is a key step in helping communities to start trusting the police again. Attorney General Eric Holder started the shift in the conversations that we were having but unfortunately, those conversations have stopped under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Maryland needs to become a leader in community-based policing and I strongly support increased diversity and de-escalation training.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Lopez: I believe Maryland has a strong business environment, but we can always do better. As a staffer for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, I worked on efforts to support small business lending and increase capital to Hispanic small business owners, as well as increase government procurement to minority-owned small businesses. These types of efforts, along with increasing the minimum wage for large corporations, are a good step forward to creating more family-supporting jobs.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Lopez: Yes, I support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional maps each census. Every voter’s ballot should count.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Lopez: I believe law enforcement officers under investigation should be subject to civilian review boards not simply the evaluations of their own peers, so that there is a neutral third party involved.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Lopez: The opioid addiction and overdose crisis needs to be given significant attention and a comprehensive solution is needed. First, there must be more accessible and affordable options to help prevent and treat addiction. Also, physicians need to show more discretion in prescribing opioids, especially on a repeat basis. Additionally, we need to address pharmaceutical companies that have used misleading tactics to encourage the usage of their products, even in situations when it is not medically necessary.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Lopez: I support raising the minimum wage, increasing the funding for public schools and providing access to affordable health care for all Marylanders. Income inequality is a key issue of our time and businesses should be incentivized to provide a living wage and benefits to their employees.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Lopez: I support transparency in government and strongly believe that citizen involvement is a key measurement of the health of a Democracy.