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?
Rosenberg: I support the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations. Requiring the State to provide universal access to public and private prekindergarten for all four-year olds and low-income three-year olds is of particular interest to me because of my efforts in this area. When we raise more money for public schools, I would vote for a more progressive way of doing so than the current reliance on lottery or slots revenues.
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?
Rosenberg: I supported the Red Line Project, and I would support similar projects in the future to increase mass transit options in and out of Baltimore City. Funding can be achieved by appropriate distribution of existing resources.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Rosenberg: Yes. We need to build upon and learn from the experiences of other states with recreational marijuana, as well as our own experience with medical marijuana. Legalized recreational marijuana would provide a significant revenue source for the State. Legalization would also result in better outcomes in our criminal justice system because a disproportionate number of young African-American males are arrested and charged with marijuana possession.
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?
Rosenberg: I introduced and defended on the House floor the legislation giving the Attorney General the authority to sue to protect Marylanders from harmful federal policies, including misguided and illegal actions by the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2015, I was the primary sponsor of legislation to provide financial assistance to farmers for state or local watershed implementation plans associated with the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load limits. If re-elected, I would introduce similar legislation to provide funding assistance to farmers for pollution management.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Rosenberg: Increasing access to health insurance coverage and boosting enrollment, especially for low-income and vulnerable residents, is essential. I have supported efforts to protect our state’s current health insurance marketplace, which is composed of public and private payers and has seen dramatic increases in enrollment since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange recently reported that 81,553 individuals purchased insurance on the Exchange in 2014; in 2018, that number nearly doubled, to 153,571. Enrollment in Maryland’s Medicaid program has increased by nearly 300,000 individuals. I support efforts to protect and build on these existing programs. I am concerned that regulatory actions taken by the Trump Administration and legislation approved by the Republican-led Congress could discourage individuals from purchasing health insurance and thus destabilize the market. Our response, House Bill 1782, seeks to stabilize the individual health insurance market by requiring that, for calendar year 2019, the State will recoup the health insurance provider fee that otherwise would have been assessed under §9010 of the Affordable Care Act. I was a co-sponsor of this bill.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Rosenberg: A cultural shift must occur in the Baltimore Police Department; accountability will make that happen. An important step was taken this session with the enactment of SB 1099/HB561, that will set up a state commission with subpoena power to investigate allegations of Baltimore police corruption. Additionally, I supported legislation this session to provide a $3.6 million increase in funding for Safe Streets, a proven reducer of gun violence and an important facilitator between the BPD and communities. Safe Streets stops the spread of violence in communities by using the strategies associated with disease control, the Abell Foundation concluded. It detects and interrupts conflicts, identifies and treats the highest risk individuals, and changes social norms.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Rosenberg: Maryland has one of the best educated and trained workforces in the country, but those educated workers are not equally distributed around the State. More family-supporting jobs will be created over the long term by providing a better educated workforce so that companies with high paying jobs will want to locate in Maryland. To further this long-term goal, I have championed funding of universal pre-k. Race to the Tots was the name Senator Bill Ferguson and I gave to our 2013 legislation creating a competitive grant program to stimulate innovation and expand access to high-quality early childhood education. A grant program was enacted the next year. On the other end of the education spectrum, I worked with Freeman Hrabowski, President of UMBC, in 2014 to create a tech internship program, where the State of Maryland pays part of the salary for a summer internship with a start-up. This session, I worked with Governor Hogan to fund the program and expand it to larger companies, like Amazon, as well as state and local governments. These types of programs make our business climate a long-term winner.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Rosenberg: I support a new process consistent with the holdings in the cases which will be decided by the Supreme Court later this year. We need a constitutionally sound redistricting process in every state that adheres to a national standard.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Rosenberg: In the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, I supported House Bill 1016 (2016), which made changes to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR). These changes included a Community Program Fund to assist local law enforcement agencies in establishing community programs and agencies of local government in establishing violence intervention programs. The most important change in this law was the reconstitution of the Police Training Commission as an independent Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission. This body now requires substantial further training in de-escalation and sensitivity. HB 1016 also made a number of changes that make it easier for citizens to use the police complaint process. This is a continual process of revision. Under Attorney General Sessions, the. Department of Justice has signaled that it is not interested in enforcing consent decrees on police departments. However, I still believe that the enforcement mechanisms in the consent decree process are an important first step in addressing police violence and constitutional violations. I would give credence to the recommendations of the monitor in the consent decree process if he felt that the LEOBR needed to be changed as the consent decree process continues.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Rosenberg: I support the approach taken by the General Assembly of increasing funding for a variety of programs aimed at improving access to substance abuse treatment and behavioral health crisis services but also closely monitoring the flow of prescription opioids into communities. I introduced House Bill 1092, which will fund a program for local jurisdictions to apply for state grants to establish or expand behavioral health and addiction crisis services.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Rosenberg: A continued commitment to a better education for all students is the long term answer, with a near term goal of fully funding the Kirwan Commission recommendations. Additionally, the State of Maryland should move towards an equitable tax system that relies mostly upon a progressive income tax instead of on regressive sales taxes or lottery and gaming revenues to fund the State budget. I have also strategized with advocates for the Earned Income Tax Credit about expanding this benefit for eligible families and single individuals.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Rosenberg: The actions of the Trump administration demonstrate the necessity of the free press for a well informed electorate. Enabling the public to be better informed about the operation of our government is the standard I will use to judge any legislation that seeks to improve our Public Information Act and open meetings law.