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?
Hebbar: The interim Kirwan Commission report calls for more money and renewed commitment for early childhood education, teacher training and hiring of qualified teachers, and more emphasis on at-risk students. I broadly support these goals, and I am looking forward to the findings in the final report.
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?
Hebbar: Maryland’s transportation spending is not appropriately balanced between roads and transit, but also not balanced between geographic regions. The current administration has invested in DC suburbs to develop the Purple Line, the Inter County Connector, and other projects. Meanwhile, Baltimore City and Baltimore County have been chronically underfunded. Baltimore Link reorganized routes but did not add new capacity to meet our growing transportation needs. Investing in transportation creates more jobs and attracts investment, both of which are badly needed in Baltimore region.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Hebbar: I do not support legalization of recreational marijuana at this time because of the disconnect it would create between Federal and State law. The Federal government is a major employer in our state. Legalization would prevent many Maryland jobseekers from qualifying for some high-paying federal jobs that penalize applicants who test positive for marijuana.
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?
Hebbar: Our first priority should be to enforce existing environmental laws and following through on measures already enacted, such as planting grass and trees along the Chesapeake Bay to act as a riparian barrier to prevent soil erosion. We also need to address wastewater runoff particularly from Baltimore City and County, which is the leading contributor of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from the State of Maryland.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Hebbar: I believe that healthcare is a human right, and it should be accessible and affordable for all. No one should ever go bankrupt trying to obtain decent healthcare. We should at the very minimum protect all-payer status of Maryland. I also support the plan for the formation of a task force to explore enacting single payer healthcare in the State of Maryland. Finally, the introduction of a public option in our health care exchanges is a viable first step in ensuring that all Marylanders have access to quality healthcare.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Hebbar: The state should set the tone of striking the right balance between keeping violent offenders off the streets while embracing rehabilitation of people who have paid their dues to society.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Hebbar: The state of Maryland traditionally goes out of its way to be welcoming to major corporations. Maryland should also welcome and nurture small businesses, which are the engines of economic growth in our state. Through its several agencies regulating business and commerce, the state should encourage public-private partnerships to come up with new and innovative ideas leading to further economic growth.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Hebbar: We need to take the politics out of redistricting. I fully support an independent, nonpartisan commission for districting.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Hebbar: I support a periodic review of the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights dependent on circumstances that might arise from citizen and peace officer’s concerns.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Hebbar: Dr. Richard Bruno recently put forward a comprehensive three-pronged approach to tackle opioid crisis in an op-ed in Baltimore Sun. The steps include integrating prescription drug monitoring databases into electronic health records to prevent multiple prescriptions, providing assistance to medication-assisted treatment, and investing in expanded access to the antidote naloxone. I whole-heartedly support this plan.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Hebbar: Poverty and income inequality are complex subjects, and we need a multi-pronged approach. We need to strengthen public education and invest in non-traditional courses that provide much needed skills to get good-paying jobs. We need to invest in transportation that takes people to jobs. Furthermore, we need to invest in retraining of workers so that they can find re-employment in a rapidly changing economy. We also need to nurture small businesses that will help address the gap between the living wage and the minimum wage.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Hebbar: The statutes of the Maryland Public Information Acts allows citizens to attend public meetings, gives the public adequate notice of these meetings, and allows citizens to inspect the minutes of these meetings. There is room to expand the ability of citizens to participate and exercise oversight. I fully support the open meetings compliance board which issues opinions in response to written complaints in response to violations of this act.