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?
Haynes: Yes. I support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence. As a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, my top priority has been fighting for the full funding of our current educational formula and fighting for additional resources which the current funding formula does not take into account such as “pockets of poverty” and “early childhood development”. I support the preliminary findings of the “Kirwan Commission’s Report”. I believe that we should fund the new educational formula through our current educational trust fund but identify additional revenue sources. This past legislative session we passed legislation which would create a “lock box” to absolutely insure that the funding for education would be in place. Also I would dedicate a portion of the newly anticipated revenue from the federal tax overhaul to education trust fund for that purpose.
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?
Haynes: No. I do not believe that Maryland’s transportation spending is appropriately balanced between roads and transit. Although I do support the necessary funding for a strong road and efficient road system, I strongly support a heavy investment in our transit system which serves primarily our urban areas and central Maryland which relies heavily on mass transit. A strong investment is absolutely essential in order to create and maintain an efficient and effective fully integrated transit system which is needed to support the economic growth of the region. I do not believe that state has the resources to meet its transportation needs without federal dollars when it comes to the required transit development. The redline was a major transit initiative that would have provided an additional mode of travel and a new line for the transit system. Approximately 90 percent of the Red Line initiative was financed with federal dollars, without which, the state is not in a position to fund with state dollars alone. The current BaltimoreLink Bus System is a good effort but falls short in providing the effective , efficient and expedient connected system which riders expect and which is essential for economic growth of the region.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Haynes: I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana at this time. The state very recently approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes only and this is a brand new industry which is not fully up and running. I believe the best course is to complete the process of awarding the licenses for the new industry participants and learn from this process and establish “best practices” from the industry prior to expanding to a new use of 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?
Haynes: The Chesapeake Bay is a natural treasure which Maryland has been a leader in restoring. I know that the Chesapeake Bay Commission has worked extremely hard, together with, other state members of the commission to preserve, protect and restore the bay. In light of the federal government’s position at this juncture, Maryland must continue to lead in the effort by allocating the requisite resources and encourage other member states to do the same in order to protect the hard work and accomplishments in restoring the Chesapeake Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Haynes: Access to affordable and quality Healthcare is a major concern. As the former Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations sub-committee for Health, working to expand affordable quality healthcare was a major priority and continues to be. One of the biggest ways to ensure affordable healthcare is in protecting access the MCHIP program. During the 2018 legislative session the legislature worked to insure that MCHIP program would not be jeopardized because of the actions being taken on the federal level. I supported those initiatives.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Haynes: The State has a role in helping Baltimore address the violent Crime issue. Fundamentally, the Baltimore City Police Department is a state agency and has been so for over 150 years. As such, I believe that there should be a continued commitment to assist in providing the necessary resources to help reduce the violent crime rate. Moreover, Baltimore City is Maryland’s hub for so many things and violence issue is not exclusive to Baltimore but is a state problem as well. As such, all levels of government should be involved in assisting in addressing this issue.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Haynes: I would characterize Maryland’s Business Climate as fair but on the upswing. I recently participated in the House Business Climate workgroup which was a collaboration of several legislators to look at the business of climate of the state. As a result of those efforts, I believe that there is tremendous room for improvements, primarily with supporting our small businesses which are the drivers of our economy. At the same time, in order to foster family supporting jobs we need to attract and create jobs in the state which pay a living wage workers so that workers can afford a decent quality of living.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Haynes: Currently, there is a case pending before the Supreme Court on the issue of re-districting and gerrymandering in Maryland as it relates to the Congressional Districts. I believe that the better course to wait until the court renders a decision and use the court decision for guidance on this issue prior to determining the need of an independent commission.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Haynes: I do not believe that the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights balance the protections for police and the public now because there are several variables which now have to considered in light of recent events and actions. Primarily, we must recognize that Baltimore City is under a Federal Consent Decree which is the outgrowth of a Patterns and Practices investigation requested by the City which requires both transparency and trust in an effort to create a better police relationship with the community. The recent events surrounding all of the issues regarding the Freddie Gray unrest and most recently the revelations from the Gun Trace Task Force severely undermine any efforts in restoring that trust. Certain changes to the LEOBR is one of the tools necessary that would certainly go a long way in reaching the goal of repair the relationship between the police and the public.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Haynes: As the former vice chair of the Appropriations Committee’s Health sub-committee, I have worked very hard to make substance abuse and drug addiction treatment a number one priority and address the addiction crisis across the board including, but not limited, to opioids. The first thing we must continue to do is to continue to declare this crisis a State Health Emergency and treat this crisis with a full array of services, but we have to do more than declare it an emergency. We must have the political will to commit the resources to combat this crisis as a public health epidemic. Efforts such as creating a stabilization Center for drug addiction should be created in every quadrant of the City with treatment on demand, we should commit the resources to provide the drugs to help treat the addiction such as vivitrol and provide sustained support services to address the ancillary drug addiction issues in order to combat addiction relapses.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Haynes: Income inequality is a major issue in the state. Although Maryland is the wealthiest state in the union, major inequalities in income exist. The first step the state can do to assist in addressing this issue is to pass legislation to increase the minimum wage. I sponsored and supported legislation to increase the minimum wage for several sessions. Also, the state can enact legislation to require Equal pay for Equal Work.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Haynes: Yes, I believe that the open meetings laws are adequate. We must remember that this is a citizen legislature and a public government so transparency should be at the front of what the legislature does. The legislature has worked to provide better public access with the use of technology to broadcast hearings live via the internet, as well as, the floor sessions of both the house and the senate.