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?
Church: I would introduce and support legislation that will and can provide student with funding, the premise is to reform funding associated with how money is allocated to schools. In order to address its first charge, the Commission concluded that it must first respond to the second. Until specific policy recommendations are developed and agreed upon, it is not possible to assess their costs and update the Thornton funding formulas. Once this process is complete, the Commission will be in a position to recommend the “adequate” funding needed for the purpose of enabling Maryland students to achieve the State’s College and Career Ready standards. These recommendations will be made in the Commission’s final report to be submitted during the 2018 interim. Although the Commission’s work is not complete, there are some actions that the Commission believes could be taken in the 2018 legislative session to advance the Commission’s preliminary policy recommendations.
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?
Church: I will support legislation that would provide the best results to residences $1.97 billion investment to upgrade highways and bridges from one end of the State to the other, in order to ensure safe and reliable travel. These projects will help to address long-standing unmet highway needs and fix severe gridlock and congestion that dull Maryland’s competitive edge. The State is also committed to a balanced transportation system, which includes transit investments in every corner of our state – from providing locally operated transit grants to moving a more cost-effective Purple Line forward.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Church: I would support legislation to support recreational marijuana for medicinal usage only if it is available in Maryland.
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?
Church: The Chesapeake Bay Program coordinates scientific research on the health of the Bay and provides grants to state and local governments to help reduce pollution. It’s successful, bipartisan, and non-controversial—and it’s a critical part of the Bay restoration efforts that are helping crab and oyster populations rebound, shrinking. Congress has passed a spending bill fully funding EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program through the end of Fiscal Year 2018. This is a critical piece of Chesapeake restoration efforts that coordinates scientific research on the health of the Bay and provides grants to state and local governments to help reduce pollution.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Church: Health insurance carriers generally have the ability to define and adjust the number, the qualifications and the quality of providers in their networks. They also may limit the number of providers in their networks as a means of conserving costs or coordinating care. The establishment of Health Benefit Exchanges, also termed Health Marketplaces, by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) has renewed the examination and policies set by state and federal law. The ACA requires that all “Qualified Health Plans” include an “adequate network of primary care providers, specialists, and other ancillary health care providers.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Church: The Federal Program, called the National Public Safety Partnership, will work with cities including Buffalo, Cincinnati and Houston, officials said. It is similar to an initiative run by the Obama administration that provided local law enforcement with guidance and training from Federal Officials.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Church: I would support legislation that can and would provide aid to families and provide supervised visitation, parenting education, and functional support skills required for parents to reunify with their children placed in foster care. Home Base is seeking candidates familiar with working directly with parents with mental illness, substance use, and other impairments which cause deficits in their parenting skills.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Church: Each state decides. In most states, the line drawers are politicians along with hired consultants. Often, state legislators draw the map, which the governor can veto. Some states have special commissions that advise legislators on drawing the map, or that serve as backup mapmakers if the legislature deadlocks. A few states have independent commissions so politicians and public officials cannot directly draw their own districts. Gerrymandering is the practice of dividing election districts to give special advantages to one group and usually to give one political party an electoral majority in a large number of districts while concentrating the opposition’s voting strength in the fewest districts possible.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Church: Maryland and the nation are grappling with how to restore trust that law enforcement officers will treat all the people they serve fairly and equally, and that the officers can be and will be held accountable when they do not. One critical component of reform locally has to be reform of Maryland’s Law. I support legislation that honors the universal declaration of human rights. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Church: I would support legislation for treatment to address the opioid addiction the country is facing an epidemic
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Church: Jared Bernstein’s Top 10 to Address Economic Inequality 1. If the private market fails to provide enough jobs to achieve full employment, the government must become the employer of last resort. 2. When growth is below capacity and the job market is slack, apply fiscal and monetary policies aggressively to achieve full employment. Right now, this means not raising interest rates Pre-emptively at the Fed and investing in Public Infrastructure. 3. Take actions against countries that manage their currencies to subsidize their exports to us and tax our exports to them. Revoke trade privileges and levying duties on subsidized goods. 4. Support Sectoral training, apprenticeships, and earn-while-you-learn programs. 5. Implement universal Pre-K, with subsidies that phase out as incomes rise. 6. Raise the minimum wage to $12/hour by 2020 and raise overtime salary threshold from $455/week to $970/week and index it to inflation. 7. Provide better oversight of financial markets: mandate adequate capital buffers, enforce a strong Volcker Rule against proprietary trading in FDIC-insured banks, strengthen the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and encourage vigilant oversight of systemic risk in the banking system by the Federal Reserve. 8. Level the playing field for union elections to bolster collective bargaining while avoiding, at the state-level, anti-union, so-called “right-to-work” laws. 9. Maintain and strengthen safety net programs like the EITC and CTC, SNAP, and Medicaid. 10. Reduce the rate at which high-income taxpayers can take tax deductions, impose a small tax of financial market transactions, increase IRS funding to close the “tax gap”.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Church: The Open Meetings Act is a Maryland statute. It states the goal that “public business be conducted openly and publicly” and sets as the policy of the State that, except in certain “special and appropriate circumstances,” the public “be provided with adequate notice of the time and location of meetings of public bodies, which shall be held in places reasonably accessible to individuals who would like to attend these meetings.” The Act does not set the rules for when public bodies must meet – it just carries out the policy that when public bodies do meet, they must do so openly unless the discussion falls within one of the “special and appropriate circumstances” listed in the Act.