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?
Branch: Yes. This legislative session we made a down payment of 200 million on the funding for the recommendations of this Commission. I will continue to support legislation to fund the various aspects of reform.
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?
Branch: Absolutely not. Baltimore citizens are experiencing problems with the current transit system. Many complain about buses not arriving on time, and a subway system that is not able transport from necessary areas of the city. We needed the Red Lines to bring us into 21st century transit.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Branch: After, we have gotten the medical up and operating efficiently.
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?
Branch: The state is currently committed to the protection of this resource. Last year we backfilled the funding when the federal government had cut the funding to this program. Later it was restored to the federal budget.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Branch: Must continue to draft and supportlegislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs and insurance. Maryland’s uninsured has dropped to 6% this year, unfortunate, the cost of care is begining to rise because of the insurance market uncertainty.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Branch: The State has passed a major crime bill package to address the issues in baltimore. SB 101 and SB1137 includes a wiretap statute, volume dealering, witness intimidation, possession of regulated fire arms after previous conviction, etc……. Funding forexpansion of Safestreets progam.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Branch: Business for Maryland is good. Continue to provide incentives for major corporation and large businesses to move to Mayland. Also, creating community and business development opportunities for our counties and cities,
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Branch: Yes, if the appoints could truly be independent. Not sure how this could really accomplish that when everyone belong to one of the two parties, and all of them are loyal to it. The most important is who is doing the appointing?
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Branch: This bill has been before the General Assembly for a number if years. I think it does have the ability to strike a balance.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Branch: This year we included funding in the State’s budget to address both of these item. Also, numerous peices of legislation was passed addressing this crisis. One of the bills actually held Doctors responsible criminally for illegally prescribling opioids,
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Branch: I have always supported legislation for the increase in wages for women. I know that women still fall short dollar for dollar in comparison with men. However, I am a firm supporter for income equality.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Branch: Yes, I think it does.