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?
Shank: I am committed to ensuring that we have accurate funding formulas, increased access to early childhood education, and ensuring that our educators are well-paid and well taken care of. However, with more recommendations and ideas to emerge from the Kirwan commission for next year it is important we tackle this reform once we have all the information.
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?
Shank: While it is important that we maintain and repair our roads, we must continue to invest in transit. Our current administration has made clear that roads will take priority over transit. If we are serious about protecting our environment, we must make public transit more of a priority.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Shank: Yes. The prohibition of marijuana is largely based on an untruthful, xenophobic movie. The fact is marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, which is not to say that it carries no risk. Like alcohol, marijuana should be regulated, the purchase of it should be regulated, and it should be criminal to drive while under its influence.
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?
Shank: I would work with environmental groups to determine what additional steps can be taken to protect our amazing resource.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Shank: Healthcare is and should be treated as a human right. We need to ensure that every Marylander has access to affordable health care coverage. We must address our failing healthcare system. The options in Maryland are thin, and costs continue to skyrocket. At the same time, Carroll County has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and we have seen increases in overdoses year after year. It is time that we stop ignoring mental health, and mental health treatment. While it has been proposed that employers could pay for universal healthcare through a wage tax, I am concerned that may be too burdensome on small business if all business is treated exactly the same. Other proposals of a progressive tax, or sliding scale that balances deductibles and copays based on family income (with some paying nothing when appropriate) may be promising. Ultimately, I would want to see a task force established to find the most appropriate method of funding a public option in the state of Maryland.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Shank: Leaders throughout Maryland must work in collaboration with leaders in Baltimore. By taking a supportive rather than an instructive role, we are empowering those battling Baltimore’s violence regularly to implement solutions.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Shank: I believe we must pay people a living wage. In Carroll County, that is $15/hour. It does vary from county to county and that should be taken into account. Additionally, we must pay teachers and police a wage that allows them to live in the same communities they work in. As the daughter of a small business owner, I am aware that Defendants often make the mistake of conflating ‘big business’ and ‘small business’ by lumping them together as ‘business’. We must work with small and local businesses to implement these regulations in a thoughtful and manageable way. By taking such an approach, we can ensure that our business communities thrive and employees earn a living wage.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Shank: Absolutely. Our state is incredibly gerrymandered and we must fix it so all residents have true representation.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Shank: There are two things that are important to note here: (1) communities are entitled to be protected and served by police and when they are not, when they face an occupation or harassment, those communities are entitled to justice; and (2) Many police departments are taking great care to be part of the community they serve, and their officers are also entitled to due process and protection in their extremely dangerous job. As I am not a resident of Baltimore, I cannot speak for that community’s relationship with their police, although it is clearly not a positive one. In Carroll County, I have been very proud of our Sheriff’s Department.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Shank: Universal healthcare would be an important first step. Addiction is a mental health issue, and we must start treating it as such, rather than a criminal justice issue. We must make more rehabilitation centers available to those seeking help. We need to focus on expanding treatment options in local communities, and seek alternatives free from opioid-driven treatment plans. Access to naloxone, immunity for those responding to overdoses, increasing the effectiveness of the PDMP to reduce overprescribing and identify doctors engaging in unethical prescribing practices are also critical.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Shank: I believe we must pay people a living wage. In Carroll County, that is $15/hour. It does vary from county to county and that should be taken into account.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Shank: Despite the efforts of many local jurisdictions to resist open government, we have made great strides in ensuring transparency in government. We still have improvements to make, and we need to protect individuals’ information in the process.