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?
Shoemaker: While I appreciate many of the ideas that the Kirwan Commission is recommending, very little of their time has been spent analyzing adjustments that need to be made to the Thornton funding formula which puts jurisdictions like Carroll County at a disadvantage because of it’s relative wealth and declining enrollment. If fundamental unfairness that affects counties like mine is addressed, I’ll be more than happy to address their other recommendations. However, as a state, we are spending $6.5 billion on education. At some point, money alone can’t be the answer.
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?
Shoemaker: Only 3-5% of the public regularly use mass transit, yet we spend about 50% of our transportation budget on it. Thankfully, Governor Hogan has placed an emphasis on spending transportation money on projects that serve the other 95% of us, i.e., roads, bridges and the like. I support the Governor’s reprioritization.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Shoemaker: I don’t support legalization until we get more data from States where it has been legalized, like Colorado.
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?
Shoemaker: I fully support the Governor’s idea of requiring the owners of the Conowingo Dam to reduce sediment (which is a major contributor to pollution in the Bay).
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Shoemaker: The best thing the State can do is to stop mandating coverage for this and that, because those costs get passed along to the consumer. Furthermore, nationally, Congress needs to act to allow interstate competition by health insurance companies to drive down the costs of premiums.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Shoemaker: The state spends millions of dollars on Baltimore City. The legislature needs to spend less time coddling criminals, and should enact stricter sanctions on repeat offenders, and drug dealers. In 2018, we took some steps forward, but there is more to do.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Shoemaker: Under Governor Hogan’s leadership, the business climate has improved considerably. He has reduced regulations and has passed legislation to incentivize job creation. There is more to do, and I will support additional efforts to revamp Maryland’s tax policy to make us more competitive with surrounding states.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Shoemaker: Absolutely. I have cosponsored the Governor’s bill to do just that. I firmly believe that the Supreme Court will ultimately take action to reverse O’Malley’s gerrymandering.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Shoemaker: Yes, it does and no it should not. One size does not fit all, and if the Baltimore Police Department has issues, those should be addressed through Baltimore-specific legislation.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Shoemaker: We are spending a bunch of money on this epidemic. As a consequence of recently passed crime legislation (which I voted for), we have imposed enhanced penalties for drug dealers. That’s a start. We also need to get better control over doctors’ ability to prescribe opioids.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Shoemaker: Nothing. If people are suffering from discrimination, there are ample laws on the books to address those issues.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Shoemaker: I’m a firm believer in governmental transparency, and current law promotes that notion, however, there is room for improvement. For instance, I support the Governor’s quest to live stream General Assembly sessions.