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?
Krebs: I support the Kirwin Commission’s preliminary plan and efforts to first make recommendations that would enable Maryland schools to be academically high performing compared to other economically advanced nations. They need to consider the impact on student performance from the money spent after the Thornton Commission and subsequent Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act of 2002 that invested $1.3 billion in additional State aid. Maryland students’ performance is average at best within the United States despite our investment in preK-12 education. We must focus on high-quality preK-12 programs and student outcomes, not just additional seat time and spending more money. Throwing money at the same mediocre system will not change anything- our situation is unacceptable. “How” money is spent is just as important as “How Much” money is spent. What has been the impact on student achievement? ie. What impact has mandatory full day Kindergarten and pre-K for low income individuals had on student outcomes? Are our children prepared for first grade? Are our children reading on grade level by the 3rd grade? These are fundamental measures that are essential for early literacy and must be mastered before moving on into the content areas. I support their concept of putting rigorous accountability measures in place and not accept the status quo- it can be done. We have some excellent schools already in place in Maryland, but this needs to be replicated in all regions of the state.
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?
Krebs: Maryland’s transportation system is out of balance because only 5-7% of trips are taken on mass transit, yet 54% of the Transportation Trust Fund revenues (coming almost entirely from motorists) are spent on mass transit. Governor Hogan has made great strides in readjusting our transportation priorities to ensure that roads and bridges are taken care of too. Over the last 3 years, Hogan has ensured that every bridge in Maryland is structurally sound and over ½ of all state roads have had long overdue paving. There are more transportation projects in the pipeline than ever before in the Maryland’s history. The shrinking population in Baltimore is adequately served by the Baltimore Metro and the new Baltimore Link. The Baltimore Link has expanded opportunities and jobs and provides better service to more communities in the Baltimore region than the previous transit system. The Red Line would have only impacted the few communities along tit’s single east/ west metro line. The Red Line was never approved under the 8 years of the O’Malley administration and it was a boondoggle from the beginning - hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted for an ill-conceived plan with irresponsible funding forecasts. Governor Hogan has worked to restore the local government’s Highway User Revenues (HURs)- which was cut by 90% during the O’Malley years. Baltimore City will now have the HURs to spend to maintain their roads and fill potholes.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Krebs: I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana. Legalized marijuana creates high costs for society and taxpayers that far outweigh its tax revenues and harms more than just the person using the drug. Societal costs include increased medical and mental health care, addiction treatment, more victims of drugged driving accidents, increased crime and domestic violence and a negative impact on health from secondhand smoke. We are seeing more and more illegal marijuana laced with other harmful chemicals like rat poison. The legal “medical” cannabis industry in Maryland has just begun to get up and running and that industry is still in its infancy. Medical cannabis will give Marylanders the products they have been requesting to relieve medical conditions and the product will be controlled for safety and quality. This product is available through a doctor’s recommendation.
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?
Krebs: I am pleased that the President and Congress have reconfirmed their commitment to restoring the Chesapeake Bay through their budget process. The Hogan administration has also made cleaning up the Bay a top priority and I support those efforts. Our efforts to reduce storm water runoff and upgrade our wastewater treatment plants throughout the state are already paying large dividends. The most important priority is to treat the Susquehanna River pollution as a major part of bay-wide restoration strategies. Sediment and nitrogen flow down the Susquehanna River from Pennsylvania and the northern states into the Conowingo Dam. The dam is filled with sediment and no longer is stopping pollution from flowing into the bay. I support finding real solutions like the test project Governor Hogan funded to dredge the sediment trapped behind the Conowingo Dam. Without dredging the dam- one big storm could wipe out recent improvements in the Chesapeake Bay’s health. We also have committed resources to oyster restoration in the Bay and have established the Maryland Energy Institute, as part of the James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland , to attract clean energy investment and to develop additional clean energy programs. They are tasked with developing and attracting private investment in clean energy innovation and commercialization in the State.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Krebs: There are many steps that need to be taken to ensure access to affordable health care beginning with focusing on the “cost of heathcare” and not the “cost of health insurance”. Serving on the Heath and Government Operations Committee in the Legislature, I continue to support policies that will shed light on the cost drivers of healthcare. 1) Cost of Prescription drugs – FDA approval process is long and cumbersome. We need a better understanding of the supply chain and pricing 2) Forcing transparency in costs for health care services and medical procedures 3) Encouraging users of healthcare service to have some “skin in the game” when it comes to purchasing medical services 4) Chronic disease management/lifestyle choices – the single most important risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes is obesity 5) Removing barriers for the use of telemedicine 6) Controlling hospital costs – Maryland is working on this through our unique rate setting system 7) Fixing our tort system that forces doctors to use defensive medicine and request unnecessary tests 8) Discouraging use of the emergency room and providing for more 24 hour clinics 9) Reevaluate Certificate of Need laws that stymie competition. 10) Encourage least costly venue for procedures– significant payment differential when procedure is performed at an out- patient hospital compared to a physician’s office
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Krebs: I supported the recently passed a package of initiatives called the Comprehensive Crime Act of 2018 aimed at curbing violent crime in Baltimore. Courts have grown too soft on violent crime and we need to get tougher. We now will have mandatory sentences for repeat violent offenders who use guns in the commission of their crimes. Drug King Pins will get mandatory minimum sentences and new “truth in sentencing” will require second-time violent criminals to serve their full sentence and make them ineligible for parole. The individuals committing murders in Baltimore City have been arrested –on average- on nine previous occasions - 86% using illegal firearms. The State has committed transformational multi-year investments in programs aimed at addressing violent crime in Baltimore and across our state. Governor Hogan has expedited the demolition of vacant homes in high-crime areas and pledged support from the State Police in high crime areas. With Baltimore reeling from its third year in a row of more than 300 homicides and being named the most violent city in America- this is nothing to be proud of. The crime spree in Baltimore did not happen overnight but it is obvious that the current practices in Baltimore are not working.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Krebs: Maryland’s business climate has improved dramatically over the last 3 years since Governor Hogan became Governor and declared that Maryland was “Open for Business”. We have reduced taxes, fees and regulations and state government employees are now focused on treating those they serve as “customers”. Customer service is evident in every department in state government. We passed the Governor’s More Jobs for Marylanders Act of 2017 that provides tax credits for specified business entities that locate their businesses in qualified target areas across the state and we passed tax incentives for small businesses to invest in equipment to grow their businesses. However, there is a constant battle with a faction of the Legislature who wants to impose more and more requirements on small businesses like mandatory “Paid Sick Leave” and increasing the minimum wage, which will inhibit the growth of small businesses. We are still working on getting our tax policy competitive with our surrounding states.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Krebs: Yes, I support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census. I was a cosponsor of Governor Hogan’s Redistricting Reform Act of 2018 which would have instituted an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process to ensure free and fair elections in Maryland. This legislation would have, once and for all, removed the politics and politicians from the process of drawing their own districts. The Act would have provided for a nonpartisan redistricting commission and would have created a fair, nonpartisan, open and transparent redistricting process. This would have put Maryland on a new path toward transparency, representation and election integrity. The vast majority of Marylanders support bipartisan redistricting reform. Unfortunately, the Legislature failed to take a vote on act on this commonsense legislation- now it is up to the Supreme Court to weigh in- one way or another, we must change the process that we currently have- it is broken. Elections districts should be compact, contiguous and keep communities of interest together and not cross political boundaries such as counties and towns.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Krebs: The Law Officers Bill of Rights does not need to be changed. It was put in place in the 1970s to protect the rights of Maryland’s law enforcement community. The bill was to give police officers certain rights that were being abused in certain jurisdictions. City officers were being suspended without evidence, forced to take lie detectors without being told of the charges against them and not given other rights enjoyed by ordinary citizens. The LOBOR has worked well across the state in protecting officers, the police agency and the citizens. Substantial changes were requested this year because of the illegal police activity of the highly publicized Gun Trace Force in Baltimore City. Unfortunately, many policy decisions in Annapolis are driven by one jurisdiction- Baltimore City. The changes suggested this year to the LOBOR would not have benefited Carroll County law enforcement or our citizens – we have the proper balance currently. We should be careful not to pass laws to address one jurisdictions problems that impact another jurisdiction negatively. I support allowing Baltimore City to adopt their own Law Officers Bill of Rights if they so choose, but the rest of the state should not have to be impacted.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Krebs: I support Governor Hogan’s declaration of a State of Emergency over the Heroin and Opioid Crisis and his establishment of an Operational Command Center to coordinate and direct resources, best practices and communication throughout Maryland. We need a coordinated strategy with local governments and within communities. There are many moving parts to this drug epidemic. The major source of the opioid epidemic is prescription drugs, then progressing to heroin- often laced with deadly chemicals such as Fentanyl and Carfentenyl. I cosponsored legislation creating a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) that would identify overprescribers (pill mill doctors), educating doctors as to proper pain medication dosages and alternative pain management and educating the public as to the root cause of this epidemic. We have deployed an “all hands on deck” response in Carroll County and convened an Opioid Senior Policy Group, of which I am a member. The group includes the health department, law enforcement, Carroll County Public Schools, Carroll Hospital, Access Carroll, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), emergency room doctors, social services, treatment providers, 911 dispatch and other interested parties. We have spread the message to our schools, churches, community groups and health providers. Our entire community will need to help us be part of the solution. The Maryland Department of Health is running television ads to bring attention to the urgency of this emergency - Education is key.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Krebs: The State’s role in addressing income inequality is to ensure an excellent education for every student and to provide an environment for economic opportunity – JOBS- for everyone. Currently in Maryland, we have the lowest unemployment rate in decades and many high paying jobs are left unfilled. We often have to go out of state to recruit qualified employees. Given that Maryland has the highest per capita income in the nation, every citizen should have the opportunity to work at a level so that they can provide for themselves and their family. Focusing our education system, both K-12 and post-secondary, on career ready skills is essential. Community Colleges must be used for job training and retraining and meeting the needs of the workforce and our employers. We also must ensure that our students and workers have the soft skills necessary to be employed like showing up on time- ready to work and good communication skills. These skills are developed early on and must be reinforced our schools and at home.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Krebs: We have tightened up Maryland’s Public Information Act-PIA and Open Meetings Laws, but there is always work to be done. The public’s right to oversight of the government lies at the heart of a democratic government. Maryland’s PIA gives citizens a broad right of access to public records while protecting legitimate governmental interests and the privacy of individual citizens. Each level of government and each agency controls the requests for public information. We need to ensure that citizens are provided this information timely and completely. Fees may not be used to discourage requesters, the first two hours of search and preparation are received without charge and we have limited the costs allowed to be charged to only direct costs such as copying. Many government agencies are putting more and more public information online to make it easily available. I passed legislation a couple of years ago that required public posting of meeting agendas within a certain timeframe prior to holding a meeting. The public should not only have public notice of a meeting, they should know what will be on the agenda for that meeting. I cosponsored Governor Hogan’s Transparency Act of 2018 which required the broadcasting of floor debates and voting sessions of the Maryland General Assembly. Maryland is one of only 7 states in the nation that does not live stream deliberations-it is past time that Legislature’s deliberations be available to the public. Maryland citizens deserve accountability and transparency from their elected leaders.