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?
Geppi: I support measures to create greater accountability for school administrators. There are major issues related to how our school systems, and particularly Baltimore County, spend billions of taxpayer dollars. Simply putting billions more into our schools without increasing accountability would be highly irresponsible.
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?
Geppi: I believe that the state has adequate resources to meet its transportation needs. The state is properly funding roads and should continue to prioritize road improvement and construction needs. Transit should be made to collect a higher percentage of its costs from fare box recovery. I will oppose any attempts to increase taxes.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Geppi: I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana, but I do support medical marijuana.
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?
Geppi: Maryland should continue to focus on improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay by prioritizing efforts that are fully grounded in science. I will also support Governor Hogan’s policy of funding the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. It is also vitally important that the state assist homeowners on septic systems rather than place highly burdensome taxes on them.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Geppi: As Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health under Governor Hogan, I saw first hand just how unsustainable our current system really is. Premiums in the individual market, facilitated by the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange, must be stabilized. The recent efforts to create reinsurance for this market are only a short-term solution. The key is to lower the cost of health care. There is a lot of focus on the insurance side of health care, but rarely do efforts to lower actual costs of health care take a front seat. I am also a big believer in incentivizing physicians to keep patients healthy, rather than simply paying them more to treat sick patients. For instance, concierge physician practices see fewer patients, but are able to keep their patients healthier. This lowers the overall costs to treat patients. Government needs to get much more creative if we are ever going to have a sustainable system.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Geppi: Maryland needs to crack down on violent crime in Baltimore. Many criminals are given light sentences or released directly back onto the street. This catch and release policy that is effectively created by Baltimore’s judiciary is highly counterproductive to truly fighting crime. Additionally, citizens in Baltimore’s poorest communities need to be given a path that allows them to escape poverty. The best way to do this is to create a business environment that is conducive to job creation.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Geppi: As a business owner, I can say firsthand that Governor Hogan has vastly improved Maryland’s business climate. Regulations need to continue to be cut and taxes need to be lowered. I also believe that there are not enough business owners in Annapolis and the consequences are dire. This General Assembly is very quick to pass laws that are extremely burdensome to small businesses. In fact, many businesses operate on a very tight margin. When the government creates expensive new mandates (e.g. sick leave requirements, or much higher minimum wages) business owners are forced to make decisions that often hurt employees. In order to create more family-supporting jobs, the state needs to stop burdening our business owners with ever higher taxes and mandates. The state tries to incentivize business creation, but usually goes about it the wrong way. The laws of unintended consequences usually backfire on the folks in Annapolis. I intend to champion small business owners and innovative entrepreneurs to help create an environment that helps them get the private funding and support they need to be successful.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Geppi: Yes. The current system of allowing partisan gerrymandering does a major disservice to Maryland’s citizens. As an example, the 7th District spans from Norrisville to Middle River. This was done deliberately to pack as many Republicans into this district as possible so that more districts could have a Democratic majority. This was pure politics and didn’t consider the needs of our citizens.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Geppi: The Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) is vital to allowing police to do their job and it should not be weakened. Public opinion has swung widely to be mostly anti-law enforcement and many politicians have jumped on the anti-policy bandwagon. The General Assembly has considered many ways to make LEOBOR easier for good police officers to be punished. However, I truly believe that any law enforcement officer who violates the law should be punished just like any other citizen. There is no place for dirty cops in our state.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Geppi: I support efforts to deal with the opioid crisis by educating young people, treating addiction, and ramping up enforcement of drug laws to remove drugs and dealers from our streets. We truly need to increase the number of beds in the state not just for drug treatment, but for mental illness as well. Community outpatient treatment also needs to be prioritized and I will support funds for every county and Baltimore City.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Geppi: The General Assembly needs to be more conscious about supporting the business community in our state. I believe that the path out of poverty lies in the ability of our citizens to get family-supporting jobs. I also believe that entrepreneurship is a viable path for many to increase their income. Additionally, the low quality of education in many of the state’s low-income areas, and especially Baltimore City, serves to keep many in poverty for generations. Frankly, we have a crisis on our hands since Baltimore City has schools that have 0 students passing basic tests. These schools have completely failed. Unfortunately, the teachers’ unions in the state fight any effort to increase accountability or allow parents the choice to send their children to private school. I believe that parents with students in failing schools should be allowed to send their children to a private school with public voucher money. The fact that the unions oppose this shows just how self-serving they are and that they don’t really care about the outcomes for our children. This is unbelievably sad and income inequality will never be properly addressed until n not change until changes.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Geppi: I believe that the Public Information Act is strong, but that government officials need to be made to respond more quickly. Additionally, the open meetings law is routinely circumvented because there are rarely any legal repercussions on officials who violate this law. I would support strengthening the state’s open meeting laws.