Steven M. Bolen

Steven M. Bolen
  • Democrat
  • Age: 55
  • Residence: Ellicott City

About Steven M. Bolen

Education

I hold a Doctorate’s Degree (Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.) Degree, and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Electrical Engineering.

Background

I am a 27-year veteran of patriotic, dedicated Federal Service, and have taken an oath to protect and defend our democracy, our freedoms, and our American way of life. I have proven leadership working at executive levels and have demonstrated my ability to form coalitions of high-performing teams - across global enterprises, to successfully meet the challenges that have faced our nation. I am an engineer and scholar and have earned a doctorate’s degree in electrical engineering. I have published in professional journals, reviewed numerous technical publications, served as a panel co-chair for a professional engineering society, and have been invited to speak at international conferences and to participate as a scientist in international, earth-science field projects.

    Questionnaire

    1
    Kirwan
    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?
    Bolen: Education is a powerful investment that we can make in our future; and, one that we cannot ignore. It is smart economics - it develops a skilled labor force that is important to our long-term prosperity and economic success, it builds a stronger more productive society, and it creates opportunities for socio-economic advancement. I stand behind sensible, holistic policies to bring excellence to our schools and that address solutions that work for our children, parents, teachers and our communities. I support the findings of the Kirwan Commission - we need to close the opportunity gap, support families with young children and special needs children, and recognize teachers as highly-skilled professionals. We also need to “Lock-In” public school funding. It is essential that we provide our schools with fair, stable, reliable, predictable, and diverse sources of funding - funding that politicians can’t touch, so that we can build a world-class educational system that is second-to-none.
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    2
    Transportation
    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?
    Bolen: As a long-time commuter through our metropolitan area traffic I know first-hand the difficulties and frustrations that many people face - that is, spending too much time trying to get to where you are going instead of being there. Access to efficient, affordable, and safe transportation is essential to our economy, our environment, quality of life, and opportunities for advancement. Unfortunately, the current state of our transportation system is not keeping pace with our regional socio-economic needs. And, the reality is that no one solution will solve all of our transportation demands. I support a multi-tiered policy that manages demand, increases the capacity of existing systems, and that integrates humans-in-motion, private and public transportation, and transportation for hire modes. We need to control demand by building, revitalizing, and connecting our communities in ways that create efficient access to the places we need to get to; and, we need to improve infrastructure capacity to reduce the amount of time it takes to get there. Finally, we need to re-imagine how we think about transportation, land use, and links between different modes of transportation that are driven in data-centric ways to create a system that is affordable, environmentally friendly, sustainable, adaptable, and that can grow to meet our changing needs.
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    3
    Marijuana
    Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
    Bolen: First, we need to separate out the discussion between marijuana and hemp. One of the world’s oldest cultivated crops, industrial hemp has insignificant values of the THC compound that produces the psychoactive effect found in marijuana. Industrial hemp is an ecologically sound crop with beneficial, hard-to-ignore properties that has use in the rope, textile, paper, insulation, construction, health food, and composite materials industries. As such, I support the cultivation and commercial uses of industrial hemp. Medical marijuana is already legalized - at least for limited use, in Maryland and a majority of states and the District of Columbia. I support the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission and their efforts to ensure that medical marijuana is available to qualifying patients; and, in their role to exercise oversight of licensing, registration, inspection and testing to measures specific to Maryland’s medical cannabis program. I also support further research into medicinal uses and efficacy of medical marijuana. I believe that recreational use should be regulated, taxed, and enforced in much the same ways we do alcohol and tobacco. There should be age restrictions on purchase and consumption, restrictions on public intoxication - such as while operating a motor vehicle, boat, or firearm while under the influence, potency control; and, for public health and safety, there should be appropriate oversight on growers, processors, and dispensaries.
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    4
    Chesapeake Bay
    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?
    Bolen: The Chesapeake Bay is the country’s largest estuary. It is a natural resource that is important to our nation and our state’s heritage, ecology, economy, commerce, and recreation. As such, it is our responsibility to protect it, preserve it, and keep it clean. We need to hold the federal government, other states, and local Maryland governments accountable when they fail to enforce mandatory provisions of federal, state, and local environmental statutes, acts, and laws. A significant source of nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake is from nitrogen oxide that enters the Bay caused by air pollution from out-of-state power plants. During hot weather, this pollution also contributes to the information of ozone near the Earth’s surface threatening the health and well-being of Maryland citizens. Yet, the EPA has failed to act to compel upwind states to install and use the same air-cleaning technologies that Maryland requires for plants within our state. When the federal government fails in its role to exercise proper environmental stewardship of our environment - such as not enforcing the “good neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, or rolling back the Clean Power Plan, Maryland must act on its own. We need to empower our Attorney General to sue federal agencies to ensure compliance with environmental laws; and, we must expand, and enact our laws like the Healthy Air Act and Forest Conservation Act.
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    5
    Health Care
    What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
    Bolen: Maryland has already started down a sound path to creating an effective, broadly accessible healthcare delivery system that will reduce costs to businesses, patients, insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid. For nearly 40 years Maryland’s Health Services Cost Review Commission has set hospital reimbursement rates in what is known as an “all-payer, rate-setting” system. That means that hospitals must charge the same price for services to everyone regardless of what insurance they carry. This system has created the lowest rate-of-growth in hospital costs of any state in the country. Recently, tweaks to the system gave hospitals a global budget that didn’t change based on the number of admissions. This has incentivized them to keep the health system focused on keeping people healthy instead of just treating illness. Prevention and wellness programs that encourage health outside the hospital, eliminating unnecessary tests, and the use of case managers to connect patients to primary care is the emphasis. I support looking into ways to expand the all-payer system to a broader patient population, grouping patients together to negotiate prices, providing chronic care management outside the hospital, and using data-centric approaches to provide actionable care coordination among caregiver professionals.
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    6
    Crime
    What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
    Bolen: To reduce violent crime, we need to find solutions that address our communities as a whole and create equal opportunities for everyone to succeed. We need to break the school-to-prison pipeline, reduce the recidivism rate, and help families struggling to make ends meet. We cannot simply abandon our youth once they graduate from high school. We must help them transition from public education to become productive citizens in our communities. They need good jobs and marketable skills to obtain those jobs. We need to help them identify career paths and job choices before they graduate from high-school and provide them with continuing academic education or vocational training and with job placement after they graduate. Before inmates can re-enter society, they need training and education to give them updated, job-ready skills. They need rehabilitation through anger management, addiction treatment, mental care, or other services. But, most importantly, after release, they need jobs, continued treatment care, and safe, affordable housing. Working families need help with childcare, job advancement through continuing adult education and retraining, access to high-quality jobs, affordable health care, healthy food outlets, shopping, and safe, affordable housing.
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    7
    Business Climate
    How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
    Bolen: Maryland has one of the highest household median incomes in the country and one of the lowest poverty rates. It has a highly skilled, well-educated workforce and spends more per capita on research than most other states. But, despite this, our economy is falling short of its growth potential, and venture capitalists still prefer to make investments in companies in Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston. Large concentrations of poverty exist in Baltimore City, Somerset County, and elsewhere in Maryland. These areas are inclined to have higher levels of crime, poor schools, run-down housing, public health problems - and, lack of jobs, healthy food outlets, and recreational facilities. I support pro-growth policies that encourage small - and, minority-owned, business development and that builds entrepreneurship within communities; and, family-friendly policies that ensure living wages, stable work schedules, workplace leave to attend school activities, and that support continuing adult education and retraining for job advancement.
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    8
    Redistricting
    Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
    Bolen: I strongly support an end to partisan politics in drawing federal, state, and local districts. An independent panel should be formed to draw district lines that are fair, balanced, and unbiased. Furthermore, the panel should be transparent in its methods, determinations, and with the data it uses.
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    9
    LEOBR
    Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
    Bolen: Police officers bear an enormous responsibility in our communities. We grant them unique authorities needed to carry out their jobs, and we place our trust in their integrity and honor in discharging their duties. It is right that we hold them to the highest standards of accountability and ensure that they respect us and our civil liberties. However, if we are to attract and keep the finest officers - and, make sure they are an effective element of our public safety, then we must also support them, give them the tools they need, and protect their civil liberties as well. That does not mean they should be afforded special privileges outside the law not given to any other citizen. But, they should be allowed due process like any other citizen. We need to find solutions that keep our communities and police engaged in ways that promote mutual respect and trust. We need to attract and hire a police force that reflects the diversity of the communities they serve, provide officers with quality technical training and ethics-of-profession training, expand police outreach programs, and promote and advance officers with good leadership and demonstrated ethical character.
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    10
    Opioids
    What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
    Bolen: According to a report released in January by the Maryland Department of Health, the number of opioid-related deaths has nearly doubled since 2015. To combat opioid addiction, we need to explore programs that emphasize prevention, emergency care, and treatment. I support prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) that track the prescription and dispensing of drugs to monitor use and prevent over-prescribing, and programs that provide safe, responsible, convenient ways to discard prescription medicine. We should expand laws - such as professional immunity and third-party possession laws, that will allow broader public access to the lifesaving drug naloxone; and, we should provide long-term, sustained treatment of addiction disorders through medication-assisted treatment combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. Additionally, I am encouraged by the recent announcement to open a “stabilization” center in Baltimore to care for people under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This first-of-its-kind center in Maryland will take the load off of emergency rooms and combine medical care with community-based behavioral and social services. It represents a critical step forward to providing improved treatment options for people struggling with substance abuse. We also need to make sure that follow-on assistance is available to transition people from intensive rehabilitation programs toward personal independence.
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    11
    Income inequality
    What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
    Bolen: According to some experts, income inequality in the U.S. is on the rise. As the divide gets sharper, it will further segregate our communities into the “haves” and “have-nots.” The result will be the concentration of wealth, power, and influence into fewer hands opening up the potential for greater social injustice. I support public policy and legislation that will expand economic opportunity in low-income communities. We need to create entrepreneurship within disadvantaged communities and help low-income people and their communities build and retain wealth. We need to help our youth and provide them paths to higher education, vocational training, and job placement after they graduate from high school. We need to ensure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare - including mental health care, addiction care, and prescription drugs. And, finally, we need to make it easier for families to afford safe, stable housing. One way to do this is to allow all lawful income to be used to determine rent.
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    12
    Transparency
    Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
    Bolen: The purpose of the Public Information Act is to make sure that we all have the right to find out what our government is doing. I am running on a platform of transparent, responsible government. I believe that it is the solemn duty of our government to listen to us, to work for us, and to tell us what it is doing. That is the promise that all of our elected leaders are supposed to make, and one they need to make sure all levels of government keep. Except to protect legitimate state interests, individual privacy, or records exempt by law - such as attorney-client privileges, information should be readily available, and public records should be posted on the internet. A Compliance Board should be established to ensure government compliance and consistency in response to requests and denials, hear complaints and assess violations, and to make sure fees are level and fair.
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