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?
Hooe: For decades, I have been an advocate for higher teacher salaries, additional spending on schools and school construction, the reimplementation of vo-tech programs across Maryland, and improved student safety, however these improvements require tremendous amounts of money. I have proposed an Immigrant Pay to Work program whereby all 350,000 undocumented workers in Maryland would be required to purchase an annual temporary right to work for $1000 and their employers would be required to purchase an annual blanket hiring permit. My plan will raise $350 million per year in permit sales alone, and millions more after income taxes. We should not have to unfairly bear the full burden of education costs, but we should allow undocumented workers who are willing to undergo a background check, provide a physical address and pay taxes to lawfully enter the workforce. Everyone should be paying their fair share when it comes to education, because nothing is more important than our kids.
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?
Hooe: The entire Baltimore region is in desperate need of transportation improvements. Let’s improve our roads, safety laws and services with particular focus on: The elderly, Americans with disabilities and minorities. Transportation is a form of freedom and we should all have access to that freedom. As for financing improvements, we need to work toward additional revenue generation such as my immigrant pay to work program. We know what our needs are, and we know what needs to be done to address our failing roads, bridges and transit systems.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Hooe: I do not have a particular problem with adults who choose to privately use Marijuana, but I am concerned with public use of “pot” including use while operating vehicles or equipment, and I have concerns about minor children who may be exposed to the drug while in the sanctity of their own homes. In my opinion, we should be promoting a drug free culture, we should be investing in education and promoting financial independence. I do, however, respect individual rights and freedoms and am commited to finding solutions to these problems.
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?
Hooe: We need to work toward compliance with the clean air act standards, it is simply unacceptable that Maryland is deemed a non-attainment zone. As a state senator, I will rewrite comar to address deficiencies in our transportation safety law as it applies to the environment, and I will work to find common sense solutions to protecting our most precious natural resource, the Chesapeake Bay.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Hooe: Any meaningful solution to healthcare must include involvement from all of the stake holders which are; the doctors, the nurses, the insurance companies and the patients. We need complete, affordable, one stop coverage and care. We need to cut out corruption and abuses, and we need to put quality and affordability first.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Hooe: The state can provide Baltimore with the additional financial resources needed to hire more police and probation officers. Currently, the Baltimore police department is under staffed and overwhelmed. We need to improve police morale, and we need tougher sentences for violent adult offenders. We need to show compassion for youth violators, and our stake holders need to know that they are appreciated. Let’s put partisan politics aside and invest in doing the right thing.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Hooe: The Maryland economy has tremendous potential, but we are suffering from a shortage of skilled labor. We need to reintroduced vocational programs at the high school level and we need to develop incentives for small businesses to hire. Additionally, I believe it is time for us to tax internet sales, it’s not fair to force Maryland brick and mortar companies to compete against online companies that can sell products tax free.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Hooe: Gerrymandering is, in my opinion, one of the most offensive practices in politics and all voters should be incensed at the mere mention of the word. Unfair redistricting has kept numerous highly qualified public servants from getting into office and improving the problems we all face, while it has allowed many unproductive politicians to stay in office and exploit their positions of power. I fully support the creation of a non-partisan body to create fair legislative and congressional districts.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Hooe: I believe that the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights is adequate, and that recent changes have been made in the best interest of the public. As citizens we have every right to expect the highest level of professionalism from our police, and they deserve our respect and appreciation.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Hooe: I propose more treatment and less punishment for users, and tough mandatory sentencing for drug dealers. “If you offer illegal or regulated drugs for sale, then you go to jail.” .” Additionally, we need better mental health services, and we need to invest in occupational training for recovering addicts.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Hooe: For starters the state can stop using private contractors and temporary workers to fill state positions. If we need people in government, then let’s hire them. Additionally, there should be limits on the amount of time that an employee must work in an entry level position, except in industries such as agriculture. And, we must pass laws that ensure fair compensation for everyone.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Hooe: I believe that our current “PIA” gives the public adequate and timely access to records of all 3 branches, however we should consistently work toward greater transparency.