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?
Smith: Yes. The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, otherwise known as the Kirwan Commission, has produced a set of critical policy recommendations aimed at ensuring Maryland schools become the best in the nation. Those recommendations range from creating greater incentives for teacher competitiveness to funding for universal pre-kindergarten. To those ends, I am committed to fully implementing the recommendations contained within the report as long as the needs of the entire state are kept in mind. Specifically, Montgomery County has the fastest growing and most diverse school population in the state - I will not support a funding formula that puts the largest - fastest growing - and most diverse jurisdiction in a position such that it does not receive its fair share of funding.
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?
Smith: While we need to invest in road repair and infrastructure enhancement, the State needs to invest more heavily in smart transit such as rail and dedicated bus lanes through out the state. The Baltimore Region is certainly undeserved and we must ensure we continue to support ideas like the Red Line .
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Smith: Yes, in fact I have been the lead sponsor on legislation to legalize, tax and regulate recreational 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?
Smith: Maryland should continue to invest in Chesapeake Bay Clean up and Restoration projects. Additionally we need to continue our work in implement proactive measures like strict liability for offshore drilling, legislation I supported and which passed this legislative session.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Smith: Our state needs to secure the individual market such that the cost of health insurance premiums are affordable for all Marylanders. For instance, I supported legislation this past legislative session that creates a temporary Reinsurance program, which will help cover the most expensive claims from people insured on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Smith: The state can and must implement legislation that fully funds initiatives like the Baltimore Safe Streets Initiative, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program, Victim and Witness relocation, The Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School in Baltimore City, and the Baltimore City Strategic Decision Support Centers. In addition to these programs we must also ensure that Baltimore City Public Schools receives proper funding and child care programs are expanded to assist working parents and to provide an enriching environment for children to thrive.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Smith: Maryland’s business climate is good but it can be so much better. In effort to create a business friendly ecosystem we need to make smart investments in transit (rail and BRT), affordable housing, and our public school system. Small and large businesses need these core elements to thrive - employees need accessible and affordable housing; their children need world-class schools to attend, and everyone needs an affordable / accessible mode of transportation to get to and from work. We could also do a better job in investing in our small businesses. Our state should look to end corporate tax loopholes that allow large multinational / multi-state corporations to avoid paying local and state taxes (combined reporting). By ending this practice and through investing more state dollars in small and local businesses we would be well on our way to ensuring we have an equitable business friendly environment in our state.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Smith: No - We still have much more work to be do to ensure adequate civilian oversight and involvement.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Smith: As opioid related deaths have continue to rise to record levels in Maryland. The majority of Marylanders who have succumbed to opioid addiction started their addiction through prescription painkillers. This past session I advocated for legislation that requires doctors to have in-depth conversations with patients about the risks associated with taking prescription painkillers. Through intense treatment and small steps like this we will be well on our way to combating this epidemic.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Smith: The state should act to raise the minimum wage, ensure fair and equal pay regardless of gender, opportunities for retraining and job certification and expanding access to higher education by lowering costs.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Smith: Government can always be more open and transparent. Ideally I’d like to see access to information through the MPIA made more accessible and affordable for the average citizen (sometimes the most in-depth requires monetary payment beyond what our lowest-income citizens can afford). With respect to the open meetings laws, Maryland could implement policies that ensure greater public notice of meetings beforehand so that citizens have adequate time to plan to attend these meetings should they desire.