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?
Beidle: Yes, I do support the findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. This is confirmed by my vote this year for HB1415. I am looking forward to the Kirwin Commission completing their work. I will continue to support education funding and my record reflects that support.
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?
Beidle: Maryland’s transportation spending is not appropriately balanced between roads and transit. Maryland cannot continue to build roads that encourages more congestion. We need to be looking to the future for ways to mitigate the congestion. I have chaired the subcommittee for Motor Vehicle and Transportation Policy for the past four years. Educating voters on the need for mass transit is not an easy task. Annapolis is one of only 8 capitals in the country that does not have mass transit available to the capital. I sponsored HB1468 to assist employers and employees with job access. In my opinion Baltimore Link has not done enough to improve transportation in the Baltimore region.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Beidle: I am not a fan of legalizing recreational marijuana. I have observed the increase in vehicle accidents in the states that have allowed recreational marijuana and the combination of using marijuana along with distracted driving is not a good combination.
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?
Beidle: As a member of the Environment and Transportation Committee for the past twelve years, I have seen Maryland make many changes that are helping to improve the Bay and we are seeing significant improvement. We have implemented cover crops, limited development in critical areas, limited new septic systems and required BAT systems, increased the oyster population and improved our major and minor waste water plants. The pollution from the Conowingo Dam continues to be our problem and the Federal Government must help us with that issue.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Beidle: Maryland took major steps this year to help our citizens with affordable health care. The ACA Workgroup is working to lower premiums in the individual market by seeking a federal waiver for flexibility to use federal funds to help create a state-run reinsurance program and curb the premium increase from having substantial effects on the rest of the insurance market. HB 1782 will authorize the State to collect the 2.75% ($380 million) in suspended federal fees from insurance companies to pay for a state reinsurance pool. It also requires a study to explore further long-term solutions for the insurance industry and stabilize individual market rates. I will continue to support ways to find affordable health care for everyone.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Beidle: Baltimore is an important contributor to Maryland’s economy. We need to help increase the police protection in communities. We passed bills this year for sentencing mandates for repeat offenders and firearm safety bills. More needs to be done and Baltimore City’s leadership in this role is important. We are “one Maryland” and assisting Baltimore with their crime issue helps all of Maryland.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Beidle: Maryland’s business climate is good, but could be better. Our employment rate is one of the lowest in the country. As a State we need to better prepare our workforce, which is being addressed by the Kirwin Commission, we also need to provide more dependable transportation. The Augustine Commission recommended reducing corporate tax and I will support that reduction.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Beidle: Yes, I do support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to create the legislative and congressional district maps after the next census. The gerrymandering, by both parties, has to stop.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Beidle: As citizens, have a right to decide how our police departments are run, how our officers are trained, and how they are held accountable. As times change, our laws are re-evaluated to ensure that they continue to operate as intended. I was proud to support the 2016 police reform legislation submitted by the Workgroup on Public Safety and Policing. Considered landmark police reform legislation, this new law codified the requirement that all police disciplinary hearings be open to the public, allows a police chief to appoint a civilian member to hearing boards, and, if authorized by local law, include up to two voting or nonvoting members of the public to serve on the hearing boards. The law makes it easier for police officers to disclose information that evidences gross mismanagement, dangers to the public, or even violations of law committed by other law enforcement officers. The new law also made sweeping changes to the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission and many of the benefits from these changes are just now being realized.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Beidle: The legislature is working to address the opioid crises. Both prevention and treatment are strategies that we need to embrace. Anne Arundel County is a model for the country with our “Safe Stations” and the “Not my Child” prevention program. The over dose epidemic seems to increase even with all the programs and help we are providing. As a State, we need to continue to work on prevention and enforcement and tough sentencing for drug dealers. HB1092 includes mobile crises teams, crises residential beds and crises response teams. Funding will be provided by annual grants beginning in 2020. More needs to be done to follow suspicious prescriptions and educating doctors about over prescribing. Opioid addiction often begins with an injury that requires pain medication.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Beidle: The State can address income equality by doing a better job of preparing our workforce for the jobs that are available, provide more dependable transportation, and increase the minimum wage for our full time workers. Maryland has a very high cost of living compared to many of our surrounding states.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Beidle: In my opinion the Public Information Act and open meetings laws do adequately ensure Marylanders’ the ability to exercise oversight in government. All of our legislative meetings are open and recorded. If a citizen misses a meeting or cannot attend a meeting, they can go back and watch our proceedings. In Anne Arundel County the same is true of our County Council meetings, our Board of Education meetings and our School Board Nominating Commission meetings. I feel that sometimes citizens do not know where to find the information and my office does help direct our citizens with that information.