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?
Collier: I do believe that the state is currently providing assistance for low income children and families already. However, I do agree that a review should be done, if the system can be improved in some way. For instance, the Child Care Subsidy Program is already in place and its effectiveness could be reviewed. I agree that we need highly qualified teachers to foster a positive learning experience. Unfortunately, to my understanding teachers are leaving the vocation because the system is broken. We need real solutions that change the enormous problems we are facing locally and across our nation. I do believe in competitive wages, but things seem to have gotten out of control. Look at how much money school superintendents are being paid I agree with raising the bar on education to prepare some students for college and to ensure that all students are prepared to meet the many challenges they will face in the real world. I would also agree that many high school diplomas are nothing more than attendance certificates in many instances. Developing early warning systems in education is necessary and needs to be implemented in the best interest of the student and the best interest of society as well. According to the Parent2Parent Network, the real problem in education revolves around federal, state and local government standards as well as their policies! Bullying and lack of accountability are two of the biggest problems that we need to be addressed immediately within our public school systems.
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?
Collier: I believe that road construction/repair and transit budget spending is balanced. However I believe there are a lot of improvements that still need to be done. Our roads are in bad shape and there is still a lot of room for improvements on the current transit system. Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line was a very wise one. The Governor saved the taxpayers from wasting a lot of their hard earned tax dollars on what would have been a boondoggle project.
Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?
Collier: Yes, but with very strict guidelines.
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?
Collier: 1. The Man-O-War Shoal needs to be preserved in my district. 2. Implement the Revolutionary Aquatic Device (RAD 4 S.S.). 3. Prevent trash from entering waterways via the sewer system. 4. Safely dredge the Conowingo Dam’s toxic sediment. 5. Maryland needs more stringent oversight over industrial and farm waste into our ecosystem. 6. Proper enforcement of our current littering laws. Cigarette butts and trash do not evaporate into thin air. 7. We need to do a better job as a society of educating the public on how improperly disposing their trash adversely harms the environment. 8. The “Trash for Cash Program” that I recommended in 2014 would give the public financial incentive to recycle.
What steps should Maryland take to ensure the broadest possible access to affordable health care?
Collier: 1. Implementing prevention and awareness regarding drug use, traumatic brain injury, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer prevention will save billions of taxpayer dollars. Doing this will make our citizens healthier and also make healthcare much more affordable for everyone. 2. We must also educate all of our healthcare providers on modern prevention techniques. 3. We must hold Workers’ Compensation accountable for insuring that liable parties are paying the bills of individuals who are injured on the job. In many instances this astronomical financial burden is being placed on the taxpayers’ backs. This should be stopped immediately.
What role should the state play in helping Baltimore address violent crime?
Collier: I would strongly recommend that the State of Maryland consider hiring Delegate Pat McDonough as a consultant to clean up Baltimore City.
How would you characterize Maryland’s business climate? What can the state do to foster the creation of more family-supporting jobs?
Collier: Thanks to Governor Hogan the business climate is moving in a positive direction. Employment is growing, sales are up in many industries. Evening the playing field for all businesses to grow would help make Maryland more competitive to the other 49 states. As for fostering the creation of family supporting jobs, companies complain that they can’t find employees with all the skills they need. There is a real disconnect between education and industry. Spreading the word about Maryland’s Workforce Exchange site would also help. I believe there are many innovative ideas that creative Marylanders have–that could be realized– which could spur new businesses if the government would start listening and investing in them.
Do you support the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps after each census?
Collier: Yes. I believe in the creation of a non-partisan, independent body to draw legislative and congressional district maps. However, after each census there should be a review. If it is determined that a redrawing of districts is necessary then and only then should it be redrawn.
Does the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights adequately balance protections for police and the public? Should it be changed, and if so, how?
Collier: I’m in favor of civilian review boards to ensure the integrity of the law enforcement community’s hearing board process. This would bring more balance to the review process, especially in cases of excessive force. We need to do more to educate the public on how to interact with police to avoid escalating situations and to also, prevent a further divide between police and citizens. In addition, our law enforcement officers–as hard as their job may be–need to treat their fellow citizens with the utmost respect. They should not be slamming people to the ground who are intoxicated, handcuffed or who are not resisting arrest. As a traumatic brain injury survivor, I know how quickly someone’s life can change and possibly ended by a blow to the head. I am also concerned about the treatment of our officers and am in full support of them using any means necessary to apprehend an individual who becomes physically (violently) engaged with officers in the performance of their duty. The media need to be more responsible about covering police brutality incidents. They create hysteria where sometimes it is not justified. Factual accuracy instead of being the first to report a story should be paramount.
What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Collier: I would adopt a very strong social media, grade school, network TV and radio public service announcements. Education prevention starts at a young age. Teach them why they should not ruin their lives with hard drugs.
What if anything should the state do to address income inequality?
Collier: The state is already doing a lot to help address income inequality. But there is always room for improvement. We need to take away the stigma of blue collar, dirty jobs. Providing a modern, free or low cost industry-certified education for job openings would go a long way to closing the income gap. Subjecting our young adults to a life of insurmountable student loan debt is morally wrong. Consider merit based government backed loans or grants for job creating entrepreneurs. This will allow people with innovative ideas to explore their potential. It’s time to stop giving millions of dollars in forgivable loans to large businesses and start investing in the average man or woman. Helping ex-convicts get back into society after they have served their time. Finally, teaching the National Center for Policy Analysis’ How Not to Be Poor lessons to our youth.
Do the state’s Public Information Act and open meetings laws adequately ensure Marylanders’ ability to exercise oversight of the government?
Collier: I do believe things have improved since Governor Hogan took office and Maryland is one of the most transparent governments in the country. However, I have run into a double standard when attending a few public meetings over the years. News reporters are allowed to take notes but video recording by myself or others was not allowed. The internet, in particular social media interactions, have really helped inform the subject on important issues. I would like to see more of that. There is one big issue with the PIA and that is the State can make it very costly to acquire records. It can also take a long time to get access to records. There are inefficiencies in the system that should be corrected.