Questions For Candidates
Click Below to see the QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES for State Delegate in District 15
Questions for Candidates for State Delegate in District 15
- MINIMUM WAGE: The State minimum wage currently is $9.25 and will increase to $10.10 on July 1. Bills to raise the State minimum wage failed to advance in either the House of Delegates or Senate. What’s your view on raising the State minimum wage.
Republican Candidate Response:
These bills all failed to advance because of the reality that a $15 Minimum Wage creates… it impedes small business growth and ultimately it drives small businesses out of the state. There is no better example that can be offered than the single largest county in the State – Montgomery County (MoCo) and the abysmal business record that the leadership of the county has amassed over the past 10 years. In a study recently released by the Sage Policy Group of Baltimore, Anirban Basu the CEO notes that among other business health indicators for the county that Montgomery County has added only net 6 new business in the past 10 years while surrounding jurisdictions have added well over 13,000. Electing Montgomery County Democrats to the State Legislature will bring the same perverse ideas to Annapolis. Its failing MoCo and it will fail Maryland if Republicans are not sent to the State House.
- FOOD INSECURITY: Nearly 18% (almost 1 in 5) households with children in Maryland struggle to provide regular, healthy meals for their families. What specific actions would you take to reduce the food hardship rate in our state.
Republican Candidate Response:
Headlines from past years: Maryland is number one, again. For the second year in a row, Maryland leads the nation in food stamp fraud. It is so bad that the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture fined the state $742,238 in 2010 and $1,474,999 in 2011. Maryland's food stamp program, known officially now as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a $837 million program that is administered by the Maryland Family Investment Administration (FIA).
More headlines: 14 Retailers Facing Federal Indictment for $16 Million Food Stamp Fraud, Defendants Allegedly Received Over $16 Million from USDA for Food Stamps Allegedly Traded for Cash; 26 Search Warrants Executed; 46 Bank Accounts Seized.
If the abuses of the system continue, those in need will still fall short of the nutritional needs of their families. This is not a case of not enough funding to provide a safety net for those who are truly in need. It is a clear-cut case of defrauding the system by the very adults that we look to keep Maryland children fed and protected. We need to focus on the root cause of the problem. It is how we administer the program that needs to be adjusted. There is plenty of money and there is plenty of food. We need policies that ensure that the money is used to buy nutritional food and is not being traded for cigarettes, chips, beer and lottery tickets. If we can do that, we can help those most in need. Electing Democrats to the State Legislature will not change the outcome. The names and the faces will be different; but, the policies will be the same. The only way to get the change Maryland needs is to send Republicans to the State legislature in 2018.
- Criminal Justice: During the last legislative session, the General Assembly passed several measures related to increasing criminal penalties for certain offenses. What further action, if any, is warranted related to penalties, bail, and other criminal procedure issues, especially considering recent public outcries against mass incarceration?
Republican Candidate Response:
I think it is very important to take on the 500-pound gorilla in the room on this one… the use of the term “Mass Incarceration”. To the best of my knowledge and despite the rhetoric from the progressive left on this matter there are no “mass Incarcerations being conducted in the United Sates or the State of Maryland today. History tells us that the last time there was a “Mass Incarceration” in the US was right after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Democrat Administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt rounded up the Japanese Americans and forced them into detention camps where they remained for the duration of World War II. The hypothetical idea that if we were to get into a war with China the government might want to round up the Chinese immigrant community, taking their homes and businesses and; hold them in detention camps on the premise that they might support the government of China is not out of the realm of possibility… even today! We cannot ignore the history… they did it before and they are completely capable of doing it again.
In the context of our criminal justice system the term “Mass Incarceration” is used to describe the disproportionate numbers of Blacks and Latino’s that have been convicted of crimes against society and sentenced to prison terms of short duration to life without parole. The root cause of the problem: Committing the crime in the first place! If no crime is committed no “Incarceration” can occur! And after spending time in prison do offenders offed again? About 68 percent of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states in 2005 were arrested for a new crime within three years of their release from prison, and 77 percent were arrested within five years, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). According to the report, prisoners released after serving time for a property offense were the most likely to recidivate, or relapse into crime. The report also found that recidivism was highest among males, blacks and young adults. Within five years of release, 82 percent of property offenders were arrested for a new crime, compared to 77 percent of drug offenders, 74 percent of public order offenders and 71 percent of violent offenders, the report found.
The crimes are being committed against you and me… so the problem is real, and we must address it. I do not believe that there such a thing as a “victimless” crime. All criminal acts have an impact on someone… family, friends, colleagues… someone. If we are serios about reducing the number of people who are serving sentences for their crimes against society then we must look to the root cause of the problem and work to reduce the number of crimes that are being committed. I would submit that the drug crisis in this country would be a very good place to start. This will be a matter for discussion in an upcoming response.
4.Affordable Housing: The cost of living in Montgomery County has become more and more challenging for many working families. What do you think can be done at the state level to increase access to affordable housing in the county?
A Republican Candidates Response:
By all accounts there is a sufficient amount of affordable housing in MoCo. The costs have become more challenging as the county continues to raise property taxes on those who are able to own their homes. While the property taxes are deductible from income tax the reality is that it is an upfront cost that must be paid before it can be recovered and that is a direct result of the counties insatiable appetite to raise taxes no matter who it impacts.
From the state level the Maryland General Assembly created the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust in 1992 to make affordable housing more available throughout the State of Maryland. The Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees and staffed by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. A portion of the interest generated by title company escrow provides the funding for the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust. While all activities funded by the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust generally serve residents with incomes of less than 50% of statewide or area median, whichever is higher, preference is given to projects that serve households with incomes of less than 30% of median.
Projects that meet the following criteria will be most competitive:
- Target very low-income persons
- Provide housing for families with minor children and/or single adults in Single Room Occupancy units;
- Demonstrate project readiness and feasibility;
- Project long-term affordability (for capital projects);
- Demonstrate need /demand for housing in geographic area and helps achieve equitable geographic distribution of Maryland Affordable Housing Trust funds;
- Leverage other funds and/or provide the final piece in a financing package; and
- Provide self-sufficiency services.
I will support this programs sustainment from the state level but; there are no addition resources to go beyond this level of activity. This is the safety net… not the promise that everyone can own a home.
- Amazon: Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill that would allow Maryland to offer Amazon up to $5Billion in incentives to build its second headquarters in White Flint, brining as many as 50,000 new jobs. What are the pros and cons of an Amazon headquarters in Montgomery County?
A Republican Candidates Response:
While the State of Maryland is offering a $5B incentive package, Montgomery County seems to be only interested in having Amazon locate here but is completely silent on what the county could or should do to enhance its attractiveness. The offer made by the Governor is the right way to go about attracting new business to the state. On the other hand, the way Montgomery County treats business of all types it would not surprise me of Jeff Bezos has already scratched MoCo from his list. The progressive attitudes and ideas in MoCo are not business friendly. In 10 years MoCo has added a net 6 new business. And given the recent employee head tax levied on Amazon by the very left leaning Seattle City Council there might be some concern that MoCo sees a real “cash cow” coming their way and will pull the same thing as Seattle and tax Amazon to pay for all the social justice programs the county council feels are needed in addition to the normal business taxes that the county would receive.
On the “PRO” side of the issue is:
- If Amazon picks Montgomery County as the site for its second headquarters, the online retail giant’s presence would add $17 billion per year to Maryland’s economy and $7.7 billion in annual wages, a study released Wednesday shows.
- Amazon’s HQ2 project also would support 101,000 total jobs and generate $280 million annually in additional county tax receipts and $483 million in annual state tax receipts, said the study conducted for the state Department of Commerce and Montgomery County by Baltimore-based Sage Policy Group Inc.
- The creation for 50,000 new jobs at all levels of workforce participation from executive to hourly wage earners. (Note to Mr. Bezos: Watch out for that recently passes $15/hour minimum wage the county council passed.)
- New construction and infrastructure for the county
- More cash flow throughout the entire community from retail stores to those who supply services such as doctors and dentists and automobile dealers… a general increase in spending power throughout the county. We might even get a few new eating establishments if we can dump our arcane and outdated liquor sales laws in the county.
- It will be a magnet for other opportunities that have been alluding MoCo for the past 15 years.
On the “Con” side of the issue is:
- The road network and infrastructure improvements needed in the White Flint site will strangle traffic and make movement through that part of the county impossible. It will make Tysons Corner, VA look like an express route. We are simply not prepared to expand at a fast-enough pace to ensure that the quality of life for the residence in that area will not be adversely impacted… for a very long time. The traffic at rush hour on M355 already sucks… hard to see how this will help.
- The school system will not be able to handle the influx of additional students without significant adjustments.
- Rental properties will see a significant rise in prices… impacting the lower end rental residence disproportionately.
Its an economic choice that can truly be the “life saver” that MoCo has been needing for some time under the progressive and unfriendly business policy of the Democrats who have run the county for the past 20 years. However, that I said without an infusion of new, business friendly ideas there is little expectation that this opportunity will be squandered in the interest of progressive idealism as has been the goal of the Democratic leadership of both the county council and the representatives of MoCo in Annapolis.
- Health Care: The sustainability of the Affordable Health Care Act is being questioned. What steps can we take to ensure that all Marylanders have access to affordable health care?
A Republican Candidates Response: The issue of affordable health care in the State of Maryland is not really an issue at all. Governor Larry Hogan has signed a bill that is designed to protect the state’s health insurance program. In a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis, Hogan said state leaders had to step in because Congress failed to act: “This problem should have been solved in Washington, but nothing has been done,”
To shore up the Maryland Health Care Exchange, the bill protects insurers against skyrocketing costs by creating a reinsurance program. Hogan supports a separate bill that taps about $380 million that health insurance companies no longer have to pay in federal taxes due to changes in the federal tax code. The money will be used to keep rates costs down over the next year.
These measures are not popular with the Republican base in the state, but they appear to be good commonsense measures that are agreed to by the Governor and the Legislature and for now it is the path forward for the people of Maryland.
Now wouldn’t it be nice if the Democrats knew this… they already won and yet they keep complaining or maybe they just want the issue and really do not care that a solution has been provided by the Republican Governor of Maryland.
- GUN VIOLENCE: Maryland passed some of the toughest new gun laws in the country this year. It banned bump stocks and agreed to let law enforcement confiscate guns from people who are believed to be an “extreme risk”. What more if anything should Maryland do to address gun violence?
A Republican Candidates Response: The answer is contained in the very first line of the question… Maryland passed some of the toughest new gun laws in the country… and yet the violence persists… not because of the gun but because of an epic fail of society to focus on the root cause of the problem… people. It has been demonstrated time and again that the person behind the gun has been the problem. Banning a certain type of weapon will not solve it. Banning guns altogether will not solve it and pretending to solve the problem with gun laws that go unenforced will not solve it. We take away the guns and they will use a knife. We take away the knives and they will use a car. We take away the cars and they will use a tree limb… a bit of the absurd to make a point. The solution would be to make everyone walk around naked, so we can see what they are carrying… nothing concealed, no weapons visible… good to go!
The real “slippery slope” here is the agreement to allow law enforcement to confiscate weapons of those believed to be an “extreme risk”. As all laws are open to interpretation should I be concerned that anyone with a gun in their position can and will be defined as an extreme risk – just for the simple position of a gun. I understand that this is an action that can only be ordered by a judge… but what possible outcome can we expect when the judges are liberal minded on such matters and have no problem legislating from the bench! This is a very dangerous precedent and needs to be reversed before we start to see the confiscation of guns in Maryland… our 2d Amendment rights are at risk here.
- Immigration: Attorney General Brian Frosh has concluded that local law enforcement agencies should not see to enforce federal immigration laws. What protections do you support for immigrant families in Maryland and Montgomery County?
A Republican Candidates Response: The Attorney General of the State of Maryland should first read the Maryland State Constitution, a constitution that he swore an oath to uphold and defend. The Maryland Constitution states in part:
“We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security thereof, declare:
Article 1. That all Government of right originates from the People, is founded in compact only, and instituted solely for the good of the whole; and they have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their Form of Government in such manner as they may deem expedient.
Art. 2. The Constitution of the United States, and the Laws made, or which shall be made, in pursuance thereof, and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, are, and shall be the Supreme Law of the State; and the Judges of this State, and all the People of this State, are, and shall be bound thereby; anything in the Constitution or Law of this State to the contrary notwithstanding.
It is clear and unequivocal… the Attorney General of the State of Maryland has violated his oath of office in not supporting the immigration laws of the United States Federal Government. Let me be clear the language is as clear as it can be… “Laws made, or which shall be made, in pursuance thereof, and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, are, and shall be the Supreme Law of the State”. The First article all says: “That all Government of right originates from the People… “they have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their Form of Government in such manner as they may deem expedient”. It does not say the Attorney general has that right… it’s the people and no such change has ever been proposed to change the form of government that the people of Maryland want.
As for our illegal immigration problem the easiest solution is to have them retuned to where they came from. If there is a family issue with children who are citizens and parents who are not citizens, then the children need to return with their parents. Just as we have accommodated those who need English As a Second Language so can the receiving country establish Spanish as a Second Language for those who do not speak it. Our tax rates are up and our productivity as a state and county are down along with education and quality of life for many. It is a problem not easily solved but the idea of ignoring the law is simply not an acceptable solution.
- Opioid Epidemic: Daily we hear tragic stories associated with addiction. As a delegate what measures would your support to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths in Maryland.
A Republican Candidates Response: I would support the on-going efforts of the Hogan administration who just this past March of 2018 committed $50M over the next five years to beef up enforcement, prevention and treatment services. The governor, who lost a cousin to addiction years ago, said the declaration underscores what he described as “an all-hands-on-deck approach” to growing rates of heroin, opioid and fentanyl use. All Hand On Deck is what it is going to take to win this battle. We have to change the lax and feckless attitudes of those who think drug use and abuse are just another entitlement. We cannot arrest our way out of this crisis. Federal, State and Local government must align on quality of life lines not on political identity lines if we are to beat this scourge. We to work together to bring this under control.
- School Safety: The whole country is in a state of alarm over the frequency of school shootings. What would you do to increase school safety, specifically addressing the issue of arming teachers in public and private schools?
A Republican Candidates Response: The issue of increasing school safety is a very important issue for anyone running for public office today. The focus up to this point has been on guns. I do not believe that we will solve the problem with additional gun laws. The assumption with additional laws is that the perpetrators will abide by the law… they will not. Maryland already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and any additional burdens placed on gun ownership in Maryland will start to impact 2d Amendment rights. The solution is multi-faceted and requires the buy-in of all those who have direct and indirect contact with students and teachers. First, there needs to be the recognition that there are some in the system that are not mentally stable. The schools must adopt a policy of identifying and calling these people out so that they can be afforded the treatment they need. The response of political correctness needs to be put aside, and these people identified and sent to treatment.
We need to recognize that not all of the students will be college material. The constant drum beat on young students to perform to college level achievement standards places an incredible amount of peer pressure on these people. We need to ensure that “success” is not defined solely by the ability to be accepted to a college or university. The introduction of more vocational courses that offer career choices that do not require college educations but are defined a success-oriented skills and achievements can go a long way in relieving some of the mental challenges that are trip wire to gun related violence.
In addition, we must consider physically hardening the schools in a way that applies the latest technologies in bullet resistant materials without them being obvious to the casual observer. The technology to do this is available to us today. We need the budget commitments to make such hardening of the schools a reality. Bullet resistant materials added to the back of classroom doors will greatly reduce the opportunity for a bullet to penetrate the door and cause damage to people on the opposite side. The application of these materials is simple, fast and will instantly increase the level of protection. What is needed is the will to budget such solutions and to acquire them in a timely fashion.
The School Resource Officers will remain a key component of the overall solution. And if we are going to arm selected teachers then it should be done with the concurrence and the training of the School Resource Officer. They should work as a Team, understanding the role that each play if an active shooter is encountered and how each will respond to a situation. Formal gun range training done together will help to bring this solution to a more achievable outcome, ensuring that the opportunity to minimize errors is achieved as well.
It is a very difficult challenge, but it must start with the leaders both in government and in the school system… providing what is needed at all levels of effort to increase the safety of all the children placed in our care.
- Traffic: Governor Hogan has proposed adding toll lanes to the beltway and Interstate 270 to help ease traffic congestion. What are your thoughts on this proposal?
A Republican Candidates Response: The question as posed by the moderator fails to capture the true intent and purpose of the Governor’s proposed addition of toll lanes to the Beltway and I-270. The plan is not to just add the toll lanes but to do it through a Public-Private Partnership so that the tax payers will have a much smaller burden to bare in the execution of the project. There can be no doubt that those who must travel on I-270 will agree that something must be done to relive the travel times incurred at rush hour --- or more accurately stated rush HOURS… The addition of the toll lanes as proposed by the Governor’s plan will relieve congestion and make the trip shorter by opening toll lanes and allowing some of the traffic to pass in a more rapid fashion. Those who form carpools will be allowed to make use of the toll lanes without the burden of paying the tolls. A special EZ Pass for car poolers will not be charged during rush hours for the use of the lanes. More cars taken off the road as carpools are formed to take advantage of the opportunity.
Something must be done to improve the quality of life for those who live along the I-270 corridor. Governor Hogan is on the right track with this PPP approach and I full back him on this effort.
- Redistricting: The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case in March that involves alleged gerrymandering in Maryland’s Congressional districts. What is your view of requiring a commission to review Maryland’s congressional districting?
A Republican Candidates Response: Since this question was posed to the candidates at the Forum there has been an update to this issue. In Mid-June the Supreme court announced that it would not take up the issue of gerrymandered districts in the State of Maryland. It did not rule on the merits of the case. It did not take up the issue because it felt that the issue was a political one and not one routed in law. The Court has always been reluctant to delve into cases that were politically based and based in the law. It did not rule… this time but left the door open for a further decision prior to the 2020 elections.
Now let’s be clear here… The current districting of the state is way out of balance when it comes to insuring that both the Democrats and the Republicans get a voice in government at both the federal and state levels. Governor Hogan attempted to introduce a bill in the 2018 legislative cycle to address the issue and the Democrats would not bring the bill to the floor for a vote before the end of the legislative session. However, when the Supreme Court took up the case in March the Dems were all in favor of working with the Governor because they thought the Supremes’ were going to slam dunk them.
Now that the high court has chosen not to address the issue can we count on the Dems in the State Legislature to want to cooperate with Governor Hogan and a bi-partisan commission to redistrict Maryland…. I think not. And why should they… they own the field right now and any plan or effort at redistricting would only work against them. This is why it is critical that Republicans get out the vote in November to ensure that we get enough new Republicans elected to the State Legislature. Without the ability to match the Dems vote for vote the idea of bringing balance back to the voting system in Maryland may be lost forever.