The Issues

The people of Maryland must make a fundamental decision come Election Day. Our job in Maryland is not done, if we are going to advance equality, prosperity, and justice for all in our State, we must acknowledge that changes need to be made and our voices need to be heard.
Education

Our Plan At-a-Glance: 

  • Create a Public School system in Maryland that is fully funded

    • Free Pre-K for 4-year olds and qualifying 3-year olds with full-day services for working families

    • Funding a wide range of academic programs to include STEM, the Arts, Civics, and Apprenticeships

  • Recruitment and Retention of high caliber personnel

    • Working with County officials, school administrators, and department chairs to standardize a streamlined personnel placement system for new hires​

    • Increase salaries to capture a robust field of highly qualified and enthusiastic applicants

    • Create a career guided environment with professional development incentives and training programs

  • Create an innovative learning environment that parallels the frontier of our social evolutions

    • Building a society that has become reliant on science on technology should be reflected in the academic approaches taken with our students ​

Public School Education:  I grew up in Florida and attended among the worst public school systems in the country. Here in Maryland, we are fortunate to have the nation's top schools. This is a system in which I want my son, and all of our children, to benefit from.  There is a sentiment that if our children want a proper education they must stray away from the public school standards and pay the high prices of private institutions. Public schools--not private--should be the standard in which we educate our children. Our kids should not be burdened with less of an education because it costs too much, or they live too far to go to a "good school".

I cannot allow our educators to accept that their Government cannot afford the resources or salaries they deserve. Our government can afford it--it chooses not to. 

Maryland voters thought by approving casinos, generated revenue would go to educating our children. With Maryland casinos on track to gain about $2 billion in revenue, many school are facing budget cuts, and are unable to pay the bills. How is this happening? Maryland Comptroller, Peter Franchot mentioned the thought of casinos going to fund education was a "cynical effort to dupe people" and that it was "fundamentally a lie". Anne Arundel County has the 3rd highest per-capita income in the state, and our children are among the lowest funded students in Maryland. We must hold the Maryland casino industry, and our elected leaders accountable for the promises made that mandate these revenues going to fund our children's education and the schools they attend.

 

Public College and Adult Education:  The investments we make in continuing our education are investments we make to our community. On average, students who graduate college yield significantly higher incomes and networking capabilities. In turn, higher incomes benefit our communities through taxes cycling back to benefit our schools, public goods and services, roads, and other critical metropolitan functions. The Harvard Business Review mentions that students who graduate with a Bachelor's degree can expect to earn $445,000 - $655,000 more throughout their careers than with a High School diploma.

Despite the prospect of financial gain after graduating, many college students are feeling the pressure of financial instability due to the extraordinary costs of furthering their education. More and more students are finding themselves shackled to their student loans. Over the last 10 years, student debt has increased by a factor of 3 to an amount of $1.23 trillion. Forbes made a comparison to student debt and overall happiness on recent graduates, "Human knowledge must be shared, or else it becomes worthless. Attaining a future where anyone can pursue higher learning without ruining their financial standing or their sanity should high on our list of shared priorities now and always."

Adults should have every opportunity to be educated as well. There are five times as many adults as there are children in our communities. Adults are a vital part of our democracy, for they wield resources, stimulate economies, and vote. It is crucial that our adult population has access to affordable academic and professional development learning environments. A true democracy progresses when we have an informed electorate. As passionate as I am to provide the greatest education our children can obtain, the benefits to society would have to wait 10-20 years to feel those benefits. As a society, in this time, we can't afford to wait. Adult education will ultimately provide an educational bedrock for our children to excel in their studies.

Funding:  In 2002, the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act was passed, and created a path to some of the highest funding packages received by Maryland Public Schools. This act, commonly referred to as Thornton, established a state school aid formula to ensure that schools and school systems have the resources necessary to provide every child with an adequate and equitable education. The success of our children should not be dependent on the zip code they live in. Every child deserves the same opportunity to thrive in an academic setting. There appears to be virtually no chance that the final report will recommend spending the same amount or less on public schools than we do now. Every indication is that the Kirwan Commission’s report is going to call for increasing state and local contributions to education, perhaps as significantly as the Thornton Commission did 15 years ago, and that is a step in the right direction. I support this increase in funds to be allocated equally throughout to the state with disregard to socio-economic status of the students. 

Health Care

Our Plan At-a-Glance: 

  • Improve on ACA outreach

    • Work with Governor's Office to reinstate the enrollment period to 90 days. Governor Hogan reduced the 90 day enrollment period to 52 days resulting in fewer (in the thousands) enrolled Marylanders in much needed Healthcare

  • Use Maryland's Federal Government waiver known as "All-Payer" to spring-board into a Universal Healthcare system

    • Since 1977, "All-Payer" has ensured that everyone regardless if using private healthcare, Medicare, or Medicaid, pays the same rate in Maryland hospitals

    • From 2013-2016, Maryland hospitals saved $429 million. 

  • Work with Democrats, Republicans, Healthcare Professionals, and the Governor's Office to establish a Universal Healthcare system​

Health Care is at the top of many lists, as the Number 1 issue in this country. It came as a shock to our current Presidential Administration how difficult Health Care reform can be. The most fundamental point our campaign wants all to know is that Health Care must be recognized as a right to all--not a privilege. Regardless of one's income, every man, woman, and child in Maryland, and throughout the United States, must have the ability to get the health and medical care they need. We must engage in the reality that a privately financed, free-market system is impossible to provide a working universal health care system. I am fully aware of the issues that come with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more popularly known as "Obamacare". The ACA is not the final solution for the Health Care debate in Maryland, nor the United States, but this is a step in the right direction. Nobody should have to die because they couldn't afford to seek the medical attention necessary.  

Prescription Drug Prices:  There is no place on Earth where you will find people paying more for prescription drugs than here in the United States. We are fortunate enough to have the best medical schools, the best doctors, and some of the best facilities to engage in life saving research and development of medicines--none of this matters if those in need of these life saving drugs can't afford them. The pricing scheme for prescription drugs is an outright attack on the poor, sick, and elderly. In January, the Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition announced its intention to make prescription drugs more affordable. Negotiating better deals; Importing prescription drugs from Canada; Providing increased discounts for the elderly; and holding the Pharma industry accountable for providing a safe and reliable product are all ways we can fight this battle on lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

Individual Health Insurance Market:  Even though the Individual Health Insurance Market only insures a small fraction of the population, its economic importance is perhaps more important than its size. The people who buy insurance there are the entrepreneurs starting new businesses. They are people switching jobs to look for more opportunity or a better fit for their talents and lower income folks whose employers do not provide insurance. All are trying to protect themselves against the catastrophic financial loss that a major medical event can cause. The only way in the short term to minimize the impact of these costs is to spread them over the whole population and that entails government financing. If political philosophy requires that such a solution be rejected, then the decision is to leave a portion of the population without access to health care. To start, we can ponder this number (it does not yet include small group statistics):  At its peak, the Maryland individual market was about 300,000 people. Let’s say the average claims are about $300 per month, rounding up $4000 per year. Assume half have no subsidies, 150,000 people. So they cost 150,000 x $4000 or $600 million per year. Putting them on parity with workers in companies, they should be paying 25% out of pocket and the rest should be subsidized somehow. The 75% equates to $450,000,000, which is about 1% of the $43.5 billion dollar budget. [Provided by Jeffrey Lapides, PhD]

Clean Air, Water, and Energy

Our Plan At-a-Glance: 

  • Move towards becoming the most energy efficient state in the country​

  • Clean Energy Jobs Act works to make Maryland 25% dependent on renewable energy sources--our campaign wants to aim for 50% and beyond by 2030

  • Continue the work to preserve the Chesapeake and other Maryland waterways

The overwhelming dependence of fossil fuels is a major problem contributing to climate change. Climate scientists, as well as the highest ranking members of our Armed Forces, consider climate change a threat to our national security, and our planet as a whole. Certain politicians seem to be at odds with more than just environmental protection, but science in general. 

 

Just 5.1 miles from my home in Pasadena is the Herbert A. Wagner Generating Station. In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that areas within a 17 mile radius of this coal-burning station are exposed to unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide. This pollutant contributes to respiratory problems, particularly to our children, our elderly, and those living with asthma. Our Republican elected officials in District 31b pushed back on the EPA findings and claimed that the air we are breathing is just fine. The EPA later provided "persuasive evidence" that air quality violations are most certainly occuring in our community. Additionally, the American Lung Association gave Anne Arundel County a failing 'F' rating for high levels of ozone pollution.

Maryland will not be silent on this matter. The Clean Energy Jobs Act was vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan, but in a vote of 88-51, the Governor's veto had been overridden. This legislation puts Marylanders on the right course by requiring companies in Maryland to buy more energy from sources such as wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectric dams. As our society, community, and technologies evolve, so must our policies. This effort will only harness 25% renewable energy by 2020. We must do better. Our geographic location in Maryland, and in the United States, positions us for prime wind and solar energy benefits. Additionally, with an increase in renewable energy, we can bring thousands of jobs to our communities in a field that will propel us into the future. We can be on the frontier of innovation, job growth, and training in the field of renewable and clean energy right here in Maryland. It is our duty to lead the way for the benefit our community, our future generations, and our planet. 

Equal Justice for All

Our Plan At-a-Glance: 

  • Retrain police and Maryland law enforcement professionals; and educate our electorate

    • Law enforcement professionals have come under major scrutiny by the entire nation. Maryland will lead the way to promote a safe environment for our citizens and our police force that will be the solution for American law enforcement, and not the problem

  • ​Provide a true second chance to inmates being released back to the public

    • Make available:  Career and family services; Education opportunities; Affordable housing

  • Push Maryland to Legalize Marijuana​

Racial Justice:  There is a very serious social asymmetry when it comes to justice equality. There are multiple angles of this explicit racism being experienced in Maryland, and throughout the United States. We must continue to pursue policies and establish programs that act on the values of each of our friends and neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin. According to the ACLU of Maryland, data has revealed that black motorists in Anne Arundel County account for 29% of the stops and 35% of the county police's searches, but only account for less than 16% of the population. This racially induced targeting is happening in communities in our State, and beyond. We must overcome this stain of legal segregation that has become the foundation for structural and institutional racism. Incarceration rates are just as unbalanced. In the State of Maryland, if you are black, there is a likelihood of being incarcerated that is 5 times greater than if you were white. Justice is supposed to be blind, but it continues to fail in providing equal justice for all. 

These results affect much more than an individual's life. Families become separated. Children see their parents being racially targeted by a broken system, and have a higher chance of following down the same path. Being "tough on crime" is saying from the 1980s and 1990s that has proven to be detrimental to our communities. In cities and towns across the United States, we are seeing the following statistics:  2.2 million people incarcerated - that's nearly 1 out of every 100 Americans costing about $80 billion per year on prisons and jails; 10 million children who experience a parent going to prison or jail - that is about 1 in 28; and 70 million American adults (33%) have criminal records that prevent them from access to employment, housing, education, and job skill development. People of Maryland can overcome this. We deserve better for our fellow neighbors. What we need to implement in our communities is an effort not to just be tough on crime, but rather smart on crime.

Family Care and Paid Leave

Maryland ranks as the wealthiest state in the country--we can do better for mothers and fathers in our communities to better themselves, their children, and our state. I stand in agreement with the findings posted in the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Paid Family Leave that shows by adopting the FAMILY Act (Gillibrand-DeLauro) in Maryland we can provide the same 12 weeks of leave provided by the FMLA, but get paid for it at no extra costs to businesses. As your voice in the General Assembly, I will work with others to make the FAMILY Act work with existing state programs to be deliver the greatest benefit to all Marylanders.

Paid sick leave allows for improved access to health care providers during typical working hours, and not cause concern for financial liability. On May 25th, 2017, Governor Hogan vetoed House Bill 1 -- Labor and Employment -- Maryland Healthy Working Families Act. Gov. Hogan's veto essentially vetoed sick leave for 700,000 Marylanders trying to take care of themselves when ill without financial penalty. House speaker Michael Busch in January says that overturning the Governor's veto will be a priority for the legislature. This priority led both the House of Delegates and Maryland Senate to override the veto, and make Maryland the 9th State to guarantee paid sick leave, and we should be proud. 

With the rising cost of living expenses and plateauing wages, more and more parents are leaving their baby's side to head back to the workplace. For years, public interest regarding family care and paid family leave has grown exponentially. Right now, the United States is the only advanced country that provides no public support to new parents. We cannot afford to have parents separating from their newborn children so soon in the development process. These moments are critical for new parents to gain the confidence needed to understand and care for their babies. Having national support for Family Care and Paid Leave should not be looked at as a luxury, but rather as a fundamental economic priority. 

Paid Family Leave Around the World:

Estonia = 85 Weeks

Japan = 35.8 Weeks

Canada = 27.4 Weeks

Australia = 7.6 Weeks

United States = 0 Weeks

Livable Wages

2017 ended with Maryland's Minimum Wage at $9.25/hr, a change enacted on July 1, 2017. This wage is better than the $8.25/hr mark we saw in 2016. By July 2018, the State's Minimum Wage will reach $10.10/hr. Yes, we are noticing a rise in the minimum wage, but this is happening at a millimetric pace. On average, an employee in Maryland would have to make $28.27 to afford a two-bedroom rental, this figure is more than three times that of our current minimum wage. Many families across the state have to work multiple full-time jobs to stay afloat with their bills. Maryland law will provide an increase to $15/hr, but that will not be in effect until July 2022. Together, we must fight for higher wages. We live in the country's wealthiest state--we can make necessary policy changes to introduce a $15/hr minimum wage sooner than 2020, and we must protect this wage from plateauing as it tends to do. Additionally, there needs to be inclusions to raising wages in Maryland that relate to purchasing power and account for inflation. 

Women's Rights

Women, in this day and age, are still subject to gender biases that continue to create huge barriers. There is still a struggle for women to obtain basic equality in our country such as having equal economic opportunities and equal healthcare options.

I am for Women's Rights. I am Pro-choice. 

Economic Opportunity:  Pay disparities continue for women in Maryland despite advancements in salaries. In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau calculated that women workers earn 83% of their male peers' earnings.  Delegate Karen Lewis Young of District 3a sponsored a bill that prohibited companies with 15 or more employees from seeking applicant's salary history. Since women and minorities are targeted for lower pay than their male counterparts, this bill (which passed 94-7) is a step in the right direction to close the wage gap between men and women. We can continue this trend by putting measures in place that provides a more effective and efficient method to achieve Equal Pay for Equal Work. I am absolutely convinced that the primary element in establishing an point to rid poverty and economic frailty is the empowerment of women. 

Women's Health:   Bottom line up front, the government should have absolutely no say in a woman's medical decisions. I firmly believe that these decisions should be that of the woman and of a medical professional--if requested. Since the Presidential Election of 2016, many decisions made by the current Administration has put women's health in a perilous position. For the first time since 1973, many women are facing the loss of access to proper and affordable healthcare measures, and their Right to Choose. Maryland can rise above this grave inequality and ensure the women in Maryland will continue to have access to affordable preventive care and healthcare. 

 

This includes women held within Maryland's correctional institutions. The shackling of pregnant inmates and the use of solitary confinement are practices that are going on right now with few limitations or oversight. This issue has yet to receive the attention it requires, and the women suffering from this mistreatment are robbed of the dignity they deserve. Concerns grow as the female population of our prison system are denied proper sexual and reproductive healthcare, resources, and proper access to the feminine hygiene products needed.

LGBTQ

I am proud to have served in the United States Army with Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who identify as members of the LGBTQ Community. I am also proud of the scores of friends and family in my life that have overcome social prejudices and discrimination all because of who they choose to love and who they choose to be. In Maryland, we led the way to be the first state in the country to pass same-sex marriage in the legislature. This alone, does not fix all the issues facing the nearly 180,000 Marylanders that identify as LGBTQ. 

 

The Center for American Progress accounts that 40% of homeless teens and children are LGBTQ. Our children lack protections in our public schools at the state level. Maryland has recently banned the dangerous, cruel practice of conversion therapy after heated discussion between Democrats and Republicans. Another note to the work we still have ahead of us is the Human Rights Campaign ranks 17 states ahead of Maryland on their most recent Equality Index. Gay Rights are Human Rights. Too long have we lived in a world where the person we decide to love, or the gender we choose to identify ourselves as has led to brute discrimination, abuse, and in some cases--loss of life. I am fully committed to advocating for laws and policies that will protect the dignity, happiness, and livelihood of everyone. Love is Love.

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© Harry Freeman 2018. Sponsored by Harry E. Freeman

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