Candidates for the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Sentences: In what cases, if any, would you support legislation requiring judges to impose mandatory sentences? Do you feel Maryland should build a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders? Please explain.
Spending: In which areas of government should the state spend more money or less? Please be specific.
Legislation: Give three examples of legislation you intend to propose.
Gary England (R), 43, of 4323 Dresden St., Kensington, a senior engineer with Science Applications Inc., is making his first bid for public office. He retired from the Navy in 1976 after nearly 20 years of service, which included serving as an advisor in Vietnam for three years. He received the Vietnamese Medal of Honor and also holds 17 decorations for combat service.
Sentences: (a) I believe in mandatory sentences for commission of a vicious crime, such as those involving use of deadly weapons; also for convictions of drug trafficking, child molesting, welfare fraud and drunk driving. (b) Yes, I feel we should build a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders.
Spending: I think the state should spend more money for the care of senior citizens and the handicapped, providing more conveniences such as ramps for wheel chairs, lower drinking fountains, accessible toilet facilities and Braille numbering in elevators. We also should provide training programs and facilities for the mentally ill and vocational training for the unemployed. Less money should be spent on projects that serve special-interest groups and individuals, such as the Baltimore Memorial Stadium VIP suite, the allocation of $200,000 that was passed to study the effect of crab waste in Anne Arundel County and opportunities enabling the party in power to utilize the already short legislative session to pass laws that provide political advantage. All these things occurred in the last legislative session. The General Assembly extended the loan for Memorial Stadium, and the cost of the stadium in terms of lost revenue was more than $20 million. In addition, another law was passed providing $1 million a year in upkeep of the stadium. Legislators also spent unnecessary time arguing about who would be placed first on the voting ballot, Democrats or Republicans; the bill was introduced by the Democrats, and the Democrats won.
Legislation: I propose legislation in several areas: 1) Registration of firearms, i.e., a 30-day waiting or "cooling off" period from the date of application for purchase of the firearm to the date of delivery. 2) Reduction, if not elimination, of the school tax for senior citizens on fixed incomes. Raising the ceiling on the amount senior citizens on fixed incomes can earn without losing in property tax reduction and giving senior citizens on fixed incomes the option of freezing the assessment on their property and having lost revenue pro-rated and collected at the settlement of the estate. 3) When a death occurs in automobile accidents and a drunk driver is at fault, the drunk driver should be charged with felony manslaughter, if not second-degree murder. 4) Closer regulation of utilities. 5) Providing more money for education, without tax increases, by providing a formula for the ratio of noneducators to students.
Gilbert J. Genn (D), 30, of 10401 Grosvenor Place, Bethesda, practices law with a Rockville firm. He was staff attorney for the governor's commission to revise the Maryland code and worked in election campaigns of Gov. Harry Hughes and former U.S. senator Birch Bayh. He is a member of the county's Juvenile Court Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Sentences: The simplistic "solutions" of mandatory sentence proponents have political appeal, but neither facts nor understanding. Reliable recent studies of states using mandatory sentences (Michigan, New York, Massachusetts) show conclusively that they don't deter. Further, our state already has mandatory minimums for multiple serious felonies. I prefer "presumptive sentencing": letting the convicted prove why a minimum should not be imposed. That sends the necessary signal to the criminal minded, but avoids unalterable sentencing straightjackets for special circumstances (peer pressure actions, lesser participation, inadequate representation, even innocence). The politically easy answer to maximum juvenile facilities is favoring them. My Juvenile Court Committee experience tells me they ignore what our juvenile laws are about. For "incorrigibles" committing serious felonies, waiver provisions exist for trial and sentencing as adults. Further, costs and jail rapes aside, 70 percent of juveniles are first offenders, 85 percent are "rehabilitated." Closer supervision of "problem" juveniles is needed, not altering the philosophy.
Spending: Where we spend more -- or less -- is clearly a question about our highest priorities; and then how carefully our tax dollars are allocated to them. I would enlarge funding, but efficiently, for: retirement benefits with full advance pension funding; unemployment benefits; strengthened state public education -- our most basic resource -- including college loans, programs for the gifted and handicapped and appropriate increases in teacher salaries; criminal justice needs, especially for enforcement, parole supervision, improvement of jail conditions and sentencing; low-interest mortgages; housing credits for renovation; state equity pay-back programs for home ownership; Metro funding with adequate parking; alcohol, drug abuse, mental health, retardation and group home programs; new high technology; employment retraining; retooling industries; and a new Department of Labor, Employment and Training. Funding reduction areas: unnecessary capital construction projects; nonproductive state boards; private tuition giveaways; excessive regulation; and benefits to banks leaving Maryland with our assets for incorporation in Delaware. Strict oversight of spending and firm sunset laws are critical to efficiency.
Legislation: I'd propose: 1) A consumer/citizen reform bill that includes (a) greater utility rate accountability through public election of commission members and reforming procedures for requesting rate increases; (b) a "lemon law" permitting remedies for automobiles repeatedly repaired for similar defects; (c) truck cover requirements; (d) unbiased insurance rates and cancellation notice reforms, and (e) statewide cooperative conversion law and condominium law reform. 2) A crime prevention bill that includes (a) improved neighborhood, mall and apartment patrolling requirements; (b) credits for business and home protections; (c) stricter parole supervision; (d) strict handgun control, registration and safety requirements; (e) victim restitution and impact programs; (f) improved prison conditions to reduce rapes, assaults and repeat offenses; (g) larger prosecutor/public defender staffs for speedier trials, and (h) restoration of jury rights voted against by incumbents. 3) An economic and employment improvement bill that includes (a) repeal of the unjustified increase in consumer loan, credit card interest rates to 24 percent, voted for by incumbents; (b) decoupling our state from federal taxes to equitably tax those corporations using our state resources, and (c) establishing a Department of Labor, Employment and Training.
Marilyn Goldwater (D), incumbent, 55, of 5508 Durbin Rd., Bethesda, a registered nurse, has served in the House of Delegates for eight years. She chaired the 1980-81 Women Legislators' Caucus and has served on the governor's task force on mental health. She has been honored by professional groups for her legislative work.
Sentences: (a) I favor mandatory sentences for crimes of violence, crimes involving handguns and repeat drunk driving offenses. However, judges need flexibility to make exceptions, but only based on extenuating conditions. Some mandatory sentencing could include alternatives such as community service for malicious destruction of property and confiscation of license for drunk driving. I support and favor an expansion of the pilot sentencing guidelines project. (b) We need to provide more adequate secure facilities for dangerous repeat juvenile offenders. Such facilities need not be new institutions but could be existing facilities renovated to provide for separation of violent and nonviolent juveniles with improved supervision and programs. I supported a budget item mandating that such a plan be presented to the governor and legislature in January 1983.
Spending: The New Federalism and Reaganomics will require the state to spend more money for "safety net" programs being cut by the federal budget. These include health care for the poor and elderly, special education assistance, student loans, job training, consumer and environmental protection and day care for low-income working women. We are eliminating fraud, waste and abuse through vigorous legislative oversight and audits. Further savings will result as we continue to evaluate programs for cost effectiveness. We should emphasize programs which are investments in our future, such as economic development and vocational training. We need to scrutinize all spending to determine whether projects, services and programs that would be suitable in an expanding economy could be justifiable today.
Legislation: 1) I plan to reintroduce a constitutional amendment that would give the legislature more authority in establishing priorities in the budget process. 2) Legislation to create a commission composed of legislators, executive branch members and local officials to review current funding formulae to ensure that Montgomery County is receiving its fair share of state dollars. 3) Legislation to prohibit dumping of pollutants that change the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay. The destruction of marine life has many adverse effects, including a decreased income for commercial fisherman.
Nancy K. Kopp (D), incumbent, 38, of 6301 Dahlonega Rd., Bethesda, a member of the House since 1974, chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on education and human resources and is on budget, energy, day care, housing review and pension committees. A political scientist, she has been a congressional staff member and a college instructor.
Sentences: Potential criminals should know that their crimes will lead to certain, consistent punishment. The sentencing guidelines project for this purpose should be expanded. Additionally, I support mandatory sentences for: (a) crimes involving handguns; (b) repeated drunk driving, and (c) certain other repeated violent crimes. These sentences could include mandatory minimums, plus additional penalties added at the judge's discretion. When appropriate, mandated penalties could be other than imprisonment (e.g., mandatory revocation of driver's license). Further, exceptions to these mandates by judges should be permitted in extraordinary circumstances under specified criteria. The legislature has required the governor to submit in January a plan for improving the quality of facilities, programs and staff dealing with repeat violent juvenile offenders. Pending receipt of the plan, I anticipate increasing maximum security space (preferably through additions to existing institutions, not a new prison) to allow more consistent sentencing and separation of violent and nonviolent offenders. We must also strengthen rehabilitation and deterrent programs.
Spending: I have consistently urged, as chair on an Appropriations subcommittee, that Maryland respond to New Federalism and Reaganomics by targeting limited state funds on high priority programs addressing basic needs now unmet due to cuts. These include coordinated programs for the elderly; education and assistance to the handicapped; and nutrition and other health programs. The 1982 Higher Education Loan program, which I sponsored, is an example of such a response. Concomitantly, we should emphasize programs constituting investments in Maryland, including retraining unemployed workers, enhancing the university as a magnet for high-technology industry and prudently protecting and developing the Chespeake Bay and the Port of Baltimore. We must systematically evaluate cost/benefits of major expenditures, cutting where appropriate. Decouple from new federal corporate tax breaks (saving Maryland $400 million) and reject nonessential new capital projects, substituting renovation and improved maintenance. Consider systems of user fees and co-payments for certain services.
Legislation: I plan to continue to focus my efforts on the budget -- specifically items relating to social services, education, the elderly and the handicapped. I also will continue to propose legislation in the following areas: 1) strengthening legislative control over state spending and programs, including authorizing the legislature to reorder budget priorities; expanding use of "sunset" and modified "zero-base" budgeting; and requiring economic impact statements on proposed legislation; 2) strengthening the University of Maryland and state colleges, by enhancing faculty and physical resources and supporting high-technology research and training programs, while reducing program duplication among campuses, and (3) requiring greater energy conservation in state buildings and strengthening efforts for long-range energy use planning to help conserve and avoid over-building. Finally, as part of the General Assembly leadership, I am determined to use my influence to assure that all proposals for redistribution of state resources -- including education and transportation funding formulas -- treat Montgomery County taxpayers equitably.
Constance A. Morella (R), incumbent, 51, of 6601 Millwood Rd., Bethesda, was elected to the House in 1978; she serves on the Appropriations Committee. A Montgomery College professor, she is a trustee of the Capitol Institute of Technology, former vice chairman of the C&O Canal Park Commission and has headed the county's Commission for Woman.
Sentences: Government must protect its citizens. Repeat offenders of violent and serious crimes and those committing crimes with handguns should be meted out swift and certain sentences. I favor expanding throughout the state our sentencing guidelines project, which is being piloted in Montgomery County as well as other jurisdictions to ensure some uniformity of sentencing. The maximum security juvenile facility now contemplated promises to be a large, expensive warehouse. The money would be better invested in establishing an effective juvenile classification system, in building separate greater security units at current Youth Centers and in developing educational/vocational programs to give juveniles marketable skills to use when they are released -- thus keeping them from lives of recidivism.
Spending: To offset federal reductions, Maryland will have to set priorities and creatively fund critical programs for the poor, disadvantaged and handicapped. The state is also committed to complete prison construction expeditiously so that judges can properly sentence criminals without concern for adequate space. On the other hand, the capitol budget continues to suffer from "pork-barrel" projects which I have opposed. The legislature not only has granted Memorial Stadium $1 million annually for the past four years, but also extended the deadline for issuance of $22 million in bonds for elaborate renovation of the stadium. For every dollar borrowed by the state, $2.11 is the cost to the state at current interest rates. It is too easy for some to have an "edifice complex" and want state money spent on buildings and stadiums, rather than people.
Legislation: Victims of crime are too often forgotten. I will reintroduce: 1) A measure to require that agencies within the criminal justice system investigating a crime provide to eligible victims information and forms for compensation for criminal injuries. Criminals are advised of their rights through the Miranda decision; certainly victims are entitled to know their rights. We need "equal Miranda for all." 2) A measure to establish a victim restitution program requiring criminals to work to pay restitution to their victims, and a companion bill, patterned after the New York "Son of Sam" laws, to prohibit criminals from cashing in on their crimes through reenactment in movies, books, etc., until their victims are adequately compensated. 3) I also shall propose modification of Maryland's insanity law to shift the burden of proof of insanity from the state to the defense, and to establish the plea of "guilty but mentally affected" to allow imprisonment of criminals with treatment provided.
John T. Perrin (R), 48, of 5606 Pioneer La., Bethesda, is an associate to the president of Computer Business Supplies. He has been chairman of the Montgomery County Commission on Consumer Affairs, president of the Hillmead Citizens Association and director of the Bethesda Fire Board. He is active in the Army Reserves.
Sentences: No one would suggest that mandatory sentences are a panacea for our crime problems. However, the support for our criminal justice system has been seriously eroded by wide variances in sentencing. To reestablish faith in our system, as well as to deter some criminals, I would support mandatory sentences for repeat offenders, drug pushers and those committing capital crimes such as murder, rape, robbery (armed) and aggravated assault. I am not certain that the construction of a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders is necessary. However, I believe we must insure that (a) juveniles convicted of serious offenses are sent to a security facility, and (b) juveniles are separated from the rest of the criminal population, to hold out the possibility that they may be rehabilitated. I believe that these dual goals can be met without the construction of a new facility.
Spending: I believe that state government should first carefully review its programs to insure that they are efficient and are serving the purpose for which they were designed. I favor a reduction in overall administrative costs by reducing the number of high-level "policy makers," but with the retention of the support staff necessary for program implementation. I would favor a reduction or elimination of some of the boards and commissions in Maryland. I support shifting priority spending to crime control, health care, the handicapped and the development of a sound jobs training program to assist our state economy
Legislation: I would propose: 1) a tough new drunk driving law which would conform to the new federal incentive guidelines by requiring mandatory suspension of licenses and jail time for convicted drunk drivers, like laws in effect in California and Maine; 2) a repeal of the increased limits on credit card and second-mortgage interest rates, and 3) a more equitable distribution formula for state aid so that all jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, get a fair share of the state monies allocated for education, transportation and police assistance.