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.
Howard Allen Denis (R), incumbent, 42, of 8200 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, a member of the Senate since 1977, is the ranking minority member on the Finance Committee. He is a former aide to Maryland House and Senate minority leaders. A lawyer, he has cosponsored open meetings, ethics, anti-drunk driving, victim impact and sunset laws.
Sentences: Passage of the Victim Impact Statement Law, of which I was sole cosponsor, increases probability that the guilty will receive "hard time." The problem is that some judges are notoriously light sentencers, even on our own Montgomery County circuit court. Thus, I support mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders. I have consistently voted for all prison funding. Montgomery County's detention center is a model for the nation, and the statewide prison building program cannot be interrupted. An extraordinary percentage of violent crime is committed by juveniles. Society must be protected to a greater extent! Thus, if it proves to be feasible, I would support a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders.
Spending: Less for Baltimore Memorial Stadium, racetracks, concert halls, private colleges and obligations in excess of amounts recommended by our Debt Affordability Committee. More pay-as-you-go financing so as to protect Maryland's triple-A bond rating. More for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, to help victims of crime. More for the University of Maryland, particularly security lighting. More for placement of the mentally retarded in least restrictive environments, as promised by state law (it is also cost effective). More for economic development and tourism, so Maryland can realize its enormous income potential. More to provide unemployed with needed job skills.
Legislation: 1) Reduce the real estate tax burden on senior citizens by providing an escalating tax break the longer one resides in a home. My bill provides for a 20 percent credit for each five years that the homeowner has paid property taxes in Maryland, with respect to that portion of the property tax in excess of 5 percent of gross income. The National Association of Retired Federal Employees (Bethesda-Chevy Chase chapter) has commended me for sponsorship of this bill. 2) Require even stronger drunk driving penalties. We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go in this area. Legislation I've sponsored would provide that anyone whose driver's license has been suspended could not buy a car, lease a car or get tags until driving privileges were restored. This closes a glaring loophole in present laws. 3) Require that trucks carrying loose material be covered, thus reducing cracked windshields. I've sponsored this bill since 1977, and it has passed the Senate each year. Recent changes in the Environmental Matters Committee indicate that the bill will come to a House vote next year -- and pass!
Brian E. Frosh (D), 35, of 6100 Bradley Blvd., Bethesda, is an attorney who formerly served as a legislative assistant to the director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Lavor and Public Welfare and as state legislative liaison to the state Department of Employment and Social Services. He is a board member of the State National Bank of Maryland.
Sentences: (a) Maryland's laws presently provide for mandatory minimum sentences for individuals who use handguns to commit violent crimes, as well as for individuals who repeatedly commit violent crimes. I support these provisions. In addition, I support the use of sentencing guidelines to achieve uniformity in sentencing throughout the state. (b) There is apparently a need for more beds for juvenile offenders in secure facilities. We just, for example, insure that violent offenders are segregated from the rest of the prison population. For juveniles this may be accomplished best by renovating existing facilities located throughout the state, rather than by constructing an entirely new maximum security prison.
Spending: Cuts in spending by the Reagan administration have already forced Maryland to increase its outlays in areas such as unemployment compensation. If required by further federal cuts, the state must be prepared to meet basic needs, i.e., medical assistance for the elderly, special education and retraining for unemployed. Maryland should also continue to invest in economic development (especially high-technology industry) and in student loans, vocational rehabilitation and development of the Chesapeake Bay. These programs return many more dollars to the state than are initially invested. Careful annual scrutiny of each state program can significantly reduce costs. Proper legislative oversight is essential to eliminate fraud and abuse. Maryland can save money by requiring on-site inspections of public works before repairs are budgeted. The state also should explore co-payment or user fees from individuals who benefit directly from certain state services.
Legislation: 1) The Reagan administration's enormous tax breaks for corporations were copied by Maryland last year. Corporations were given huge new write-offs on their Maryland tax returns, with the state losing hundreds of millions of dollars as a result. I will propose legislation to stop this massive loss of state revenues. 2) I will propose legislation that will encourage the development of high-technology industry within the state. These proposals will include programs designed to provide technical assistance and venture capital to high-tech industries and programs designed to encourage the generation of knowledge. 3) "Snubbies" (short-barreled handguns), such as the one used in the attempt to assassinate President Reagan, are easy to conceal, which is why they are used in two out of three handgun crimes. Pocket-sized guns serve few legitimate purposes. I will propose legislation to restrict the availability of these dangerous weapons.