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.
Gene W. Counihan (D), 41, 19159 Stedwick Dr., Gaithersburg, a teacher and assistant principal in Montgomery County schools for 20 years, serves on the county Democratic Central Committee. He has been president of the Montgomery Village Foundation board and the Seneca Valley School/Community Organization, He has lectured at area colleges.
Sentences: (a) I oppose mandatory sentencing except in cases involving repeat drunk driving offenders. (b) Safe maximum security facilities for juvenile offenders must be provided within Maryland's correctional system. Mandatory sentencing laws frequently work against the effective administration of justice and judicial review of individual cases. Our courts must be firm yet flexible with criminals. Juveniles who commit serious crimes must be held accountable. These offenders must be detained separately from other less serious juvenile offenders and from hardened adults. Safe and secure facilities are needed to protect the public and convicted offenders. The frequent effect of inadequate juvenile facilities, and of mandatory sentencing, is the creation of evasive judicial procedures.Offenders whose crimes come under mandatory sentencing requirements and juveniles faced with incarceration with adults are allowed to plead guilty to lesser offenses or receive probation before judgment. This is not an adequate deterrent to crime.
Spending: Increased state spending is needed to: 1) strengthen the criminal justice system; 2) maintain quality public education, and 3) build and maintain transportation systems. The legislature will be pressed as never before to review programs and establish spending priorities. The full impact of the New Federalism and court-ordered education funding will be major elements influencing these decisions. All state spending must be carefully reviewed to insure prudent cost-effective mangement of needed programs. Tax dollars are too frequently wasted because of mismangement. For instance, the adoption of Maryland's Project Basic -- a needed educational program -- suffers from faulty implementation. "Overtesting" is estimated to be wasting over a million tax dollars annually in direct and indirect costs and staff time. The state must responsibly provide programs and services for needy citizens in difficult economic times. By decoupling corporate profits to oil companies, we can provide revenues for needed programs.
Legislation: 1) Education: I will work to change educational funding standards, in light of Hornbeck v. Somerset. This decision threatens to deprive Montgomery County children of the full benefit of our tax dollars. The state should not impose ceilings on local education spending. 2) Environment: I will propose legislation to establish and enforce noise level controls on motorcycles and will support adoption of the truck cover bill. 3) Crime: Post-arrest procedures are needed to expedite the present overburdened judicial system, to close the gap between arrest and trial and to halt early release of repeat offenders. Drunk driving legislation that enables Maryland to qualify for the recently enacted federal grant to combat drunk driving will be a priority. Responsible legislative services require long-term and diligent oversight to insure the maintenance of a healthy economy, quality education and a clean and safe environment for all Maryland citizens.
Jean Cryor (R), of 11700 Ambleside Dr., Potomac, was the mid-Atlantic manager for News Election Service, responsible for a nine-state area, and has headed political campaigns in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. A former writer/reporter for Philadelphia newspapers, she is active in community and school groups.
Sentences: Crime must be examined on several levels: the reasons, its impact on victims and society and the growth in the past decade. Everyone -- the judges, the victims and the criminal -- must know that for some crimes there are mandatory sentences. Anyone contemplating a crime in Maryland should know that conviction or certain crimes imposes mandatory sentencing. Mandatory sentences should be imposed on those convicted for using a handgun in the commission of the crime, on those with three-time convictions and on drug pushers. It is time to build a maximum juvenile facility. Some juvenile crime has escalated from shoplifting and vandalism to crimes of violence. The age of the offender and the concern on the part of society of sentencing a youth to an adult facility has resulted in justice not being served. Clearly, we need a maximum security facility for juvenile offenders.
Spending: The most challenging question the General Assembly will face is how to handle the budget cuts. Day care, the transfer of Aid to Families with Dependent Children to the state, the reduction in food stamps and the cutting of CETA are some programs that require attention. In Montgomery County the median income of women is under $10,000, 90 percent of all single-parent families are headed by women, 58 percent of the unemployed are women and 65,000 children under the age of 14 have working mothers. The "feminization of poverty" demands funding. Also, the spending formula for transportation, particularly for the up-county areas, must be refigured. The real question is not how to make cuts -- although the funding for the Baltimore Memorial Stadium is way out of line -- but how to increase tax revenues through bringing clean, high-technology industry to Maryland and helping our floundering small businesses. Our people need jobs, not excuses. Our state needs more tax revenues, not the gutting of programs.
Legislation: I would propose legislation in three areas: economic development, human services and better government. Recovery from the recession is dependent upon attracting more clean industry to Maryland through stressing our strengths -- quality schools, housing and a highly educated populace -- and through granting tax credits for relocation and training the unemployed. For human services, I would propose maximizing the public school facilities for use as day care centers, reducing the interest rate ceiling and continuing local control over the funding for county schools. As an advocate of the state initiative process, I would propose that the citizens of Maryland, not the legislators, have the last word. Only by having the right to put an issue on their state ballot can the consumer, the citizen and the organization be guaranteed a fair hearing. With a legislature dominated by the politicians from the city of Baltimore, we need this added measure of legislative protection.
Robin Ficker (R), incumbent, 39, of 7526 Glennon Dr., West Bethesda, was elected to the House of Delegates in 1978, where he serves on the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee. An attorney, he attended the U.S. Military Academy and has been active in bar associations, civic groups and the Army Reserves.
Sentences: Drunk driving, hard narcotics (heroin) distribution and crimes committed with guns. In the last session I introduced a bill providing for a minimum of two days in jail, a $350 fine, 90-day license suspension and license plate confiscation for convicted drunk drivers.The plate confiscation section was lifted into another bill and passed. As one whose sister was killed by a drunk driver, I know the rest of the bill should become law. Drunk drivers in jail should be evaluated for rehabilitation programs. Heroin distributors ruin young lives and should be separated from society with a jail term. People who commit crimes with a gun should know that the consequence of their actions is jail. The families of victims deserve no less. I would support a juvenile maximum security facility to deal strictly with young criminals, yet separate them from "schools of crime" held by hardened criminals in adult jails. Separated young criminals are best targets for rehabilitation and job-skill training.
Spending: Spend state money to improve Shady Grove, Montgomery Village Avenue and Rte. 118 exits off I-270. Install traffic lights at Middlebrook Road (Germantown Giant) and Clopper Road intersections of Rte. 118. Level and straighten dangerous Falls Road in Potomac and Quince Orchard Road. Why should Baltimore get one-half of all local highway funds in the state, while our district -- the fastest growing in the state -- gets short shrift? Spend more state funds on public universities, less on private universities. Too much state money goes to horse racing, welfare and public housing. Concentrate on the truly needy. Eliminate fraud. Protect senior citizens from cutbacks. Only one of 19 Montgomery delegates offered any floor amendments to cut the state budget in last four years. With Montgomery receiving only 27 percent in return for every one dollar sent to the state, and 15 Baltimore delegates offering amendments to increase the budget, don't we need some balance?
Legislation: 1) This year I collected 15,000 signatures to place Question E on the November ballot, seeking to eliminate long-distance phone charges from the upper county to Prince George's and Northern Virginia. If this doesn't work, I've prepared legislation accomplishing same. The Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. has refused since 1958 to expand the Washington local calling area in Montgomery County. Since 1958, the Beltway, I-270, Montgomery Village and Germantown have been built. With a 13 percent, $99 million recent rate increase, followed four months later by a 27 percent, $200 million additional request, C&P could absorb a $3.5 million cost without raising rates. 2) Since Maryland's highest court struck down my county referenda removing Montgomery County from selling alcoholic beverages, I'll file a bill to change state law at court's suggestion to accomplish same. 3) I will reintroduce a "lemon car" bill, which had 83 cosponsors, to give a replacement vehicle to those who have to take their "lemon" in four or more times in the first year for repair of the same major defect.
Jerry H. Hyatt (D), incumbent, 41, of 25508 Coletrane Dr., Damascus, an attorney, has been a delegate since 1975. He is a member of the Judiciary Committee and has served on committees and task forces on crime, juvenile justice, mental health, adoption and drinking drivers. He was vice chairman of the Montgomery County delegation last year.
Sentences: I strongly support the current state law that requires mandatory sentencing for the commission or attempted commission of a crime with a handgun. I feel that this represents the most effective gun control measure any legislative body can enact. I oppose the construction of a maximum security prison for juveniles because we now do not have enough money to build prisons for adult offenders. This must take first priority. As a member of the joint committee on the juvenile justice system, I determined that juvenile centers such as the Noyes Center in Rockville are extremely effective in showing juvenile offenders the effects of incarceration and is a deterrent for them. These centers should be expanded. I also found that the proper utilization of our forestry camp system was extremely productive, and I would encourage the expanded and continued use of this system.
Spending: There are two areas that I feel need concentrated efforts in funding: transportation and the improvement of the criminal justice system. First, the majority of citizens in District 15 need an upgraded transportation system for their employment and their basic existence. Funding in this area is critically important. Second, the general population is discontent with the present criminal justice system. We must find the funds to expand our correctional facilities to insure the citizens of this state the best possible protection from society's offenders. I see no programs the state currently sponsors that should be reduced. I feel that the bleak economic forecast makes it necessary, however, to make some very unpopular decisions regarding budget reductions. I feel that my eight years of experience will aid me in dealing with these problems as the situation arises.
Legislation: I have drafted and will propose to the General Assembly a bill changing the burden of proof required as a result of pleas of insanity. This obviously comes as a result of the Hinkley decision and would place Maryland in a position to shift the burden of proof to the defendant in establishing insanity as a defense. Any other legislation that I propose will come as the need arises in any specific areas and will be dictated by the needs of my constituents.
Jean Roesser (R), 52, of 10830 Fox Hunt La., Potomac, is a former congressional relations assistant for the International Communication Agency. She is a co-founder of the Montgomery County Arts Council and is active in county and state Federations of Republican Women and the West Montgomery County Citizens Association.
Sentences: I would support legislation requiring judges to impose mandatory sentences of violent crimes committed by repeat offenders and for crimes involving large-scale drug peddling. I support stiffer mandatory sentences for crimes committed with handguns. Maryland needs a maximum security facility for hard-core juvenile offenders.They are a danger to society, and they make it more difficult to rehabilitate other juvenile offenders when intermingled with them. Every effort should be made to rehabilitate all juvenile offenders, but a greater success ratio can be achieved by separating hard-core offenders from juvenile offenders. All juvenile detention facilities must have strong reading and vocational skills programs. I also favor instilling some moral values in these offenders by requiring them to work and earn money to make restitution to victims of crime.
Spending: Spending priorities are: road improvements, particularly in such areas as Damascus, Germantown and Montgomery Village; improved law enforcement and correctional facilities; and funding for education and training to meet technological needs of this decade. Cost savings can be effected by: reviewing all state programs, cutting unnecessary expenditures to make room for needed programs; coordination between state and local governments, particularly in areas of data processing and administration; curtailing state employment through attrition; eliminating unnecessary bond issues for "pork barrel" building projects (e.g., the $22 million loan for the renovation of Baltimore Memorial Stadium, approved by the 1982 General Assembly); and implementing recommendations of the legislative auditor, e.g., drawing on federal tax credits for federal funding for state projects, instead of direct state expenditures followed by federal reimbursement for such projects.
Legislation: 1) Change revenue formulas to obtain more state funds for Montgomery County. This county pays nearly 20 percent of total state revenues and receives less than 6 percent in return. We must form a coalition with other underfunded counties to obtain increased state funding to meet critical needs, such as road improvements, education, police protection and libraries. 2) Increase tax incentives for businesses to locate in Maryland, particularly longer term financing for desirable small businesses. Intensify job training programs, in conjunction with private industry, to develop marketable skills. 3) Provide social legislation. (a) Child care: Uniform licensing procedures for child care providers to assure excellent care for small children. Legislation is needed requiring child restraints or seat belts for children under 5 years old riding in motor vehicles. (b) Senior citizens: Tax incentives to encourage families to provide home care for elderly family members. (c) Victims of crime: Assure adequate communication between the criminal justice system and crime victims, at all stages of the judicial process. (d) Handicapped citizens: Increase opportunities for them to live and work in small, home-like settings.
Judith C. Toth (D), incumbent, 44, of 7626 Westlake Ter., West Bethesda, a member of the House since 1974, serves on the Environmental Matters Committee and commissions for Hispanic affairs, humane treatment of the mentally retarded, health codes and hospital regulations. She is on the boards of many health, civic, educational and political groups.
Sentences: I favor mandatory sentencing for the commission of a felony with a firearm and for crimes that cause serious, permanent injury or death for a victim of a crime. Certain punishment is a deterrent and should fit the severity of the offense. I also favor work programs for prisoners. They should, for example, be used to clean up our roadsides.We need a maximum security facility for some juvenile offenders. While most can hopefully be rehabilitated at traditional detention centers, there is a certain number of teenage felons who are a threat to others in their age group and yet are too young to be thrown in with hardened adult criminals. We must recognize that this group has special needs and also that society must be protected from them.
Spending: We need to spend more only in areas that will result in long-term savings for the taxpayer. For example: 1) Refitting of energy inefficient buildings, an investment that will lead to greater and greater savings as energy costs increase over the years. 2) Job training and employment programs. Income-producing workers pay taxes instead of depending on public programs for relief. 3) Light rail and ride-on bus service. Lower capital-intensive public transportation will lead to lower fares and lower government subsidies. 4) Deinstitutionalization of mentally retarded and some mentally ill. Community placement costs much less and is of better quality than state institutionalization. 5) Medicaid paperwork should be computerized with terminals in health care provider offices. This would cut down on personnel, errors and cheating and would speed up payment.
Legislation: I file many bills each year in a wide variety of subject areas. A few examples of bills I will file next year include: 1) The process: The initiative; limit on campaign spending; disclosure of special legislative accounts; limited electioneering on Election Day; school board elections by district. 2) The economy: Job training and retraining programs to meet needs of high-tech industry; trade high school programs; low-interest loans to refit and refurbish existing plants. 3) The social issues: Further deinstitutionalization of the mentally retarded; access of the handicapped to education and employment; integration of immigrant minorities from Latin American and Southeast Asia; proposal of new constitutional amendment on ERA.