The next installment of The Dagger’s Q & A with candidates in the 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election features the Republican candidates running for the Maryland State Delegate District 34A seat, representing southern Harford County.
With Del. Mary-Dulany James’ decision to run for state senate, District 34A is guaranteed at least one new representative. In the Republican Primary Election, incumbent Del. Glen Glass of Aberdeen faces opposition from Mike Blizzard and Beth Boyson, both of Havre de Grace. The top two vote-getters will advance to the General Election where they will face the top two voter-getters from the crowded Democratic Primary Election, which includes Steve Johnson of Aberdeen, county councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti of Havre de Grace, Pat Murray of Belcamp, Marla Posey-Moss of Aberdeen, and Maria Terry of Havre de Grace. Their answers to The Dagger’s three questions appear below.
Dagger: State delegates often make decisions in areas where they may not have expertise, such as decriminalizing marijuana, legalizing same-sex marriage, or approving a stormwater runoff fee. Briefly describe the experience/skills you would bring to the House of Delegates and how you make decisions in areas outside your expertise.
Blizzard: I currently work in higher education in the state and bring to the table 14 years of experience in both secondary and post-secondary education. This is a very important issue to so many voters and it is not an area to be devoid of experience.
I am also a former small business owner who has seen first-hand the over-bearing tax burden and endless regulations that place Maryland businesses at a competitive disadvantage with businesses from our neighboring states. We need to make Maryland a welcoming home to new businesses that want to relocate here as well as a place that existing business can thrive. Governments are always talking about “Enterprise Zones” to stimulate business in select areas. Why not make the whole state an Enterprise Zone if it stimulates business growth and produces private sector jobs?
I am the President of the Shooting Santa’s Foundation that has raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars over the last 12 years helping families in need at Christmas time.
I have also been an athletic coach at the high school and college level in the area for over 16 years. I have built winning teams where they said you could not win. People say that about our state today. They say it is too late. I never say never and I never quit, and I won’t give up on my state.
All of that experience still cannot make me an expert in every area. Nobody has all the answers and you should keep your distance from anybody claiming that they do. In areas that I may have limited knowledge I will seek counsel from experts in that field from both sides of the argument. Ross Perot once said, “I don’t need to be the smartest man in the room….I just need to know who is.” I will live by that credo if I am elected to serve in 34A.
Boyson: Personal info:
Resident of Havre de Grace
Hood College Graduate – BS Law and Society
Past Aberdeen Chamber President
Past Aberdeen Economic Development Member
Past Board Member Discover Harford County
Past Board Member Havre de Grace Main Street
Co-Chair first Cal Ripken World Series
General Manager of Family Business
Having worked in the private sector my entire adult life, I have learned that there are many decisions made at the top and not by those who have to implement or live with those decisions. I would research the issue and speak to all interested parties in my District in order to learn what impact legislation would have on my constituents and make an informed decision.
Glass: When working in areas outside of my expertise, I want to make sure that I take a serious approach in researching the issue as well as seeking out the advice of those with expertise in that certain field.
Dagger: Please cite a previous decision by the Harford County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly with which you either strongly agree or disagree, and why.
Blizzard: Trying to cite a specific piece of legislation specifically geared to the Harford County Delegation is difficult but one in particular comes to mind. HB1513. I disagree with this attempt to take away the voice of the voters. The voters chose the Republican Central Committee members and no law should give power to legislators to overturn the voters voice even if the committee was ineffective. The voters voice should always be protected under any circumstances. This certainly did not merit the tag emergency legislation either.
Boyson: In this past session Delegate James had legislation (HB0838) passed to create a task force looking at the need in Harford County for another Technical High School.
“Establishing the Task Force to Study Vocational and Technical Education Programs in Harford County; providing for the composition, chair, and staffing of the Task Force; requiring the Task Force, in consultation with a specified committee, to study and make recommendations regarding specified matters; requiring the Task Force to report its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the Harford County Executive, the Harford County Board of Education, and the General Assembly on or before December 1, 2014.”
I strongly agree that there is a need for a Technical School in Harford County, but I strongly disagree that it should be a part of the Harford County School system. Rather it should be a public/private partnership that provides our residents of any age with job skills for the companies hiring in Harford County. As a parent of a student who graduated from the Science and Math Academy at Aberdeen High School I understand how the existing Magnet schools recruit students. Students apply for those schools in 8th grade. The plumbers, electricians, mechanics and production managers I know didn’t make their career choice in 8th grade.
Most of the manufacturing and distribution centers in Harford County are located in my district and most have received incentives for locating here, as part of those incentive programs they would be required to participate in the Technical School. Whether it is creating simulated production lines, teaching courses specific to their industry, i.e.: fork lift operation, food production safety guidelines etc. Hopefully for some industries the students could work and learn simultaneously so that they can continue to make a living and improve their household earning abilities. This would create a trained labor pool of our residents for companies to hire.
Glass: I strongly disagree with this year’s passage of the “Ballroom Bill” by the Maryland General Assembly. Officially entitled, Fairness to All Marylanders, the bill allows for any member of the opposite sex to enter a bathroom of their discretion based on simply feeling as if they are of a certain sex. Essentially, this will allow men to enter into the dressing rooms, bathrooms, locker-rooms, including those within schools, of women and girls without facing criminal action.
Dagger: The Maryland General Assembly is charged with certain responsibilities. Among them are: Enacting legislation, proposing amendments to the state Constitution, reviewing redistricting plans, and levying taxes. Looking ahead, what issues within the delegation’s purview are of specific interest or concern to you and why? Please cite two issues.
Blizzard: The issue of taxes is first and foremost with me. In a recent poll 47% of Marylanders said they would like to be able to move out of the state. The reason is the tax burden. It is crippling businesses that create jobs that drive our economy. It is crippling families who are bringing home less and less from their paychecks while housing, food, and energy prices continue to go up. Our standard of living is decreasing each and every year as more and more of the middle class is being driven into poverty. The common cause for much of the problem is taxes. It is driving businesses to relocate out of the state taking with them jobs and putting more and more Marylander’s onto government assistance. We need to lower tax rates on individuals so that they have more money from THEIR check to spend in the state which will in turn create tax revenue from the exchange of goods and services for that extra cash. This will increase business revenues helping businesses to not only pay more taxes from increased profits, but will cause them to grow and create more jobs thus creating a broader tax paying base. We are spiraling up with tax revenue increasing from decreased tax rates allowing Marylander’s to keep more of their money to increase their standard of living. Over taxing the citizens results in less money to spend, less business transactions, causing business to reduce their payroll and size, resulting in less tax revenue produced from the exchange of goods and services, resulting in the need to tax the citizens further. The choice seems clear. We need to reduce the tax burdens on the people and businesses and derive our tax revenue from business transactions. This model has proven successful everywhere.
Our second issue is with government accountability and restoring power back to the people and wrestling it away from an overbearing and ever-growing state and federal government. Thinking conceptually outside the box, I am proposing that we give the public control of 10% of their tax dollars. In short they get to earmark where that money goes. This will force government to be more efficient and accountable because they are now competing to get back from the people their 10% budget cut that was given to the people to disperse. This is neither a tax cut or tax increase; just control of where the money you pay in taxes goes. The concept is that every government department gets a 10% budget reduction and now competes to get that back or possibly more if they do such a good job. If they perform well, then they should get their cut back or even more if the public determines they are worthy. If a department performs below standard they would most likely have to cut back because they did not get their cuts back. This makes government perform to a higher standard and more efficiently. That is something Republicans, Democrats, and Independents can all agree on. We will have more details of the plan to come on our website at www.mikeblizzard.com
There are obviously more issues that we face. The citizens are tired of hearing about party. They are tired of hearing the political rhetoric. What each and every Marylander wants no matter what party they are with is solutions. My job is to come up with as many solutions as I can or recognize a better solution from somebody else no matter what party they are from. Again, I don’t need to be the smartest man in the room every time….I just need to know who is.
Boyson: First, I would introduce legislation that would correct the Board of Education Budget and the County budget timelines so that prior to the Board of Education and the Teacher’s Union negotiating their contract they know how much money they are receiving from the County. I have never understood how the Board of Education can in “good faith” negotiate with the Teacher’s Union when they did not know how much money they had to offer the Teachers. My hope is that this would force them to take a comprehensive look at their spending and make them more accountable to the Teacher’s Union and force them to fund teachers before administrative positions.
Second, if necessary to make the Hotel Tax legal I would introduce the proper enabling legislation with the revenue dedicated to the Tourism industry in Harford County. I am not for increasing fees and taxes but it is a source of revenue Harford County should have access to. As a board member for Discover Harford County I was against the Harford County Delegation repealing the tax in 1999. Discover Harford County was the public/private partnership charged with promoting the tourism industry in Harford County until it became a County funded department again under Economic Development. Prior to repealing the legislation Harford County had the right to impose a 3% lodging fee. With the hotel tax the Tourism effort in Harford County can be funded without using our resident’s tax dollars and that money can be spent on providing other necessary services.
Glass: One issue that has greatly concerned me throughout the years has been smart meters. These devices only benefit the utility companies. Worst of all, the burden to pay for these meters is being placed on those who can neither financially afford the opt-out fees, that are associated with deferring a smart meter installation, nor can they afford the potential security, privacy, and health effects of obtaining a smart meter.
Another issue is the excessive amount of taxes that are being levied on our constituents. Since that the beginning of the O’Malley/Brown Administration, over 80 new taxes have been introduced. This is completely irresponsible and our constituents should not have to face such ridiculous taxes.