On January 12th I had the opportunity to attend a meet and great with Heather Mizeur, candidate for governor in Maryland. She’s been labeled as one of the most liberal candidates in the race, but I wanted to attend because:
1. She is promoting marijuana legalization. While I’m not a marijuana user, I’m an advocate of assessing whether or not the current war on drugs is an effective use of government resources.
2. She’s a proponent of LGBT rights.
I should probably preface this by stating that I label myself a “rational libertarian” and I expected to find very little that she and I agreed on. And I was mostly correct.
She started off the discussion about what she’d accomplished so far. She talked about Health Reform and the Maryland health care portal. She agreed that the rollout of the Maryland health care portal has been a disaster, perhaps worse than healthcare.gov While I oppose the current healthcare reform process (I agree there needs to be reform, this isn’t it), she argued that there has been complete mismanagement of the process in Maryland, and that something needs to be done about it. I tend to agree, if we’re going to go down this path, please, lets at least do it efficiently.
She moved on to talk about working on family planning, there weren’t a lot of specifics here that I could really get my teeth into.
And finally she talked about the environment. Her ” big ticket” item here is fracking. She supported environmental studies of fracking impacting before mining occurs. I tend to agree with this assessment, however, I also am of the impressions that this “environmental study” process is actually being used to block fracking altogether, rather than determine if there’s a way that it can be done responsibly. My reaction would be that if we’re going to put a moratorium in place for studies, there should be a deadline for study completion.
She then moved on to her future agenda.
First a “middle class tax cut” and a tax increase on families making more than $1 million a year. I’m all about the tax cuts, but am a bit ambivalent on the proposed tax increase. It was a really big tax increase, and its not clear to me that this wouldn’t cause the wealthier citizens of the state to relocate, something that I hear from some of my friends who make more money talk about regularly.
She then proposed closing a loophole in the Maryland corporate tax code that allowed companies to ship profits “out of state.” I agree with closing the loophole, however, we need to ask ourselves the question if companies are shipping profits out of state, and paying the taxes in other states, does that mean Maryland’s corporate tax rate is too high?
She then talked about a Minimum Wage increase, and the creation of a living wage. For me personally, this has been a hard issue to wrangle with. I have many friends that are underpaid, and are working long hours. I see the need for a minimum wage to help those who are trying to support a family.
Where I differ is that these wage rates tend to be set either nationally, or on a statewide basis, and cost of living can vary greatly, even within a state. A $300 home in Frederick might cost you three times as much in Rockville. If we’re going to set a minimum wage, it should be based on local costs of living.
Taking this approach would also solve a problem of long commuting. I’ve seen a number of people who work “in the city” but live in rural communities, because they can afford to live there, and then take on the burden of the long commute, causing transportation issues.
She then added on top of the minimum wage the need for a paid sick leave act. There weren’t a lot of details.
She moved on to talk about business in Maryland, she talked about simplifying the regulatory process, and actually made a statement I really agree with: Corporations tend to thrive in environments where regulations are stable and predictable. I give her big kudos in pointing out that in addition to burden, predictability is a huge issue that needs to be dealt with. She sees the need for an office of business advocacy, however it wasn’t clear that she was particularly interested in lowering regulatory burden, just making it more predictable.
She moved on to education. She has a plan for extending public school education to lower ages. Here’s one of the areas I agree with, even though I identify libertarian. I’m a firm believer in a well educated populous. I don’t necessarily agree that more $ = better education, but I do agree that efforts to improve education are generally a good thing.
She moved there from how to finance this education plan. Marijuana legalization is her plan. By legalizing it and taxing it she proposes to pay for these new policies. Can’t argue about that. However, what I didn’t hear was “if Marijuana legalization fails, I’ll abandon my education plan.” Honestly what I expect is that marijuana legalization will fail, but she’ll continue to push her education agenda, forcing tax increases, which I see as unacceptable.
All and all, an interesting meet and greet, I look forward to hearing more.