Innovation has been the overriding theme of Alec Ross’s career, so it is no surprise the same theme sits at the forefront of his platform. Most of Ross’ initiatives, goals, and problem-solving relies on utilizing new approaches and technologies to make positive changes.
As his campaign website states, “I’m not a politician, I’m an innovator.”
Four principle topics are highlighted as basic objectives or themes of his campaign: $15 Minimum Wage, Affordable Childcare, Universal Healthcare, Computer Science Education. He extols much more expansive plans and assessments of the state’s future needs on his campaign website.
- $1 Billion Innovation Fund
- Create a cabinet-level position of Secretary of Innovation to oversee this initiative
- Form a “consortium of partners” among employers with tech-related job needs, pursuing small and mid-sized businesses, learning what their projected needs will be, and tailoring programs to train the next work force for those jobs.
- Create apprenticeship programs for young people to go straight from high school into the tech economy, modeled after skilled trade apprenticeships
- Create mid-career training programs to help transition workers from fading sectors of the economy to growing, innovative fields
- Sponsor life-long learning programs to help anyone who may want to acquire a new skill or knowledge
- Cut payroll taxes for employers and employees who participate in “Inclusive Innovation project.”
- Address the gender, racial and ethnic diversity issues in the tech sector, working with civil rights organizations and HBCU’s to expand opportunity
- The program will cost $1 billion over four years, paid for by updating outdated and inefficient IT systems, cost sharing with participating companies, eliminating piece-meal tax incentives, and using revenues generated by the sale and taxation of recreational cannabis.
- Fund quality pre-kindergarten programs available to all Maryland children.
- Require that all Maryland schools offer computer science courses at every grade level by 2022, treating coding like any other language studied
- Require STEAM education as a “normative requirement,” in all districts.
- Return authority over the school calendar to local districts
- Support and cultivate more community schools
- Expand access to financial aid for higher education, including income sharing agreements for graduates
- Elevate the teaching profession by raising pay to attract top candidates and increasing support staff like aides and counselors at schools
- Build a pipeline of computer science and technology teachers to come to Maryland schools, and cover retraining programs for current state teacher who wish to learn and educate in another tech-friendly field.
- Establish a state-wide curriculum that sets standards for Computer Science teaching in K through 12 levels, working with Maryland universities and companies to tailor such planning.
- Provide high speed, affordable internet to every school and make sure classrooms have up-to-date technologies for students.
- Create a state-wide online academy offering AP classes, STEM and foreign language courses so all students have access
- Expand gifted and talented offerings in all districts
- Create public-private Child Care Equity Fund to make financing available, with the goal of reaching half of Maryland families with children under five. Repayment will be equity-based owing a percentage of income in Income Sharing Agreements.
- Eliminate freeze on enrollment and waiting lists
- Raise eligibility goals to 50% of median income and copayments under 10%, working to restore reimbursement rates of childcare providers to 5%.
- Become the top state in the nation at closing gun safety loopholes, building off current restrictions and making sure they are thoroughly enforced
- Fully build mental health infrastructure and programming in schools and social initiatives to help prevent shootings before they happen
- Much like alcohol, cigarettes and other products, raise taxes on guns and ammunition so the fees more fairly represent the costs such products impose on society
- Promote and regulate smart gun technology, where only a gun’s biometrical matching owner can fire the weapon
- Get the one designated NRA member off of the state’s gun regulatory agency the Maryland Handgun Roster Board
- Work to reduce the influence of money in politics by attacking Campaign Finance, putting regulations on fundraising, and allowing only people, not businesses to donate.
- Create $50 tax credit that can be applied to campaigns to stoke public financing of elections.
- Improve disclosure laws and enforce rules that prohibit PACs from coordinating with campaigns.
- Prohibit lobbyists from making personal donations
- Increase campaign audits to encourage responsible disclosure
- Restore voting rights for all Marylanders – convicted felons and those currently behind bars
- Allow for voting by mail and expand digital election services.
- Create advanced voter registration in high school so as soon as students reach the eligibility age of 18, they are ready to vote
- Allow students from out of state or relocated within Maryland to vote in elections near their campuses
- Prioritize election cyber security by creating uniform voter verification systems, strengthen electronic voting devices and systems, and setting digital security guidelines for campaigns
- Explore and implement online voting
- Appoint an independent commission to handle redistricting
- Establish commission to examine statewide voter choice and political polarization
- Restore funding to state’s Rental Housing Works program that incentivizes developers to build housing financed by Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the Rental Housing Fund to help finish stalled projects, and state preservation funds to rehab or maintain historic and affordable housing
- Invest in Housing Needs Assessment to have a better understanding of the state’s current and future housing shortages, using that information to make better budgeting decisions in the future
- Overturn current laws that have lowered investment in the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust Fund to better support the operations of affordable housing properties
- Build more housing where it’s best utilized, in urban centers and along transit corridors, using “carrot-and-stick” approach to spur development
- Relax zoning laws so former commercial space can be converted to housing
- Fight blight by using land value taxes to go after owners of negligent properties and help revitalize struggling neighborhoods
Climate and Clean Energy:
- Create a “Green Bank” that incentivizes and helps businesses and families invest in clean energy technology, creating a more efficient, more environmentally friendly grid and helping expand industry, stimulating job growth
- Prioritize the clean up of the Chesapeake Bay, pushing for it to become swimmable
- Aid farmers with finances and technology to implement conservation practices and increase efficiency while not disturbing the state’s natural treasures
- Build a pipeline from state’s education system to feed directly into clean energy sector, developing a work force in the cutting edge, expanding field
- Advocate for environmental justice, such as pushing to lower blood lead level metrics, mandating more extensive lead clean up, fight corporate polluters and advocate for more clean water access
- Make Maryland the No. 1 state with electronic car charging stations
- Raise state energy efficiency standards and limit transit emissions
- Build a decentralized energy grid more reliant on green sources, pushing for 100% renewable energy by 2040.
- Change state laws so adults 21 and older can possess up to one ounce of cannabis and six plants grown at home for personal use.
- Create a licensing and regulatory system for all levels of a cannabis economy, from production, through distribution, to sale, ensuring accountability.
- Establish clear rules and use taxes and fees generated to pay for policing the system, creating a technology-driven “seed to sale” system
- Expunge criminal records of those convicted of marijuana offenses prior to decriminalization
- Prioritize Maryland- and minority-owned businesses when licensing entrants into the cannabis market, not putting on arbitrary caps but releasing licenses in parcels to assess demand
- Implement restrictions on labeling, testing, and location of retail outlets to ensure public safety
- Focus on those who operate outside of the legal markets, and utilize Maryland’s leading public health research institutions to develop standards for safe driving.