Web Exclusive: Full Interview One on One with Maryland Del. Chri - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Web Exclusive: Full Interview One on One with Maryland Del. Chris Adams

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Maryland Del. Chris Adams (Photo: WBOC) Maryland Del. Chris Adams (Photo: WBOC)

WBOC debuted a new segment called "One on One," in which we sit down with political leaders to get their take on the issues. WBOC's Mid-Shore Bureau Chief Tyler Bureau sits down with Maryland Del. Chris Adams, who discusses the various issues of concern to him and her constituents. Below is the full transcript of the interview with Adams.

Tyler Butler: Well, I guess you're still a business owner, now you're a politician on top of that. How's that transition been?

Chris Adams: Well, I'm a small businessman and I started running in June of 2013 and so I've not been at work a whole lot lately. And for at least a couple years, when I won, I expected to be full-time during session from mid-January to mid-April and what I didn't expect was that it was going to be full-time work. After that it's everything you can handle and someone said you only get out of this what you put into it, I've found that to be true. Our family has always appreciated the work that our Wicomico County delegation has given us over the years and watching them work and how hard they work. Now you feel it because the people in the district expect a high degree of service and interest in what's going on, and it is a big district so it's not business as usual.

Tyler Butler: So we know what you do during the session, you know we do a couple stories on the session. But outside the session, you say it's a full-time job. So what do you do in, I guess, this time of year?

Chris Adams: Well, for me right now, it's about starting to understand what I want to do from a legislative standpoint in January. Much of the legislation gets written now, start meeting with the department agencies and understand what you're trying to accomplish as a legislator, making sure that they're OK with it, if there are any problems with my ideas. You try to flesh those out over the summer and the fall, so when you show up in session in January, you've kind of pre-filed your bill and you've done that work. The other part for a freshman legislator like me, I have to be educated and understand the issues. So as a businessman I certainly understand the business community and what we need to grow employment. You know health care, education, mental health, how we deliver services in district. The things that I've had to learn, so when I say a full-time job, it's been going to these different groups, non-profits, not-for-profits and learning what the state does. It's a fascinating journey for someone that wants to do a great job for the district. But it has to be taken because without it, you're kind of left not having a good command of the issue when it does come up during session.

Tyler Butler: What's been the most rewarding part of this so far for you?

Chris Adams: The rewarding part for me is being able to represent the business community in a way that I don't think is, has been in the past handled quite as well. I think there is a small handful of small business people in Annapolis, so I'm on the Economic Matters Committee. That's the committee I serve on and quite often these bills before they make it to the General Assembly floor, they must pass our committee. So we can either stop bills that are very anti-business or we can amend those bills in committee. That's rewarding because that's why I ran as a small business person who is affected deeply by the state of Maryland through the Department of Labor and Licensing and you know, I wanted to go to Annapolis and make a difference for that small business community. Being able to actually make that happen is exciting. It's a big part of why I ran and love it.

Tyler Butler: The most challenging thing?

Chris Adams: The most challenging thing right now is as a Republican trying to find my way, so to get things done, to accomplish what I want as a politician, Maryland requires you to be able to negotiate and work closely with members of the other party, so people have different political philosophies and I'm a great listener. As a business person, I've found many of the skills that I've used in my business life apply just the same in Annapolis. You make friends, you work with people, you learn, try to understand where the other person's coming from and then when it's time for me to say this is something that I need, this is why I feel the way I do, people will listen to me. In Annapolis the legislators that are in the Democrat party, I believe I'm developing good relationships with. I can sit down with Speaker [Michael] Busch, and did in last session, and they worked with me to get a bill passed that was a late-file bill. It was very rewarding, but that's a challenge because when you're on the campaign trail and you're making campaign promises, it's one thing to say that you're going to help lighten regulation, help lower taxes and advocate. It's quite another to actually deliver on those campaign promises. The pressure is there to, at the end of my first term, to deliver on these, the platform that I ran on.

Tyler Butler: And I saw that you had primarily sponsored two bills this past session; one of them passed. I guess, what was that one about?

Chris Adams: Well, HB 1290 was the one bill that I passed, that was a late file bill. And that came as a result of my business background. You know we have pharmacy owners calling my office. We also had Medicaid patients calling and the issue was one of access to care. So what was happening, we had a large MCO, or Manage Care Organization that was making a decision that would have said to someone that lives in Snow Hill, you know, "You can't use your pharmacy around the corner, you have to go to either Pocomoke City, Berlin or Salisbury." So folks on Medicaid, it's not practical, it's not realistic and you know, as a department- the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene--they didn't have in regulation the ability to stop that company from moving forward, and therefore, they are kind of helpless in resolving the issue. I stepped in with the help of Del. Bromwell, a Democrat, and we moved forward with some legislation. We didn't get everything that we wanted out of the issue, what we did get was putting the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in a position where they have to create a plan that relates to access to care that makes sure that, you know, companies aren't making decisions that cut out the pharmacy community, the small independents that we count on. You know, when I do business with local pharmacies, I do that because I trust the pharmacist, I like to be able to ask questions, and the same thing with Medicaid patients. I'm very concerned about the direction we're headed with health care in Maryland. We were one of the first states to implement the Affordable Care Act, so therefore, we're going to experience some of these bumps in the road and some of these are big. So one of them happens to be this issue and we got great support from the Health and Government Operations Committee, Pete Hammen's the chair, and that was a lesson in developing relationships. I worked very hard on that bill and was excited to see its passage.

Tyler Butler: And then the other one I saw, which didn't get through this year, but I guess is probably one of those things you'll bring back in future years, is related to Wallops. What was the aim of that bill?

Chris Adams: So Wallops Island, that was mainly just a document that acknowledged on behalf of the state legislature that Wallops Island is expanding, that it's growing, there are very interesting things that are happening with NASA down there. We are seeing commercial flights, but there's also possibility down the road for human space flight in the next 10 or 15 years. So Maryland stands to gain significantly from what's happening in Virginia, you know Accomack County, so to do that we need to study that. We need to as a legislature learn what we can do specifically in Wicomico County. We have the second largest airport in the state, second largest waterport. We have infrastructure to really attract future businesses, and do business at Wallops Island. You know, these businesses don't need to be located right on the grounds. They can be located nearby or even in the region. They may locate in North Carolina. You know they are going to make these decisions, Maryland needs to be equally in a position to take advantage of that. That bill didn't pass primarily because it was, it never got out of rules. This was a late file bill like the other bill and it didn't have the same level of priority that some of the other bills perceived.

Tyler Butler: Still, so you have one primary bill that you passed, the number of ones that you co-sponsored to pass. How does that feel for you, I guess, first time around to see your first bill signed by the governor?

Chris Adams: Right, well for me, walking into the legislature I had no interest in putting bills in. I did see a lot of freshmen put bills in and they didn't go very far because they weren't well-vetted. There were flaws in the legislation. So when you come to committee, you find out quickly that if you haven't done your homework, things don't get passed. So I spent most of my time in my freshman year listening, developing relationships, understanding the process. So at the very end to be able to take something as a late file bill, which usually isn't a good idea if you want clear passage and have it go through, it is an exciting validation for doing things the right way. As a legislator, as a Republican and looking forward, if I can pass that kind of bill in that scenario, I'm very anxious to be able to pass other things that will come through in the next few years.

Tyler Butler: I asked Addie [Eckardt]  this same question, which I know it's typically Governor Hogan's place to do the state of the state speech, but I guess from your perspective, how is Maryland doing? What is your state of the state analysis?

Chris Adams: You know, Maryland voted Larry Hogan in because there is a change from the direction we were headed as a state and recognizing that Maryland competes with Delaware, Pennsylvania, you know, West Virginia, Virginia - we compete regionally - [with] North Carolina--we have to do things that show the business community that we mean business, that we're serious. Seeing Secretary Mike Gill out, a very dynamic leader speaking on behalf of our community, Secretary Kelly Schulz leading the same department that I had to fight a few years back. These are good people who understand the impact of regulation on business. So when we talk about what needs to be done, we have to analyze and recognize from a regulatory standpoint, how to make it easier to do business in Maryland and that's not going to be easy. But some of it can be done through legislation that I can pass. The Hogan administration just passed an executive order where they're going to look through all of regulation top down and look for antiquated regulation, regulation that's been implemented in ways that wasn't originally intended. And that's going to be an exciting process that will happen basically immediately and that speaks to what has to happen as a state. We do have to compete with other states, we do have to bring back the small businesses that left or went out of business during the past eight years. I'm excited to see our governor moving in that direction.

Tyler Butler: And I know you said this was a full-time job and you're probably doing your research already for next session. So I guess have you got some ideas of bills you'd like to file or ideas you'd like to support going into next year?

Chris Adams: For me, learning the health care environment, there are a lot of ideas, I've heard from many of the businesses that serve Medicaid patients that Maryland is not as easy to do business with as far as getting paid. So the state makes it very difficult, whether you're non-profit, not-for-profit or for-profit business. I've seen that example repeat itself a number of times and it interests me as a legislator because if you're going to provide a service, you should be able to get reimbursed for that service within a reasonable amount of time. Some of these organizations are waiting almost a year to get payment for what seems to be arbitrary, bureaucratic paperwork. So that's very interesting to me. Education is very important to me. I have three kids, three children in public education and I don't like the idea of testing to the level that we've seen it in the past few years. As a legislator, I want to be able to make a difference. We'll just have to see how that plays out. As a businessman there are many bills that are on the plate right now and I'll be meeting next week with the Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation about some of these ideas. But a lot of those are kind of premature and what we'll talk more in the fall about what those actually are.

Tyler Butler: Now six months into it, seven months into it, is being a delegate everything you thought it would be? Is it more, is it less?

Chris Adams: I worked so hard at it. There was a year-and-a-half of running for the office. It was humbling receiving the votes in November that put me in place. I was able to walk in mid-January and get sworn in. It's easy to get taken away with the history, the place that I was given by the voters. I will tell you that it's business as usual after you get passed that and it's right where I want to be. Being a politician was never in the cards for me up until about two or three years ago. And now that I'm here, I want to do good work and I want to represent my constituency very well, the district I serve, and it's exciting because I feel confident that I can do that. So it has been everything that I hoped it would be. Moving forward, we're just going to have to see whether I can deliver on those campaign promises I made. I think it's very important to do that on behalf of the people who voted for me.

Tyler Butler: Delegate Chris Adams, thanks very much for coming in.

Chris Adams: Thanks for having me.

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