Cheryl Kagan | Maryland State Senator - District 17
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2021 Session Wrap Up

April 2021

Dear Friend:

 

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Legislative Session was truly one for the history books. From Zoom hearings and empty halls to “telephone booths” separating legislators on the Senate floor and twice-weekly COVID tests, the strict regimen kept us healthy for all 90 days. I am grateful for everyone’s caution throughout our time in Annapolis.

ADDRESSING PANDEMIC PRIORITIES

IMPLEMENTING POLICE REFORM

UPGRADING TO NEXT GENERATION 9-1-1

SUPPORTING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT

NAVIGATING OUR TRANSPORTATION NEEDS

ENHANCING GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY

REFORMING OUR ELECTIONS

PROTECTING CONSUMERS

SUPPORTING NONPROFITS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

INCREASING EQUITY IN HEALTH SERVICES

HIGHLIGHTING OTHER KEY ISSUES

RETURNING TO THE COMMUNITY

 

ADDRESSING PANDEMIC PRIORITIES

 

Securing Coronavirus Vaccines

As the hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue, vaccines have become the metaphoric “light at the end of the tunnel.” Unfortunately, the initial rollout by the Hogan Administration was mediocre at best. Counties were responsible for administering shots, but only learned of eligibility and the distribution the same way that Marylanders did– by watching Hogan’s press conferences. The lack of communication and collaboration was appalling and resulted in unnecessary confusion and frustration. Like many of you, I am grateful to be vaccinated and one step closer to the new “normal.” With anyone 16 years or older now able to schedule an appointment, I am optimistic for our future.

 

Because of the lack of collaboration with the Hogan Administration, we had to speak up to make a difference. As vaccine planning began, I successfully advocated for our “First” First Responders to be included among the top priority recipients. These integral public safety “sheroes” and heroes who answer calls to 9-1-1 are too often overlooked. A COVID outbreak within a 9-1-1 Center would be dangerous for public health and safety. This was a small, but important victory. Additionally, I was astonished that the most populous jurisdiction in the state (Montgomery County) was overlooked as mass vaccination sites were selected. It took weeks of lobbying and social media efforts to persuade the Administration that a site in Germantown was warranted. 

 

Advocating for Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Insurance payments continue to be delayed for my Rockville and Gaithersburg constituents. Many are waiting for an interview regarding their claim; others have been inaccurately flagged for fraud. The calls and emails have flooded our office since March of 2020 with no end in sight. My staff and I continue to work diligently to get these cases resolved. If you are a constituent in need of help, please complete my Unemployment Insurance Assistance Form

 

Overriding Hogan’s 2020 Vetoes

The Legislative Session started and ended by overriding Governor Larry Hogan’s misguided vetoes (more on the end-of-session overrides later). Upon convening in January, the General Assembly successfully reversed several Hogan vetoes by moving forward with:

 

  • Reforming Education: The Senate reaffirmed its strong commitment to the 10-year plan to enhance our public schools. The Kirwan Commission’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will expand pre-K programs; increase funding for schools with high concentrations of poverty; boost teacher salaries; and establish an accountability board to oversee implementation.
  • Supporting our Public Schools: Mega-corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon profit off of consumers but don’t give anything back to our communities. Despite the misleading ad campaigns, the override of this veto does not affect our small businesses (unless they earn more than $100 million a year!). This first-in-the-nation digital ad tax, pioneered in Europe, will generate an estimated $250 million annually that will be distributed to Maryland’s schools. 
  • Providing Money for Metro: We made a legislative commitment to help pay for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) services that are so important to our region. In my opinion, Gov. Hogan’s veto was short-sighted and threatened to reverse the progress we had made before the pandemic. Cutting routes and increasing fares disproportionately affects low-income residents. We must fulfill our commitment to mass transit.

 

Relieving Financial Burdens

The General Assembly passed the Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Industries, Entrepreneurs, and Families (R.E.L.I.E.F.) Act— emergency legislation to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than $1.5 billion was distributed to residents, businesses, public schools, and more. Families who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit in their 2019 federal taxes received $500, and individuals received $300. 

 

Within the R.E.L.I.E.F. Act, my Senate colleagues and I voted to add the “Recovery Now Amendment.” This provided small businesses and nonprofits with sales tax credits; authorized the Department of Commerce to convert some small business loans into grants; and made a one-time $1,000 deposit for anyone waiting for an adjudication interview from the Department of Labor. (Passed!)

 

IMPLEMENTING POLICE REFORM

 

As we watched the Chauvin trial in Minneapolis unfold, we were reminded of our anguish and outrage at the senseless murder of George Floyd and too many others. The tragic events of last summer ignited a passion for addressing public safety, civil rights, and police accountability. My colleagues and I spent many long hours and late nights, debating these priority policies. From 10 pieces of legislation, we settled on 5 mostly bipartisan bills that covered use of force; body-worn cameras; no-knock warrants; and more. As Chair of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission, I shared my thoughts during the lengthy floor debate.

 

Unfortunately, Gov. Larry Hogan chose to veto four of these bills on the Friday before adjournment. In response to this ill-considered action, the Senate convened the following day to, among other things, override Hogan’s vetoes. Maryland is now the first state in the nation to repeal and replace the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights with strengthened accountability measures. New restrictions will be enforced on no-knock warrants and use of force, and body-worn cameras will be required for all officers by 2025.

 

UPGRADING TO NEXT GENERATION 9-1-1

 

Supporting our “First” First Responders

As Chair of the statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission, I have sponsored legislation for the past three years based on its recommendations. This year, key initiatives were included in SB714/HB989, our “omnibus” bill. The legislation (Passed unanimously!) will: 

  • Mandate notification of certain 9-1-1 outages to the general public, as well as 9-1-1 centers and the 9-1-1 Board;
  • Establish psychological well-being training standards for 9-1-1 Specialists; 
  • Study whether Workers’ Compensation should be extended to 9-1-1 Specialists for exposure to trauma;
  • Modify the membership of the 9-1-1 Board to include specified NG911 experts; 
  • Enforce the use standardized geographic data for locating callers; 
  • Strengthen enforcement of Kari’s Law so that anyone can dial 9-1-1 without a prefix; and
  • Provide funding for 9-1-1 Specialist recruitment. 

 

Moving the 9-1-1 Board

The Commission also recommended making the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) an independent Cabinet-level entity that will report directly to the Governor. My bill also shifts the 9-1-1 Board to become an autonomous entity under this new Department. Maryland will join 14 states that have already made this important structural change. (Passed unanimously!)

 

Implementing a Statewide 3-1-1 System

3-1-1 is an effective and expanding public service that can provide answers to non-emergency questions like: 

  • Where to go for COVID tests and vaccines; 
  • How to contact animal control; or 
  • When trash and recycling are collected. 

 

This service is featured on the Governor’s website, but only six jurisdictions (Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s Counties) currently offer 3-1-1. Others may wish to provide it, but they may not have the resources.

 

SB631 would have created a short-term workgroup, facilitated by MEMA, to study the logistics of implementing a statewide 3-1-1 system. This legislation was endorsed by the Governor and passed the Senate unanimously. Though it did not progress in the House, we will convene the key stakeholders and conduct a workgroup without legislation. I am hopeful that we will enact Statewide 3-1-1 next year. (Passed unanimously in the Senate but stalled in the House.)

 

SUPPORTING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

 

Masking Up and Heading Back to School

For the last several weeks, some Montgomery County students have been slowly returning to the classroom. Schools are using a hybrid format, with many students remaining virtual, for the remainder of the year. Free COVID testing is available to all in-person students and staff. In addition, Montgomery County Public Schools has spent more than $15 million on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and infrastructure improvements. These funds came from the Recovery Now amendment (added by the State Senate) to the R.E.L.I.E.F. Act. I am hopeful that these measures will keep students and staff safe and healthy!

 

Adjusting the Blueprint’s Trajectory

Because of Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the Kirwan Commission’s “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future”– a 10-year plan to improve our public schools — its implementation is now a year behind. To address the Governor’s delay and bridge the gap created by the pandemic, Senate President Ferguson and Chair Paul Pinsky introduced “Kirwan 2.0,” which adjusts previous deadlines and accounts for the summer school, tutoring, and broadband infrastructure that our students, teachers, and administrators desperately need. (Passed!)

 

Gambling to Provide Education Funding

Whether or not you like to try your luck, new sports betting legislation is slated to provide significant revenue for our public schools as we implement the Kirwan Commission’s 10-year “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.” Funds will also be allocated to support minority, women, and small businesses. (Passed!)

 

Making Telehealth Available to Students

Last year, I sponsored an emergency bill (SB402/HB448 – now law), which authorized the use of telehealth. Unfortunately, MD State Department of Education placed unnecessary barriers to School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs), preventing them from offering telehealth. My emergency legislation eliminates the restrictions, allowing SBHCs to provide primary, behavioral, and dental care via telehealth for students across the State. (Passed!)

 

Building Out Broadband Act of 2021

Stay-at-home orders brought on by the pandemic have highlighted the importance of broadband connectivity.  A lack of high-speed internet access is a significant barrier to socioeconomic opportunity, health, education, and quality of life. Marylanders have been forced to work and study from home, only to find out that they were on the wrong side of the “digital divide,” without reliable access to the internet. Senator Katie Fry Hester sponsored the Building Out Broadband Act of 2021, which will require the State to allocate federal funding for the purpose of improving broadband access across all 24 jurisdictions. (Passed!)

 

Increasing Efficacy of Special and Early Childhood Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has particularly hurt our special education students and youngest learners in school. My colleagues and I passed SB371/HB716 to make our special education system more effective for families who have not received necessary services through distance learning.

 

Prioritizing Menstrual Equity

Senator Sarah Elfreth introduced a bill that would require bathrooms in public elementary, middle, and high schools to be stocked with menstrual products (SB427/HB205). This will ensure that young women are not stigmatized by lack of access to these essential products while in school. (Passed!)

 

PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT

 

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint?

The time to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions is NOW. The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021 would have required 5 million trees to be planted across MD; shifted our state vehicle fleet and commuter buses to electric; required solar panels on some new schools; and much more. Unfortunately, the House did not agree with the Senate version of the bill; without a compromise, this legislation failed. (A Conference Committee was appointed but could not reach an agreement.)

 

One silver lining: my Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee amended the requirement for planting 5 million trees into HB991, which passed. Additionally, the Zero–Emission Bus Transition Act passed, prohibiting the Maryland Transit Administration from purchasing buses that are not zero-emissions beginning in 2023. 

 

Protecting our Pollinators

The use of neonicotinoid pesticides significantly harms bee populations. In 2015, Maryland beekeepers lost 61 percent of their colonies due to the use of this pesticide. The General Assembly enacted the Pollinator Protection Act, prohibiting the use of neonicotinoid pesticides by unauthorized persons, such as home gardeners. However, it was later discovered that this legislation did not prohibit the sale of neonicotinoids in retail stores. Consumers have been buying the harmful pesticide without understanding the implications. My bill, SB375/HB208, requires retail stores to relocate neonicotinoids so that they will only be available upon request by certified applicators. These individuals will know to ask staff to retrieve the pesticide, while at-home gardeners will have access to other products. (Passed!)

 

Composting at Home

Of the hundreds of new laws we enact each year, only a few get much attention in the press or among advocacy groups. When I served in the House of Delegates, I spent several years working on condo and homeowner association issues. This year, Montgomery County Del. Emily Shetty sponsored legislation that will prohibit homeowners’ associations from unreasonably restricting owners from contracting with a private entity to collect organic waste for composting. This is a significant win for our environment. (Passed!)

 

Expanding Our Recycling Market

After China banned the import of U.S. recyclables, mountains of unsold materials were abandoned in warehouses across the country. The costs are high– in Montgomery County, bales of recycled mixed paper used to bring in $155 per ton; they now yield only $10 per ton. My legislation requires the Department of the Environment to assess the current recycling market and encourage the use of locally-sourced recyclables. Additionally, a marketing campaign will be launched to entice “green” businesses to come to Maryland. (Passed!)

 

NAVIGATING OUR TRANSPORTATION NEEDS

 

Addressing the I-270 Debacle

There have been many ups and downs throughout Hogan’s plans for widening I-270. Aside from the threat of creating a huge bottleneck in D/17, this project would decimate the City of Rockville. Legislation was introduced by Sen. Jim Rosapepe (SB361) and Sen. Joanne Benson (SB843) to try to lessen the effects of the widening by adjusting laws regarding public-private partnerships. Though neither bills moved forward, the Department of Transportation’s contract for the project has been delayed again because of loud protests from our community.

 

Protecting Pedestrians

Keeping our streets safe for everyone – including walkers, bikers, public safety personnel, and road workers – is a must. Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher’s SB293 increases penalties for drivers who cause serious physical injury or death to pedestrians or other vulnerable persons. (Passed!)

 

ENHANCING GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY

 

Strengthening Maryland’s Public Information Act

Residents, advocates, and the press often face unreasonable fees and lengthy delays when requesting government documents. Public information is critical to ensuring government accountability. I am proud to have partnered with Del. Brooke Lierman to pass SB449/HB183, which will resolve disputes in a timely and affordable manner.  (Passed!

 

Increasing Sunshine on State Government

Transparency is an essential element of good and effective government. In the past, State boards and agencies typically held meetings in a physical location, where members of the press and general public could hypothetically attend in person. The use of technology to live-stream during this pandemic has increased access. If the General Assembly could stream its hearings, debates, and voting sessions, other governmental bodies should also be able to adapt. I introduced SB72/HB344 in collaboration with Del. Marc Korman to increase transparency. (No action taken.)

 

Restoring Trust in Public Service

Last year’s scandal regarding a payout to an employee transitioning to become Gov. Hogan’s Chief of Staff demanded our attention. We passed the Maryland Environmental Service Reform Act of 2021, modifying the structure and operations of this agency. The related SB4/HB363 prevents retaliation against State employees who report wrongdoing. 

 

Safeguarding Taxpayer Money in Emergencies

Many of us remember Gov. Hogan’s photo op when he purchased 500,000 test kits from South Korea. Unfortunately, an audit found that he overpaid for the test kits, and they ultimately had to be returned at our expense because they were faulty. SB829/HB1091 provides greater clarity for government entities making emergency procurements. Establishing more effective timelines and defining roles will ensure your money is spent wisely during an emergency.

 

REFORMING OUR ELECTIONS

 

The strength of our election system was tested last year by both the Coronavirus pandemic and a U.S. President who sought to overturn the results. Although the 2020 campaign was contentious and divisive, it caused Americans to focus on the details of voting. I sponsored three bills to update and strengthen our election laws. All Americans should be committed to fair, accurate, and inclusive elections. 

 

Transforming our Elections with my “Kitchen Sink” Bill

My Election Reform Act of 2021 addressed 17 issues that I encountered during the 2020 election. I consulted with the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Maryland Public Interest Research Group, the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), and other advocates and experts on voting procedures. Among the wide array of issues were:

  • Increasing the number of Early Voting days;
  • Expanding voting rights for unaffiliated voters;
  • Establishing a Maryland Debate Commission;
  • Standardizing methods for voters to correct errors on their ballot envelopes; and
  • Allowing local boards to start processing ballots before Election Day.

Unfortunately, the bill was amended to include a provision that would have cost millions of dollars. The bill passed out of my Committee, but the amendment’s significant price tag prevented any of the needed changes from moving forward. (Passed my Committee but did not advance due to the amendment’s cost.)

 

Improving our Election Administration

The Governor implemented a number of changes to our 2020 elections through Executive Order, which placed tremendous strain on our local Boards of Elections. In partnership with MACo, SB747/HB1038 would have:

  • Divided specified costs between the State and the Local Boards;
  • Expanded the membership of the State Board of Elections;
  • Increased transparency and oversight by requiring the State Board of Elections to vote on contracts greater than $50,000; and
  • Established a schedule of updates to voter registration databases.

Despite a strong hearing and support from our 24 counties, this bill was not approved before we adjourned.

 

Establishing Election Recount Procedures

Close elections at the federal, state, and local levels have spurred conversations about recounting votes. Currently, any defeated candidate in Maryland can request a recount within three days of the results being certified. Additionally, any registered voter may file for a recount of a ballot question. Current law is largely silent on the details of managing a recount. My legislation (SB632/HB761), cross-filed by Chair Anne Kaiser, passed the Senate unanimously. Last-minute House amendments prevented the bill from moving forward.

 

Enhancing Campaign Fundraising Restrictions

Sixty-one times, the General Assembly has convened for a Special Session. Current law prohibits legislators from accepting donations during the 90-day Legislative Session. SB374 would have simply expanded that provision to special sessions. Despite passing unanimously in the Senate, the House decided that codifying this practice was unnecessary. (No vote in the House.)

 

Enacting Other Election Reforms

The more open and inclusive voting practices in response to the pandemic have taught us that voting can be easier and more accessible without compromising security. Several bills passed to continue these reforms, including: 

  • Providing accessible ballot drop boxes;
  • Making more early voting centers convenient and available; 
  • Requiring all early voting centers to be open from 7AM to 8PM;  
  • Creating a permanent absentee ballot program; and
  • Expanding access to college students, members of the military, and overseas voters.

More can be done to strengthen our election laws. Expect me to continue these efforts next year.

 

PROTECTING CONSUMERS

 

Securing Your Bank Account

Using one’s mother’s maiden name as a security question dates back to 1882. This personal information can be found online far too easily, making your life savings vulnerable to hacking. Shockingly, some banks have continued to use this as their only “security question.” I sponsored SB185/HB471, which requires financial institutions to include multiple options when opening an account. (Passed!)

 

Increasing Safety on the Roads

While traveling through the midwest last summer, my Avis rental car got a flat tire. Expecting to change it myself, I unloaded the trunk and was shocked to discover that the vehicle did not come with a spare! Imagine a driver stranded in the middle of nowhere at 3am with no cell phone service. That renter could be nearly out of gas in frigid cold weather and hypothetically vulnerable to assault, abduction, or even murder.

 

My legislation was intended to protect vehicle renters through required equipment and/or disclosure. Even after brainstorming with stakeholders, we never reached consensus for a moderate, common-sense method of addressing this problem. Any ideas??? (No vote in the Senate.)

 

Cleaning up the Bathroom

There is always a risk of picking up an illness when using a public restroom– especially in a hospital! I sponsored legislation that would require touchless paper towel dispensers and hands-free doors in hospital and clinic public restrooms. These needed upgrades would help curb the spread of bacteria, viruses, fecal matter, etc. Testifying for my bill were an Emergency Department nurse from Medstar and TikTok Microbiologist Daniel Day. While I didn’t expect the legislation to move, I hoped to shame health care institutions into taking urgently needed and affordable precautions. You can watch the hearing here.

 

Updating Homeowner’s Insurance Policies

We buy insurance for financial protection from circumstances we cannot predict or control. Climate change is causing extreme weather events, potentially damaging our homes. Without legislative action, cancellations and non-renewals of homeowner’s insurance due to weather-related claims will likely increase. My legislation (initiated by our own Del. Julie Palakovich Carr) would have shielded those with damage to their home from three natural disasters within three years. (Unfavorable report by the Senate Finance Committee.)

 

Ending Price-Gouging by Third-Party Energy Suppliers

Maryland’s deregulated electricity and natural gas market has prompted some third-party energy suppliers to drive up prices, locking families into expensive contracts. SB31/HB397 addresses this, by requiring the Public Service Commission to approve the pricing before suppliers can offer services to any resident. 

 

SUPPORTING NONPROFITS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

 

Providing More R.E.L.I.E.F.

Many nonprofits and local governments were forced into pandemic-related layoffs. Sections of the R.E.L.I.E.F. Act that applied to these organizations were only applicable to those with fewer than 50 staff members. The reality is that most local governments have more than 50 staff members; this is also true for many nonprofits. I introduced SB790, which would have amended the R.E.L.I.E.F. Act to resolve this inequity. Among the supporters of this legislation were the MD Association of Counties, MD Nonprofits, and the MD Municipal League. Though my bill did not move forward, I was able to amend HB908 to address this inequity through the end of the year. (SB790 did not move out of the Finance Committee, but HB908 passed!)

 

Funding Short-Term Loans for Nonprofits

Continuing on the nonprofit sector, these groups often rely on federal, state, and local government grants and contracts. Unfortunately, these funds may be delayed or distributed only after a project is completed. This causes enormous cash flow challenges for payroll, programming, and other expenses. My 2017 legislation (SB465/HB1517) created the Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL) program in the Department of Commerce to provide eligible nonprofits with the money needed to tide them over until promised government funds are received. 

 

SB376 would have required the Governor to appropriate $250,000 for the NIMBL account in FY23 to support nonprofits across the State. NIMBL is an invaluable tool to support nonprofits as we recover from the economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Though I am disappointed that we ran out of time to pass this bill, I was able to ensure an additional $150,000 for the program in FY22. (Passed unanimously in the Senate; Passed the House Committee but ran out of time on the House floor.)

 

INCREASING EQUITY IN HEALTH SERVICES

 

Expanding on Current Telehealth Services

The Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021 expands on my emergency telehealth legislation enacted last year, to more clearly define “telehealth” as the delivery of “medically necessary” health services, including dental and behavioral health, to a patient by a distant-site provider with “technology-assisted communication.” This important legislation will help with assessing insurance coverage and properly disbursing any reimbursements for services. (Passed!)

 

Protecting Patients with Medical Debt

SB514/HB565 will prohibit liens, arrests, and house-arrest monitors for patients experiencing medical debt. These individuals would qualify for income-based repayment plans, even if they are not from a low-income background. An 180-day period will be required before hospitals or debt collectors could take further action. (Passed!)

 

Prioritizing Equity in Health Care

Named in honor of our colleague and longtime advocate of health equity, The Shirley Nathan–Pulliam Health Equity Act of 2021 will establish a Maryland Commission on Health Equity. This newly minted commission will submit an annual report recommendations related to disparities in health and health care.(Passed!)

 

Providing Affordable Options to Young Adults

Thanks to new state-funded health insurance subsidies, uninsured Marylanders between the ages of 18-34 can access much more affordable coverage through the Maryland Health Connection. This pilot will last 2 years and is expected to stabilize premiums for Marylanders of all ages by attracting more healthy individuals to the health insurance risk pool. (Passed!)

 

Funding the Prescription Drug Affordability Board

Overriding Governor Hogan’s veto, the Maryland General Assembly moved to fully fund the first-in-the nation commission to make expensive drugs more affordable for Marylanders. (Passed!)

 

Streamlining Health Insurance Enrollment for the Unemployed

Uninsured Marylanders can now check a box on their state income taxes and on unemployment forms to allow these agencies to share pertinent information with the Maryland Health Connection for the purpose of enrolling into health care coverage. This builds on Maryland’s successful first-in-the-nation Easy Enrollment Health Insurance Program that connects people to health insurance when they file their state taxes. (Passed!)

 

HIGHLIGHTING OTHER KEY ISSUES

 

Repealing our Confederate-Themed State Song

While it may not have been the most important issue before the General Assembly this year, we finally passed my State Song repeal bill. It is decades past time to remove this deplorable ode to the Confederacy from our law books. (In fact, my predecessor, Sen. Jennie Forehand, also sponsored this legislation several times!) Any future State Song should celebrate the beauty, diversity, and history of our home. (Passed!)

 

Supporting The Technology Sector

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) plays a crucial role in supporting tech and life science start-up companies with funding and other tools to be successful. Sen. Malcolm Augustine sponsored legislation to establish an “Inclusion Fund” for those who are economically disadvantaged. In addition, I sponsored a bill in partnership with Del. Jessica Feldmark (SB80/HB6) that enhanced the prestige, size, and diversity of TEDCO’s Board of Directors. (Passed unanimously!)

 

Supporting Maryland Workers and a Living Wage

Income inequality continues to be one of our most consequential issues. Collective bargaining has been one of the most effective tools for leveling the playing field. We strengthened our unions’ ability to negotiate at the University System of Maryland (SB9/HB486) and our community colleges (SB746/HB894). Additionally, state-funded capital projects will now be required to pay a livable wage (SB35/HB37). These needed changes will ensure that working people will be able to pay their bills.

 

Bringing Home the Bacon

The General Assembly unanimously approved the Capital Budget, which included funds to support the:

  • Rockville’s Interfaith Works Vocational Services Center($350K);
  • Rockville’s Lincoln Park Community Center ($250K);
  • Gaithersburg’s Pedestrian Bridge at Great Seneca Highway ($250K);
  • Gaithersburg’s Pleasant View Park ($250K); and
  • Gaithersburg’s Manna Food Center ($150K).

Additionally, the approved budget for Fiscal Year 2022 will provide the following for Montgomery County:

  • Education:
    • Gaithersburg Elementary School ($8,725,000);
    • Twinbrook Elementary School ($1,051,000);
    • Forest Oak Middle School ($1,255,000);
    • Gaithersburg Middle School ($4,300,000); and
    • Montgomery College ($13,604,000).
  • Health Care:
    • Cornerstone Montgomery, Inc. ($457,000)
  • Parks & Recreation:
    • Rockville Potomac Woods Park Playground ($123,000)
  • Transportation/Public Safety: 
    • Montgomery County Route 355 Bus Rapid Transit Project ($6,000,000);
    • Police Department ($16,375,000); and
    • Fire and rescue services ($1,995,000).

 

Defending the Privacy of Birth Mothers

For decades, women who have made the difficult choice to give their baby up for adoption were guaranteed confidentiality if they wanted. SB331 would have stripped birth mothers of their privacy without notification, allowing adoptees unfettered access to their birth records. I led the floor fight that defeated this legislation with a decisive vote of 16-31

 

RETURNING TO THE COMMUNITY

 

Working for You Year-Round!

If you are having difficulty with a State agency, my staff and I may be able to help. Please reach out via email. If you have any upcoming events, I would be happy to attend and speak. Once again, it has been my honor to represent you in the State Senate, and I will see you in the community, in our schools, and at local events as it becomes safe.

 

Celebrating the Bookbinder Legacy

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) will honor me on April 25th with its prestigious Hyman Bookbinder Award for exemplary leaders who are committed to advocacy, coalition-building, and community leadership. I have served on the board of AJC for more than 20 years and am deeply humbled by this recognition. 

 

Supporting Students in D/17

Each semester, I award scholarships to support outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in my legislative district. The deadline for the Fall 2021 Semester is Wednesday, April 28, at 5:00pm. More information and the application are available on the Scholarship page of my website. 

 

Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for photos and posts. Peruse my website for information about local vaccine efforts, internships, scholarships, and more. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be notified of new episodes of “Kibbitzing with Kagan.”

 

Best, 

 

Cheryl

 

Cheryl C. Kagan

Maryland State Senator

District 17

 

PS:  If you want to learn more about the 2021 Legislative Session or ask questions, I hope you will attend our upcoming Virtual District 17 Town Hall on Tuesday, May 11th, at 7:30pm. I will also be presenting to the Mayors & Councilmembers in both municipalities and in various community meetings. (Feel free to invite me to yours!)

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