2024 Legislative Session

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Dear Friend:

During our 90-day session, we approved a series of creative and common sense policy solutions to strengthen our State and make Maryland a place where all people can succeed. In total, the Senate passed 1,053 bills– an increase of 30% from last year.

In the aftermath of the Francis Scott Key Bridge tragedy, the Senate passed the Maryland Protecting Opportunities and Regional Trade (PORT) Act. This emergency bill passed the Senate unanimously and allows the Governor to access the Rainy Day Fund. Gov. Moore has already signed it into law. I am proud that we came together to address this disaster. #MarylandTough #BaltimoreStrong 

Strengthening 9-1-1

As you may know, three people in District 17 died when 9-1-1 failed. I have made it my mission to improve our emergency response system in every part of our State.

“Statewide 3-1-1 Portal” (SB1068: Sen. Kagan)– My top priority bill– creating a statewide 3-1-1 Portal– will allow easier access to governmental services. This idea came from the Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission I chaired for four years as a way to relieve pressure on our understaffed 9-1-1 call centers by giving our neighbors a better resource for non-emergency situations. According to the Baltimore Sun, up to 80% of Baltimore City’s 9-1-1 calls are for non-emergencies! This portal will be the first statewide 3-1-1 system in the nation. Passed!

“T-CPR” (SB649: Sen. Kagan)– Every year, 350,000 Americans die from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. I worked with the American Heart Association to fund Telecommunications Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (T-CPR) training for 9-1-1 Specialists. This builds on a successful pilot program in Charles County, where the survival rate more than doubled. T-CPR could annually save the lives of hundreds of Marylanders. Passed!

“TDoS/DDoS” (SB496: Sen. Kagan)– Our 9-1-1 call centers are vulnerable to cyberattacks. I sponsored legislation to penalize the criminals behind these attacks, thus making our emergency response system more secure. Just as I did with the “swatting” law I enacted last year, individuals should be deterred from interfering with 9-1-1. While this bill passed the House unanimously again, it did not move from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

“9–1–1 Workers’ Compensation” (SB1069: Sen. Kagan)– Our courageous women and men under the headset hear traumas every day. Many are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result. They should be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. This important proposal will be studied during the interim.

“9–1–1 Specialist Recruitment & Retention” (SB1034: Sen. Carozza)– There is a crisis-level shortage of 9-1-1 Specialists. This workgroup will recommend possible solutions to our recruitment and retention challenges. I amended this bill to include Workers’ Compensation in their mission. Passed!

Protecting Our Communities

Whether it is from crime or disease, Marylanders should feel secure in their homes and communities. While crime is down, there is still more to be done to enhance safety across the State.

“Center for Firearm Violence Prevention” (SB475: Gov. Moore)– Gun violence is a terrible reality in our nation. In Maryland, an average of 796 people are killed by guns each year. The Department of Health will conduct research on minimizing gun violence. Passed!

 “Defining Consent and Repealing Force” (SB758: Sen. Kelly, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– People should be able to revoke agreement for sexual activity through their conduct, not only by saying “no.” This affirmative consent legislation will replace Maryland’s “no means no” law with a “yes means yes” law. Passed!

 “Juvenile Justice Reform” (SB744: Pres. Ferguson)– This bipartisan legislation will permit younger adolescents to be charged for some violent crimes, among other initiatives. Passed!

“School Panic Buttons” (SB1090: Sen. Waldstreicher, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– Many universities and companies have systems that connect to authorities in an emergency. Our public schools lack such tools. In order to protect our kids, the Secure Schools Emergency Response Grant Program will assist local Boards of Education in implementing an emergency notification cell phone application. Passed!

“GAPS Act” (SB470: Gov. Moore, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– The Growing Apprenticeships and the Public Safety Workforce Act will promote careers in law enforcement agencies experiencing crisis-level shortages. This initiative will increase diversity; enhance community engagement; and improve public safety. Passed!

“Gun Industry Accountability Act” (SB488: Sen. Waldstreicher)– Firearm manufacturers should be held responsible for violations of “reasonable controls” regarding the sale, manufacture, distribution, importation, marketing, possession, and use of weapons. With this legislation, they could face civil penalties. Passed!

“Freedom to Serve” (SB48: Kagan)– Maryland’s police departments are facing a recruitment crisis. This means reduced community presence, mandatory overtime, and increased pressure on our police officers. My bill would have addressed this pressing issue by allowing police departments to hire honorably discharged veterans who are not yet citizens. This bill sadly did not move from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Improving Our Elections

Maryland’s State Board of Elections is undoubtedly one of the best in the nation. My legislative agenda focused on making our processes more efficient and transparent.

“Protecting Election Officials Act” (SB480: Gov. Moore, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– There is a dire shortage of election workers and judges. Many are fearful due to the spike in threats. This bill will penalize individuals who make threats against election officials, thus making Maryland elections safer. Signed into law!

“Recounts” (SB115: Sen. Kagan)– There have been a number of extraordinarily close elections in recent years– including for Montgomery County Executive in both 2018 and 2022. We urgently needed to update how recounts are handled so as to increase accuracy, efficiency, and transparency. Passed!

“Election Judges & Unemployment Benefits” (SB460: Sen. Kagan)– In 2020, the State had more than 14,000 election judge vacancies. Unfortunately, Maryland law dictates that those earning Unemployment Insurance (UI) may have their benefits reduced if they earn additional money. Along with District 17’s Del. Julie Palakovich Carr, I sponsored legislation to broaden the potential pool of election judges by exempting these short-term earnings from counting against unemployment benefits. Passed!

“Electoral College Reform” (SB494: Sen. Kagan)– Along with Del. Kris Fair, I sponsored emergency legislation to update post-election certification procedures to comply with federal law and provide safeguards against the naming of “fake electors” in presidential election years. Passed!

“Special Elections” (SB29: Sen. Kagan)– Did you know that roughly 25% of the General Assembly was selected (appointed) rather than elected? Voters should be able to choose their legislators, and my Constitutional Amendment would mandate this for many vacancies. Although this popular bill passed the Senate with strong support from President Ferguson, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and many other advocates, the House Ways & Means Committee chose not to move it forward.

“Exploratory and Draft Committees” (SB16: Sen. Kagan)– We should increase transparency and close the campaign finance loopholes for Exploratory and Draft Committees by requiring disclosure and itemizing which equipment, services, and other expenditures will be permitted. Although this bill passed the Senate unanimously, it got stuck in the House Ways & Means Committee.

“Scam PACs” (SB458: Sen. Kagan)– Given warnings from the FBI and the Federal Election Commission, we sought to regulate political entities that falsely claim to represent a candidate, political party, or organization. Along with District 17’s Del. Julie Palakovich Carr, I sponsored legislation to require these con artists to register and disclose expenditures. Violators could be fined and banned from future fundraising. Although this bill passed the Senate unanimously, political pettiness held it up in the House Ways & Means Committee.

“Simplified Ballot Language” (SB495: Sen. Kagan)– Ballot questions should be written at a basic reading level so as not to confuse voters with “legalese.” This straightforward legislation was backed by the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the Center for Civic Design, and others. Although this bill passed the Senate, it didn’t move through the House Ways & Means Committee.

“Ballot Access” (SB99: Sen. Kagan)– Unaffiliated voters should be allowed to re-register with the political party of their choice during Primary Early Voting, permitting them to cast a full ballot. Although the bill passed my committee, the full Senate wasn’t quite ready to approve it this year.

Caring for All

“End-of-Life Option Act” (SB443: Sen. Waldstreicher)– I am staunchly pro-choice, so I support bodily autonomy.

I have co-sponsored “Death with Dignity” legislation many times– dating back to my tenure in the House of Delegates. Creating a process for a patient to request– and potentially receive– aid in dying will ensure that we all have the right to decide what happens at the end of our lives. Despite two-thirds of Marylanders supporting this position, the bill fell just shy of earning enough votes in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Here’s hoping for the future…

 “Access to Care Act” (SB705: Sen. Hayes)– More than 300,000 uninsured Marylanders often skip preventative care appointments because they can’t afford them. Many end up in our hospitals with serious conditions. This potentially life-saving bill will reduce overall health care costs for taxpayers and address the lack of access by opening the Health Benefit Exchange to everyone in the State– including undocumented Marylanders. Passed along party lines.

Helping Young People

There is a mental health crisis in our nation, and it is especially acute for our youth. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, students aged 6-17 with mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns are three times more likely than their peers to repeat a grade. High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out of school. These statistics demonstrate how critical it is that we provide high-quality, accessible mental health services.

“Reducing Trauma in Active Shooter Drills” (SB432: Sen. Kagan)– Along with Montgomery County’s Del. Jared Solomon, I sponsored a bill to improve these school trainings, which can provoke anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Schools will provide parents with advance notice of a drill; prohibit loud sounds imitating gunfire or explosions; implement mental health check-ins afterwards; research the effects of these drills; and distribute instructional guidelines regarding safe storage of firearms. Passed!

 “Student Telehealth Appointments” (SB492: Sen. Kagan)– Along with Del. Dana Jones, I sponsored legislation to facilitate access to health services for students. Therapy is an effective treatment for behavioral and mental health conditions. Unfortunately, therapists trained to work with children have long waitlists for after-school appointments. Youth with daytime appointments are often required by their schools to be picked up by a parent or guardian, posing both equity and privacy issues. This bill will require local Boards of Education to accommodate telehealth services for public middle and high school students during the school day and provide a private space inside schools for these appointments. Passed!

“Mental Health Training for Coaches” (SB165: Sen. Hettleman, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– This legislation will develop guidelines for training athletic coaches to recognize signs of emotional and mental distress in students, as well as educating coaches on how to help them. Passed!

“Foster Care Luggage” (HB542: Del. Vogel)– Foster children are too often treated as disposable and unworthy of love. Giving them luggage for moving purposes can create a sense of stability during a scary and uncertain time. Foster children deserve to know that they are valued; this simple act will help demonstrate that the State cares. Comfort Cases, a nonprofit in Gaithersburg, provides backpacks with personal items for foster children. Passed!

Enhancing Education

The “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” was landmark legislation that is changing K-12 education by emphasizing college and career readiness; promoting diversity; improving early childhood education; and more. Since it became law in 2021 (after having been vetoed by then-Gov. Hogan), we have enacted important legislation to reinforce and enhance the Blueprint’s goals. Education prepares our students to be the leaders of tomorrow, so I am proud to stand with the Moore/Miller Administration in prioritizing the Blueprint.

“Freedom to Read Act” (SB738: Sen. King, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– Our kids should have access to a wide variety of books in our public and school libraries. With a frightening national campaign to ban certain books, this bill will establish State standards prohibiting the exclusion of books from a catalogue based on its origin or the background or views of the author. Passed!

 “Maryland Meals for Achievement Flexibility Act” (SB425: Sen. Hettleman, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– Because hungry kids can’t learn, this bill will broaden children’s access to school breakfast by allowing it to be served from a “grab & go” cart and expanding the existing program to include elementary schools. Passed!

 “ABLE Program Materials” (SB592: Sen. Zucker, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program helps those with disabilities save money, pay for their expenses, and prepare for their future. Information about the ABLE Program will be distributed to parents of children with disabilities in their native language during Individualized Education Program meetings. Passed!

 “Educate to Stop the Hate” (SB1058: Sen. Kramer, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– Antisemitism, Racism, Homophobia, Anti-Asian Hate, Islamophobia, Transphobia and more are on the rise. Education reduces the hate and violence that result from ignorance about oppression and the Holocaust. This bill would help students enter the world with increased knowledge and a greater level of understanding and empathy. Compromise language allowed our 24 local school systems to maintain authority over their own curriculum decisions. Unfortunately, despite passing the Senate, this bill did not move in the House Ways & Means Committee.

“Civic Excellence” (SB762: Sen. Kagan)– The Civic Excellence Program would work with schools across the State to award Seals of Civic Excellence to students who earn high marks in relevant courses; complete civics exams; and do a community Student Service-Learning (SSL) project. This bill also allows for public schools to gain recognition as Centers of Civic Excellence. Co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Justin Ready, this legislation seeks to reward involvement in State and local affairs. Despite unanimous Senate support, the bill was held up in the Ways & Means Committee.

Budgeting for Our Future

Governor Moore’s budget (SB360 & SB361) is a $63 billion plan that anticipates Maryland’s impending deficit by cutting 2% from last year’s total spending. Some of the funding priorities include:

  • $9.2 billion in operating funds for our public schools;
  • $906 million in capital funds for public school construction;
  • A record $127 million for local law enforcement– an increase of $5 million over last year; and
  • $110 million to address our affordable housing shortage for renters and lift more families and children out of poverty.

Working Towards Our Climate Goals

The Senate Education, Energy, and Environment (& Elections!) Committee was responsible for passing the vast majority of the Senate’s priority bills this session. As Vice Chair of the Committee, I am dedicated to helping our State reach the goals set out in the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022. Maryland’s aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2031 and achieve net zero emissions by 2045. I am proud of our efforts to address the Climate Crisis.

“EmPOWER” (HB864: Del. Crosby)– This was perhaps the most important climate legislation this session, requiring electric utilities to offer incentives for switching from gas furnaces to efficient heat pumps. The Public Service Commission will encourage conservation and energy efficiency. Passed!

“Paint Stewardship” (SB325: Sen. Brooks)– While this bill provoked much debate on the Senate floor, it ultimately passed both chambers. It creates a Paint Stewardship Program for the safe disposal of house paint, which is hazardous waste. The program will be funded by a modest fee charged to paint purchasers. Passed!

“Green Death Care Options Act” (SB1028: Sen. Waldstreicher)– Fire cremations now make up 50% of all after-death care and have been steadily rising in popularity. Defending this bill on the Senate floor, I discussed how legalizing the exciting new technology of alkaline hydrolysis (water cremation) and natural organic reduction (soil cremation) will promote environmentally-friendly after-death options. Passed!

 “Clean Water Justice Act” (SB653: Sen. Augustine)– Affected individuals will be able to sue companies that violate environmental laws. Passed!

“Climate Technology Founder’s Fund” (HB1220: Del. Vogel)– Start-up companies are paving the way to green energy. Providing them with early-stage funding will help us meet our climate goals. Passed!

“Synthetic Turf” (HB457: Del. Lehman)– Presenting this bill on the Senate floor, I discussed how synthetic turf athletic fields pose a challenge for solid waste disposal. The Department of the Environment will consult with key stakeholders to study the installation, use, and disposal of this hazardous material. Passed!

“Highway Salt Application” (HB1055: Del. Qi)– Road salt is a corrosive pollutant. Salt levels in some rivers and streams were toxic for over a month following this year’s snowstorms. It harms infrastructure and kills animals and vegetation. The Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources, will regulate highway salt application for State and local governments. I presented it on the Senate floor, but unfortunately we ran out of time to pass it this year.

Promoting Equity

According to the Department of Labor, gender and racial inequities persist. Addressing inequality will support our economy, health care, education, and more. With many forms of hate on the rise, I joined my colleagues in creating the Legislative Jewish Caucus, which has 20 voting members and 33 associate members. This Caucus will continue to promote anti-bias education and confront antisemitism in all forms.

“Equal Pay for Equal Work” (SB525: Sen. Kelly)– To address pay inequities in the workplace, this legislation will require employers to disclose pay ranges, benefits, and other compensation in their job postings. Passed!

“ENOUGH Act” (SB482: Gov. Moore)– One of the Governor’s priority bills, the “Engaging Neighborhoods, Organizations, Unions, Governments, and Households” Grant Program will combat concentrated poverty by connecting our neighbors in need to jobs; improving child care and education; and boosting access to health care. I agree with Governor Moore that we should “leave no one behind.” Passed!

“Gender-Affirming Treatment” (SB119: Sen. Lam)– With the distressing rise of transphobic legislation, adding gender-affirming care to the definition of “legally protected health care” will prevent a Maryland medical provider from being sued solely for providing this treatment. Passed along party lines.

 “Supporting HBCUs” (HB1244: Del. Smith)– Duplicate degree programs put our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at a competitive disadvantage. The Higher Education Commission will promote fairness by publishing an annual report on programs approved over an HBCU’s objection. Passed!

 “The Federal ERA” (SJ01: Sen. Kelly, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– After passing the U.S. Congress in 1972, Maryland was one of the first states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In 2020, when Virginia signed on under the leadership of my friend, then-Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (now running for Congress!), the ERA finally reached the 3/4 enactment threshold. This resolution urges the Biden/Harris Administration to affirm the 24-word ERA as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Passed!

“Homecare Worker Rights Act” (SB197: Sen. Ellis)– In Maryland, 84% of home care workers are women. These critical caregivers should be entitled to overtime, sick leave, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. They may not be misclassified as independent contractors. Passed along party lines.

“Supporting Reproductive Health Care Clinics Act” (SB975: Sen. Elfreth, co-sponsored by Sen. Kagan)– Individuals seeking health care should not feel unsafe when they enter a clinic. A Reproductive Health Care Clinic Security Grant Program will assist abortion clinics with security costs. Passed!

Helping Nonprofits & Strengthening Our Economy

As Governor Moore often says, we are building an economy in Maryland that works for everyone. That’s why it is so important to expand job opportunities and help the unemployed. As the “Senator for the Nonprofit Sector,” I believe that we must support these dedicated superheroes in every corner of our State. The services and resources nonprofits provide are what make them the social and economic backbone of our communities. The more we uplift our nonprofits, the more we uplift Marylanders.

“M.E.G.A.” (SB459: Sen. Kagan)– Extending the Maryland Efficient Grant Application (M.E.G.A.) Council, a program I created in 2020, will help nonprofits by streamlining the process of working with government. A State Grants Ombudsperson would be a “one-stop shop” for troubleshooting and announcing funding opportunities. The M.E.G.A. Council has done lots of good work, and I know there is more to come. Signed into law!

“G.R.E.E.N.” (SB169: Sen. Kagan)– An interest-free revolving loan fund would enable nonprofits to transition to renewable energy systems. My idea was so compelling that it inspired a federal program. But despite passing the Senate unanimously (for the third year in a row!!!), the bill did not have a hearing in the House.

“Critical Infrastructure Streamlining Act” (SB474: Gov. Moore)– Data centers are seeking to come to Maryland, bringing tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic development. This compromise bill balanced these benefits with the significant environmental consequences and ultimately exempted data centers from the usual approval process. We may need to revisit this issue next year. Passed!

Increasing Transparency for Consumers

Whether it is when choosing a sweater or buying gasoline, I hate feeling ripped off! Marylanders should not be subject to predatory business practices. These bills will allow consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

“Gas Price Clarity” (SB651: Sen. Kagan)– Since over 90% of us purchase gas using credit or debit cards, the current law that allows stations to post just the cash price is completely misleading. The difference can range from 5 to 25 cents per gallon. I worked with legislative allies across the State to end this “bait & switch” practice. After too many years of opposing my common sense legislation, fuel industry lobbyists finally testified in support of this bill when they became worried about a “patchwork quilt” of conflicting laws. Beginning October 1, gas stations will display either the highest price OR both the credit/debit and cash prices prominently. Passed!

 “Electricity and Gas Consumer Protection” (SB1: Sen. Augustine)– 370,000 Maryland families paid $178 million more than necessary on energy costs in 2022. Among other things, this hotly-debated legislation will prohibit deceptive marketing tactics by some energy suppliers. Passed!

Ticket Sales” (SB539: Sen. Gile)– Too often, third-party ticket sellers scam consumers with predatory practices. This legislation will require advertisements to include all fees and taxes. Passed!

“Self-Administered Rape Kits” (HB1047: Del. Bartlett)– At-home rape kits gives sexual assault survivors false assurance— but no treatment for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Because these kits are not admissible as evidence in court, rapists will not be convicted. Banning them became surprisingly controversial in the final days of session. Many of the women Senators insisted on a strong, un-amended law against such an exploitative for-profit company. Passed!

Supporting Gaithersburg & Rockville

Sen. Craig Zucker, Chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee, worked closely with the entire Montgomery County Delegation to secure over $80 million for local priorities. I collaborated with Delegates Palakovich Carr, Vogel, and Spiegel to bring home funding for worthy projects in Gaithersburg and Rockville:

  • Upgrading the mechanical systems at Gaithersburg Middle School;
  • Renovating the Montgomery College Rockville campus library;
  • Constructing a new Montgomery County Detention Center;
  • Replacing the Bohrer Park gym floor;
  • Improving EveryMind’s Rockville headquarters;
  • Upgrading David Scull Park;
  • Enhancing Rockville’s water system;
  • Updating the playground at Gaithersburg Elementary School;
  • Replacing the roof at Rockville’s Meadow Hall Elementary School; and
  • Building the new Crown High School in Gaithersburg.

Will You Attend these Upcoming Events?

There’s always lots to do in Gaithersburg and Rockville. Check out these highlights; I hope to see you there!

Senatorial Scholarships

I am always inspired by the talented students who apply for my Senatorial Scholarships. The deadline for Fall Semester applications is April 30 at 5pm. We are seeking undergraduate and graduate students who are passionate about their education as well as our community. Financial need is also a consideration. Don’t wait until the last minute– members of my volunteer Senatorial Scholarship Selection Committee consider the thoughtfulness of the application essays. For more information and to apply, please visit www.CherylKagan.org.

Keeping Up with Kagan!

I am honored to represent the people of Gaithersburg and Rockville and I hope to see you soon in the community! In the meantime, please follow me on Facebook (@CherylCKagan), Twitter (@CherylKagan), and Instagram (@CherylCKagan) for photos and posts. My website has a new portal for casework you will find helpful if you’re hitting roadblocks with our State government. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be notified of new episodes of “Kibbitzing with Kagan.” And, you can always send questions or comments to me via email.



Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator
District 17 (Gaithersburg & Rockville)
Vice Chair, Education, Energy, Environment (& Elections!) Committee 

PS: Tuesday, May 14 is Primary Day in Maryland. Whether you choose to vote by mail, via Early Voting, or in-person on Election Day, I urge you to cast a ballot and make your voice heard!