The Politics of Inclusion (Feb 16, 2016)

Restoring Voting Rights

After individuals have paid their debt to society, I believe they should not be denied their voting rights.  To ensure this, the Senate narrowly voted to override Governor Hogan’s final veto from last session.  There was some misinformation about what this law does (to clarify: it does not allow voting in prisons), which led to some angry emails and phone calls.  An individual’s right to cast a ballot is one of the most important components of our democracy, and the legislative override reinstates that right for men and women who have served their time in jail. I believe this is a good policy for Maryland.   

‘Now You’re Speaking My Language!’
My “Language Access” bill (SB 28) passed the Senate 39-7 last week!  It had received aunanimous favorable report from the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee — for which I am very proud.  The bill requires translations on State agency websites for all languages offered by a free translation service.  This can be accomplished for a one-time cost of $9,760!  As Maryland becomes increasingly diverse, the State must modernize its websites to accommodate everyone, regardless of their current level of English language proficiency. 
Tuning Up Maryland
A local historian provided helpful insights on 
Maryland’s State Song
My bill to repeal and replace the State Song (SB 222) was heard last week.  While there are other proposals to change our State’s official tune, mine is unique because it immediately repeals our outdated, offensive, and embarrassing song.  It then establishes a process for replacing it by way of a contest that will unite Marylanders around a creative endeavor.  Check out this article for more details about this issue.
You can see the full list of the bills I’m sponsoring on the General Assembly website.
Reuniting with the Class of ’94
Last week, I hosted a reunion for the “Class of 1994” for legislators who were elected with me my freshman year.  It is hard to believe that it was over 2 decades ago that I began my career in the Maryland General Assembly! 
Current & former legislators– from both parties– 
enjoyed reconnecting in Annapolis!
Of my classmates, seven are Senators; two are House Committee Chairs; three are Cabinet officials in the Hogan’s Administration; and one is a County Executive… just to name a few.  We come from diverse backgrounds and ideological perspectives; we don’t always agree on everything, but taking the time to listen to, and respect, one another– not to mention enjoy the company– has helped us all be better public servants.  
Honoring and Learning from Our Colleagues
After the reunion, several of us walked over to the 22nd annual Speaker’s Society Dinner. Launched in 1995, the Speaker’s Society brings together current and former members of the House for an evening of remembering the past and thinking about the future.   
I am very active on social media because I love connecting with people.  Stay in touch with me through Facebook, as well as Twitter, and through my Instagram page.  You can learn about Maryland politics, upcoming legislation, Senatorial scholarship details, and much more on my website.  
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg
P.S.  One of the highlights in the Senate each day is the daily invocation, delivered by a different faith leader from across the state.  I was honored to have my Rabbi, Adam Raskin of Congregation Har Shalom, address the Senate.  He delivered a beautiful sermon which inspired us all.  
Humor & history from my Rabbi as the Senate began its work.