A Whirlwind Week! (March 17, 2018)

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2018
Dear Friend:
It has been a long and stressful week. The General Assembly spent the week debating legislation in advance of ‘Crossover Day’ on Monday, the deadline for Senate bills to be sent to the House of Delegates and vice versa. This week’s highlights included unanimous support for the State’s budget; a response to the disastrous new federal tax plan; and more.
Several of my bills were considered by the full Senate this week, including:
  • SB477/HB677 to protect the private emails and other personal information of Marylanders who have signed up for emergency alerts or government notices;
  • SB788 to create clear guidelines for police body-worn camera footage;
  • SB790 to designate the outdated and offensive “Maryland! My Maryland!” as the “historical,” rather than the official State Song; and
  • SB1045 to guarantee critically-needed financial support for nonprofit organizations that earn government grants or contracts to deliver crucial government services.
Videotape Confirms Inappropriate Touching
As you likely read last week, I took a stand for the #MeToo movement in Annapolis and became the first legislator to “name names.” Contrary to his three-page written denial and claim that I was “delusional,” security camera footage clearly shows lobbyist Gil Genn placing a hand on my lower back and sliding it down. I held a press conference that was widely attended by local and national media. This incident underscores the importance on enacting HB1342/SB1138 this session. It is vital that those who work directly or indirectly with the General Assembly– including lobbyists (not just legislators and staff!)– must be covered within the scope of our sexual harassment laws.
UPDATE! Senate Votes to Retire the Maryland State Song
Yesterday, by a vote of 30-13, the Senate passed an amended version of my SB790 to designate the outdated and offensive “Maryland! My Maryland!” our “historical” State song. This compromise bill now moves to the House of Delegates for a hearing and vote.
The Kirwan Commission’s Education Recommendations
Over the last few years, our public schools have fallen from ranking #1 in the country in academic achievement to #6. Former University of Maryland Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan and other education policy experts reviewed school funding; literacy training; teacher pay; increased career and technical programs; and more. Dr. Kirwan presented his preliminary report and recommendations, which the General Assembly is expected to adopt. In our hearing, I asked how we can ensure equal access to a quality education, regardless of geography or native language. I am proud of our schools and look forward to working with my colleagues to make them even better.
Environmentally Hazardous Polystyrene Foam Ban Killed
Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, D.C., and now Baltimore City have all banned environmentally hazardous expanded polystyrene foam (Styrofoam). A strong majority of Senators had pledged their support for SB651/HB538 to make the ban statewide. Unfortunately, the House Environment & Transportation (E&T) Committee chose not to hold a vote on the bill. If the voters return me to the Senate, I will work with environmental advocates to bring the bill back next year!
Dedicated Metro Funding
Gaithersburg and Rockville depend on Metro. We need a mass transit system that is safe, reliable, frequent, and affordable. That’s why I support a dedicated source of funds for the system. The House of Delegates passed a $150 million budget for Metro on the condition that DC and Virginia joined the effort with equivalent budgets. This would bring Metro close to the $500 million that the agency says is needed. In my opinion, a healthy Metro system could be the deciding factor in luring Amazon to Maryland. I will continue to work with Senator Brian Feldman and other local colleagues to ensure that this money stays in the budget.
Please watch for my updates during these final weeks of session! You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for photos and posts. You can check my website for information about internships, Senatorial Scholarships, and more. And, you can always send questions or comments to me via email.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Rockville & Gaithersburg)
P.S. In Maryland, the party Central Committees can anoint a candidate when no one has filed to run for an office. Because no Republican had stepped up, the GOP named Josephine Wang, a previously unsuccessful candidate for the House of Delegates. I look forward to waging a spirited campaign and hope that I have earned your support for another four-year term!