Annapolis Update: April 6, 2015



Whether you celebrated Easter or the start of Passover, I hope you enjoyed a lovely weekend with family and friends.  Last week was especially meaningful for me as I welcomed my Rabbi, Adam Raskin of Congregation Har Shalom, as he delivered the invocation to the Maryland State Senate.  His inspiring message can be heard on audio here

First Legislation Signed by the Governor

Last Monday, I attended the very first bill-signing ceremony in the State House as Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Mike Miller, and House Speaker Mike Busch signed the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” legislation.  This bill sets March 30th of each year for us to honor and thank those who served in this unpopular war.  I am proud to have cosponsored this legislation that will provide overdue recognition for the sacrifice of these veterans.
Signing SB80 making March 30 Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Day with the Governor, Senate President Mike Miller, House Speaker Mike Busch, and other Senate co-sponsors.

News from Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

Charter Schools – We have had long debates in committee as we near the end of session.  No bill took up more energy and effort than legislation on Charter Schools.  Right now, Maryland has one of the tightest Charter School laws in the country, protecting public investment in education.  After reviewing and debating the very heavily-amended version of the Governor’s proposal, I found myself the lone dissenting voice as this bill moved to the full Senate.  I remain committed to keeping our public monies focused on ensuring that our public schools continue to be among the top-ranked nationally.  You can read more here.

Locksmith Act – Did you know that finding a locksmith through a simple Google search can be dangerous?  We heard testimony on the need to tighten bonding, licensing, and online advertising of locksmiths in our state.  Be careful if you lock yourself out of your home or car and need this service.  Please read more in Consumer Reports and find a trusted source now.   

Augustine Commission 

At the end of the 2014 Maryland General Assembly session, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate appointed a panel to evaluate the business climate in Maryland.  The panel, chaired by business leader (and Montgomery County resident) Norm Augustine, became known as the “Augustine Commission.”  

In February, the Commission issued an interim assessment, the “Report of the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission.”  They recommended five legislative proposals for the General Assembly’s consideration:

  • Create an “Apprenticeship Pilot Program” for mentoring and job training;
  • Generate “Customer Service Standards and Training Programs” within state agencies to better interact with consumers of government services;
  • Develop an “Advisory Council to Review the Impact of Regulations on Small Business”;
  • Restructure state agencies and empower a newly-created “Secretary of Commerce” that would oversee the integration of other agencies; and
  • Establish a “Task Force to Study Improvements in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in Higher Education.”

As the Senate debated these bills, I proposed inclusion of non-profit organizations, municipal governments, and federal agencies with a significant presence in Maryland.  Many Senators were unaware that there are over 32,000 non-profit organizations of all sizes and missions in our state.  
I was pleased that my amendment to add non-profits and federal agencies to the Apprenticeship Pilot Program was accepted in committee.  Ultimately, the bill passed without this modification but with a commitment to include these key employers in the Commission’s future work.

Presenting Another Bill on the Senate Floor  

I was glad to have been selected as the Floor Leader on HB978, sponsored by Del. Clarence Lam. The State of Maryland is ranked third among states for the number of residents living with HIV. 

It is estimated that 1 in every 6 cases remains undiagnosed.  This bill would make HIV testing an “opt-out” rather than “opt-in,” so we can identify and treat those with this disease.

Adjournment Is Just A Week Away…
With just one week left in the 2015 session, we have a tremendous amount of work remaining.  We must continue to move Maryland forward with a responsible budget and thoughtful, progressive legislation.  Sine Die, or the final day of the 90-day session, is next Monday at midnight.  Wish us luck!  Please be sure to keep up with news and legislative developments by visiting our website,  Stay in touch with me via Facebook at State Senator Cheryl C. Kagan, on Twitter at @CherylKagan, and on Instagram at @CherylCKagan



Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg 

PS:  I will be cutting the ribbon and participating in the “Walk MS 2015” in Rockville’s Town Center on Saturday, April 18.  I would be grateful for your support.  To donate to Multiple Sclerosis or join me on the walk, please visit my WalkMS page.


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