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