The 90-day legislative session is nearly one-third done, and I thought I’d write with an update.
State of the State: Unexpectedly Divisive
Last week’s highlight (or lowlight) was Governor Larry Hogan’s first “State of the State” address before a joint session of the General Assembly and other state leaders. Many legislators had pledged an open mind to working with this new Administration. The Governor’s unfortunate partisan tone and campaign-style rhetoric were disappointing. Although I fear it may be more challenging to find opportunities to collaborate, I will continue my efforts to work with the Hogan Administration wherever possible to move Maryland forward.
My Legislative Initiatives
With 44 of 47 Senators– from both parties and every corner of the state– as co-sponsors, I filed a bill that will increase the size of Maryland’s Organ Donation registry in order to save lives. By allowing residents to register while filing their wills or getting a marriage license, Maryland will move up from our ranking of 27th nationwide. In addition, the bill (SB 415) would offer drivers the option of not having the symbolic “donor heart” on their licenses. To learn more about organ donation, you can visit Donate Life‘s web site.
In addition to organ donation, I am working with Equality Maryland to update health care coverage to provide equal protection that reflects Maryland’s marriage laws. Same sex couples pay the same insurance premiums as heterosexual couples, but they may not be eligible for the same benefits regarding fertility treatments. This legislation would align the law so there is no disparity based on the gender of the spouse. Passage of SB 416 would bring fairness to our laws and help avoid costly litigation.
Our Local Needs
Gaithersburg and Rockville have important local projects that deserve state funding. Highest on that list must be school construction money in order to address the overcrowding in our public schools. All 32 members (8 Senators and 24 Delegates) of the Montgomery County legislative delegation are united in keeping this our top priority.
As part of our transportation agenda, I continue to work to lower tolls on the Intercounty Connector in the hopes that reduced cost would entice more drivers to choose this fast and convenient roadway.
Bond bills I am sponsoring include repairs for key amenities like Rockville’s F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre; Gaithersburg’s Bohrer Park; and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, a non-profit that serves those with developmental disabilities of all faiths. On each of these projects, I am partnering with other legislators to enhance our prospects for success in these challenging fiscal times.
Come Visit Me in Annapolis!
Last week, we invited you to “Save the Date” for our upcoming reception in Annapolis. On Monday, February 23rd at 5:30pm, our District 17 Democratic Team (Delegates Kumar Barve, Jim Gilchrist, Andrew Platt, and me) will host a special evening for our constituents. We encourage you to come to Annapolis, see the beautiful State House, mingle with your legislators, and enjoy some delicious local food from a Rockville caterer. Please RSVP to Staff@CherylKagan.org.
Ready to Hear From You
I am very proud of my hard-working, professional, and responsive Annapolis staff. If you have opinions about pending legislation or an issue with a state agency, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are eager to hear your views and will endeavor to answer your questions.
Please email me at Cheryl.Kagan@senate.state.md.us or call toll-free at 301/858-3134. In addition, you can connect with me via social media. I am on Facebook at State Senator Cheryl C. Kagan, on Twitter at @CherylKagan, and now on Instagram at @CherylCKagan.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg
PS: Happy Valentine’s Day to you, your family, and loved ones! I hope you will visit locally owned restaurants, florists, and shops when searching for that perfect something for your special someone. Rockville and Gaithersburg have some of the finest eateries, artists, and small businesses that will help you select a unique gift while supporting local jobs!