It looks like Old Man Winter has finally decided to give us a break. I hope this week’s update finds you well and enjoying the return of sunshine.
Campaigns… and Campaign Finance Reform:
After last week’s announcement by U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski that she would not seek reelection, there has been rampant speculation about potential contenders for the U.S. Senate, and the resulting avalanche of candidates seeking offices potentially being vacated.
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (District 8) has declared his candidacy to succeed Senator Mikulski. I immediately and enthusiastically endorsed him to be our next U.S. Senator from Maryland.
Now, a number of talented candidates, including my colleague Sen. Jamie Raskin, pictured below, and our own Del. Kumar Barve, are among those exploring a race for Congress.
This is all happening in the midst of the Maryland General Assembly’s consideration of laws regarding campaign finance, election reform, and how best to conduct elections so as to maximize voter involvement and turnout. Most election reform issues come before my committee. I am seeking to determine which bills will be the most effective at improving campaign transparency and increasing voter turnout.
My Legislative Initiatives:
Saving Lives: Maryland is currently ranked an embarrassing 27th in the nation in the percentage of residents registered as organ donors. Tomorrow at 1pm, the Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear my bill to expand entry points to Maryland’s registry in order to enlarge the donor pool and help shorten the wait for those in need of transplants. The “Enhancing Organ Donor Rates Act“was co-sponsored by 44 of the 47 members of the Senate. If you have testimony you would like to share (either in writing or in person), please contact us!
Requiring Equal Protection: Last week, my bill to require fertility parity received a warm reception in the Senate Finance Committee. Among our expert witnesses testifying in support of the bill, SB416, were Dr. Michael Levy of Shady Grove Fertility Center and women who have been directly affected by the disparity in coverage. We hope that providing equal protection regarding insurance benefits will not only enable couples to start and grow their families, but help avoid costly litigation.
Ensuring Access to State Services: Next week in my committee (Education, Health and Environmental Affairs), we will present testimony on “Equal Access to Public Services for Individuals With Limited English Proficiency” that would require state agency websites to be language accessible to residents. While in committee, I was disappointed to learn that most agency websites were not accessible to those who don’t speak English as their primary
language. Our State should work to serve all its residents.
Countdown to the Finish:
Although we have moved beyond the halfway mark of the 90-day legislative session in Annapolis, much work remains. With just 36 days until we adjourn, we must consider the state budget, and reconcile language on hundreds of pieces of legislation.
Thank you for taking the time to read these missives. In future reports, we will go in-depth on the budget process and funding priorities on behalf of the residents of Rockville and Gaithersburg.
Please feel free to contact me with your questions or opinions at Cheryl.Kagan@senate.state.md.us or toll-free at 301/858-3134. In addition, I am active on social media and can be found on Facebook at State Senator Cheryl C. Kagan, on Twitter at @CherylKagan, and now on Instagram at @CherylCKagan. Enjoy this beautiful weather!
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg
P.S. Now that we have moved to Daylight Savings Time, don’t forget to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. The National Fire Protection Association has more info here.