Getting Stuff Done in 2020!! — December 16, 2020

December 16, 2020
Dear Friend:
Happy Chanukah (or however you spell it!) to those who are celebrating. As 2020 winds down, my staff and I are reflecting on all that we have accomplished since the Senate’s early adjournment in March. Here are some highlights:
Strengthening the Infrastructure of our 9-1-1 Systems
Maryland’s Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission continued to grapple with pressing issues. We released our 3rd Annual Report on Monday, endorsing 22 recommendations to strengthen the infrastructure of our emergency services. I chaired the virtual meetings, which can be found on my YouTube page.
The Commission Report isn’t the only groundbreaking development this year. In August, Maryland launched its statewide “text to 9-1-1” program to request emergency assistance. Calling is always best, but texting is now an option!
I discovered that the Comptroller’s office had not been auditing 9-1-1 fees as required by an emergency law I sponsored. I penned a letter, along with my bipartisan legislative colleagues on the Commission, asking them to begin auditing 9-1-1 fees. We have been assured that these important audits have now been started.
Updating & Safeguarding Our Democracy

Ensuring that our elections run smoothly continues to be one of my top priorities. From publishing multiple Maryland Matters articles on key election-related topics to filing an official complaint with the Open Meetings Compliance Board regarding the lack of transparency by the State Board of Elections, my efforts remain extremely hands-on. I will be sponsoring three significant election bills in January (details to come).

Advocating for Constituents in a Time of Need
The Coronavirus has produced many non-health-related challenges too. Far too many have lost jobs when their employer downsized or closed. My staff has been persistent advocates for constituents who contact me for help with unemployment benefits. We created an Unemployment Insurance Assistance Form to collect information on each claim. Unfortunately, we still hear heartbreaking stories about payment issues dating all the way back to March. We will continue our struggle with the Department of Labor.

Connecting with our Community
The pandemic has meant that most public gatherings were canceled. Here are some ways I have continued to be engaged with constituents.
With food insecurity on the rise, I volunteered to distribute groceries to hungry constituents with Dawson’s Market. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I joined a peaceful protest in Rockville. I participated in our local Census 2020 outreach efforts and helped Cavanaugh Bell build mini food pantries in Gaithersburg.
With these few exceptions, most of my conversations have been online. My Scholarship Selection Committee, the Senate Bipartisan Small Business Caucus, the new national Nonprofit Legislative Caucus, and Montgomery County Public School students are among the groups I have met with virtually in recent months.
The constant flow of bad news makes even modest victories more rewarding. During a visit to my Annapolis office, I noticed that the parking sign for persons with disabilities outside one of our State buildings said “Handicap Parking.” Knowing that this outdated and offensive term should no longer be used, I wrote to the Secretary of General Services, asking that the sign be replaced. Not only did they change that one sign, but signs at every State building were checked and upgraded!
In Case You Were Curious…
I was flattered that the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County recognized me as “Peacemaker of the Year” for my legislative leadership and community outreach.
Each week, I have been “kibbitzing” (which means “to chat” in Yiddish) with a fascinating guest. You can catch these episodes on my YouTube channel.
We’re all seeking methods of staying active and connected in these crazy times.
Since the legislature adjourned:
  • I rescued a “Coronakitty;”
  • I finally visited State Capitols #49 (Helena) and 50 (Bismarck) on a long road trip;
  • I’ve been competing in online Scrabble tournaments nearly every week; and
  • I’ve joined the board of the National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL).
Whether it’s music, exercise, faith, or connecting with loved ones online, I hope you’re finding ways of finding joy in your life!
Maryland just reached a tragic milestone of over 5,000 deaths. PLEASE take this seriously and stay safe! For more information, you can follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube. And, you can always send questions or comments to me via email.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Gaithersburg & Rockville)
PS: Mark your calendars now for the D/17 Virtual Town Hall on January 10th at 7pm.