The 2016 legislative session started last week. It was fun to return to the whirlwind of the Senate, reconnecting with colleagues. But the celebration didn’t last long. Now it’s time to get back to work!
Honoring Dr. King
As you know, yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is a time to remember the past and honor the memory of one of America’s great heroes. However, it’s also a time to look forward and use the wisdom and inspiration of Dr. King to better our society and improve the future. As I spoke with people yesterday, the words “equality” and “justice” kept coming up in conversation. I am proud to share that my first two bills will enhance both!
The First Bills of the Session
Because I wrote and submitted two of my bills so far in advance, they are already starting their way through the legislative process.
Closing a Loophole for Married Couples
The first bill to be heard is appropriately numbered SB 1. It will be in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, January 20th at 1:00pm. SB 1 would fix a loophole in current law by guaranteeing that heterosexual married couples with both an infertile husband and wife will receive insurance coverage for In Vitro Fertilization treatments. This gap was created after enactment of my “Fertility Parity” bill for married lesbian couples last year.
Providing Language Access to State Government
The following day, Thursday, January 21st, my second bill will have its hearing in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. SB 28 insures that Maryland State agency websites offer translation options for languages that are spoken by at least 3 percent of the State’s population. Providing translation options can now be done at little to no cost given the accuracy and efficiency of online translators. Material on state websites is so often critically important. Those who do not speak or read English as a first language, if at all, deserve access to these sites too. As you may recall, this bill easily passed the Senate (39-8) and got held up in the House. By starting earlier and working with various agencies and departments, we hope to finish the job this session!
Standing Up for What is Right
Also this week, the General Assembly will consider whether to override several bills vetoed by the Governor last year. From legalization of marijuana paraphernalia to restrictions on police seizing of assets to voting rights for felons who have served their sentences, these are issues that I (and most of my Senate colleagues) are willing to defend against Governor Hogan’s vetoes.
MD State House by Diane F. Evartt
Experience Your State Capital Firsthand
District 17 Night in Annapolis is on Monday, January 25th from 6:00-8:00pm. Join Rockville and Gaithersburg residents for a glimpse into our legislative session! Enjoy a light buffet, meet your Delegates (and favorite Senator!), and attend a General Assembly session. It’s a great opportunity to see how Annapolis works. Please help us plan for enough food by RSVP’ing by Thursday the 21st at noon to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.
You can keep up with news, upcoming events, and legislative developments any time by visiting www.CherylKagan.org. 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: While we have come a long way since Dr. King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech, there is much yet to be done. One such issue is finally addressing our outdated and offensive State song.
I will write more soon, but I am proud to have crafted a legislative proposal to address this embarrassing remnant of a shameful part of our State’s history.
By authority of Citizens Helping Elect Cheryl Kagan (C.H.E.C.K.), Michael Frazier, Chair; Rosie Cassidy, Treasurer