In The News 2017

Rockville Bans Polystyrene

December 15, 2017
by Neal Earley
The Sentinel
View the Full Article Here

The Rockville Mayor and City Council on Monday unanimously approved a bill banning the use of polystyrene carry-out food containers that restaurants often use for take-out and delivery.

The bill’s passage means Rockville joins the rest of Montgomery County in banning polystyrene, more commonly known by the trademarked name Styrofoam. Polystyrene is a petroleum-based thermoplastic material that is often used to make temporary containers for food or packaging peanuts, for which it is well-suited because of its strength and light weight. However, polystyrene is not biodegradable and often finds its ways into streams and rivers as it one of the main sources of litter in the County.

Mark Charles, the environmental management division chief for the City of Rockville said 15 to 20 percent of the litter the city removes from streams contains polystyrene.

Council member Beryl Feinberg introduced the bill at the Nov. 6 Mayor and Council meeting before its passage Monday night.

While council members said they heard no objections from businesses regarding the ban, the City Council decided to forego a public hearing for the bill. While the City Council often holds such hearings for bills, the bylaws of the Rockville City charter do not require it. Still, the City held a 30-day public comment period on the bill before it passed. According to City staff, the ban will affect around 400 restaurants in the City.

“The reaction we have had was … a willingness, a readiness and really not any problem because of the way the law was constructed, allowing businesses that already had inventory – that were the polystyrene or plastic – that they were able to draw them down so that they didn’t have that hardship and that there was a good transition,” Feinberg said.

During the last legislative session Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17) sponsored a bill in the Maryland Senate that would ban the material statewide, but the bill did not make it out of committee.

“I think it would be helpful to our state senator (Kagan) and her efforts with the statewide ban if we could get ours in place before the legislative session starts,” said Council member Julie Palakovich Carr.

Other local jurisdictions that have banned polystyrene include Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia.

The ban will take effect starting Jan. 1, 2019.

Maryland lawmakers to track sexual harassment claims — but not reveal offenders

December 12, 2017
by Fenrit Nirappil and Ovetta Wiggins
The Washington Post
View the Full Article Here

Legislative leaders in Maryland on Tuesday ordered officials to start collecting data on sexual misconduct complaints against state lawmakers or their staff members, the latest fallout from a tidal wave of harassment allegations that have toppled elected officials and industry leaders nationwide.

“This is a watershed moment in time, and we need to make certain that everyone is treated fairly and that there’s a place they can go,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said shortly before the Legislative Policy Committee — chaired by him and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) — approved the changes.

The General Assembly’s human resources department will begin tallying harassment complaints and will brief the Legislative Policy Committee annually on the nature and outcomes of investigations. The identities of accused harassers will not be included in the report, regardless of whether the claims are found to have merit.

The report will be considered a public record, though it is unclear whether people who want to see it will have to file a public-information request.

“That type of data is better than nothing, so that the public can get a sense of how big of a problem is this and what types of steps are taken to address it,” said Avi Kumin, a Washington lawyer who represents sexual harassment victims.

But he and other experts on sexual harassment issues said the General Assembly should name those who are found to have acted inappropriately.

“I understand the need to be sensitive for due process and for privacy, but if a complaint is substantiated, don’t the voters have a right to know about the malfeasance and misbehavior of their elected officials?” said Jennifer A. Drobac, a law professor at Indiana University who studies sexual harassment. “These elected officials answer to the people.”

Miller and Busch, through their aides, did not respond to this criticism.

Under the current process, alleged victims of sexual harassment can file complaints with the legislature’s human resources director or with staff members of Busch and Miller. The human resources director investigates the cases. The presiding officers are informed of cases involving lawmakers, have a role in deciding disciplinary measures and handle appeals.

Complaints may be referred to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, a panel of lawmakers that can punish colleagues with public reprimands or provide victims with written findings that the victims can choose to make public.

Neither scenario has occurred in connection with harassment allegations in recent memory.

Experts on sexual harassment investigations said the involvement of legislative leaders has both benefits and drawbacks.

“The pro, of course, is it’s handled at a higher level and there is some sense of greater accountability than it just disappearing into an HR reporting system,” Kumin said. At the same time, he added, knowing that Busch and Miller will be told if allegations are made against a sitting lawmaker could discourage people from coming forward. “One of the reasons that people are fearful now is that they are concerned about possible retaliation,” he said.

Debbie Dougherty, a professor at the University of Missouri who studies institutional harassment, said having only one person designated to investigate complaints can also be problematic.

“The standard reasons why people don’t report usually come back to the people they are reporting to,” she said. “I would be a lot more comfortable if multiple people investigated, even independently.”

Del. Shelly L. Hettleman (D-Baltimore County) said she believes that many victims are reluctant to come forward. “I know, talking with people, that the issue is more prevalent than what’s reported,” she said.

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery), one of 11 women in the 47-seat state Senate, said the decision to track complaints reflects “encouraging progress, but I suspect we can do more” in terms of transparency and accountability.

Asked at a news conference about the policy change, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he was surprised that the legislature wasn’t already compiling data on sexual harassment.

“The legislature obviously doesn’t fall under our purview, but it’s surprising to me that they haven’t had any kind of policy before and a good idea for them to do,” he said.

Public Interest Podcast: Fundraising for Foundations

December 1, 2017
by Jordan Cooper
Public Interest Podcast
Listen Here

Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan and Community Ministries of Rockville‘s Executive Director, Agnes Saenz, discuss fundraising for foundations. Listen to the full episode here!

Local women say #MeToo

October 25, 2017
by Hannah Monicken
Washington Jewish Week
View the Full Article Here

It wasn’t so many years ago that Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17) sat down at a public event and a lobbyist sat down next to her. He leaned in to say hello and, as he did so, placed his hand on her thigh.

“Nobody should be touching my thigh without my invitation,” Kagan, 56, said last week. “And especially not in a work setting. It was just totally inappropriate. And that [story] is just one of many.”

Washington resident Danielle Cantor has her own story. When she was in her 20s, her boss told her she wasn’t wearing enough makeup and no one would take her seriously. Now 42, Cantor is one of millions of women saying #MeToo.

The hashtag picked up steam after accusations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had been serially sexually harassing and attacking women for decades. And if the campaign has proven anything, it’s that every woman has not just one story like these, but a lifelong collection.

“I don’t think there’s a woman who doesn’t have an experience that she could share in this campaign,” said Lori Weinstein, CEO of Jewish Women International (no relation to Harvey Weinstein). Weinstein, who began her career in male-dominated political circles, said she experienced harassment.

The five women interviewed for this article were not surprised by the reach and number of posts with the hashtag. But some said the men in their lives were.

Women often don’t speak out about harassment and abuse because they don’t think they will be believed and because the perpetrators often have power over them, Weinstein said. Many acts against women are meant to make them uncomfortable and vulnerable, which keep women from speaking out about them. And it becomes a part of everyday life — both horrible and mundane.

Washington resident Ariella Neckritz, 23, has experienced a spectrum of these actions, from street harassment to abusive relationships. She became involved in preventing violence against women starting in high school and now works on prevention on college campuses.

“Seeing so many people I’m closely connected to sharing their experiences was deeply upsetting and overwhelming,” she said. “I think this hashtag is emphasizing a moment in a movement. It didn’t just come out of nowhere.”

The question now is what to do with the momentum #MeToo has created.

Cantor isn’t sure if the #MeToo campaign will change anything, but she still felt the need to add her voice. It was cathartic, she said, not just for herself, but on behalf of other women. And that can be worthwhile in itself, she said.

“Do I feel like it’s really going to make a difference?” she said. “I don’t know. But it’s an act of solidarity.”

But for Lori Weinstein, #MeToo is a game-changer.

“I think we’re at a point of inflection where things will never be the same,” she said. “It was every woman and it was all women.

“There’s power in numbers.”

Women finding their voice will always be an important tool in fighting sexual harassment and assault, she said. And she hopes the hashtag can be a wake-up call to the Jewish community, too.

“We have to accept it’s not different in the Jewish community than anywhere else,” she said.

And society seems more willing now to believe women. The reputation of Bill Cosby as America’s dad was shattered after dozens of women came forward alleging sexual misconduct. Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were let go from Fox News after pervasive sexual harassment was made public. And, most recently, Harvey Weinstein was ousted from his namesake studio, The Weinstein Co. after two major publications revealed the accusations.

But beyond that, both Kagan and District of Columbia Councilmember Brianne Nadeau are fighting for local legislative reform to help address some of these issues.

Nadeau, 37, has a bill to combat street harassment through education and training and a city task force making its way through the D.C. Council. Nadeau was once accosted by a man on the street who demanded her phone number. When she refused, he spat at her.

“I think something has to change and I hope [the #MeToo campaign] can help tip the scale,” she said.

Kagan hopes that the momentum from #MeToo can make this year — the ninth try — the year the Maryland Assembly passes a bill to take away the parental rights of rapists if the victim becomes pregnant as a result of rape, eliminating the need for the victim to negotiate with her attacker over custody or adoption.

“This #MeToo campaign is both uplifting and awful,” Kagan said. “Uplifting because it’s creating a community of women to support each other. But it makes it impossible to ignore the number of women in our lives who have been harassed, assaulted, abused or raped.”

Cantor’s call to action is closer to home. She’s determined her month-old son will grow up to be a man who respects and supports women.

“I was always going to try to raise a little feminist,” she said.

And then maybe the future will see fewer women saying #MeToo.

Senator Critical Of State’s Response To Making Websites Multilingual

October 25, 2017
by Anne Kramer
WBAL NewsRadio 1090
Listen Here

A Maryland senator is criticizing the Hogan administration over it’s response to a new law that requires government websites be multilingual.

Montgomery County Senator Cheryl Kagan’s legislation was approved and signed by the Governor several years ago.

She tells WBAL News Radio 1090 that after studying more than 112 websites they found the majority were in only available only in English. Senator Kagan says that is a problem for people who don’t have English as their primary language, for international companies considering relocating to Maryland and for travel and tourism.

The law that was passed requires that the websites be available in Spanish and Chinese.

Kagan says there was no real cost to the state because the Google Translate widget is available for free, but it needs to be installed by state workers.

Back in August, Kagan says she learned that only twelve-percent of the websites had the widget put on and were able to be read by those who speak Spanish and Chinese.

She says several weeks later, she discovered that state workers had bumped that up to 39 percent of the websites.

Kagan says she was still shocked to see it has taken so long to put this in place. The final day that the websites were supposed to multilingual was last October.

WBAL News Radio 1090 asked Senator Kagan if Maryland should make English the official language. She says it takes seven years for someone to learn English comfortably when it is not their native language.

Political Roundup: Kagan declines to run for county executive

October 6, 2017
by Andrew Metcalf
Bethesda Magazine
View the Full Article Here

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Rockville), who was considering entering the race for Montgomery County Executive, announced on Thursday that she will seek re-election to her District 17 senate seat instead.

She wrote on her Facebook page that Montgomery County’s delegation in (?) the state Senate is expected to see significant turnover and she wants to continue supporting progressive policies in the Legislature.

“Should the voters of District 17 elect me to another term, I will continue my work on issues including consumer protection, public safety, educational excellence, environmental protection, progressive social policies, and support for the nonprofit and business communities,” Kagan wrote.

Kagan has said she wanted to see a woman or minority candidate enter the race for the county government’s top job.

So far, Del. Bill Frick (D-Bethesda) and County Council members George Leventhal, Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich make up the Democratic field for county executive.

Potomac business David Blair said this week he is “very likely” to run for the Democratic nomination. Former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow has said she is “seriously interested” in running, too.

The only Republican vying for the post so far is Boyds defense attorney Robin Ficker.

State Roundup: Sen. Kagan to Seek Re-election

October 6, 2017
by Cynthia Prairie
Maryland Reporter
View the Full Article Here

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D), who has pondered running for Montgomery County executive over the past several months, instead has decided to seek re-election, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. In a statement to be posted on her Facebook page, Kagan will say she was “intrigued…by the possibility of serving as our next County Executive at this critical juncture” and “humbled by the incredible support offered by hundreds of residents and activists,” but has decided to try to remain in the Senate.


October 5, 2017
by Josh Kurtz
Maryland Matters
View the Full Article Here

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D), who has pondered running for Montgomery County executive over the past several months, will announce Thursday afternoon that she is seeking re-election instead.

In a statement to be posted on her Facebook page, Kagan will say she was “intrigued…by the possibility of serving as our next County Executive at this critical juncture” and “humbled by the incredible support offered by hundreds of residents and activists,” but has decided to try to remain in the Senate, which will see significant turnover following the 2018 election.

“I have worked hard to build coalitions with legislators and advocates from across the aisle and around the State,” she says in the statement. “Should the voters of District 17 elect me to another term, I will continue my work on issues including consumer protection, public safety,educational excellence, environmental protection, progressive social policies, and support for the nonprofit and business communities.”

In an interview, Kagan said she was swayed in part by her excitement last week when former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow (D) put out the word that she was contemplating running for executive.

“The energy I felt when Rose told me that she was considering was the beginning of the answer for me,” Kagan said. She called Krasnow “a common-sense Democrat who is thoughtful and progressive.”

Currently, four Democrats are seeking to replace term-limited County Executive Ike Leggett (D): Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal – who are term-limited themselves – and state House Majority Leader Bill Frick. Businessman David Blair told Maryland Matters on Wednesday that he is “likely” to join the race within the month.

Political provocateur Robin Ficker is the lone candidate on the Republican side.

Kagan, 56, served two terms in the House of Delegates, from 1995 to 2003, representing the Rockville and Gaithersburg areas, before taking a break from elective politics. In 2010, she challenged veteran state Sen. Jennie Forehand in the Democratic primary, losing narrowly, then won the seat following a bruising primary after Forehand announced her retirement.

With at least two Montgomery senators departing at the end of next year – Sen. Rich Madaleno (D) is running for governor and Sen. Roger Manno (D) is running for Congress – Kagan said she felt it was important to maintain “some stability” in the county’s Senate delegation.

Kagan spent the past few months talking to Montgomery County business, civic and political leaders about a possible bid for executive.

“All of those meetings will help make me a better senator,” she said.

Md. Democrat says state has failed to translate websites; Hogan administration says it is complying with new law

October 5, 2017
by Ovetta Wiggins
The Washington Post
View the Full Article Here

A Montgomery County Democrat says the Hogan administration has failed to comply with a 2016 law requiring state websites to offer translations in Spanish and Chinese.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, the bill sponsor, said less than 40 percent of the state websites are in full compliance more than a year after the law was signed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

“It’s appalling,” Kagan said. “It’s hard to determine whether this is a philosophical reluctance or ideological statement of some sort or whether it is disorganization.”

Kagan and her staff reviewed 112 state-agency websites in August. At that time, just 12 percent of the Web pages offered translations into Spanish and Chinese, and 29 percent offered Spanish translation. Since then, the numbers have increased.

Article continued here…

Hogan sets transportation announcement during Rosh Hashanah

September 20, 2017
by Michael Dresser
The Baltimore Sun
View the Full Article Here

When Gov. Larry Hogan makes a transportation announcement in Montgomery County Thursday, some local elected officials are likely to be absent.

It’s Rosh Hashanah. Many of the local politicians are Jewish. And some are less than impressed with the political savvy of his scheduling.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the governor would hold a major event on the Jewish New Year,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who is Jewish. “It seems unlikely that they would hold a similar event on Good Friday or Christmas out of respect for Marylanders observing their faith.”

Kagan, who received an invitation Wednesday, noted that half of the county’s Senate delegation is Jewish.

Hogan’s invitation to the Gaithersburg event promised a “major multi-jurisdictional transportation announcement.” Messages left with the governor’s office were not answered.

Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary’s College, noted that Montgomery County has a significant Jewish population.

“I would consider that to be a faux pas,” Eberly said. “Why would you schedule a major announcement for a day that is a holiday for those folks?”

Focus on Charlottesville, Roger B. Taney statue overshadow 2018 primaries

July 31, 2017
by Ovetta Wiggins
Frederick News-Post
View the Full Article Here

OCEAN CITY — Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told a group of county leaders here on Saturday that he signed an executive order to create a statewide land-use plan that, unlike a highly-criticized development plan set by his predecessor, seeks input from local and county officials.

“As I have traveled across Maryland, local elected officials have repeatedly asked for a plan that better reflects the needs of our state,” Hogan said. “One that will improve coordination between state agencies and local governments, support thoughtful growth and infrastructure planning, stimulate economic development and revitalization in existing and planned communities.”

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who had not seen the details of the order, said Hogan has done “a very good job of reaching out and coordinating” with local officials.

“I look forward to seeing the details of what he is suggesting,” he said. “I think it’s a good step for all of us.”

Hogan’s speech capped off the Maryland Association of Counties’ summer conference, a four-day annual gathering of state and county officials where talk of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the decision to remove the Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds in Annapolis largely overshadowed discussion of next year’s high-stakes gubernatorial race.

Candidates seeking the 2018 Democratic nomination for governor, many of whom are largely unknown throughout the state, made the rounds during the convention, meeting with potential donors and trying to connect with and build support from elected officials from across the state.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is considering a bid for governor, was seen early Friday morning huddled in a booth at a local diner with U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md. The site of the pair — Kamenetz a likely Hogan challenger and Brown the candidate who was upset by Hogan in 2014 — left many speculating about their discussion.

Was Kamenetz asking Brown for campaign advice on what not to do? one person joked.

Kamenetz said Saturday it was just two “old friends catching up.”

Rumors also swirled over the weekend after Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery, was seen in what several described as an awkward, tense exchange with Senate President Thomas Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, during a fundraiser for another senator. Earlier in the day, Madaleno criticized Miller on Facebook for defending Taney, the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, and refusing to vote as a member of the Maryland State House Trust to remove the statue.

Several people said they thought the two were talking about the statue. Madaleno said Saturday that they were not.

Hogan, who spent some of his time answering media question about his change of mind over the statue, was largely in campaign mode, using most of the time pressing palms, attending fundraisers and taking pictures.

While walking the boardwalk, flanked by about dozen members of his staff, Hogan was stopped by Alexandro Bonilla, 36, of Clarksburg. Bonilla asked Hogan if he would take a picture with is family. “Very good job,” Bonilla repeated as he shook Hogan’s hand.

Bonilla, a Democrat, said he’s been impressed with the governor and could see himself voting for him. “We just need him to continue to work for the school system,” his wife interjected.

Many Democratic elected officials said the gubernatorial race, which includes candidates who range from veteran politicians to people who have never run for elected office, remains wide open. With 10 months until the June 2018 gubernatorial primary, they say they have yet to see a candidate move ahead of the pack.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, said she is waiting to see which candidate shows an ability to raise money, to put together a strong operation and to galvanize Democrats, independents and possibly even some Republicans.

Despite Hogan’s strong popularity, Democrats said they remain encouraged that they could win back the governor’s office.

Washington Post-University of Maryland poll earlier this year found that support for Hogan’s reelection lags behind his approval ratings. Hogan held a 65 percent approval rating in March, but just 45 percent of registered voters said they would support him for a second term and 37 percent said they preferred a Democrat.

“It’s clear that the right Democrat can beat Hogan, but it’s still unclear who the right Democrat is,” Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, said.

Most of the Democratic candidates, who have officially launched their campaigns, attended the conference. They include: Madaleno, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, attorney Jim Shea, and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross.

Krishanti Vignarajah, a onetime policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama, and Ben Jealous, the former NAACP president, who held a fundraiser in New York City with David Chappelle on Friday night, did not attend.

Sen. Kagan considers race for Montgomery County executive

July 31, 2017
by Len Lazarick and Glynis Kazanjian
Maryland Reporter
View the Full Article Here

Sen. Cheryl Kagan is an unconventional politician, particularly when it comes to fundraising. No breakfast fundraisers or evening receptions for the Gaithersburg/Rockville senator.

Kagan goes more for ice cream socials and afternoon concerts with the kind of singer-songwriters she’s been promoting in house concerts for years, as she did Sunday afternoon at an art gallery in the new Crown section of Gaithersburg, part of District 17.

The Democratic senator not only knows the songsters, she can sing along with their lyrics. But she’s also being serenaded with some catchy new tunes. She’s being encouraged to run for county executive and being mentioned for lieutenant governor.

In an interview last week, Kagan said, There are a surprising number of thoughtful county leaders who are not satisfied with the current field of candidates for county executive, but she won’t say who those leaders are.

“There is some sentiment that has been expressed that because of overwhelming passage of the Ficker amendment [setting term limits for council and executive], there is a sense that council members who were ‘fired’ for a next term are instead, three of them, are seeking a promotion.”

Kagan made no mention of this speculation at Sunday’s fundraiser. The politicos there  included fellow Montgomery Democratic Sens. Brian Feldman and Roger Manno, who is running for Congress (he insists he already has a video tracker from someone else’s campaign); the three delegates from her district — House Environment Committee Chair Kumar Barve, Jim Gilchrist and the newly slim Andrew Platt; two current County Council members, Sid Katz and Hans Riemer, and several candidates for council.

“Raise your hand if you’re not running for office,” joked Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman, who is on the ballot this year along with the majority of the city council who attended Kagan’s fundraiser in Maryland’s third largest municipality. Ashman praised Kagan for her “diligence and thoughtfulness.”

Frosh for the resistance   

The room quieted down for 25 minutes of short speeches, including one from Attorney General Brian Frosh, a former Montgomery senator flexing his legal muscles to sue the Trump administration on multiple counts along with other Democratic AGs around the nation.

“It’s important to have the resistance not just in the District, but in all the states,” said Frosh He thanked Kagan and the other legislators for granting him his new powers against the wishes of Gov. Larry Hogan, who used to control whom Frosh could sue.

“He is protecting Maryland from the crazy stuff” that is going on in Washington, Kagan said. On Jan. 20, Kagan was a prime host of an UnNaugural Concert to raise money for five nonprofits boosting progressive causes including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

Kamenetz and Baker

Kagan’s low key event also brought out two leading candidates for governor, although Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has not officially announced.

Kagan served eight years in the House of Delegates with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who she said has “helped turn that county around in economic development and education.”

One of the quirks of a governor’s race in Maryland is that the candidates must first recruit running mates for lieutenant governor before they file.

In interviews last week, Kagan admitted, “I’m having conversations” about lieutenant governor. “I’m going to have a little bit of time to reflect.”

She is reflecting more seriously on the race for Montgomery County executive.

“I am thinking about it and talking to people and meeting with people. I had lunch with [current executive] Ike Leggett last week.  I have talked to a number of current and former elected officials to get their guidance, and I continue to be surprised by the strong, positive reactions I’m getting.”

Intended to run for re-election

“My intention had been to seek re-election for the Senate representing the residents of Gaithersburg and Rockville. I’ve enjoyed my work and feel like I’m making a difference in Annapolis, for my district, for the county and for the whole state.

“Then I started getting calls, which was quite unexpected.  First people were telling me I was on several short lists to be considered as lieutenant governor by various candidates and then people started calling suggesting I consider county executive. That is something I had never thought about before.”

“I was very disappointed the Ficker amendment passed, but the numbers were decisive.  There was a very strong sentiment of disapproval of this County Council.  People have called me wondering why it is if they were basically being kicked out of office or precluded from seeking re-election, why three of them would be running essentially for a promotion to become county executive.”

Montgomery County Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal are term limited and running for executive.

At Sunday’s fundraiser, Councilmember Hans Riemer said that the pluses for Kagan in the executive race are that she is woman with proven progressive values, but is viewed as more moderate than others in the race.

Kagan conceded in an earlier interview that “there’s the gender issue. It’s not something I’m talking about. There are people who are calling me disappointed that there had been (and that may change) no woman running for governor and no woman running for county election.”

“With Hillary Clinton’s defeat, there is a real hunger for electing women especially in light of the craziness — sexist, misogynist and homophobic statements and actions creeping out of this White House,” Kagan said.



Senator Kagan on Asbury View from AVTV on July 25, 2017.

For women on Md. boards, it’s still lonely at the top

June 1, 2017
by Christine Condon
The Daily Record
View the Full Article Here

When attendees gather for the first annual Daily Record Women’s Leadership Summit on Tuesday, one of the key topics for discussion will be how to improve Maryland’s below-average rate of including women on company boards.

Increasing female board representation won’t happen on its own, says Ann Quinn, the president of Executive Alliance, a nonprofit advocating for women’s leadership in business.

“It has to be a priority and it has to be intentional,” said Quinn, who is also the owner and principal of Quinn Strategy group.

Quinn said that offering flexible maternity and paternity leave policies and equal pay for equal work are critical steps toward the goal of enhancing gender diversity within companies.

She said many boards want applicants to have been a CEO of a major company, which can be a big obstacle for women. Of all Fortune 500 companies, only 27 have a female CEO.

Studies have shown that boards with greater gender diversity perform better than those with less.

A report conducted by wealth management company Credit Suisse conducted from 2006 to 2012 found that companies with women on their boards surpassed their less diverse counterparts. The companies with a market value of more than $10 billion that had at least one female director outperformed companies with boards made up exclusively of men by 26 percent.

An earlier study conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit pushing for female inclusion in the workplace, found that companies with more women board directors experienced 53 percent greater returns on equity, 42 percent greater returns on sales and 66 percent greater returns on invested capital.

Maryland Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who proposed legislation aimed at diversifying boards in the state, said that it’s all about “having different voices in the room.”

Her bill  would have required a clause in procurement contracts outlawing discrimination in the formation or composition of corporate boards, but it stalled in the House of the Maryland General Assembly in March. Kagan said her bill was “shockingly controversial.”

“My colleagues … didn’t seem to share my belief that with taxpayers dollars we should be able to extract some commitment towards equality, or at the very least outlaw intentional discrimination,” Kagan said.

In April, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation regarding corporate board diversity. The law encouraged, but did not require, companies to have at least 30 percent female directors on their boards by the end of 2020.

A similar measure passed in California in 2013, similarly lacking in enforcement provisions.

“It’s one thing to call on people to do the right thing, it’s another to offer an enforcement mechanism,” Kagan said.

How Maryland stacks up

Maryland companies continues to lag behind national averages for female directors, according to a 2016 survey conducted by Executive Alliance. (The 2017 survey will be released in early June. The 2016 survey can be found here.)

The study found that 14.4 percent of  Maryland companies surveyed had women as directors, compared to the national average of 20.1 percent. Over 30 percent of the 76 companies in the  survey had no women directors at all, compared to the national average of about 5 percent. The number of women of color holding board seats remained stagnant at 13.

Quinn said she attributes this to the large number of banking and financial services companies in the state, which tend to be male-dominated, she said. She expects the 2017 surveys results, which are expected to be released in June, to mostly stay the same this year, since boards typically have minimal turnover.

Executive Alliance member Carol Coughlin, who is also the CEO of BottomLine Growth Strategies, agreed.

“It’s not something that happens overnight, it’s something that happens over time. We are moving in the right direction, though,” Coughlin said, adding that flexible scheduling policies and mentorship programs are positive steps for businesses.

Quinn said that businesses must recognize unconscious gender bias in order to improve.

“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been the only woman visiting a client or visiting an investment bank and no one knows where the women’s room is or even thinks to tell me that,” she said.“ We need to acknowledge those and laugh about them and talk about them.”

Men should play a role too, she said.

“The message really shouldn’t be that women need to lean in. We do, but men sort of need to pull us in as well,” she said, adding that men should seek female opinions in discussions and meetings.

Both Coughlin and Quinn will be in attendance at The Daily Record’s Women’s Leadership Summit on June 6, where they’ll discuss how women can prepare for and gain board and other management positions in their companies.

How to succeed

The companies that have successfully diversified their boards and senior management teams have some things in common — most had clear strategies and consistently sought to make diversity or inclusion a core value of their business.

Nancy Prue is the director of shareholder communications for Adams Funds, which was lauded on the study’s honor roll for having at least 20 percent female representation among directors and executives. She said the investment company, which has 21 employees, has a sort of informal mentorship program for women. Women leaders and board members tend to engage with new female hires, she said.

“There’s always been a female rising in the company as new women were coming in. It’s just a natural fit,” she said.

The company offers eight weeks of paid maternity leave, and an additional four when new mothers can choose to use their vacation days or go unpaid, she said.

Asset management firm T. Rowe Price, which was also noted in the survey, now has 4 women directors, perhaps due in part to their Women’s Roundtable, which was started in 2011.

The group has been focused on those in leadership and has about 350 members, but is transitioning to welcoming all associates, including men, and hopes to reach 1,000 members by the end of the year, said Roundtable chair Donna Anderson.

The group hosts quarterly two-hour Diversity Dialogues on topics such as the obstacles faced in negotiation and networking.

“You don’t ever get good at having uncomfortable conversations if you don’t practice,” Anderson said.

The group’s mentorship program, which pairs females in mid-level management positions with women in senior leadership position, is in its third year, and includes about 20 pairs. Each pair is given 12 discussion topics, one per month, Anderson said.

The group also found that a disproportionate number of men came into the business with experience discussing stocks, so it set up a training program for female first-year MBA students.

Other approaches

Other companies noted on the survey for having large numbers or percentages of female directors pursued different strategies.

For example, Marriott International, which has four female directors according to the Executive Alliance study, established a Women’s Leadership Development Initiative in 1999, offers 70-day job-protected and 10-day fully paid maternity and paternity leave, and childcare subsidies.

At Lockheed Martin, which was on the businesses on the honor roll of the Executive Alliance study, diversity councils drive inclusion efforts.

As for Executive Alliance, Coughlin said it is reaching out to public companies in the area, as well as the governor’s appointments office, to make them aware of qualified female candidates for their boards.

Supporters of paid sick leave call for override of Gov. Hogan’s veto

May 30, 2017
by Tom Roussey
View the Full Article (Including Video!) Here

KENSINGTON, Md. (ABC7) — Several dozen people rallied in Kensington Tuesday afternoon, calling on the Maryland General Assembly to override the governor’s veto of a paid sick time bill. Republican Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill on Thursday, saying it would be “disastrous to our state economy.”

The bill the General Assembly passed would have required five days of paid sick time at businesses with 15 or more employees.

The governor proposed a plan to give five days of paid sick time at businesses with 50 or more employees. He also wants to give tax breaks to encourage businesses smaller than that to provide paid sick time.

“For companies of over 50 people – businesses that size already provide that kind of benefit because it’s a competitive advantage,” said State Senator Cheryl Kagan (D – Rockville/Gaithersburg), who plans to vote to override the veto.

She spoke at Tuesday’s rally and says Hogan’s bill won’t help the employees of smaller businesses who need paid sick leave the most. Speakers at the rally said the bill would be a big help for families who have to take care of sick children.

But Hogan, who pulled off a rare win by a Republican in Maryland in part by running against what he calls excessive burdens on businesses, says the bill was “poorly written” and “deeply flawed.”

“If we allowed this legislation to go into effect next January…it would make Maryland less competitive in our region,” Hogan said Thursday while announcing he was vetoing the bill. “It would kill small businesses and jeopardize thousands of Maryland jobs.”

There is not likely to be any resolution for the bill until the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Although it passed both houses with veto-proof majorities, supporters of an override cannot afford to lose even a single vote in the state senate. The bill passed there with 29 votes, which is the minimum needed to override a veto. No Republican state senators voted for the bill, and four Democrats joined them in voting no.

Barve & Kagan Brief Gaithersburg on Legislature

May 4, 2017
by Peter Rouleau
The Sentinel Newspaper
View the Full Article Here

GAITHERSBURG – Legislators from the 17th District visited City Hall Monday night to brief Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council on key issues addressed in the recently concluded legislative session.

Del. Kumar Barve (D), chairman of the Environment and Transportation Committee, discussed the “thorny” issue of stormwater management fees and securing reimbursement from Montgomery County for Gaithersburg and Rockville.

Barve noted that he drafted legislation to negotiate a compromise between the County and municipal governments that passed his committee and the House of Delegates by a wide majority but that it stalled in the Senate because the chairman there was “skittish” about the issue.

“I think I have a way around the problem. I don’t want to say what it is yet, but I think next year will be the charm,” Barve said. “I was very heartened to hear representatives from Montgomery County government tell me that regardless of whether a bill passes next year or not – and I’m very committed to passing a bill – that they felt that the negotiated compromise we were able to get to was a good template.”

“We’re appreciative for all you did to get it as far as you did, and we’re optimistic that your strategy will get it done next year,” Ashman said.

Early last year, Ashman and the Council were incensed to learn that the Hogan administration had scaled back funds for a long-planned interchange at I-270 and Watkins Mill Road and have since aggressively lobbied for funding the construction of the full interchange, arguing that the project is essential to the economic health of Gaithersburg and the entire upcounty region.

At last year’s legislative update, Barve said he had confronted Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn about the funding reduction, echoing the city government’s concerns.

“For the second year in a row, a bill was introduced by Delegate Kirill Reznick to basically force the governor to fund the interchange, and for the second year in a row we felt that discretion was the better part of valor and did not move forward,” Barve said. “We’ve been assured that the governor and the secretary of transportation are committed to the project.”

Barve said he expected the interchange project to get underway next year.

Barve said one of the most important projects his committee was responsible for in this year’s session was passing a ban on fracking in Maryland.

“It passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan margins, it involved the House and the Senate, and I think that’s that an example of what you can do when you spend two years examining the science behind an issue and building a coalition of business people and environmentalists,” Barve said. “You can defeat the oil and gas industry occasionally.”

Del. Jim Gilchrest (D) discussed the legislature’s effort to grant the state’s attorney general powers comparable to those of other state attorneys general to sue the federal government.

“We provided authority this year for the attorney general this year the power to engage in civil and criminal suits based on federal action or inaction,” Gilchrest said. “We laid out a number of specifics. We talked about the health and safety of Marylanders, natural resources and health of residents. It’s something the attorney general hasn’t had but now does.”

Gilchrest said the legislature had limited the use of antibiotics in livestock.

“That’s one of the ways that bacteria are becoming superbugs, so we passed a bill to significantly limit that,” Gilchrest said.

Gilchrest also said that he had worked to pass legislation granting state municipalities more authority over Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission projects, which Gaithersburg’s legislative affairs department identified as a priority last year.

In her remarks, Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D) said that the legislative session had begun and ended with overrides of Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes. In January, the legislature overrode Hogan’s veto of a law requiring 25 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources, and in the final week of the session, it overrode his veto of the Protect Our Schools Act, which prevents the board of education from privatizing low-performing public schools.

Kagan said the legislature had taken “preventative and precautionary measures” in response to the sweeping federal budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration.

“We were the first state in the country to ensure that if Planned Parenthood loses its funding that we will still provide reproductive health care for women and men,” Kagan said. Kagan also said the legislature was also concerned by the Trump administration’s proposed elimination of funding for cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay.

“We’ve made so much progress on the environment that the idea of backsliding is just irresponsible for our economy, for tourism and for all of our health,” Kagan said.

“The legislature enacted a law that would provide paid sick leave for companies with 15 or more employees,” Kagan said. “This exempts our smallest businesses, which would face a hardship, but it really guarantees that employees don’t have to face a choice between staying home with a sick child or being sick themselves and going into work that day. We may or may not see a veto by this governor on that.”

Kagan expressed frustration that the legislature again failed to pass a law ending parental rights for rapists.

“Unfortunately, for the ninth year, a woman who was raped and becomes pregnant as a result continues, in Maryland, to need her rapist’s permission if she chooses to continue her pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption,” Kagan said. “The women’s caucus and I were disappointed that the conference committee was six men for something that so fundamentally affects women.”

Auditors say Maryland election board put voters’ personal data at risk

April 28, 2017
by Michael Dresser
Baltimore Sun
View the Full Article Here

A report released by legislative auditors Friday says the State Board of Elections needlessly exposed the full Social Security numbers of almost 600,000 voters to potential hacking, risking theft of those voters’ identities.

The determination that election officials did not fully protect voters’ personal information was one of several highly critical findings in the report. The audit also faulted state election officials’ handling of issues including ballot security, disaster preparedness, contracting and balancing its books.

State lawmakers called for a hearing in response to the Office of Legislative Audits report, which prompted strong reaction from critics of the board and its longtime administrator, Linda H. Lamone.

“This audit is an A-to-Z criticism of the way the board operates,” said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland School of Law. He said the “damning” findings call for the establishment of an independent, bipartisan commission of computer experts to examine the board’s handling of information technology issues.

Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said the report underscores some of the Republican governor’s longtime concerns about a “lack of executive oversight” at the board, where the day-to-day management is outside the administration’s control.

“This is a perfect example of why those concerns are valid,” Mayer said. “Properly securing Maryland’s election data is critically important and needs to be given the utmost priority.”

Lamone said she agreed with most of the auditor’s findings, but “virtually everything” they identified has already been addressed.

“We were working on a lot of these things even before the auditors came in,” she said.

The audit found that the board needlessly retained the full nine-digit Social Security numbers of about 592,000 active and inactive voters in its data base — or almost 15 percent of the state’s 4.1 million registered voters — when only the last four digits were needed. The report said the board then shared voters’ personal information — including driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers — with a third-party organization without ensuring that the data was safeguarded.

The organization that received the data is the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonprofit that helps state election officials around the country identify ineligible voters. While auditors did not question the board’s cooperation with ERIC, they said state officials had not received sufficient assurances that ERIC and its outside contractor were adequately protecting data.

Auditors warned that such information is frequently the target of criminals attempting identity theft.

Aviel Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University who has frequently sounded alarms about election security, said the report “exposes a lack of best practices in the area of securing personal voter data and protecting the information in their databases.”

“This report tells me that the [elections board] is way behind the high-tech industry in maintaining the availability and security of their information,” Rubin said. He said the board “needs to get its act together and catch up with best practices in the industry.”

Lamone said she’s confident in the protections her agency has adopted to prevent hacking. She said officials do not ask for voters’ full nine-digit Social Security numbers, but sometimes people voluntarily provide that information on registration forms.

The information the state provides to ERIC doesn’t include full Social Security numbers and is encrypted before it is sent, Lamone said. “You can’t get into ERIC data. There’s no way” she said.

Lamone rejected Greenberger’s call for an independent commission as unnecessary.

“I think we’re doing everything we can here,” she said.

Lamone was appointed elections administrator under Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening in 1997. Under current law, the administrator is appointed by the five-member state board, which the governor is allowed to fill with three members of his own party. Hogan’s board has a 3-2 Republican majority, but state law requires a 4-1 vote for the board to take action. Lamone has kept her job with the support of the the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders.

In addition to the finding on Social Security numbers, the audit identified several other lapses in the state elections process and in board operations. According to auditors:

  • The board did not ensure the accuracy of its voter registration rolls and allowed too many people — its employees and those of local election boards, as well as contractors — to have access to that database when they did not need it for their job duties.
  • Officials allowed voters to receive ballots solely by providing publicly available information such as name, address and date of birth. Auditors recommended they also require information such as the last four digits of the Social Security number to guard against voter fraud.
  • The board could not document why it awarded two contracts worth $18.8 million without competition. Auditors also found other violations of state procurement rules.
  • The agency ended its 2015 budget year with a deficit of $3.4 million that it could not explain.

Greenberger said the report’s findings are consistent with his dealings with the board over the years. He said Lamone has run the board as a “personal fiefdom” and has dismissed criticism by outside information technology experts as partisan attacks by Republicans.

The board’s problems have less to do with dishonesty than with defensiveness and incompetence, Greenberger said.

“It is one day going to play out during an election where the results will be called into question and there will be no adequate audit trail to determine who the winner of the election is,” he said.

Two senators, one from each party and both critics of Lamone, called for the legislature’s Joint Audit Committee to meet this summer to delve more deeply into the findings.

“There are certainly things [in the report] I’d think would be troublesome to our voters,” said Sen. Gail Bates, a Howard County Republican.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat, said the agency has long been mismanaged.

“We’ve got a big election next year and voters have to have confidence that our State Board of Elections is performing in tip-top shape,” she said. “This audit is clear evidence we’re not there yet.”

Md. Gen. Assembly All-Male Panel Made Decision On Rape Legislation

April 17, 2017
CBS Baltimore
View the Full Article Here

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In a decision made by an all-male committee, Md. Gen Assembly did not pass legislation that would allow rape victims to terminate the parental rights of their rapist.

The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Kathless Dumais, failed on the last day of General Assembly.

Both the House and Senate passed bills that made it through both chambers, and the committee was of three delegates and three senators was called together to reconcile differences between the two bills. The meeting was set for the last day of General Assembly, but was not passed because of the committee ran out of time.

Our Media Partner, the Baltimore Sun, reports that committee members were chosen by Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Senator Cheryl Kagan, who watched the all-male conference work, says “Although I have great respect for my colleagues, not having women on the committee was tone-deaf.”

The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act would have created a process to allow a rape victim to terminate the rights of a rapist, if the rape victim became pregnant from the rape.

The lack of women on the committee has prompted coverage from several media outlets, including The Daily Beast, and reaction from sexual assault survivor advocacy groups like MCASA, Maryland Coalition, which lobbied for the bill.

MCASA’s Executive Director and Counsel, Lisae C. Jordan, noted that several of the panel members were long-time supporters of the bill, including Senator Will Smith, and Delegates David Moon and Brett Wilson.

“Some of the legislators on the committee unquestionably care about rape survivors and co-sponsored the bills. At the same time, the committee would have benefited from including women legislators,” says Smith in a statement.

This was the ninth time Del. Dumais has introduced this bill into the Maryland legislature.

According to The Sun, Maryland is one of 16 states that has not passed such a law. Women here still have to negotiate with an alleged rapist over custody or putting the child up for adoption.

State Roundup, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017
View the Full Article Here

‘TONE DEAF:’ As the 2017 legislative session wound down Monday evening, five men sat on couches in a lounge inside Maryland’s State House. They would soon decide the fate of a bill that would allow a woman who is raped and conceives a child to terminate the parental rights of her assailant, writes Catherine Rentz of the Sun. “Although I have great respect for colleagues, not having women on the committee was tone-deaf,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who stood over over the men at the conference with her arms crossed, overseeing the group with Sen. Delores G. Kelley.

Gov. Hogan Signs Emergency Bill Creating Regional WMATA Compact

March 30, 2017
Montgomery Community Media
View the Full Article Here

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed emergency legislation creating a compact between Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. to create a new safety oversight commission for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

The governor was joined by Senate President Mike Miller, House Speaker Mike Busch, and several Montgomery County legislators including, Senator Brian Feldman, Senator Cheryl Kagan, Delegate Kumar Barve and Delegate Alfred Carr for the signing.

“Collaboration between Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. is crucial to ensure the safety and security of WMATA,” said Hogan. “I would like to thank Governor McAuliffe and Mayor Bowser for their partnership in an oversight commission that will help make sure that millions of Metro riders have access to a world-class public transportation system.”

The legislation, which was filed as an emergency Maryland Department of Transportation departmental bill, officially establishes the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission and the Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact granting the Commission specified safety, regulatory, and enforcement authority over the WMATA system.

The creation of the compact is contingent upon passage of identical legislation in Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Washington, D.C. City Council passed the legislation in December 2016 and the Virginia General Assembly passed it in March 2017.

Powerful Women Leaders: Senator Cheryl Kagan

March 8, 2017
by Kelly Livingston
College Magazine
View the Full Article Here

No one dissents quite like Senator Cheryl Kagan. On inauguration day she held an UnNaugural Concert to raise money for many of the causes Trump poses a threat to. Bringing 500 people together the day before the Women’s March, in solidarity against a hateful agenda, is just one of the ways Senator Kagan has doubled down to do the work that needs to be done. A firm believer in the power of women’s voices to make a difference, she refuses to sit down and stay quiet. We’re going to need more fearless women like her in our push to reach 50% of women in congress by 2050.

1983 – Graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor’s degree in political science

1994 – Elected to the Maryland House of Delegates

2014 – Elected to the Maryland State Senate

Q: At College Magazine we’re working together with EMILY’s List, Emerge America, Human Rights Campaign, Higher Heights, She Should Run, Victory Fund and IGNITE on an initiative to fight for equal representation in congress called “50 by 2050.” What are your thoughts on the goal of achieving 50 percent of women in Congress by 2050?

A: Oh my gosh. I think it’s fantastic and important and we can start at the state legislative level. Years ago I worked at the National Women’s Political Caucus and we used to talk about the pipeline. It doesn’t always happen this way, but most of the time, people start in local government in elected office and work their way up. So we need to start by electing women as council members and commissioners and then state legislators and ultimately send them to Congress—to bring a woman’s voice and perspective and life experience to Washington.

Certainly there are women who’ve served in the military or who’ve run businesses or who’ve been community activists or nonprofit leaders who can go straight to Congress, but oftentimes it can be useful to get state or local experience in elected office first.

Q: How did you decide that you wanted to get involved in politics? What inspired you?

A: Let me tell you a story about when I was at Vassar. I always thought that being a person who supported peace and freedom and equality and justice and clean environments and a reasonable budget, I always thought that made me a moderate. And I discovered my first semester, freshman year, that made me a liberal. I decided that I needed to get involved in politics and the first of those ideas was that I needed to engage on those issues.

I ended up walking in off the street as a volunteer in a presidential campaign—and ended up as paid staff on the floor of the democratic convention by the end of that summer. This was 1980. It was on Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign and, as a Marylander, it was easy for me to get on a bus and go down to D.C. to the national office and work with and get to know some of the top leaders of the national campaign headquarters.

There are very many exciting attributes or benefits of being involved in politics. One is the really smart, passionate, and effective leaders you get to know and work with. And another is, truly, one person can make a difference. I had that experience in college and its part of what inspired me to get connected politically.

I will tell you, the morning after election day, this past November, when many of us were pretty despondent and frightened by the election results, I was thinking about what I could do—because I couldn’t single-handedly protect the Supreme Court or change the election results. But I came up with the idea of combining my political skills, my fundraising skills, and my connections in the music world—I’ve hosted a music series for 15 years—and I ended up founding and producing an UnNaugural concert.

I ended up getting five performers. We raised money for five protective causes. Specifically ACLU, Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation Voters, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. We raised $60,000 and had 500 seats sell out a few weeks in advance. And that was one person’s idea and then recruiting a bunch of folks to be engaged and I had a wonderful steering committee and amazing performers and generous donors and I had two county executives, I had the attorney general of Maryland. I had a member of Congress and local elected officials and legislators. So I think that one person with passion and vision and the ability to recruit support from others, and use social media and reach out to the community and be organized and effective, any one person can make a difference.

I served 8 years in the House, and a lot of times, once people are elected they kind of stay elected. And I think people stay in office too long sometimes and I decided not to seek re-election after 8 years and went back into the community and ran a charitable foundation and stayed active in politics and in the community and it’s 12 years later that I came back and was elected to the senate. While I believe we must have more women running and serving in elected office, one doesn’t always need a fancy title in order to make a difference.

Q: What issues are you most passionate about?

A: I consider myself to be the senator for the nonprofit sector. Because of my background I have been a founder, a funder, a volunteer, a board member, so there’s a lot I am doing and have done for that sector. I have two nonprofit bills this year, both of which are moving, which is exciting. One of them establishes a short-term microbridge loan for nonprofits that have government grants or contracts that are coming through, but sometimes the bureaucracy around getting the money processed can cause such a delay that it causes a cash flow crisis and they just need 5 or 10 thousand dollars to pay staff and pay their rent and all of that in order to continue focusing on their mission. So this is a new fund that I take it will have a great impact for the sector. So working for and advocating for the nonprofit sector is really important to me.

I have three consumer bills this year. They deal with consumer privacy and data protection and bait and switch issues, so I’m working on those. And also, my district is comprised of two large municipalities. So I also work very hard on issues that effect municipalities.

And I will mention one more issue. I was a lobbyist with Jim and Sarah Brady on gun control issues—the handgun waiting period—the Brady Bill, as well as the assault weapons ban back in the ‘90s. So public safety is something that I have often been focused on.

Q: Over the last few months in particular, we’ve seen a lot more women running for office. How do you feel that will end up shaping our political landscape?

A: I think that our president scares a lot of us—terrifies a lot of us. So whether it’s about our reproductive choices, the denial of climate change, his hateful and divisive thoughts on immigration, or his foreign policy priorities—I think a lot of us are deeply concerned and have decided to speak out in a way that many have never done before. And that does make a difference. Keep doing it.

It may sometimes feel discouraging and progress can be hard to spot sometimes—it can be incremental, it can be slow—but smart, talented, effective, constructive thoughtful activism is very effective. And elected officials hear it and see it, so keep doing it. We really have to speak out. It is the only way that members of Congress, and members of the executive branch, will hear us.

There is much study that shows that men self-identify but women have to be asked to run. So consider yourself having been asked and never say never. Pay it forward. Talk to other women about running. We all just have to encourage each other. We don’t have to know every issue before ever running, we just have to jump in and be willing to take a try. Get out there and talk to people and listen and learn.

Q: Can you speak a little bit about your experience running for the senate?

A: Well I ran twice. As I said, I had run, I had served 8 years in the house. To be elected to the house was a ten-way race. There were two incumbents and then 8 of us going for the third seat—a former legislator, a former county council member, it was a good field and I just had to out-hustle and out-door-knock, and I did, and I won my first race—which doesn’t often happen for folks. Then I thought about running for the senate and I didn’t do it—my senator said she wanted one more term. And then four years later I thought about running for the senate and I talked to her and she said she wanted just one more term. And our terms are four years, so this is a long time. So I challenged her. She had been in office 32 years and I thought that was plenty long enough.

So I ran. I was endorsed by The Washington Post, all of green groups, the women’s groups, the largest chamber of commerce and the largest union. I really had a great coalition of supporters, but she had 32 years and incumbency and all of that and I lost by 300-something votes, and I was ok with that. I was like, “Ok, I get my life back.” But then the calls started coming for me to run the next term, and I didn’t want to do it because it was hard and you really have to put your life on hold. And long story short, it turns out that my successor in the House turns out to be a bad guy. He was bad on domestic violence and guns and just was really disliked.

I took him on. He out-spent me by a lot but I had a lot of money, I had a lot of supporters, and ultimately beat him handily, but it was a pretty brutal race and I had been warned that he would take no prisoners, and that was true.

Q: What do you think has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

A: The UnNaugural was pretty amazing. To give 500 people an opportunity to find a safe haven, an ability to be joyous and celebrate and be inspired and be ready to engage and speak out for the next four years while raising money. That was pretty amazing.

I just found out yesterday, for what it’s worth, that I was named one of Maryland’s top 100 women, and it was the third time, which means I’m going to be inducted into the Circle of Excellence which is like a hall of fame.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: Run! Run, run, run. Women need to run. We need more women’s voices in our legislatures at all levels.

1. Get involved

“Get involved in whatever makes you passionate—whatever issue, whatever candidate, it doesn’t matter,” said Kagan. “Pick something that motivates you and know that you will need to start small. Volunteer for anything that makes a difference.”

2. Be accountable

“Be reliable. Be enthusiastic. Stay in touch with people that you meet. Build a network,” said Kagan.

3. Be careful what you put online

“Use social media, but use it wisely—and remember that your Facebook posts or tweets can come back to haunt you, so be savvy about that,” said Kagan.

Dems move to rescind Md. calls for U.S. constitutional convention

March 2, 2017
by Dan Menefee
Maryland Reporter
View the Full Article Here

Responding to fears about how President Trump and a runaway constitutional convention might tamper with the U.S. Constitution, Democrats at the State House are moving closer to rescinding decades-old calls for a constitutional convention to deal with issues of the day.

A Senate resolution that would “rescind, repeal, cancel, void, nullify, and supersede” four historical applications to the U.S. Congress for a convention was adopted in the Senate on Thursday. Republicans fought in vain for an amendment to keep the 1975 call for a balanced budget open for seven years.

The measure, SJ2, heads for a final vote on Friday where passage is expected. The House Rules Committee takes up its version of the bill, HJ2, on Friday.

“We as a legislature need to take a stand and ask the federal government to…balance the budget,” said Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings in floor debate on Thursday.
Jennings said at the time of the 1975 call the federal debt was $503 billion, 33% of gross domestic product (GDP), but today’s $20 trillion debt is now at 105% of GDP — and represents a national security threat that has brought stern warnings from former military leaders and heads of state.

Debt worse than enemies

Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, said great civilizations like the Romans and Greeks fell to staggering debt and unaffordable social programs, not war.

“They did not fall from the outside they imploded,” Serafini said. “The biggest threat to our country would be our debt.”

Serafini said both political parties were responsible for the behemoth national debt.

“It is a bipartisan problem, the Republicans have added to this debt as much as the Democrats,” he said.

He said most of the U.S. debt is owned by foreign governments that could bring ruin to the United States be simply selling off the debt.

“All they have to do is sell the U.S. Bonds they hold,” Serafini said. “It would be devastating. “They don’t have to fire one missile or put any military boots on the ground.”

He said the ruin would come in a matter of days.

Fear of Republican states

Democrats shot down the amendment over fears that 33 Republican-led states could use Maryland’s open calls to move for a convention and advance a conservative agenda that would not be limited to a single topic. Currently 28 states have calls for a balanced budget, among other calls.

“It would leave open very broad agenda items,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery. “It’s those who are in the room that make the rules and they can do whatever they want.”

It takes 34 states, two-thirds, to call a convention and 38 to ratify any changes to the Constitution, four-fifths. But fears have been raised in some Democrat states that their open calls could be used to get to the magic number of 34. Delaware recently passed a similar measure to void its calls.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery,the lead sponsor of the resolution, said the language in Jenning’s amendment would broaden the scope of Maryland’s participation in a convention.

“It says we are willing to have our call grouped into whatever other calls different states have made,” He said. He said there were different calls from other states on a wide range of subjects.

“This [amendment] is dangerously broad as far as what we would now be going on record to do,” Madaleno said. “We should not be lumping ourselves in with those states that passed very different [calls].

Balanced budget ties hands

Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, argued that a balanced budget amendment at the federal level would have tied former President Obama’s hands from borrowing the U.S. economy out of the 2008 recession. Pinsky said the last time the country had a balanced budget was under former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

Since 1939 the Maryland General Assembly has made four requests for a convention under Article 5 of the Constitution. They called for limiting federal taxing power, apportioning legislative bodies, allowing school prayer and mandating a balanced federal budget.


Bill would give local school officials flexibility over calendars

February 24, 2017
by Tim Tooten
View the Full Article Here

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill in the General Assembly would give school districts more flexibility in setting yearly calendars.

This comes on the heels of Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order to end school by June 15 and start fall classes after Labor Day, and what’s being discussed has everything to do with the weather.

It didn’t take Senate Bill 153 very long to get the thumbs up from members of the Maryland state Senate. It’s a bill that would give local school boards the power to adjust their academic year by up to five days without having to go to the state board to request a waiver. This applies to days students are forced to take off when the governor has declared a state of emergency.

“If there’s a year when we use eight or 10 snow days, they need to have some flexibility. So this would give them up to five days to play with before they would have to (go to) the state board for a waiver,” said Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery County.

By law, Maryland students must attend school 180 days except when weather is a factor. Some lawmakers said the legislation not only gives local boards flexibility, but gives them their voice back following the governor’s executive order to start school after Labor Day.

“The executive order by this governor made no sense. It was disrespectful to locally elected officials, and the state felt like it was time to step in and offer a balance,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery County.

“We go from one side, we talk about school after Labor Day, where it’s a state issue, and then back to local control, so I support this from the local control,” said Sen. Jim Mathias, D-Eastern Shore.

The bill could come up for a third reading by next week. Most lawmakers expect it will pass without a problem.

Area school systems build in anywhere from three to seven days for snow for the year. So far this year, most districts have not used the snow days.




Nonprofit Bridge Loan Program Hearing on Feb. 14th
Sen. Kagan seeks to eliminate cash flow troubles
for nonprofits with government grants or contracts 

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
(301) 858-3134

Annapolis, MD: Nonprofits provide vital services to our communities, addressing needs like hunger, homelessness, health care, and illiteracy. Many of these organizations operate on government grants or contracts that reimburse them for costs rather than providing the funding up front. Meanwhile, the nonprofits still have to pay rent, staff, utilities, and other expenses– resulting in short-term cash-flow problems.

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (District 17, Gaithersburg & Rockville) has introduced legislation, SB465, to create a “Nonprofit, Interest-free, Micro-Bridge Loan” (NIMBL) program to solve this problem. The revolving fund would allow nonprofits to borrow up to $25,000 interest-free. The loans must be repaid within 60 days of receiving the pledged funds.

Kagan’s bill, drafted in cooperation with Maryland Nonprofits and with insights from her Nonprofit Advisory Group, is co-sponsored by an impressive 44 of her 46 Senate colleagues and will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, February 14th at 1pm.

“Nonprofits are an integral part of Maryland’s economy, with 10% of Marylanders employed by the sector,” said Senator Kagan, adding that, “taking care of nonprofits is an essential aspect of taking care of our most vulnerable populations.“

Click here to view the full press release.


Press Release: Hearing for Sen. Kagan’s 9-1-1 Legislation Scheduled for Feb. 14th
Advancing our 9-1-1 systems to “NextGen” technology 

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
(301) 858-3134

Annapolis, MD: When Carl Henn, a Rockville resident, was struck by lightning in 2010, many came to his aid by calling 9-1-1 for assistance. Tragically, they all got busy signals. Mr. Henn died. Another Rockville resident, Marlon Somarriba, died last summer while his loved ones dialed 9-1-1 repeatedly during a system outage.

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (District 17, Rockville & Gaithersburg) has introduced a multi-faceted bill, SB466, to update our 9-1-1 centers to the “Next Generation” of emergency technology and collaborate on best practices.

“Our region is at risk of massive 9-1-1 disruptions from severe weather incidents; major transportation accidents; or– heaven forbid– a terrorist attack,” said Senator Kagan. “When people dial 9-1-1, they expect someone to answer and dispatch first responders immediately,” she added.

Kagan has visited 9-1-1 centers across the State over the past two years, and her bill was crafted with a broad coalition of emergency professionals. The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Finance Chair “Mac” Middleton and will be heard in his committee on Tuesday, February 14th at 1pm.

“My bill would help transition Maryland’s 9-1-1 centers to “NextGen” technology, ensuring that our residents can rely on a world-class response in times of crises,” said Senator Kagan, adding, “9-1-1 systems are the backbone of our public safety apparatus; if they fail, people die.

Click here to view the full press release.

Acts Warm up for Sold Out UnNaugural Concert (Photos & Video)

January 20, 2017
Montgomery Community Media
by Phyllis Armstrong
View the Full Article (Including Photos & Video From the UnNaugural Concert!) Here

Progressive-minded people, political leaders and representatives from nonprofit organizations are preparing to show support for their causes at tonight’s UnNaugural Concert.

Tickets are sold out for the 500-seat auditorium inside the Cultural Arts Center at Montgomery College in Silver Spring. Five musical acts are performing at tonight’s concert.

Nationally-touring groups, including Sweet Honey in the Rock, Brother Sun, Josh White, Jr., Tret Fire and Emma’s Revolution prepared for the concert with sound checks at the Cultural Arts Center.

Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan organized the event to raise money for progressive organizations whose missions are targets of the Trump administration. “Tonight’s concert will be a positive and uplifting way to kick off this weekend when countless numbers of women and men will gather to show their support of progressive causes and make their voices heard at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday,” says Kagan.

Several of Montgomery County’s elected officials are making remarks at tonight’s event, including County Executive Ike Leggett and Congressman Jamie Raskin.

Proceeds from the UnNaugural Concert will go to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters, the National LGBTQ Task Force and Planned Parenthood. Contributions for these groups are being accepted at

Opposition holds alternative inauguration events

January 17, 2017
by Kristi King
View the Full Article Here

WASHINGTON — While Donald Trump celebrates this week with a Thursday concert and inaugural balls Friday, alternative events will host people who don’t support the incoming administration.

The venues and related entertainment are diverse, happening everywhere from the Black Cat on 14th Street NW to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.

But, the events share a theme.

“We can stay focused on the issues, focused on the opportunity to mobilize to speak out and to do our jobs as Americans,” said Maryland Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who is hosting Friday’s UnNaugural Concert in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Most of the events have reached capacity or are sold out, but Kagan hopes the spirit of their intentions will endure.

“Protest where appropriate, but stay engaged and advocate for the issues that concern us most,” Kagan said.

Kagan’s sold-out event will benefit Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

“We’ve got folks from 19 states that’ve bought tickets,” Kagan said.

A concert Thursday evening at the 9:30 club in Northwest D.C. will feature rapper Common and indie rock band The National.

“Show Up! Is more than a concert — it’s a call to action for supporters of reproductive freedom to take action wherever they are,” Planned Parenthood said on its website.

It’s unclear whether tickets are available to the public, DCist reports organizations partnering for the event will be given tickets to distribute.

At last check there were still $15 tickets to the all-ages DISRUPT J20: A Benefit for Diverse City Fund concert being held at the Rock & Roll Hotel, on H Street Northeast, 8 p.m. Friday.

Many of the gatherings also will act as fundraisers “to raise money for causes that are most threatened by the incoming administration,” Kagan said of her UnNaugural Concert.

Montgomery County leaders breakdown hopes for 2017 legislative session

January 11, 2017
by Emilie Ikeda
View the Full Article Here

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. – “If we could get the Highway User Revenue restored, Storm Water Management fees paid and full funding for our schools, I think it would be a home run for all of us in the State of Maryland,” said Mayor Bridget Newton, City of Rockville.

Mayor Newton may not be calling the shots in the legislative session, but for the most part, she is on the same page as state senators from Montgomery County, who you will catch in Annapolis today.


“Our state has challenges,” said Senator Cheryl Kagan, District 17. “We’ve slipped in our education standing, [and] we’ve got budgetary challenges.”

Maryland schools continue to fall in national rankings, according to Education Week’s analysis, this time from fourth to fifth.

“Education is the path forward,” said Newton. “It is the greatest equalizer there is.”

MCPS is requesting $119 million from the state to support its construction program this year.

Storm Water Management

As Storm Water Management projects spread throughout the county, many government officials are hoping for help paying the fees.

“We all want to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and we agree that we need to be doing these steps, but these steps are very, very expensive,” said Newton.

Right now, several municipalities are responsible to pay for storm water management.

Mayor Newton believes the county, state and school systems should contribute to coverage as well.


As a county bordering our nation’s capital, a large priority this session is focused on smoothing over transportation.

“Transportation is vital to Maryland’s economic success,” said Kagan. “If people can’t get to work [or] can’t get to their jobs, we lose.”

So, the county’s legislative body is pushing for things like funding for Interstate-270 and the establishment of a Safety Oversight Agency for Metro.

But with a very blue county and a red governor, Senator Kagan is concerned with compromise the year before local elections.

“When we’re all figuring out what’s our next step, I think a lot of people are going to be looking to establish themselves,” said Kagan. “I think it’s going to be more partisan than it’s been, as we start to look towards a reelection year.”

An UnNaugural Concert Set for Jan. 20 in Silver Spring

January 5, 2017
Montgomery Community Media
by Phyllis Armstrong
View the Full Article Here

UPDATED 1.5.17 The UnNaugural Concert has sold out, according to organizer Cheryl Kagan.

An “unNaugural” concert to raise funds for national progressive organizations is scheduled to be held at 7:30 p.m. on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, at the Cultural Arts Center on the campus of Montgomery College in Silver Spring.

“Progressive activists are dreading Inauguration Day,” said State Senator Cheryl Kagan, who is the event’s executive producer. “Folks are looking for something positive and uplifting to do that night.

According to Kagan, profits from the event will be donated to five national advocacy organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Planned Parenthood.

Five nationally-touring singer/songwriters and groups are slated to perform, including headliner Sweet Honey in the Rock, Brother Sun(Pat Wictor, Joe Jencks, Greg Greenway), Josh White, Jr., Tret Fure, and Emma’s Revolution.

Concert organizers say they chose the name “unNaugural” as a way to differentiate this event from the official presidential inaugural events being held the same night.

“Women and men from around the country are coming to the DC-area for the Women’s March on January 21st,” said Kagan. “The concert the night before will help kick off a weekend of gathering to speak out on progressive causes.”

UnNaugural organizers from Maryland, Virginia, New York, West Virginia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania are working together to finalize the details of the event, Kagan said.

Tickets range in price from $25 for students, $60 for persons with limited incomes, $100 for a standard reserved ticket, and $250 for a VIP ticket, which includes reserved parking and a post-show reception with the performers. Sponsorships are also available.

For more information, visit the event’s website, here.