Its Cold Outside But…

January 31, 2019
Dear Friend:
It has been a busy week in Annapolis with the Governor’s annual State of the State Address, the aftermath of the Trump Federal Government shutdown, and the upcoming bill-filing deadline.
Shutting Down the President’s Unnecessary Border Wall
Last Friday, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer forced the President to end his reckless shutdown of the federal government. Although a short-term agreement was reached and employees are back on the job, funding is set to run out again on February 15th. We must continue to speak out in order to prevent further economic disruptions from President Trump’s obstinate insistence on wasting billions of dollars in taxpayer money to address a manufactured crisis.
The Joint Committee on Federal Relations discussed various ways that the State can help Maryland workers affected by the shutdown. Several colleagues are developing legislative proposals to alleviate some of the most harmful side effects.
Spotlight: Responding to the Governor’s State of the State
Yesterday, Governor Hogan presented his annual State of the State Address to a joint legislative session. (Unlike President Trump, he was actually invited to speak in the House chamber!) The Governor emphasized the need to address our transportation challenges. I remain concerned about both the proposals and the process to widen I-270 and I-495. Hogan mentioned a tax cut plan but failed to explain how cutting revenue would allow Maryland to make much-needed investments in our public schools. He emphasized a commitment to working in a bipartisan manner; I look forward to finding common ground on many policy issues over the next four years!
Banning Harmful Polystyrene Food Containers Across the State
The Democratic Caucus announced its legislative priorities, which included my bill to ban polystyrene food containers. Foam bans have already been enacted in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Baltimore City, Annapolis, D.C., and many other places around Maryland and around the country.
Expanded polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) food containers are harmful to both our health and our ecosystem. I am proud to sponsor the ban ( SB285 ) with Delegate Lierman and strong support from a coalition of environmental advocates including Trash-Free Maryland, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters. There will be a Foam Ban Event at Dawson’s Market in Rockville this Sunday, February 3rd from 2pm-5pm. The bill hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 12th, at 1:00pm in my Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Hope to see you there!
Introducing Carl Henn’s Law (SB339)
After months of diligent work to improve our 9-1-1 system, I have officially filed Carl Henn’s Law with 45 of 47 Senators as co-sponsors . This would implement the 23 unanimous recommendations of the 9-1-1 Commission I am chairing. Upgrading to Next Generation 9-1-1 is essential to protecting Maryland residents and visitors. The legislation will:
  • Enhance Geographic Information Systems (GIS) capacity to ensure that First Responders can locate those in need of help more quickly and accurately;
  • Update our technology, including equipment for receiving texts, photos, and video;
  • Combat the growing threat to cybersecurity;
  • Solve the shortfall in revenue for our counties, which currently receive an average of only 37.5% of their 9-1-1 expenses from the current $1 fee; and
  • Address our dire staffing shortfall. Currently, 13% of our 9-1-1 Specialist positions statewide are vacant. This could lead to a delayed response to an emergency.
Closing a Loophole for Nonprofit Overhead Costs
I continue to advocate for our nonprofits and sponsored a bill ( SB17 ) to expand my 2018 legislation that allowed them to be reimbursed for a minimum of 10% of overhead costs. The Attorney General recommended a small change to clarify which organizations can be covered by the law.
Thanks for watching my weekly Facebook Live videos and feel free to comment with your thoughts, suggestions, and opinions! You can also follow me on  Facebook ,   Twitter , and  Instagram   for photos and posts. Please check   my website for information about internships, Senatorial Scholarships, and more. And, you can always send questions or comments to me  via email.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Rockville & Gaithersburg)
P.S.: Did you see the Washington Post endorsement of my Ranked Choice Voting bill? Our House delegation is voting tomorrow and likely next week. Hope you’ll tweet or FB post your support!