March 8, 2019
The Legislative Session is at an exciting stage where bills are moving out of the Senate chamber and over to the House of Delegates. With exactly a month until adjournment, our hours are getting longer. Just this week, we had a vitally important hearing on a top priority bill– education funding– as the first funding installment of the “Kirwan Commission” was proposed and presented.
Banning Expanded Polystyrene Foam Statewide
SB285, my bill to ban expanded polystyrene foam (“Styrofoam”) food service products, was passed on the Senate floor earlier this week. After three years of working on this legislation, I am delighted to see its passage. The House Environment and Transportation committee issued a favorable report on the legislation, and the House just defeated every proposed amendment on the Floor. They will vote on final passage early next week.
I am grateful for partnerships with Del. Brooke Lierman, the lead House sponsor, and advocacy organizations including Trash-Free Maryland, the MD Sierra Club, and the MD League of Conservation Voters. Each has dedicated hundreds of hours to enact this legislation.
Spotlight: Tackling Bullying with a Gaithersburg Kindergartener
It was a delight to welcome Gaithersburg resident Cavanaugh Bell to the Senate. At six years old, he’s already drawing attention to bullying victims who have taken their own lives. Cavanaugh organizes monthly community service projects and posts videos urging love and kindness on his Twitter,Instagram, and Facebook pages. During a Gaithersburg Mayor & Council meeting in January, he climbed on a step stool and urged them to designate February 21st, as Anti- Bullying Awareness Day. Precocious young Cavanaugh is a reminder that any of us can make a difference at any age!
|Cavanaugh & I hung out in the Senate Lounge after session.||All the excitement may have been too much for the little guy…|
Moving 9-1-1 Out of the Senate
On July 27, 2010, Rockville activist Carl Henn died when 9-1-1 failed. His tragic death inspired me to dedicate the past five years working to improve our emergency response system. Earlier this week, the Senate voted 41-6 to pass “Carl Henn’s Law.” The bill is the result of the work by the9-1-1 Commission I am honored to chair. It addresses improvements to technology, staffing, oversight, and accountability. It also fixes our broken funding system that leaves our counties receiving an average of only 37.5% of their costs from the $1 fee we’ve paid for the past 16 years. Two other bills related to our emergency systems are still working their way through committees.
Eliminating Stamps from Mail-in Ballots
I’m proud to report that SB343 Prepaid Postage for Absentee Ballots passed the Senate this morning. Requiring voters to purchase a stamp in order to cast their ballot could be a barrier to participation for young people, home-bound, or those with economic challenges. Congressman (then State Senator) Jamie Raskin sponsored this bill when he was in the State Senate. Working with Del. Kirill Reznick, I am hopeful that we can enact this very affordable ($44,000 statewide??!) democracy bill.
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Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Gaithersburg & Rockville)
P.S.: As we wrap up National Consumer Protection Week, I presented my “Gas Price Clarity” bill to the Senate Finance Committee. Attorney General Brian Frosh shares my concerns to the”bait & switch” deceptive tactics used by many gas stations when the higher, credit card prices are hidden or totally absent. The MD Consumer Rights Coalition also endorsed this common sense legislation.