Planning for Emergencies, Scholarships, & Music (Feb 23, 2016)

Updating 9-1-1 Before It’s Too Late 
Carl Henn was a Rockville resident and respected community leader who was struck by lightning in 2010 at a local park. Tragically, when his friends called 9-1-1 for help, they received only busy signals.  Two days later, Carl died.  

In Carl’s memory, and to reduce the chances of this tragedy ever happening again, I have sponsored two bills to improve the accountability and preparedness of our 9-1-1 systems.  Paramedics, EMTs, firefighters, and police officers work hard to save lives, but they rely on an elaborate infrastructure to do their jobs.
SB 686 would require a quarterly report on the performance of each 9-1-1 call center to be shared with the elected executives of each county, the Emergency Numbers Systems Board, and the Public Service Commission.  This analysis would include the volume of calls and whether they come from land lines or cell phones. Ultimately, this helps prioritize resources to be prepared.
SB 424 authorizes the Emergency Numbers Systems Board (ENSB) to use 9-1-1 Trust Fund revenues to plan for Maryland’s transition to “Next Generation” technology.  The ENSB coordinates improvements to the counties’ 9-1-1 emergency phone systems.  They are an essential part of making sure that each jurisdiction functions at the highest potential level.  As we improve our 9-1-1 technology with a move to “Next Generation” (including a shift to fiber optic lines, and accepting text and video messages) planning by the ENSB is the most efficient (as well as cost-effective) course of action.  
Technology is changing rapidly, and we must be sure that our emergency services are up to date and reflect how people are actually contacting 9-1-1.  It is vital that we plan now for future crises.  Both of these bills will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on March 1st.
You can see the full list of the bills I am sponsoring on the General Assembly website.
Easing the Financial Burden on Our College Students
Do you know a college student who could use some scholarship assistance?  There are a wide variety of resources available for Maryland students who are looking for financial aid.  Details about my Senatorial Scholarships for residents of District 17 are here. In order to be eligible, students will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through the U.S. Department of Education which is due on March 1st. and apply with my office not later than April 15th.
A 2015 Senatorial Scholar, now one of my Annapolis interns, Abbey Viado.
I am gratified to meet and provide scholarship support for some of my constituents.  My Senatorial Scholarship Committee reviews, ranks, and interviews applicants.  I am inspired by their stories and commitment to self-improvement through higher education. 
In fact, one of my scholarship recipients from last year, Abbey Viado (Universities at Shady Grove – UMBC), is now working in my office this session! 
I hope you will stay in touch with me through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  You can keep up to date with news from Annapolis and District 17 events through my website.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg
 Christine Lavin in Rockville this Saturday!
P.S.  If you enjoy live music and comedy, check your calendar for this Saturday.  My “Folk ‘N Great Music” series is hosting the incomparable Christine Lavin in Rockville!  Click here for details on the show and RSVP if you can definitely attend.  The last time I hosted Christine here, she sold out in just 18 hours.  We’ve got a larger venue, but I am expecting to hit capacity. Hope you can join us!