Safe Travels, Schools, State Song, & More! — July 29, 2020

July 29, 2020
Dear Friend:
As I mentioned in my last e-mail, a COVID-19 testing site is coming to Gaithersburg soon. Unfortunately, it won’t be open as soon as we’d hoped. There were unexpected delays; I’ll keep you updated as I learn more about the timetable at/near Lake Forest Mall.
Traveling Safely
About two weeks ago, I donned a mask, face shield, and gloves and flew to Montana! With all my other summer conferences and festivals canceled due to the Coronavirus, I decided to finally complete my goal of visiting all 50 of our nation’s State Capitols. Legislators in states #49 and #50 graciously showed me around. In Minnesota, I had the meaningful experience of visiting the memorial to George Floyd. In addition to the beautiful mural and tragic destruction we’ve all seen on television, there were several blocks of paintings, gifts, and posters.
(I’ll continue to post photos on my Sen. Cheryl Kagan Facebook page. Check them out if you’re curious!)
While visiting Helena (Montana) and Bismarck (North Dakota), I hiked in Yellowstone, Glacier, and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks; enjoyed three museums; and spent time with friends. Please be careful as you ponder your own summer plans!
Photo 1: This statue of Jeannette Rankin, a Member of Congress and women’s rights advocate who voted against BOTH World Wars, is prominently displayed in Montana’s State Capitol.
Photo 2: Bismarck was my 50th State Capitol. It seems that I’m not unique; North Dakota markets itself with a “Best for Last” Club!

Dissecting the Governor’s Election Decision
I recently shared my frustration over Gov. Hogan’s election plan. Mandating a primarily in-person election in November puts the health of all Marylanders at risk. In my opinion, the most worrisome issues include:
  • Ignoring advice from local and national election experts– this creates the unnecessary burden of adapting to another method of voting. Unless Gov. Hogan makes a change, this will be the third voting method in the past three elections.
  • Requiring that every in-person polling place be used means that sites closed since March must reopen their doors to thousands of strangers.
  • Scrambling to recruit election judges is the top focus of our local elections staffers. Many poll workers have already indicated that they will not return. This will require extra training, resources, and money. If they fall short, lines could be very long.
  • Playing into the White House’s false narrative that mail-in voting leads to fraud (which has been completely debunked by every credible study)– Hogan has put inaccurate Republican talking points about voting by mail above the safety of Marylanders.

Please consider requesting a mail-in ballot for the upcoming election SOON. Let me warn you that the process is surprisingly cumbersome; I’m working to simplify it– but don’t delay!

Updating our State Song
In 2016 and 2018, I introduced legislation to repeal our offensive State song. “Maryland, My Maryland” calls President Abraham Lincoln a “tyrant” and a “despot” while glorifying the Confederacy. Now, as the #BlackLivesMatter protests are fresh in our minds, there is growing support for repeal. I will be sponsoring legislation again when we reconvene. The new House Speaker and the new Senate President have indicated their support to finally remove this hurtful song as our State symbol.

Heading Back to School….or Not
The Montgomery County School Board announced its plan for virtual-only learning through Fall Semester. The Board’s decision was made based on advice from County and State health officials that recommended against in-person instruction at this time. Goals include providing a dynamic learning experience; ensuring equal access to technology; and offering additional student support.
I understand how disappointed and frustrated you may be while navigating your return to work and normalcy. Future decisions on returning to the classroom rest with the School Board. Feel free to submit your feedback to them here.

Granting Funds to Nonprofits & Small Businesses
Two weeks in a row with new government funding available? Wanted to be sure you had the news right away! The Montgomery County Council is launching a new Reopening Assistance Grant today, July 29th. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to eligible nonprofits and small businesses. Click here for details and the application.

Facing Fears: Eviction During a Pandemic
On July 24th, the federal moratorium on evictions expired. This means renters could face removal from their homes. With the pandemic far from over, this is a devastating blow to those who are struggling because of the economic impact of COVID-19. As of now, there is no plan from the U.S. Senate to include rent relief in its next stimulus package. The Montgomery County Council is considering appropriating $20 million for rental assistance and homelessness prevention from its CARES Act funding; this proposal will be voted on later today.

Please consider following me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for photos and posts. If you have any questions or comments, send me an email!
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Gaithersburg & Rockville)
PS: Even though school will begin remotely this year, if you plan to shop for clothes or school supplies, Maryland Tax Free Week is August 9 – 15. Qualifying items under $40 and clothes under $100 will be exempt from sales tax.