The Senate is in Session! (January 17, 2017)
January 17, 2017
Maryland’s 90-day Legislative Session officially began last Wednesday at noon. The General Assembly has been moving quickly since Opening Day, with hearings scheduled for several of my bills coming soon. My staff and I have been working hard for months to prepare for a successful third year in the State Senate.
Dr. King’s Dream Today
This week is book-ended by two important occasions: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Inauguration Day. Decades after Dr. King led the movement against segregation and inequality, many in America still feel the same strain of division. With a new Administration coming to the White House, his tireless fight for fairness is an important reminder that we must actively participate in our democracy– especially in these next four years!
Off to a Quick Start!
Because I pre-filed several of my bills, I am facing four committee hearings this week!
SB 58 (Election Law – Election Observers) would guarantee that both academic and international observers have access to polling places. Under current law, either the State Board of Elections or a local board can approve observers at their discretion, resulting in inconsistent access granted. SB 58 would standardize the process and policies statewide, allowing academics and international representatives the opportunity to observe and learn.
SB 64 (Voter Registration – Affiliating With a Party) would allow unaffiliated voters to join a political party at any time a citizen can register to vote. During the 2016 primary, registered independent voters were required to choose a party at least 3 weeks before Election Day in order to vote in a partisan primary; unregistered Marylanders were able to register– and select a party affiliation– throughout early voting. SB 64 aims to put registered but unaffiliated voters on equal footing with new registrants, thereby increasing primary election participation.
SB 74 (Maryland Code – Standardization of Terminology – Nonprofits) would standardize the use of the term “nonprofit” in the Maryland Code, replacing unnecessary and confusing variations like “non-profit” and “not-for-profit” that make research difficult.
SB 91 (State Board of Elections Transparency Act) would require that SBE livestream video of their public meetings and post them online for at least four years. Last month, the Board streamed video as Maryland’s presidential electors met to cast their votes. The same technology, used regularly by the Board of Public Works and the Public Service Commission, would make SBE’s deliberations and decisions more transparent. Like BPW and PSC, SBE is a critical government agency that depends on public trust.
Thinking of my friend, Senator Gladden
The joy of being back in the Senate was diminished by the resignation of my friend and colleague, Sen. Lisa Gladden. She has been struggling with significant health problems and couldn’t be in Annapolis to represent her constituents in the 41st District. We will all miss her warmth, passion on the issues, and intellect.
My sold-out “UnNaugural” Concert is almost here! On Friday, 500 guests will enjoy 5 performers whose presence has helped us raise tens of thousands of dollars for 5 progressive national advocacy organizations. I’m proud to support the efforts of those working for civil rights, reproductive choice, environmental protection, LGBTQ equality, and gun control.
Protecting Our Health & Our Environment
Today, with my longtime friend, Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City) and 19 Senate co-sponsors, I filed a bill that would ban harmful polystyrene (Styrofoam) food packaging. Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties have already prohibited these containers for public health reasons. Along with a number of coalition partners, we will work hard to ensure that the rest of Maryland will follow.
Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media is a great way
to stay informed and connected. You will also see updates on fun and interesting events in District 17. Also, you can check my website for information on Senatorial Scholarships, internship opportunities, and more! Any questions or comments can be directed to me via email.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg
PS: Want to see the District 17 Team in action? Join us Monday, January 30th from 6:00 to 8:00pm as we welcome our constituents. You’ll have a chance to see our beautiful State House; watch the Senate in session; and mingle with legislators and neighbors. Plus, enjoy delicious food from Dawson’s Market in Rockville! We would appreciate an RSVP at Cheryl.Kagan@senate.state.md.us.