April 4, 2018
|As we approach adjournment on Monday at midnight, the General Assembly is still working on key initiatives. Among hundreds of others, we will be debating gun safety, tax policy, education reform, and medical marijuana. Of particular interest is legislation reforming our sexual harassment policy, which should be considered by the full Senate tomorrow. Last week, the legislature delivered a package of bills to the Governor. If he vetoes any, we would only have until adjournment to consider an override vote. Watch my social media to stay up-to-date on late developments!
Reforming School Construction Funding
Despite a Republican-led filibuster, the Senate passed the 21st Century School Facilities Act to ensure that our public school buildings are safe and comfortable learning environments for all Maryland students. The bill would put an end to the demeaning and political “beg-a-thons,” when local boards of education petition the three members of the Board of Public Works (BPW) for construction funding. This BPW has too often played favorites and politicized decisions about issues like heating and air conditioning Baltimore’s schools. The proposal would replace the current process with a balanced panel of education experts. The Governor has threatened to veto this important initiative.
Hogan Administration Charges Taxpayers for Political Censorship
Every week, I offer hyperlinks to my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. I maintain them myself as an important channel to communicate with constituents. Governor Hogan’s staff deleted comments and banned 450 Maryland residents from his Facebook page for disagreeing with his policies. This provoked a lawsuit, which was ultimately settled for $65,000. I am offended that their political censorship was addressed with taxpayer funds.
Giving Our Local Schools Control Over Their Schedules
When Gov. Hogan issued an Executive Order mandating that Maryland schools must start after Labor Day and finish by June 15th, he disregarded the negative consequences for our students, teachers, and families. Montgomery County’s elected school board has struggled to schedule the required 180 days of classes while respecting religious holidays, Spring Break, and snow days. Sen. Nancy King’s bill would give school districts much-needed flexibility.
Supporting College & Graduate Students with Scholarships
Do you know an undergraduate or graduate student in District 17 in need of financial support? Twice each year, my Scholarship Committee and I get the opportunity to meet some of our brightest students. Those who are enrolled in college or graduate school locally and volunteer in our community should consider writing a thoughtful essay and submitting an application. Deadlines and more information can be found here.
Fixing the Medical Marijuana Dispensary System
As a member of the House of Delegates, I was an early supporter of making medical marijuana available to cancer patients and others. Unfortunately, the process for granting licenses to dispense the drug resulted in no minority-owned businesses being selected. This week, the Senate passed a bill that will create procedures to diversify licensees. During the floor debate, I raised concerns about issues of local control for our cities and towns. While we rush to finish the legislation, I will continue to speak out so that the final language includes proper safeguards.
On today’s 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Senate was honored by an uplifting presentation. You can watch my video here.
As we prepare to wrap up here in Annapolis, watch your email inbox as well as your home mailbox for my summary of the Maryland General Assembly’s accomplishments this year. Thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions and opinions as I work hard to represent you in the Senate.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Rockville & Gaithersburg)
P.S. After we adjourn, I look forward to returning to Gaithersburg and Rockville. If you’d like to invite me to speak at your event or visit your business or nonprofit organization, please reach out soon!