February 14, 2020
Happy Valentine’s Day! On this day, when we express our love and appreciation, I want to let you know how much I LOVE my constituents and being able to represent Rockville and Gaithersburg.
We began this week with the unveiling of two striking bronze statues in our State House. One depicts Frederick Douglass, who was one of Maryland’s most influential orators, writers, and thinkers of his time. The other portrays Harriet Tubman, who led hundreds of enslaved individuals to freedom after escaping from slavery herself here in Maryland. I am proud of our recent efforts to remove Confederate symbols and instead recognize our abolitionists.
Legislating in the Year of the Woman
This year, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Although there have been tremendous strides to improve gender equity, there are still many ways that women remain unequal. Two of my bills to address this are on the docket for next week. Did you know that Maryland women still earn 85.5 cents for every dollar a man makes? And women of color earn even less! SB400 (based on Montgomery County’s new law) would provide “Paycheck Fairness” for women hired by the State.
SB536 would help women remove barriers to remarriage prior to a divorce decree being granted. In the Jewish religion, women are required to receive a “Get,” which terminates a Jewish marriage and allows her to remarry. Some men withhold a “Get” as leverage for a more favorable divorce settlement or as a means of exacting revenge.
Protecting the Privacy of 9-1-1 Callers
Members of the NG911 Commission I chair continue to be concerned about protecting the personal information of 9-1-1 victims. Among our 25 recommendations for the 2020 legislative session, the Commission voted unanimously to update the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA). Transparency is vital to ensure accountability, and it is also important to consider the privacy of those who contact 9-1-1. The MPIA is a crucial tool to allow citizens to see the workings of their government. It is not, however, designed to allow us to see into our neighbors’ houses in their time of crisis. SB535 proposes to codify a 1986 Attorney General opinion and acknowledge technological advances in a “Next Generation 9-1-1” environment.
When you gotta go, you gotta go…
Many of us do not think twice about using a gender-neutral restroom in a hotel, airplane, hospital, or friend’s home. However, in many public establishments, we face the unnecessary inconvenience of gender-divided, single-occupant restrooms. My bill (SB401) would simply require that single-stall restrooms display gender-inclusive signage, indicating that anyone can use it. This common-sense solution will make using the bathroom a little less complicated for parents with young children; women who experience longer wait times; caretakers of the disabled; and those who identify as transgender.
Considering the Plan to Enhance Our Public Schools
The “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” also known as the Kirwan Commission Plan, is designed to transform Maryland’s public education system and boost student achievement. SB1000 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday in the Joint Hearing Room. Additionally, the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee is developing several innovative funding proposals. Given the scope and goals of the proposed Plan, I anticipate extensive deliberations and debate on this critical bill.
I do a “Facebook Live” report from Annapolis each Friday afternoon when the Senate is in session, and you can watch here!! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for photos and posts. Please check my website for information about internships, Senatorial Scholarships, and more. And, you can always contact me via email.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Gaithersburg & Rockville)
PS: Virginia recently became the 38th state (led by my friend and new House Speaker, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn) to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. Three-quarters of the states have now ratified this Constitutional Amendment. The U.S. House of Representatives just voted to eliminate the ratification deadline. It’s unfortunate that the U.S. Senate is unlikely to pass this measure in order to guarantee equal rights for all Americans, regardless of sex. Nevertheless, she persisted!