Vetoes, Vaccines, & Voting!

February 19, 2021
Dear Friend:
I hope you’re staying safe and warm during this week’s round of winter weather. My staff and I are wrapping up another busy week. Here are some highlights:
Moving Forward with Good Policy
The General Assembly voted to override some of Governor Hogan’s vetoes:
Education Reform: The Senate reaffirmed its strong commitment to a 10-year plan to enhance our public schools. Because the Senate joined the House, the bill will take effect in 30 days. The Blueprint will expand pre-K programs; increase funding for schools with high concentrations of poverty; boost teacher salaries; and establish an accountability board to oversee the plan’s implementation.
Funding for Schools: Mega-corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon profit off of consumers but don’t give anything back to our communities. Despite the misleading ad campaigns, this will not affect our small businesses (unless they earn more than $100 million a year!). This digital ad tax, pioneered in Europe, will generate an estimated $250 million in the first year that will directly support Maryland’s schools. 
Money for Metro: Maryland made a commitment to help fund the Metro services that we rely on. In my opinion, Gov. Hogan’s veto was shortsighted and threatened to reverse the progress we’ve made in recent years. Cutting routes and increasing fares disproportionately affect low-income residents. By moving forward with this (soon to be) law, we will keep our commitment and support mass transit.

Waiting Your Turn
Montgomery County ‘s COVID website is very clear about who is currently eligible for a vaccine. It is extremely important that you wait your turn and do not attempt to jump the line. Last week, many of our most vulnerable MoCo residents were left waiting in freezing cold temperatures for hours to receive a vaccine. Officials at the Richard Montgomery High School site needed to turn away hundreds of ineligible individuals. Please remember: if you register for a vaccination, do not share your link with others!
Providing Telehealth to Students
Last year, I enacted an emergency bill that authorized the use of telehealth. Unfortunately, the MD State Department of Education has restricted our 86 School-Based Health Centers, preventing them from offering primary care, mental health care, and dental care. Maryland’s low-income and rural students need access to health care. There have been many efforts to weaken and delay the bill, but I am hopeful that this needed emergency telehealth legislation will make its way to the House next week!

(Re)Counting the Votes
I presented the first of three election bills in my Committee this week. SB632/HB761 establishes parameters for recounts in close elections and sets fundraising limits and disclosure. County Executive candidate David Blair, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters were among those who testified in support.
Updating 9-1-1 Placement and Procedures
As Chair of the Statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission, the past three years have brought a number of issues within our systems to light. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the 9-1-1 Board need to move within our government structure to be more accessible during emergencies. My bill proposes to allow MEMA to report directly to the Governor and to shift the 9-1-1 Board to be autonomous within MEMA. Many states have already made this structural change.
Procurement processes for goods and services related to 9-1-1 merit greater review and transparency. I presented SB645, which would require an analysis of the current procurement practices of the 9-1-1 Board.

Please consider following me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for photos and posts. My website has information about local Coronavirus efforts, internships, and more. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be notified of new episodes of “Kibbitzing with Kagan.” And, you can always send questions or comments to me via email.

Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Gaithersburg & Rockville)
PS: In this unique legislative session, I am proud to represent my community and my priorities through the masks I wear on the Senate floor! This week I made it clear that “I Love Maryland Nonprofits!”