Cheryl Kagan | Maryland State Senator - District 17
In the News


Local women say #MeToo

October 25, 2017
by Hannah Monicken
Washington Jewish Week
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It wasn’t so many years ago that Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17) sat down at a public event and a lobbyist sat down next to her. He leaned in to say hello and, as he did so, placed his hand on her thigh.

“Nobody should be touching my thigh without my invitation,” Kagan, 56, said last week. “And especially not in a work setting. It was just totally inappropriate. And that [story] is just one of many.”

Washington resident Danielle Cantor has her own story. When she was in her 20s, her boss told her she wasn’t wearing enough makeup and no one would take her seriously. Now 42, Cantor is one of millions of women saying #MeToo.

The hashtag picked up steam after accusations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had been serially sexually harassing and attacking women for decades. And if the campaign has proven anything, it’s that every woman has not just one story like these, but a lifelong collection.

“I don’t think there’s a woman who doesn’t have an experience that she could share in this campaign,” said Lori Weinstein, CEO of Jewish Women International (no relation to Harvey Weinstein). Weinstein, who began her career in male-dominated political circles, said she experienced harassment.

The five women interviewed for this article were not surprised by the reach and number of posts with the hashtag. But some said the men in their lives were.

Women often don’t speak out about harassment and abuse because they don’t think they will be believed and because the perpetrators often have power over them, Weinstein said. Many acts against women are meant to make them uncomfortable and vulnerable, which keep women from speaking out about them. And it becomes a part of everyday life — both horrible and mundane.

Washington resident Ariella Neckritz, 23, has experienced a spectrum of these actions, from street harassment to abusive relationships. She became involved in preventing violence against women starting in high school and now works on prevention on college campuses.

“Seeing so many people I’m closely connected to sharing their experiences was deeply upsetting and overwhelming,” she said. “I think this hashtag is emphasizing a moment in a movement. It didn’t just come out of nowhere.”

The question now is what to do with the momentum #MeToo has created.

Cantor isn’t sure if the #MeToo campaign will change anything, but she still felt the need to add her voice. It was cathartic, she said, not just for herself, but on behalf of other women. And that can be worthwhile in itself, she said.

“Do I feel like it’s really going to make a difference?” she said. “I don’t know. But it’s an act of solidarity.”

But for Lori Weinstein, #MeToo is a game-changer.

“I think we’re at a point of inflection where things will never be the same,” she said. “It was every woman and it was all women.

“There’s power in numbers.”

Women finding their voice will always be an important tool in fighting sexual harassment and assault, she said. And she hopes the hashtag can be a wake-up call to the Jewish community, too.

“We have to accept it’s not different in the Jewish community than anywhere else,” she said.

And society seems more willing now to believe women. The reputation of Bill Cosby as America’s dad was shattered after dozens of women came forward alleging sexual misconduct. Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were let go from Fox News after pervasive sexual harassment was made public. And, most recently, Harvey Weinstein was ousted from his namesake studio, The Weinstein Co. after two major publications revealed the accusations.

But beyond that, both Kagan and District of Columbia Councilmember Brianne Nadeau are fighting for local legislative reform to help address some of these issues.

Nadeau, 37, has a bill to combat street harassment through education and training and a city task force making its way through the D.C. Council. Nadeau was once accosted by a man on the street who demanded her phone number. When she refused, he spat at her.

“I think something has to change and I hope [the #MeToo campaign] can help tip the scale,” she said.

Kagan hopes that the momentum from #MeToo can make this year — the ninth try — the year the Maryland Assembly passes a bill to take away the parental rights of rapists if the victim becomes pregnant as a result of rape, eliminating the need for the victim to negotiate with her attacker over custody or adoption.

“This #MeToo campaign is both uplifting and awful,” Kagan said. “Uplifting because it’s creating a community of women to support each other. But it makes it impossible to ignore the number of women in our lives who have been harassed, assaulted, abused or raped.”

Cantor’s call to action is closer to home. She’s determined her month-old son will grow up to be a man who respects and supports women.

“I was always going to try to raise a little feminist,” she said.

And then maybe the future will see fewer women saying #MeToo.

Political Roundup: Kagan declines to run for county executive

October 6, 2017
by Andrew Metcalf
Bethesda Magazine
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State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Rockville), who was considering entering the race for Montgomery County Executive, announced on Thursday that she will seek re-election to her District 17 senate seat instead.

She wrote on her Facebook page that Montgomery County’s delegation in (?) the state Senate is expected to see significant turnover and she wants to continue supporting progressive policies in the Legislature.

“Should the voters of District 17 elect me to another term, I will continue my work on issues including consumer protection, public safety, educational excellence, environmental protection, progressive social policies, and support for the nonprofit and business communities,” Kagan wrote.

Kagan has said she wanted to see a woman or minority candidate enter the race for the county government’s top job.

So far, Del. Bill Frick (D-Bethesda) and County Council members George Leventhal, Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich make up the Democratic field for county executive.

Potomac business David Blair said this week he is “very likely” to run for the Democratic nomination. Former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow has said she is “seriously interested” in running, too.

The only Republican vying for the post so far is Boyds defense attorney Robin Ficker.

State Roundup: Sen. Kagan to Seek Re-election

October 6, 2017
by Cynthia Prairie
Maryland Reporter
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State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D), who has pondered running for Montgomery County executive over the past several months, instead has decided to seek re-election, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. In a statement to be posted on her Facebook page, Kagan will say she was “intrigued…by the possibility of serving as our next County Executive at this critical juncture” and “humbled by the incredible support offered by hundreds of residents and activists,” but has decided to try to remain in the Senate.


October 5, 2017
by Josh Kurtz
Maryland Matters
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State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D), who has pondered running for Montgomery County executive over the past several months, will announce Thursday afternoon that she is seeking re-election instead.

In a statement to be posted on her Facebook page, Kagan will say she was “intrigued…by the possibility of serving as our next County Executive at this critical juncture” and “humbled by the incredible support offered by hundreds of residents and activists,” but has decided to try to remain in the Senate, which will see significant turnover following the 2018 election.

“I have worked hard to build coalitions with legislators and advocates from across the aisle and around the State,” she says in the statement. “Should the voters of District 17 elect me to another term, I will continue my work on issues including consumer protection, public safety,educational excellence, environmental protection, progressive social policies, and support for the nonprofit and business communities.”

In an interview, Kagan said she was swayed in part by her excitement last week when former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow (D) put out the word that she was contemplating running for executive.

“The energy I felt when Rose told me that she was considering was the beginning of the answer for me,” Kagan said. She called Krasnow “a common-sense Democrat who is thoughtful and progressive.”

Currently, four Democrats are seeking to replace term-limited County Executive Ike Leggett (D): Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal – who are term-limited themselves – and state House Majority Leader Bill Frick. Businessman David Blair told Maryland Matters on Wednesday that he is “likely” to join the race within the month.

Political provocateur Robin Ficker is the lone candidate on the Republican side.

Kagan, 56, served two terms in the House of Delegates, from 1995 to 2003, representing the Rockville and Gaithersburg areas, before taking a break from elective politics. In 2010, she challenged veteran state Sen. Jennie Forehand in the Democratic primary, losing narrowly, then won the seat following a bruising primary after Forehand announced her retirement.

With at least two Montgomery senators departing at the end of next year – Sen. Rich Madaleno (D) is running for governor and Sen. Roger Manno (D) is running for Congress – Kagan said she felt it was important to maintain “some stability” in the county’s Senate delegation.

Kagan spent the past few months talking to Montgomery County business, civic and political leaders about a possible bid for executive.

“All of those meetings will help make me a better senator,” she said.

Md. Democrat says state has failed to translate websites; Hogan administration says it is complying with new law

October 5, 2017
by Ovetta Wiggins
The Washington Post
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A Montgomery County Democrat says the Hogan administration has failed to comply with a 2016 law requiring state websites to offer translations in Spanish and Chinese.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, the bill sponsor, said less than 40 percent of the state websites are in full compliance more than a year after the law was signed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

“It’s appalling,” Kagan said. “It’s hard to determine whether this is a philosophical reluctance or ideological statement of some sort or whether it is disorganization.”

Kagan and her staff reviewed 112 state-agency websites in August. At that time, just 12 percent of the Web pages offered translations into Spanish and Chinese, and 29 percent offered Spanish translation. Since then, the numbers have increased.

Article continued here…

Hogan sets transportation announcement during Rosh Hashanah

September 20, 2017
by Michael Dresser
The Baltimore Sun
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When Gov. Larry Hogan makes a transportation announcement in Montgomery County Thursday, some local elected officials are likely to be absent.

It’s Rosh Hashanah. Many of the local politicians are Jewish. And some are less than impressed with the political savvy of his scheduling.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the governor would hold a major event on the Jewish New Year,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who is Jewish. “It seems unlikely that they would hold a similar event on Good Friday or Christmas out of respect for Marylanders observing their faith.”

Kagan, who received an invitation Wednesday, noted that half of the county’s Senate delegation is Jewish.

Hogan’s invitation to the Gaithersburg event promised a “major multi-jurisdictional transportation announcement.” Messages left with the governor’s office were not answered.

Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary’s College, noted that Montgomery County has a significant Jewish population.

“I would consider that to be a faux pas,” Eberly said. “Why would you schedule a major announcement for a day that is a holiday for those folks?”

Focus on Charlottesville, Roger B. Taney statue overshadow 2018 primaries

July 31, 2017
by Ovetta Wiggins
Frederick News-Post
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OCEAN CITY — Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told a group of county leaders here on Saturday that he signed an executive order to create a statewide land-use plan that, unlike a highly-criticized development plan set by his predecessor, seeks input from local and county officials.

“As I have traveled across Maryland, local elected officials have repeatedly asked for a plan that better reflects the needs of our state,” Hogan said. “One that will improve coordination between state agencies and local governments, support thoughtful growth and infrastructure planning, stimulate economic development and revitalization in existing and planned communities.”

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who had not seen the details of the order, said Hogan has done “a very good job of reaching out and coordinating” with local officials.

“I look forward to seeing the details of what he is suggesting,” he said. “I think it’s a good step for all of us.”

Hogan’s speech capped off the Maryland Association of Counties’ summer conference, a four-day annual gathering of state and county officials where talk of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the decision to remove the Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds in Annapolis largely overshadowed discussion of next year’s high-stakes gubernatorial race.

Candidates seeking the 2018 Democratic nomination for governor, many of whom are largely unknown throughout the state, made the rounds during the convention, meeting with potential donors and trying to connect with and build support from elected officials from across the state.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is considering a bid for governor, was seen early Friday morning huddled in a booth at a local diner with U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md. The site of the pair — Kamenetz a likely Hogan challenger and Brown the candidate who was upset by Hogan in 2014 — left many speculating about their discussion.

Was Kamenetz asking Brown for campaign advice on what not to do? one person joked.

Kamenetz said Saturday it was just two “old friends catching up.”

Rumors also swirled over the weekend after Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery, was seen in what several described as an awkward, tense exchange with Senate President Thomas Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, during a fundraiser for another senator. Earlier in the day, Madaleno criticized Miller on Facebook for defending Taney, the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, and refusing to vote as a member of the Maryland State House Trust to remove the statue.

Several people said they thought the two were talking about the statue. Madaleno said Saturday that they were not.

Hogan, who spent some of his time answering media question about his change of mind over the statue, was largely in campaign mode, using most of the time pressing palms, attending fundraisers and taking pictures.

While walking the boardwalk, flanked by about dozen members of his staff, Hogan was stopped by Alexandro Bonilla, 36, of Clarksburg. Bonilla asked Hogan if he would take a picture with is family. “Very good job,” Bonilla repeated as he shook Hogan’s hand.

Bonilla, a Democrat, said he’s been impressed with the governor and could see himself voting for him. “We just need him to continue to work for the school system,” his wife interjected. 

Many Democratic elected officials said the gubernatorial race, which includes candidates who range from veteran politicians to people who have never run for elected office, remains wide open. With 10 months until the June 2018 gubernatorial primary, they say they have yet to see a candidate move ahead of the pack.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, said she is waiting to see which candidate shows an ability to raise money, to put together a strong operation and to galvanize Democrats, independents and possibly even some Republicans.

Despite Hogan’s strong popularity, Democrats said they remain encouraged that they could win back the governor’s office.

Washington Post-University of Maryland poll earlier this year found that support for Hogan’s reelection lags behind his approval ratings. Hogan held a 65 percent approval rating in March, but just 45 percent of registered voters said they would support him for a second term and 37 percent said they preferred a Democrat.

“It’s clear that the right Democrat can beat Hogan, but it’s still unclear who the right Democrat is,” Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, said.

Most of the Democratic candidates, who have officially launched their campaigns, attended the conference. They include: Madaleno, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, attorney Jim Shea, and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross.

Krishanti Vignarajah, a onetime policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama, and Ben Jealous, the former NAACP president, who held a fundraiser in New York City with David Chappelle on Friday night, did not attend.

Sen. Kagan considers race for Montgomery County executive

July 31, 2017
by Len Lazarick and Glynis Kazanjian
Maryland Reporter
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Sen. Cheryl Kagan is an unconventional politician, particularly when it comes to fundraising. No breakfast fundraisers or evening receptions for the Gaithersburg/Rockville senator.

Kagan goes more for ice cream socials and afternoon concerts with the kind of singer-songwriters she’s been promoting in house concerts for years, as she did Sunday afternoon at an art gallery in the new Crown section of Gaithersburg, part of District 17.

The Democratic senator not only knows the songsters, she can sing along with their lyrics. But she’s also being serenaded with some catchy new tunes. She’s being encouraged to run for county executive and being mentioned for lieutenant governor.

In an interview last week, Kagan said, There are a surprising number of thoughtful county leaders who are not satisfied with the current field of candidates for county executive, but she won’t say who those leaders are.

“There is some sentiment that has been expressed that because of overwhelming passage of the Ficker amendment [setting term limits for council and executive], there is a sense that council members who were ‘fired’ for a next term are instead, three of them, are seeking a promotion.”

Kagan made no mention of this speculation at Sunday’s fundraiser. The politicos there  included fellow Montgomery Democratic Sens. Brian Feldman and Roger Manno, who is running for Congress (he insists he already has a video tracker from someone else’s campaign); the three delegates from her district — House Environment Committee Chair Kumar Barve, Jim Gilchrist and the newly slim Andrew Platt; two current County Council members, Sid Katz and Hans Riemer, and several candidates for council.

“Raise your hand if you’re not running for office,” joked Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman, who is on the ballot this year along with the majority of the city council who attended Kagan’s fundraiser in Maryland’s third largest municipality. Ashman praised Kagan for her “diligence and thoughtfulness.”

Frosh for the resistance   

The room quieted down for 25 minutes of short speeches, including one from Attorney General Brian Frosh, a former Montgomery senator flexing his legal muscles to sue the Trump administration on multiple counts along with other Democratic AGs around the nation.

“It’s important to have the resistance not just in the District, but in all the states,” said Frosh He thanked Kagan and the other legislators for granting him his new powers against the wishes of Gov. Larry Hogan, who used to control whom Frosh could sue.

“He is protecting Maryland from the crazy stuff” that is going on in Washington, Kagan said. On Jan. 20, Kagan was a prime host of an UnNaugural Concert to raise money for five nonprofits boosting progressive causes including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

Kamenetz and Baker

Kagan’s low key event also brought out two leading candidates for governor, although Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has not officially announced.

Kagan served eight years in the House of Delegates with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who she said has “helped turn that county around in economic development and education.”

One of the quirks of a governor’s race in Maryland is that the candidates must first recruit running mates for lieutenant governor before they file.

In interviews last week, Kagan admitted, “I’m having conversations” about lieutenant governor. “I’m going to have a little bit of time to reflect.”

She is reflecting more seriously on the race for Montgomery County executive.

“I am thinking about it and talking to people and meeting with people. I had lunch with [current executive] Ike Leggett last week.  I have talked to a number of current and former elected officials to get their guidance, and I continue to be surprised by the strong, positive reactions I’m getting.”

Intended to run for re-election

“My intention had been to seek re-election for the Senate representing the residents of Gaithersburg and Rockville. I’ve enjoyed my work and feel like I’m making a difference in Annapolis, for my district, for the county and for the whole state.

“Then I started getting calls, which was quite unexpected.  First people were telling me I was on several short lists to be considered as lieutenant governor by various candidates and then people started calling suggesting I consider county executive. That is something I had never thought about before.”

“I was very disappointed the Ficker amendment passed, but the numbers were decisive.  There was a very strong sentiment of disapproval of this County Council.  People have called me wondering why it is if they were basically being kicked out of office or precluded from seeking re-election, why three of them would be running essentially for a promotion to become county executive.”

Montgomery County Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal are term limited and running for executive.

At Sunday’s fundraiser, Councilmember Hans Riemer said that the pluses for Kagan in the executive race are that she is woman with proven progressive values, but is viewed as more moderate than others in the race.

Kagan conceded in an earlier interview that “there’s the gender issue. It’s not something I’m talking about. There are people who are calling me disappointed that there had been (and that may change) no woman running for governor and no woman running for county election.”

“With Hillary Clinton’s defeat, there is a real hunger for electing women especially in light of the craziness — sexist, misogynist and homophobic statements and actions creeping out of this White House,” Kagan said.

Senator Kagan on Asbury View from AVTV on July 25, 2017.

For women on Md. boards, it’s still lonely at the top

June 1, 2017
by Christine Condon
The Daily Record
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When attendees gather for the first annual Daily Record Women’s Leadership Summit on Tuesday, one of the key topics for discussion will be how to improve Maryland’s below-average rate of including women on company boards.

Increasing female board representation won’t happen on its own, says Ann Quinn, the president of Executive Alliance, a nonprofit advocating for women’s leadership in business.

“It has to be a priority and it has to be intentional,” said Quinn, who is also the owner and principal of Quinn Strategy group.

Quinn said that offering flexible maternity and paternity leave policies and equal pay for equal work are critical steps toward the goal of enhancing gender diversity within companies.

She said many boards want applicants to have been a CEO of a major company, which can be a big obstacle for women. Of all Fortune 500 companies, only 27 have a female CEO.

Studies have shown that boards with greater gender diversity perform better than those with less.

A report conducted by wealth management company Credit Suisse conducted from 2006 to 2012 found that companies with women on their boards surpassed their less diverse counterparts. The companies with a market value of more than $10 billion that had at least one female director outperformed companies with boards made up exclusively of men by 26 percent.

An earlier study conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit pushing for female inclusion in the workplace, found that companies with more women board directors experienced 53 percent greater returns on equity, 42 percent greater returns on sales and 66 percent greater returns on invested capital.

Maryland Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who proposed legislation aimed at diversifying boards in the state, said that it’s all about “having different voices in the room.”

Her bill  would have required a clause in procurement contracts outlawing discrimination in the formation or composition of corporate boards, but it stalled in the House of the Maryland General Assembly in March. Kagan said her bill was “shockingly controversial.”

“My colleagues … didn’t seem to share my belief that with taxpayers dollars we should be able to extract some commitment towards equality, or at the very least outlaw intentional discrimination,” Kagan said.

In April, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation regarding corporate board diversity. The law encouraged, but did not require, companies to have at least 30 percent female directors on their boards by the end of 2020.

A similar measure passed in California in 2013, similarly lacking in enforcement provisions.

“It’s one thing to call on people to do the right thing, it’s another to offer an enforcement mechanism,” Kagan said.

How Maryland stacks up

Maryland companies continues to lag behind national averages for female directors, according to a 2016 survey conducted by Executive Alliance. (The 2017 survey will be released in early June. The 2016 survey can be found here.)

The study found that 14.4 percent of  Maryland companies surveyed had women as directors, compared to the national average of 20.1 percent. Over 30 percent of the 76 companies in the  survey had no women directors at all, compared to the national average of about 5 percent. The number of women of color holding board seats remained stagnant at 13.

Quinn said she attributes this to the large number of banking and financial services companies in the state, which tend to be male-dominated, she said. She expects the 2017 surveys results, which are expected to be released in June, to mostly stay the same this year, since boards typically have minimal turnover.

Executive Alliance member Carol Coughlin, who is also the CEO of BottomLine Growth Strategies, agreed.

“It’s not something that happens overnight, it’s something that happens over time. We are moving in the right direction, though,” Coughlin said, adding that flexible scheduling policies and mentorship programs are positive steps for businesses.

Quinn said that businesses must recognize unconscious gender bias in order to improve.

“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been the only woman visiting a client or visiting an investment bank and no one knows where the women’s room is or even thinks to tell me that,” she said.“ We need to acknowledge those and laugh about them and talk about them.”

Men should play a role too, she said.

“The message really shouldn’t be that women need to lean in. We do, but men sort of need to pull us in as well,” she said, adding that men should seek female opinions in discussions and meetings.

Both Coughlin and Quinn will be in attendance at The Daily Record’s Women’s Leadership Summit on June 6, where they’ll discuss how women can prepare for and gain board and other management positions in their companies.

How to succeed

The companies that have successfully diversified their boards and senior management teams have some things in common — most had clear strategies and consistently sought to make diversity or inclusion a core value of their business.

Nancy Prue is the director of shareholder communications for Adams Funds, which was lauded on the study’s honor roll for having at least 20 percent female representation among directors and executives. She said the investment company, which has 21 employees, has a sort of informal mentorship program for women. Women leaders and board members tend to engage with new female hires, she said.

“There’s always been a female rising in the company as new women were coming in. It’s just a natural fit,” she said.

The company offers eight weeks of paid maternity leave, and an additional four when new mothers can choose to use their vacation days or go unpaid, she said.

Asset management firm T. Rowe Price, which was also noted in the survey, now has 4 women directors, perhaps due in part to their Women’s Roundtable, which was started in 2011.

The group has been focused on those in leadership and has about 350 members, but is transitioning to welcoming all associates, including men, and hopes to reach 1,000 members by the end of the year, said Roundtable chair Donna Anderson.

The group hosts quarterly two-hour Diversity Dialogues on topics such as the obstacles faced in negotiation and networking.

“You don’t ever get good at having uncomfortable conversations if you don’t practice,” Anderson said.

The group’s mentorship program, which pairs females in mid-level management positions with women in senior leadership position, is in its third year, and includes about 20 pairs. Each pair is given 12 discussion topics, one per month, Anderson said.

The group also found that a disproportionate number of men came into the business with experience discussing stocks, so it set up a training program for female first-year MBA students.

Other approaches

Other companies noted on the survey for having large numbers or percentages of female directors pursued different strategies.

For example, Marriott International, which has four female directors according to the Executive Alliance study, established a Women’s Leadership Development Initiative in 1999, offers 70-day job-protected and 10-day fully paid maternity and paternity leave, and childcare subsidies.

At Lockheed Martin, which was on the businesses on the honor roll of the Executive Alliance study, diversity councils drive inclusion efforts.

As for Executive Alliance, Coughlin said it is reaching out to public companies in the area, as well as the governor’s appointments office, to make them aware of qualified female candidates for their boards.

Supporters of paid sick leave call for override of Gov. Hogan’s veto

May 30, 2017
by Tom Roussey
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KENSINGTON, Md. (ABC7) — Several dozen people rallied in Kensington Tuesday afternoon, calling on the Maryland General Assembly to override the governor’s veto of a paid sick time bill. Republican Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the bill on Thursday, saying it would be “disastrous to our state economy.”

The bill the General Assembly passed would have required five days of paid sick time at businesses with 15 or more employees.

The governor proposed a plan to give five days of paid sick time at businesses with 50 or more employees. He also wants to give tax breaks to encourage businesses smaller than that to provide paid sick time.

“For companies of over 50 people – businesses that size already provide that kind of benefit because it’s a competitive advantage,” said State Senator Cheryl Kagan (D – Rockville/Gaithersburg), who plans to vote to override the veto.

She spoke at Tuesday’s rally and says Hogan’s bill won’t help the employees of smaller businesses who need paid sick leave the most. Speakers at the rally said the bill would be a big help for families who have to take care of sick children.

But Hogan, who pulled off a rare win by a Republican in Maryland in part by running against what he calls excessive burdens on businesses, says the bill was “poorly written” and “deeply flawed.” 

“If we allowed this legislation to go into effect next January…it would make Maryland less competitive in our region,” Hogan said Thursday while announcing he was vetoing the bill. “It would kill small businesses and jeopardize thousands of Maryland jobs.”

There is not likely to be any resolution for the bill until the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Although it passed both houses with veto-proof majorities, supporters of an override cannot afford to lose even a single vote in the state senate. The bill passed there with 29 votes, which is the minimum needed to override a veto. No Republican state senators voted for the bill, and four Democrats joined them in voting no.

Barve & Kagan Brief Gaithersburg on Legislature

May 4, 2017
by Peter Rouleau
The Sentinel Newspaper
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GAITHERSBURG – Legislators from the 17th District visited City Hall Monday night to brief Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council on key issues addressed in the recently concluded legislative session.

Del. Kumar Barve (D), chairman of the Environment and Transportation Committee, discussed the “thorny” issue of stormwater management fees and securing reimbursement from Montgomery County for Gaithersburg and Rockville.

Barve noted that he drafted legislation to negotiate a compromise between the County and municipal governments that passed his committee and the House of Delegates by a wide majority but that it stalled in the Senate because the chairman there was “skittish” about the issue.

“I think I have a way around the problem. I don’t want to say what it is yet, but I think next year will be the charm,” Barve said. “I was very heartened to hear representatives from Montgomery County government tell me that regardless of whether a bill passes next year or not – and I’m very committed to passing a bill – that they felt that the negotiated compromise we were able to get to was a good template.”

“We’re appreciative for all you did to get it as far as you did, and we’re optimistic that your strategy will get it done next year,” Ashman said.

Early last year, Ashman and the Council were incensed to learn that the Hogan administration had scaled back funds for a long-planned interchange at I-270 and Watkins Mill Road and have since aggressively lobbied for funding the construction of the full interchange, arguing that the project is essential to the economic health of Gaithersburg and the entire upcounty region.

At last year’s legislative update, Barve said he had confronted Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn about the funding reduction, echoing the city government’s concerns.

“For the second year in a row, a bill was introduced by Delegate Kirill Reznick to basically force the governor to fund the interchange, and for the second year in a row we felt that discretion was the better part of valor and did not move forward,” Barve said. “We’ve been assured that the governor and the secretary of transportation are committed to the project.”

Barve said he expected the interchange project to get underway next year.

Barve said one of the most important projects his committee was responsible for in this year’s session was passing a ban on fracking in Maryland.

“It passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan margins, it involved the House and the Senate, and I think that’s that an example of what you can do when you spend two years examining the science behind an issue and building a coalition of business people and environmentalists,” Barve said. “You can defeat the oil and gas industry occasionally.”

Del. Jim Gilchrest (D) discussed the legislature’s effort to grant the state’s attorney general powers comparable to those of other state attorneys general to sue the federal government.

“We provided authority this year for the attorney general this year the power to engage in civil and criminal suits based on federal action or inaction,” Gilchrest said. “We laid out a number of specifics. We talked about the health and safety of Marylanders, natural resources and health of residents. It’s something the attorney general hasn’t had but now does.”

Gilchrest said the legislature had limited the use of antibiotics in livestock.

“That’s one of the ways that bacteria are becoming superbugs, so we passed a bill to significantly limit that,” Gilchrest said.

Gilchrest also said that he had worked to pass legislation granting state municipalities more authority over Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission projects, which Gaithersburg’s legislative affairs department identified as a priority last year.

In her remarks, Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D) said that the legislative session had begun and ended with overrides of Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes. In January, the legislature overrode Hogan’s veto of a law requiring 25 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources, and in the final week of the session, it overrode his veto of the Protect Our Schools Act, which prevents the board of education from privatizing low-performing public schools.

Kagan said the legislature had taken “preventative and precautionary measures” in response to the sweeping federal budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration.

“We were the first state in the country to ensure that if Planned Parenthood loses its funding that we will still provide reproductive health care for women and men,” Kagan said. Kagan also said the legislature was also concerned by the Trump administration’s proposed elimination of funding for cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay.

“We’ve made so much progress on the environment that the idea of backsliding is just irresponsible for our economy, for tourism and for all of our health,” Kagan said.

“The legislature enacted a law that would provide paid sick leave for companies with 15 or more employees,” Kagan said. “This exempts our smallest businesses, which would face a hardship, but it really guarantees that employees don’t have to face a choice between staying home with a sick child or being sick themselves and going into work that day. We may or may not see a veto by this governor on that.”

Kagan expressed frustration that the legislature again failed to pass a law ending parental rights for rapists.

“Unfortunately, for the ninth year, a woman who was raped and becomes pregnant as a result continues, in Maryland, to need her rapist’s permission if she chooses to continue her pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption,” Kagan said. “The women’s caucus and I were disappointed that the conference committee was six men for something that so fundamentally affects women.”

Auditors say Maryland election board put voters’ personal data at risk

April 28, 2017
by Michael Dresser
Baltimore Sun
View the Full Article Here

A report released by legislative auditors Friday says the State Board of Elections needlessly exposed the full Social Security numbers of almost 600,000 voters to potential hacking, risking theft of those voters’ identities.

The determination that election officials did not fully protect voters’ personal information was one of several highly critical findings in the report. The audit also faulted state election officials’ handling of issues including ballot security, disaster preparedness, contracting and balancing its books.

State lawmakers called for a hearing in response to the Office of Legislative Audits report, which prompted strong reaction from critics of the board and its longtime administrator, Linda H. Lamone.

“This audit is an A-to-Z criticism of the way the board operates,” said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland School of Law. He said the “damning” findings call for the establishment of an independent, bipartisan commission of computer experts to examine the board’s handling of information technology issues.

Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said the report underscores some of the Republican governor’s longtime concerns about a “lack of executive oversight” at the board, where the day-to-day management is outside the administration’s control.

“This is a perfect example of why those concerns are valid,” Mayer said. “Properly securing Maryland’s election data is critically important and needs to be given the utmost priority.”

Lamone said she agreed with most of the auditor’s findings, but “virtually everything” they identified has already been addressed.

“We were working on a lot of these things even before the auditors came in,” she said.

The audit found that the board needlessly retained the full nine-digit Social Security numbers of about 592,000 active and inactive voters in its data base — or almost 15 percent of the state’s 4.1 million registered voters — when only the last four digits were needed. The report said the board then shared voters’ personal information — including driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of Social Security numbers — with a third-party organization without ensuring that the data was safeguarded.

The organization that received the data is the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonprofit that helps state election officials around the country identify ineligible voters. While auditors did not question the board’s cooperation with ERIC, they said state officials had not received sufficient assurances that ERIC and its outside contractor were adequately protecting data.

Auditors warned that such information is frequently the target of criminals attempting identity theft.

Aviel Rubin, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University who has frequently sounded alarms about election security, said the report “exposes a lack of best practices in the area of securing personal voter data and protecting the information in their databases.”

“This report tells me that the [elections board] is way behind the high-tech industry in maintaining the availability and security of their information,” Rubin said. He said the board “needs to get its act together and catch up with best practices in the industry.”

Lamone said she’s confident in the protections her agency has adopted to prevent hacking. She said officials do not ask for voters’ full nine-digit Social Security numbers, but sometimes people voluntarily provide that information on registration forms.

The information the state provides to ERIC doesn’t include full Social Security numbers and is encrypted before it is sent, Lamone said. “You can’t get into ERIC data. There’s no way” she said.

Lamone rejected Greenberger’s call for an independent commission as unnecessary.

“I think we’re doing everything we can here,” she said.

Lamone was appointed elections administrator under Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening in 1997. Under current law, the administrator is appointed by the five-member state board, which the governor is allowed to fill with three members of his own party. Hogan’s board has a 3-2 Republican majority, but state law requires a 4-1 vote for the board to take action. Lamone has kept her job with the support of the the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders.

In addition to the finding on Social Security numbers, the audit identified several other lapses in the state elections process and in board operations. According to auditors:

  • The board did not ensure the accuracy of its voter registration rolls and allowed too many people — its employees and those of local election boards, as well as contractors — to have access to that database when they did not need it for their job duties.
  • Officials allowed voters to receive ballots solely by providing publicly available information such as name, address and date of birth. Auditors recommended they also require information such as the last four digits of the Social Security number to guard against voter fraud.
  • The board could not document why it awarded two contracts worth $18.8 million without competition. Auditors also found other violations of state procurement rules.
  • The agency ended its 2015 budget year with a deficit of $3.4 million that it could not explain.

Greenberger said the report’s findings are consistent with his dealings with the board over the years. He said Lamone has run the board as a “personal fiefdom” and has dismissed criticism by outside information technology experts as partisan attacks by Republicans.

The board’s problems have less to do with dishonesty than with defensiveness and incompetence, Greenberger said.

“It is one day going to play out during an election where the results will be called into question and there will be no adequate audit trail to determine who the winner of the election is,” he said.

Two senators, one from each party and both critics of Lamone, called for the legislature’s Joint Audit Committee to meet this summer to delve more deeply into the findings.

“There are certainly things [in the report] I’d think would be troublesome to our voters,” said Sen. Gail Bates, a Howard County Republican.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat, said the agency has long been mismanaged.

“We’ve got a big election next year and voters have to have confidence that our State Board of Elections is performing in tip-top shape,” she said. “This audit is clear evidence we’re not there yet.”

Md. Gen. Assembly All-Male Panel Made Decision On Rape Legislation

April 17, 2017
CBS Baltimore
View the Full Article Here

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In a decision made by an all-male committee, Md. Gen Assembly did not pass legislation that would allow rape victims to terminate the parental rights of their rapist.

The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Kathless Dumais, failed on the last day of General Assembly.

Both the House and Senate passed bills that made it through both chambers, and the committee was of three delegates and three senators was called together to reconcile differences between the two bills. The meeting was set for the last day of General Assembly, but was not passed because of the committee ran out of time.

Our Media Partner, the Baltimore Sun, reports that committee members were chosen by Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Senator Cheryl Kagan, who watched the all-male conference work, says “Although I have great respect for my colleagues, not having women on the committee was tone-deaf.”

The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act would have created a process to allow a rape victim to terminate the rights of a rapist, if the rape victim became pregnant from the rape.

The lack of women on the committee has prompted coverage from several media outlets, including The Daily Beast, and reaction from sexual assault survivor advocacy groups like MCASA, Maryland Coalition, which lobbied for the bill.

MCASA’s Executive Director and Counsel, Lisae C. Jordan, noted that several of the panel members were long-time supporters of the bill, including Senator Will Smith, and Delegates David Moon and Brett Wilson.

“Some of the legislators on the committee unquestionably care about rape survivors and co-sponsored the bills. At the same time, the committee would have benefited from including women legislators,” says Smith in a statement.

This was the ninth time Del. Dumais has introduced this bill into the Maryland legislature.

According to The Sun, Maryland is one of 16 states that has not passed such a law. Women here still have to negotiate with an alleged rapist over custody or putting the child up for adoption.

State Roundup, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017
View the Full Article Here

‘TONE DEAF:’ As the 2017 legislative session wound down Monday evening, five men sat on couches in a lounge inside Maryland’s State House. They would soon decide the fate of a bill that would allow a woman who is raped and conceives a child to terminate the parental rights of her assailant, writes Catherine Rentz of the Sun. “Although I have great respect for colleagues, not having women on the committee was tone-deaf,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who stood over over the men at the conference with her arms crossed, overseeing the group with Sen. Delores G. Kelley.

Gov. Hogan Signs Emergency Bill Creating Regional WMATA Compact

March 30, 2017
Montgomery Community Media
View the Full Article Here

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed emergency legislation creating a compact between Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. to create a new safety oversight commission for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

The governor was joined by Senate President Mike Miller, House Speaker Mike Busch, and several Montgomery County legislators including, Senator Brian Feldman, Senator Cheryl Kagan, Delegate Kumar Barve and Delegate Alfred Carr for the signing.

“Collaboration between Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. is crucial to ensure the safety and security of WMATA,” said Hogan. “I would like to thank Governor McAuliffe and Mayor Bowser for their partnership in an oversight commission that will help make sure that millions of Metro riders have access to a world-class public transportation system.”

The legislation, which was filed as an emergency Maryland Department of Transportation departmental bill, officially establishes the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission and the Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact granting the Commission specified safety, regulatory, and enforcement authority over the WMATA system.

The creation of the compact is contingent upon passage of identical legislation in Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Washington, D.C. City Council passed the legislation in December 2016 and the Virginia General Assembly passed it in March 2017.

Powerful Women Leaders: Senator Cheryl Kagan

March 8, 2017
by Kelly Livingston
College Magazine
View the Full Article Here

No one dissents quite like Senator Cheryl Kagan. On inauguration day she held an UnNaugural Concert to raise money for many of the causes Trump poses a threat to. Bringing 500 people together the day before the Women’s March, in solidarity against a hateful agenda, is just one of the ways Senator Kagan has doubled down to do the work that needs to be done. A firm believer in the power of women’s voices to make a difference, she refuses to sit down and stay quiet. We’re going to need more fearless women like her in our push to reach 50% of women in congress by 2050.

1983 – Graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor’s degree in political science

1994 – Elected to the Maryland House of Delegates

2014 – Elected to the Maryland State Senate

Q: At College Magazine we’re working together with EMILY’s List, Emerge America, Human Rights Campaign, Higher Heights, She Should Run, Victory Fund and IGNITE on an initiative to fight for equal representation in congress called “50 by 2050.” What are your thoughts on the goal of achieving 50 percent of women in Congress by 2050?

A: Oh my gosh. I think it’s fantastic and important and we can start at the state legislative level. Years ago I worked at the National Women’s Political Caucus and we used to talk about the pipeline. It doesn’t always happen this way, but most of the time, people start in local government in elected office and work their way up. So we need to start by electing women as council members and commissioners and then state legislators and ultimately send them to Congress—to bring a woman’s voice and perspective and life experience to Washington.

Certainly there are women who’ve served in the military or who’ve run businesses or who’ve been community activists or nonprofit leaders who can go straight to Congress, but oftentimes it can be useful to get state or local experience in elected office first.

Q: How did you decide that you wanted to get involved in politics? What inspired you?

A: Let me tell you a story about when I was at Vassar. I always thought that being a person who supported peace and freedom and equality and justice and clean environments and a reasonable budget, I always thought that made me a moderate. And I discovered my first semester, freshman year, that made me a liberal. I decided that I needed to get involved in politics and the first of those ideas was that I needed to engage on those issues.

I ended up walking in off the street as a volunteer in a presidential campaign—and ended up as paid staff on the floor of the democratic convention by the end of that summer. This was 1980. It was on Ted Kennedy’s presidential campaign and, as a Marylander, it was easy for me to get on a bus and go down to D.C. to the national office and work with and get to know some of the top leaders of the national campaign headquarters.

There are very many exciting attributes or benefits of being involved in politics. One is the really smart, passionate, and effective leaders you get to know and work with. And another is, truly, one person can make a difference. I had that experience in college and its part of what inspired me to get connected politically.

I will tell you, the morning after election day, this past November, when many of us were pretty despondent and frightened by the election results, I was thinking about what I could do—because I couldn’t single-handedly protect the Supreme Court or change the election results. But I came up with the idea of combining my political skills, my fundraising skills, and my connections in the music world—I’ve hosted a music series for 15 years—and I ended up founding and producing an UnNaugural concert.

I ended up getting five performers. We raised money for five protective causes. Specifically ACLU, Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation Voters, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. We raised $60,000 and had 500 seats sell out a few weeks in advance. And that was one person’s idea and then recruiting a bunch of folks to be engaged and I had a wonderful steering committee and amazing performers and generous donors and I had two county executives, I had the attorney general of Maryland. I had a member of Congress and local elected officials and legislators. So I think that one person with passion and vision and the ability to recruit support from others, and use social media and reach out to the community and be organized and effective, any one person can make a difference.

I served 8 years in the House, and a lot of times, once people are elected they kind of stay elected. And I think people stay in office too long sometimes and I decided not to seek re-election after 8 years and went back into the community and ran a charitable foundation and stayed active in politics and in the community and it’s 12 years later that I came back and was elected to the senate. While I believe we must have more women running and serving in elected office, one doesn’t always need a fancy title in order to make a difference.

Q: What issues are you most passionate about?

A: I consider myself to be the senator for the nonprofit sector. Because of my background I have been a founder, a funder, a volunteer, a board member, so there’s a lot I am doing and have done for that sector. I have two nonprofit bills this year, both of which are moving, which is exciting. One of them establishes a short-term microbridge loan for nonprofits that have government grants or contracts that are coming through, but sometimes the bureaucracy around getting the money processed can cause such a delay that it causes a cash flow crisis and they just need 5 or 10 thousand dollars to pay staff and pay their rent and all of that in order to continue focusing on their mission. So this is a new fund that I take it will have a great impact for the sector. So working for and advocating for the nonprofit sector is really important to me.

I have three consumer bills this year. They deal with consumer privacy and data protection and bait and switch issues, so I’m working on those. And also, my district is comprised of two large municipalities. So I also work very hard on issues that effect municipalities.

And I will mention one more issue. I was a lobbyist with Jim and Sarah Brady on gun control issues—the handgun waiting period—the Brady Bill, as well as the assault weapons ban back in the ‘90s. So public safety is something that I have often been focused on.

Q: Over the last few months in particular, we’ve seen a lot more women running for office. How do you feel that will end up shaping our political landscape?

A: I think that our president scares a lot of us—terrifies a lot of us. So whether it’s about our reproductive choices, the denial of climate change, his hateful and divisive thoughts on immigration, or his foreign policy priorities—I think a lot of us are deeply concerned and have decided to speak out in a way that many have never done before. And that does make a difference. Keep doing it.

It may sometimes feel discouraging and progress can be hard to spot sometimes—it can be incremental, it can be slow—but smart, talented, effective, constructive thoughtful activism is very effective. And elected officials hear it and see it, so keep doing it. We really have to speak out. It is the only way that members of Congress, and members of the executive branch, will hear us.

There is much study that shows that men self-identify but women have to be asked to run. So consider yourself having been asked and never say never. Pay it forward. Talk to other women about running. We all just have to encourage each other. We don’t have to know every issue before ever running, we just have to jump in and be willing to take a try. Get out there and talk to people and listen and learn.

Q: Can you speak a little bit about your experience running for the senate?

A: Well I ran twice. As I said, I had run, I had served 8 years in the house. To be elected to the house was a ten-way race. There were two incumbents and then 8 of us going for the third seat—a former legislator, a former county council member, it was a good field and I just had to out-hustle and out-door-knock, and I did, and I won my first race—which doesn’t often happen for folks. Then I thought about running for the senate and I didn’t do it—my senator said she wanted one more term. And then four years later I thought about running for the senate and I talked to her and she said she wanted just one more term. And our terms are four years, so this is a long time. So I challenged her. She had been in office 32 years and I thought that was plenty long enough.

So I ran. I was endorsed by The Washington Post, all of green groups, the women’s groups, the largest chamber of commerce and the largest union. I really had a great coalition of supporters, but she had 32 years and incumbency and all of that and I lost by 300-something votes, and I was ok with that. I was like, “Ok, I get my life back.” But then the calls started coming for me to run the next term, and I didn’t want to do it because it was hard and you really have to put your life on hold. And long story short, it turns out that my successor in the House turns out to be a bad guy. He was bad on domestic violence and guns and just was really disliked.

I took him on. He out-spent me by a lot but I had a lot of money, I had a lot of supporters, and ultimately beat him handily, but it was a pretty brutal race and I had been warned that he would take no prisoners, and that was true.

Q: What do you think has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

A: The UnNaugural was pretty amazing. To give 500 people an opportunity to find a safe haven, an ability to be joyous and celebrate and be inspired and be ready to engage and speak out for the next four years while raising money. That was pretty amazing.

I just found out yesterday, for what it’s worth, that I was named one of Maryland’s top 100 women, and it was the third time, which means I’m going to be inducted into the Circle of Excellence which is like a hall of fame.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: Run! Run, run, run. Women need to run. We need more women’s voices in our legislatures at all levels.

1. Get involved

“Get involved in whatever makes you passionate—whatever issue, whatever candidate, it doesn’t matter,” said Kagan. “Pick something that motivates you and know that you will need to start small. Volunteer for anything that makes a difference.”

2. Be accountable

“Be reliable. Be enthusiastic. Stay in touch with people that you meet. Build a network,” said Kagan.

3. Be careful what you put online

“Use social media, but use it wisely—and remember that your Facebook posts or tweets can come back to haunt you, so be savvy about that,” said Kagan.

Dems move to rescind Md. calls for U.S. constitutional convention

March 2, 2017
by Dan Menefee
Maryland Reporter
View the Full Article Here

Responding to fears about how President Trump and a runaway constitutional convention might tamper with the U.S. Constitution, Democrats at the State House are moving closer to rescinding decades-old calls for a constitutional convention to deal with issues of the day.

A Senate resolution that would “rescind, repeal, cancel, void, nullify, and supersede” four historical applications to the U.S. Congress for a convention was adopted in the Senate on Thursday. Republicans fought in vain for an amendment to keep the 1975 call for a balanced budget open for seven years.

The measure, SJ2, heads for a final vote on Friday where passage is expected. The House Rules Committee takes up its version of the bill, HJ2, on Friday.

“We as a legislature need to take a stand and ask the federal government to…balance the budget,” said Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings in floor debate on Thursday.
Jennings said at the time of the 1975 call the federal debt was $503 billion, 33% of gross domestic product (GDP), but today’s $20 trillion debt is now at 105% of GDP — and represents a national security threat that has brought stern warnings from former military leaders and heads of state.

Debt worse than enemies

Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, said great civilizations like the Romans and Greeks fell to staggering debt and unaffordable social programs, not war.

“They did not fall from the outside they imploded,” Serafini said. “The biggest threat to our country would be our debt.”

Serafini said both political parties were responsible for the behemoth national debt.

“It is a bipartisan problem, the Republicans have added to this debt as much as the Democrats,” he said.

He said most of the U.S. debt is owned by foreign governments that could bring ruin to the United States be simply selling off the debt.

“All they have to do is sell the U.S. Bonds they hold,” Serafini said. “It would be devastating. “They don’t have to fire one missile or put any military boots on the ground.”

He said the ruin would come in a matter of days.

Fear of Republican states

Democrats shot down the amendment over fears that 33 Republican-led states could use Maryland’s open calls to move for a convention and advance a conservative agenda that would not be limited to a single topic. Currently 28 states have calls for a balanced budget, among other calls.

“It would leave open very broad agenda items,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery. “It’s those who are in the room that make the rules and they can do whatever they want.”

It takes 34 states, two-thirds, to call a convention and 38 to ratify any changes to the Constitution, four-fifths. But fears have been raised in some Democrat states that their open calls could be used to get to the magic number of 34. Delaware recently passed a similar measure to void its calls.

Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery,the lead sponsor of the resolution, said the language in Jenning’s amendment would broaden the scope of Maryland’s participation in a convention.

“It says we are willing to have our call grouped into whatever other calls different states have made,” He said. He said there were different calls from other states on a wide range of subjects.

“This [amendment] is dangerously broad as far as what we would now be going on record to do,” Madaleno said. “We should not be lumping ourselves in with those states that passed very different [calls].

Balanced budget ties hands

Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, argued that a balanced budget amendment at the federal level would have tied former President Obama’s hands from borrowing the U.S. economy out of the 2008 recession. Pinsky said the last time the country had a balanced budget was under former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.

Since 1939 the Maryland General Assembly has made four requests for a convention under Article 5 of the Constitution. They called for limiting federal taxing power, apportioning legislative bodies, allowing school prayer and mandating a balanced federal budget.


Bill would give local school officials flexibility over calendars

February 24, 2017
by Tim Tooten
View the Full Article Here

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill in the General Assembly would give school districts more flexibility in setting yearly calendars. 

This comes on the heels of Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order to end school by June 15 and start fall classes after Labor Day, and what’s being discussed has everything to do with the weather.

It didn’t take Senate Bill 153 very long to get the thumbs up from members of the Maryland state Senate. It’s a bill that would give local school boards the power to adjust their academic year by up to five days without having to go to the state board to request a waiver. This applies to days students are forced to take off when the governor has declared a state of emergency.

“If there’s a year when we use eight or 10 snow days, they need to have some flexibility. So this would give them up to five days to play with before they would have to (go to) the state board for a waiver,” said Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery County.

By law, Maryland students must attend school 180 days except when weather is a factor. Some lawmakers said the legislation not only gives local boards flexibility, but gives them their voice back following the governor’s executive order to start school after Labor Day.

“The executive order by this governor made no sense. It was disrespectful to locally elected officials, and the state felt like it was time to step in and offer a balance,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery County.

“We go from one side, we talk about school after Labor Day, where it’s a state issue, and then back to local control, so I support this from the local control,” said Sen. Jim Mathias, D-Eastern Shore.

The bill could come up for a third reading by next week. Most lawmakers expect it will pass without a problem.

Area school systems build in anywhere from three to seven days for snow for the year. So far this year, most districts have not used the snow days.




Nonprofit Bridge Loan Program Hearing on Feb. 14th
Sen. Kagan seeks to eliminate cash flow troubles
for nonprofits with government grants or contracts 

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
(301) 858-3134

Annapolis, MD: Nonprofits provide vital services to our communities, addressing needs like hunger, homelessness, health care, and illiteracy. Many of these organizations operate on government grants or contracts that reimburse them for costs rather than providing the funding up front. Meanwhile, the nonprofits still have to pay rent, staff, utilities, and other expenses– resulting in short-term cash-flow problems.

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (District 17, Gaithersburg & Rockville) has introduced legislation, SB465, to create a “Nonprofit, Interest-free, Micro-Bridge Loan” (NIMBL) program to solve this problem. The revolving fund would allow nonprofits to borrow up to $25,000 interest-free. The loans must be repaid within 60 days of receiving the pledged funds.

Kagan’s bill, drafted in cooperation with Maryland Nonprofits and with insights from her Nonprofit Advisory Group, is co-sponsored by an impressive 44 of her 46 Senate colleagues and will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, February 14th at 1pm.

“Nonprofits are an integral part of Maryland’s economy, with 10% of Marylanders employed by the sector,” said Senator Kagan, adding that, “taking care of nonprofits is an essential aspect of taking care of our most vulnerable populations.

Click here to view the full press release.


Press Release: Hearing for Sen. Kagan’s 9-1-1 Legislation Scheduled for Feb. 14th
Advancing our 9-1-1 systems to “NextGen” technology 

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
(301) 858-3134

Annapolis, MD: When Carl Henn, a Rockville resident, was struck by lightning in 2010, many came to his aid by calling 9-1-1 for assistance. Tragically, they all got busy signals. Mr. Henn died. Another Rockville resident, Marlon Somarriba, died last summer while his loved ones dialed 9-1-1 repeatedly during a system outage.

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (District 17, Rockville & Gaithersburg) has introduced a multi-faceted bill, SB466, to update our 9-1-1 centers to the “Next Generation” of emergency technology and collaborate on best practices.

“Our region is at risk of massive 9-1-1 disruptions from severe weather incidents; major transportation accidents; or– heaven forbid– a terrorist attack,” said Senator Kagan. “When people dial 9-1-1, they expect someone to answer and dispatch first responders immediately,” she added.

Kagan has visited 9-1-1 centers across the State over the past two years, and her bill was crafted with a broad coalition of emergency professionals. The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Finance Chair “Mac” Middleton and will be heard in his committee on Tuesday, February 14th at 1pm.

“My bill would help transition Maryland’s 9-1-1 centers to “NextGen” technology, ensuring that our residents can rely on a world-class response in times of crises,” said Senator Kagan, adding, “9-1-1 systems are the backbone of our public safety apparatus; if they fail, people die.

Click here to view the full press release.

Acts Warm up for Sold Out UnNaugural Concert (Photos & Video)

January 20, 2017
Montgomery Community Media
by Phyllis Armstrong
View the Full Article (Including Photos & Video From the UnNaugural Concert!) Here

Progressive-minded people, political leaders and representatives from nonprofit organizations are preparing to show support for their causes at tonight’s UnNaugural Concert.

Tickets are sold out for the 500-seat auditorium inside the Cultural Arts Center at Montgomery College in Silver Spring. Five musical acts are performing at tonight’s concert.

Nationally-touring groups, including Sweet Honey in the Rock, Brother Sun, Josh White, Jr., Tret Fire and Emma’s Revolution prepared for the concert with sound checks at the Cultural Arts Center.

Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan organized the event to raise money for progressive organizations whose missions are targets of the Trump administration. “Tonight’s concert will be a positive and uplifting way to kick off this weekend when countless numbers of women and men will gather to show their support of progressive causes and make their voices heard at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday,” says Kagan.

Several of Montgomery County’s elected officials are making remarks at tonight’s event, including County Executive Ike Leggett and Congressman Jamie Raskin.

Proceeds from the UnNaugural Concert will go to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters, the National LGBTQ Task Force and Planned Parenthood. Contributions for these groups are being accepted at

Opposition holds alternative inauguration events

January 17, 2017
by Kristi King
View the Full Article Here

WASHINGTON — While Donald Trump celebrates this week with a Thursday concert and inaugural balls Friday, alternative events will host people who don’t support the incoming administration.

The venues and related entertainment are diverse, happening everywhere from the Black Cat on 14th Street NW to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.

But, the events share a theme.

“We can stay focused on the issues, focused on the opportunity to mobilize to speak out and to do our jobs as Americans,” said Maryland Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who is hosting Friday’s UnNaugural Concert in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Most of the events have reached capacity or are sold out, but Kagan hopes the spirit of their intentions will endure. 

“Protest where appropriate, but stay engaged and advocate for the issues that concern us most,” Kagan said.

Kagan’s sold-out event will benefit Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

“We’ve got folks from 19 states that’ve bought tickets,” Kagan said.
A concert Thursday evening at the 9:30 club in Northwest D.C. will feature rapper Common and indie rock band The National.

“Show Up! Is more than a concert — it’s a call to action for supporters of reproductive freedom to take action wherever they are,” Planned Parenthood said on its website.

It’s unclear whether tickets are available to the public, DCist reports organizations partnering for the event will be given tickets to distribute.

At last check there were still $15 tickets to the all-ages DISRUPT J20: A Benefit for Diverse City Fund concert being held at the Rock & Roll Hotel, on H Street Northeast, 8 p.m. Friday.

Many of the gatherings also will act as fundraisers “to raise money for causes that are most threatened by the incoming administration,” Kagan said of her UnNaugural Concert.

Montgomery County leaders breakdown hopes for 2017 legislative session

January 11, 2017
by Emilie Ikeda
View the Full Article Here

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. – “If we could get the Highway User Revenue restored, Storm Water Management fees paid and full funding for our schools, I think it would be a home run for all of us in the State of Maryland,” said Mayor Bridget Newton, City of Rockville.

Mayor Newton may not be calling the shots in the legislative session, but for the most part, she is on the same page as state senators from Montgomery County, who you will catch in Annapolis today.


“Our state has challenges,” said Senator Cheryl Kagan, District 17. “We’ve slipped in our education standing, [and] we’ve got budgetary challenges.”

Maryland schools continue to fall in national rankings, according to Education Week’s analysis, this time from fourth to fifth.

“Education is the path forward,” said Newton. “It is the greatest equalizer there is.”

MCPS is requesting $119 million from the state to support its construction program this year.

Storm Water Management

As Storm Water Management projects spread throughout the county, many government officials are hoping for help paying the fees.

“We all want to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and we agree that we need to be doing these steps, but these steps are very, very expensive,” said Newton.

Right now, several municipalities are responsible to pay for storm water management.

Mayor Newton believes the county, state and school systems should contribute to coverage as well.


As a county bordering our nation’s capital, a large priority this session is focused on smoothing over transportation.

“Transportation is vital to Maryland’s economic success,” said Kagan. “If people can’t get to work [or] can’t get to their jobs, we lose.”

So, the county’s legislative body is pushing for things like funding for Interstate-270 and the establishment of a Safety Oversight Agency for Metro.

But with a very blue county and a red governor, Senator Kagan is concerned with compromise the year before local elections.

“When we’re all figuring out what’s our next step, I think a lot of people are going to be looking to establish themselves,” said Kagan. “I think it’s going to be more partisan than it’s been, as we start to look towards a reelection year.”

An UnNaugural Concert Set for Jan. 20 in Silver Spring

January 5, 2017
Montgomery Community Media
by Phyllis Armstrong
View the Full Article Here

UPDATED 1.5.17 The UnNaugural Concert has sold out, according to organizer Cheryl Kagan.

An “unNaugural” concert to raise funds for national progressive organizations is scheduled to be held at 7:30 p.m. on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, at the Cultural Arts Center on the campus of Montgomery College in Silver Spring.

“Progressive activists are dreading Inauguration Day,” said State Senator Cheryl Kagan, who is the event’s executive producer. “Folks are looking for something positive and uplifting to do that night.

According to Kagan, profits from the event will be donated to five national advocacy organizations: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Planned Parenthood.

Five nationally-touring singer/songwriters and groups are slated to perform, including headliner Sweet Honey in the Rock, Brother Sun(Pat Wictor, Joe Jencks, Greg Greenway), Josh White, Jr., Tret Fure, and Emma’s Revolution.

Concert organizers say they chose the name “unNaugural” as a way to differentiate this event from the official presidential inaugural events being held the same night.

“Women and men from around the country are coming to the DC-area for the Women’s March on January 21st,” said Kagan. “The concert the night before will help kick off a weekend of gathering to speak out on progressive causes.”

UnNaugural organizers from Maryland, Virginia, New York, West Virginia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania are working together to finalize the details of the event, Kagan said.

Tickets range in price from $25 for students, $60 for persons with limited incomes, $100 for a standard reserved ticket, and $250 for a VIP ticket, which includes reserved parking and a post-show reception with the performers. Sponsorships are also available.

For more information, visit the event’s website, here.

7 On Your Side: Md. state senator upset over return policy

December 28, 2016
by Kimberly Suiters
View the Full Article (and Watch the Video!) Here

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (ABC7) — Montgomery County State Senator Cheryl Kagan is upset over a return policy that allows retailers to gather personal data from consumers.

Senator Kagan will introduce legislation in Maryland to limit license scanning of consumer data. Nine other states currently have similar laws.
Some consumers are split on whether they are willing to give up private data to return items to stores.

Seven On Your Side investigator Kimberly Suiters has more on this story.

Year in Review: Hate Incidents Roil County Known for its Inclusion

December 27, 2016
Bethesda Magazine
by Douglas Tallman
View the Full Article Here

In a county that prides itself on a population drawn from 170 countries, the hate incidents of 2016 came as a shock. As the year drew to a close, swastikas were drawn igniting concerns and forcing action by county institutions.

None of the incidents have resulted in arrests, police said recently, though the cases remain under investigation.

“Detectives have very little information and few leads, if any, to go on with the open cases and are still asking for anybody with information to come forward,” Montgomery County police Officer Rick Goodale said.

In some incidents, the hate images were scrawled on the walls of elementary and middle school bathrooms. In others, church signs were defaced. Vandals used a “caustic substance” to burn a swastika into the grass of an athletic field. Spray paint was used on school signs and on a homeowner’s door.

Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Derek Turner said only one school case resulted in punishment. That case occurred earlier this month when someone put a “Whites Only” sign on a restroom door at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac. According to a report in The Washington Post, students found the sign and “posted it to see how people would react.” Turner would not describe the punishment that students received.

An incident at Silver Spring’s Sligo Creek Elementary School, originally described as racial slurs scratched on a wall, was actually just an act of vandalism, according to a letter that went home to parents.

“The investigation revealed that the message, which was scratched into the wall and not written on as originally believed, consisted of the text ‘Kill Kill B.’ It was concluded that while there is evidence of the crime of vandalism, there is no evidence to show that it was a hate crime, or biased based,” wrote Matthew A. Devan, MCPS director of school support and improvement.

The spate of hate graffiti prompted the County Council on Nov. 15 to issue a resolution condemning the incidents. County Executive Ike Leggett hosted a rally in downtown Silver Spring on Nov. 20 that drew more than 1,000 people to reaffirm the county’s values of diversity, inclusion and respect for all.

Efforts to determine the reasons behind the hate incidents have sparked some debate. Some, like state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Rockville), blame the rhetoric from President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign.

In an address at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville on Dec. 16, Gov. Larry Hogan looked at the issue more broadly.

“I think there’s a lot of frustration and anger out there in the country, and we need to figure out a way to bring everyone together,” the Republican governor said.

Two weeks before, Kagan had engaged in a Twitter war of words with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. Kagan tweeted her shock that Rutherford had said at a meeting in Potomac the night before that he was perplexed by recent increase in hate crimes in the United States. In his tweet reply, Rutherford said hate is not new and he’d “rather people show their real colors than hide.”

A timeline for hate incidents:

April 27: Swastikas spray-painted at Welsh Park on Mannakee Street and at Beall Elementary School in Rockville. A witness told police he saw two teenage boys spray-painting swastikas in a wooded area near the school, but police were not able to locate the suspects.

Oct. 28: Someone used a “caustic substance” to create a swastika on the grass of the Quince Orchard High School football field in Gaithersburg. A vehicle was captured by surveillance video.

Oct. 31: Swastikas and other inappropriate images were spray-painted on banners, sidewalks and telephone poles at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda.

Nov. 11: Multiple swastikas were drawn in a boys bathroom at Westland Middle School in Bethesda.

Nov. 11: A “Black Lives Matter” sign at Christ Congregational Church in Silver Spring was vandalized on election night.

Nov. 12: The phrase “Trump Nation, Whites Only” was written at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior at 1700 Powder Mill Road, Silver Spring, on a sign advertising the church’s Hispanic service, and on a wall in the church’s memorial garden that serves as a cemetery.

Nov. 17: Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger appeared in a video saying that so far in 2016, police have seen a 17 percent increase in hate crimes and bias incidents.

Nov. 21: A swastika was spray-painted on the front door of a Trump supporter, which police investigated as a possible case of “hate-biased” vandalism. The homeowner also reported an American flag he had hanging from a tree in yard, had also been stolen.

Dec. 9: A “derogatory, racial statement” was written on the wall of a restroom at Woodlin Elementary School in Silver Spring near third-grade classrooms.

Dec. 22: Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith condemned hate in holiday message.

For Trump Critics, an ‘UnNaugural’ Concert

December 13, 2016
by Josh Hicks
The Washington Post

A progressive state senator from Maryland is organizing a concert on Inauguration Day to raise money for liberal causes she thinks will be threatened under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

The UnNaugural Concert will take place the night of Jan. 20 at Montgomery College’s 500-seat Cultural Arts Center in Rockville, while thousands of Trump supporters and Republican faithful from across the country are celebrating downtown at inaugural balls.

Ticket prices range from $25 for students to $250 for VIP seating, with general admission running $100. Proceeds will go to five national advocacy groups that promote abortion rights, civil liberties, environmental protections, gay rights and gun control.

Performers include five largely regional acts known for activist music: the Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Emma’s Revolution, Brother Sun, Josh White Jr. and Tret Fure.

“I wanted an opportunity for like-minded people to get together for healing and inspiration on a day when the new administration is going to be talking about its agenda,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery County).

Other groups benefiting from the UnNaugural Concert include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood.

Organizers are hoping to attract locals and visitors traveling to the area for the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington, the most high-profile anti-Trump protest planned, which organizers say could draw hundreds of thousands of attendees.

Joe Cluster, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, compared the protest efforts to the actions of conservatives after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008.

 “I have no problem with it,” he said. “They should be fighting back. That’s what we did. We worked to beat Democrats all over the country, and now we have 33 Republican governors, the majority in the Senate and House, and the presidency.”

Similar efforts have sprung up throughout the nation since the Nov. 8 election, including a “revival meeting” featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep.-elect Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) that drew more than 800 people to a civic center in Silver Spring last month.

Raskin, who served in Annapolis with Kagan before being elected to Congress, is scheduled to speak at the UnNaugural Concert as well.

Maryland Lieutenant Governor Slammed for Saying He’s Glad Hate Now Out in the Open

A swastika and a chart showing incidents of post-election hate crimes are shown during a press conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 29, 2016.

December 8, 2016
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Maryland’s lieutenant governor is raising hackles for saying he was glad haters are coming out into the open.
Boyd Rutherford, a Republican, speaking last week at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, had been asked by a local rabbi about a spike in hate crimes in Maryland directed at Jews.
Rutherford, according to the Baltimore Sun, condemned the spike, but said he didn’t know what was causing it.
The Jewish audience laughed at that remark and Democratic State Senator Cheryl Kagan almost immediately chided him on Twitter, using the hash tag #Trump to suggest the spike was a result of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.
“You act as though hate is new,” Rutherford replied on Twitter. “It was always there. I’d rather people show their real colors than hide.”
Jews and Democrats were scathing in their response.
“It’s worrisome that our lieutenant governor is not aware of what’s happening around our state and our country as we prepare to inaugurate a new president whose language has caused such hate and such fear,” Kagan told Bethesda Magazine.
Susan Turnbull, a former vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and a former chairwoman of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, told the Sun that Rutherford’s apparent defensiveness was “mind blowing.”
“He could have said so many other things, and he didn’t,” she said.
Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill, a spokeswoman for Rutherford, who is an African American, expanded on his tweet in a statement to the media.
“As someone who has personally experienced racial discrimination, the lieutenant governor was referencing the indisputable fact that, unfortunately, racism and race-related tensions have been issues facing our nation for hundreds of years, and he believes all Marylanders and Americans benefit when these issues can be discussed frankly in the public arena,” she said.


December 8, 2016
by Bethany Rogers
Bethesda Beat MagazineScreenshot of Tree House Concerts webpage

A few days after Donald Trump clinched the presidency, Chevy Chase concert organizer Doug Mangel was wide awake at 2 a.m. compiling a playlist of ‘60s protest songs.

The election results had left him feeling “sort of punched in the gut,” but he found comfort in listening to Bob Dylan and Woodie Guthrie.

“It felt cathartic putting it together,” Mangel said.

The early-morning experience got him thinking about using music to unite the community during a time of tumult. Now, Mangel is working to stage one of at least two local shows planned to calm frayed nerves in the hours before Trump’s inauguration in January.

“I think people are looking for something to forget about what might be happening the next day,” said Pete Marra, who is co-hosting one of the events with Mangel.

Mangel’s BlackBox Live concert series is partnering with Marra’s Tree House Concerts to put on the Peace, Love and Understanding Alt-Inaugural show at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19, the day before Trump takes office.

The second event, dubbed the UnNaugural Concert, is slated for the big day itself on Jan. 20. But unlike the D.C. extravaganza, “no limousines, tuxedos, or fancy gowns are needed” at the UnNaugural Concert, its website states.

The concert, which state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Rockville) is planning, will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring and will promote progressive issues such as gay rights and gun control.

“I tend to be a problem solver. So I came up with the idea of hosting a concert to raise money for progressive causes that are among those most threatened by the incoming administration,” Kagan said.

Both events will feature musicians who have engaged in political or social activism.

The UnNaugural Concert will include performances by activist musicians such as Grammy-nominated vocalists Sweet Honey in the Rock and musical duo Emma’s Revolution. The event will support the American Civil Liberties Union, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, League of Conservation Voters, National LGBTQ Task Force and Planned Parenthood. Kagan said she’d like to let concert goers help decide how the event proceeds will be divided between the organizations. Tickets are available at

The Peace, Love and Understanding show at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club will present singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, “populist musician” Jonah Smith and cellist Ben Sollee, an environmental advocate who has opposed mountaintop removal in Appalachia, Mangel said. The show’s proceeds will go to the artists and to two local nonprofits, Ayuda, which serves low-income immigrants, and Washington Womenade, which helps the needy in the D.C. area.

“Both women’s rights and immigration will rise to the forefront over the next four years—and so we’d like to give to [these nonprofits] at this time,” said Marra of Takoma Park.

Mangel said the response to the planned show has been overwhelming. Since tickets went on sale over Thanksgiving, 375 of 500 seats have already been taken, he said. The $30 tickets are available at

In a largely Democratic county where 76 percent of voters chose Hillary Clinton for president, the Jan. 19 crowd probably won’t contain many Trump supporters. But the goal isn’t to rally against the Republican president-elect, Mangel said.

“We’re not doing it as a protest, in-your-face show,” he said. “I think that music is a very powerful thing. …I think it brings people together.”

Dan McHugh, vice president of Montgomery County Young Republicans, doesn’t remember past presidential inaugurations inspiring concerts like the planned events and said the response to Trump’s election has been unusually emotional.

“Clearly, the Democrats are not going to accept Donald Trump as president,” McHugh said.

“My basic message to people is that we’re not a marginal minority — we’re the majority in exile,” he said, referring to Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote victory. “We’re clearly going to be the opposition party in Congress, but I believe we’re speaking for most Americans on Day One.”

Although Trump’s positions on key policy issues have been hard to pin down, he has said that climate change is a hoax, that he would defund Planned Parenthood, that he opposes gun-free zones, that states should be able to decide whether same-sex marriage is legal and that Muslim immigrants should go through ideological screening as part of an “extreme vetting” process.

Each concert attendee will receive a token to place in one of five containers representing the groups that benefit from the show, allowing guests to choose which organizations they want to support. Concertgoers can also place their tokens in a sixth container, which will allow them to divide the proceeds evenly among the groups.

Raskin explained the purpose of the concert by offering a twist on first lady Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high” catchphrase.

“When they go into office, we go out and organize,” he said. “It’s important for our people to feel strong and to stand strong.”

Maryland Senator Blasts Lieutenant Governor over “Remarkably Offensive” Hate Crimes Comment 
December 7, 2016
by Menachem Rephun 
Jewish Political News & Updates
Boyd K. Rutherford, Maryland’s Republican Lieutenant Governor, is facing controversy for his apparently dismissive attitude regarding a surge in hate crimes in Maryland since November.  

Rutherford only dug himself into a deeper hole during a Twitter exchange with Democratic state Senator Cheryl Kagan, who expressed dismay at a speech Rutherford had recently given to the Jewish Relations Council of Greater Washington. In Kagan’s view, the speech betrayed a lack of understanding about the root cause behind the recent surge in hate speech, which she believes is the election of Donald Trump.

When Kagan took Rutherford to task, Rutherford retorted that “you act as though hate is new. It was always there. I’d rather people show their real colors than hide.”

Rutherford’s response was “remarkably offensive,” Kagan told the Washington Post. The remark was also criticized by Ron Halber, the JRC of Greater Washington’s executive director. According to the Washington Post, Halber also sees a direct link between the rhetoric of Donald Trump and “the uptick of anti-Semitic and bigoted events happening across the country and in my home town of Montgomery County.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Rutherford defended him in a statement to WJZ, a sports radio station based in Baltimore.

“As a black man who grew up during the Civil Rights movement and someone who has stared real racism and discrimination in the face, the lieutenant governor was simply referencing the indisputable fact that racism and race-related tensions have been issues facing our nation for hundreds of years,” the statement read. “He believes all Marylanders and Americans benefit when these issues can be discussed frankly in the public arena.”

Kagan, for her part, recounted her exchange with Rutherford in a December 2 Facebook post.

“Yesterday, I had an interesting… no, distressing… Twitter exchange with our Lt Gov, Boyd Rutherford,” Kagan wrote. The Senator described Rutherford as “a personally nice man,” but said she was “shocked by his answer to a question about hate crimes.”

“He indicated first that he couldn’t understand why there was a recent and meteoric rise,” she wrote. “He then tweeted in response to mine that he’d ‘rather people show their real colors than hide.’ I STRONGLY disagree; it seems that the shame of racist words and actions has evaporated due to the mortifying example by President-Elect Donald J. Trump. We need strong leadership to stand up and speak out in the face of hate. All Marylanders need to feel safe!”

Maryland Lt. Gov.’s Response to Hate Crime Wave Upsets Some

December 7, 2016
by Ron Kampeas
The Forward

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Maryland’s lieutenant governor is raising hackles for saying he was glad haters are coming out into the open, referring to a question he fielded about a rise in anti-Jewish attacks.

Boyd Rutherford, a Republican, speaking last week at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, had been asked by a local rabbi about a spike in hate crimes in Maryland directed at Jews.

Rutherford, according to the Baltimore Sun, condemned the spike, but said he didn’t know what was causing it.

The Jewish audience laughed at that remark, and a Democratic State Senator, Cheryl Kagan, almost immediately chided him on Twitter, hashtagging her tweet “Trump,” a reference to her belief that the spike was a result of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.

“#Shocked by Lt Gov @BoydKRutherford’s response to @ShaareTorahGbrg’s Rabbi about hate crimes. He’s perplexed by the increase. #Trump,” said Kagan, referring to Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal of Shaare Torah synagogue in Gaithersburg, Maryland, who asked the question.

“You act as though hate is new,” Rutherford replied on Twitter. “It was always there. I’d rather people show their real colors than hide.”

Jews and Democrats were scathing in their response. “It’s worrisome that our lieutenant governor is not aware of what’s happening around our state and our country as we prepare to inaugurate a new president whose language has caused such hate and such fear,” Kagan told Bethesda Magazine.

Susan Turnbull, a former vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and a former chairwoman of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, told the Sun that Rutherford’s apparent defensiveness was “mind blowing.”

“He could have said so many other things, and he didn’t,” she said.

Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill, a spokeswoman for Rutherford, who is an African American, expanded on his tweet in a statement to the media.

“As someone who has personally experienced racial discrimination, the lieutenant governor was referencing the indisputable fact that, unfortunately, racism and race-related tensions have been issues facing our nation for hundreds of years, and he believes all Marylanders and Americans benefit when these issues can be discussed frankly in the public arena,” she said.


December 2, 2016
by Erin Cox
The Baltimore Sun
Amid an uptick in hate speech following the divisive presidential election, Republican Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford said this week that he’d rather people “show their real colors than hide.”

Rutherford was tweeting in response to state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat, who had tweeted that she was “shocked” by Rutherford’s lack of awareness about the root of recent anti-Semitic vandalism.

“You act as though hate is new,” Rutherford tweeted at the state senator. “It was always there. I’d rather people show their real colors than hide.”

The lieutenant governor had just given a speech Thursday to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, where several attendees said Rutherford condemned a recent increase in hate speech but also said he didn’t know what was causing it. That remark set off uncomfortable laughter in the audience.

Progressive lawmakers and other groups have been pushing Gov. Larry Hogan‘s administration to make more forceful public comments about hate speech.

Since Election Day, about 1,000 people have called or emailed Hogan’s office, encouraging his administration to publicly condemn an uptick in hate speech in the state, according to the governor’s office. Another 627 asked the administration to decry President-elect Donald Trump‘s appointment of former Breitbart news executive Stephen Bannon as his chief White House strategist.

Rutherford, who is African-American and normally low-key, clarified his tweet about 24 hours after he posted it. His spokeswoman issued a statement Friday, saying the lieutenant governor thought the country could benefit from a candid discussion about racially motivated hate.

“As a black man who grew up during the Civil Rights movement and someone who has stared real racism and discrimination in the face, the lieutenant governor was simply referencing the indisputable fact that racism and race-related tensions have been issues facing our nation for hundreds of years,” spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said in the statement.

“He believes all Marylanders and Americans benefit when these issues can be discussed frankly in the public arena.”

Hogan’s spokesman, Doug Mayer, said Friday, “We condemn all acts of hate and racism. Period.”

Last week, Hogan said of the increase in post-election hate speech that “we would not like to see any hate crimes on either side of this issue.” He also said that “everyone should take a deep breath” about Trump’s election and declined to comment on Bannon.

The remarks did little to quell progressive lawmakers who thought the administration was shying away from taking a stand.

“What are we really asking him to do?” said Democratic Del. Kirill Reznik of Montgomery County. “To say that he comes out and stands with the people of Maryland, all the people of Maryland, and that people who commit who hate crimes should be punished.

“I don’t see how we’re cornering him into anything other than being a decent person.”

Kagan blamed the rise in hate speech on a presidential election rich in racially and ethnically charged rhetoric.

Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, who asked Rutherford the question that sparked this controversy, said he wanted to know what the administration will do about the anxiety and bullying he’s seeing in his Gaithersburg community.

“I know that I, as Jewish person, don’t feel better that it’s out there,” said Blumenthal, rabbi of the Shaare Torah congregation. “We just have to recognize that’s an issue — that there are parts of the community that feel vulnerable, and there are parts of our society that now feel like hate speech is a legitimate activity.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report this week documenting about 900 hate-based incidents across the country in the 10 days following Trump’s election.

In Montgomery County, school officials said a swastika was discovered Tuesday at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, the second time such a symbol has been found at the school since October. Other swastikas were found painted outside a Bethesda elementary school in October, and more in a Bethesda middle school in November.

On Wednesday, police said three cars in Burtonsville were defaced with swastikas.

And earlier this month, a 15-year-old wearing a “Make American Great Again” hat was attacked at a Rockville high school while students protested Trump’s victory.

“The anxiety that is going on about this is pervasive,” said Susan Turnbull, a longtime Montgomery County activist and former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. Turnbull attended Thursday’s event and said she was stunned by Rutherford’s response to the rabbi’s question.

“He could have said so many other things, and he didn’t,” she said. “The lieutenant governor’s total lack of connection with that feeling was mind-blowing.”

The push for the Hogan administration to take a stand has come with some nastiness, according to Mayer.

One anonymous email provided by the governor’s office to The Baltimore Sun told Hogan that “maybe you’ll take hate crimes in Maryland seriously when they come to register your foreign mail order bride,” a reference to Hogan’s wife, Yumi, who is Korean-American.

On Thursday night, Trump forcefully denounced hate speech at a rally in Ohio, saying, “We condemn bigotry and hatred in all of its forms.”

Kagan said her Jewish community is “mystified” by Rutherford’s remarks.

“It’s hard to imagine how the lieutenant governor could have been blind to the hate speech that has been spewed by Donald Trump and many of his supporters,” Kagan said. “He missed an opportunity to be an effective role model.

“Just because racism has existed for hundreds of years doesn’t make it right. Nor does it sanction the shocking increase in race-related hate.”


November 7, 2016
by Mitti Hicks
My Community Media

cwbuexlxeaecjhqThe Corporate Volunteer Council (CVC) of Montgomery County held their 2016 annual luncheon and awards ceremony on Friday to recognize local businesses for their successful volunteer programs.

The CVC educates local businesses on how to partner with and support non-profits in need by helping them create successful volunteer and charitable programs.

In this extra video, Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan explains the importance of local businesses volunteering with nonprofits:

“Through them, seniors are being helped, the homeless are being helped, the hungry; they’re making a difference,” said Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan. “It makes employees feel great about their employers, inspires loyalty within their organizations and makes a worthy charitable difference.”

Joining the local businesses and non-profits at the luncheon were state and local-elected officials.

“Many times, we’re quick to criticize,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Sidney Katz. “When we do the right things, someone should also thank.  We don’t do that enough, so this is an opportunity for us to say thank you.”

 Vote Like A Girl: Cheryl Kagan

October 28, 2016
by Lauren Landau
Jewish Women International Magazine 

Q: Why do you vote like a girl?

A: I vote because I think my voice and my opinions matter. I think that women tend to care about people more than profits. While we are conscious of the present, I think we tend to be future-oriented in terms of the next generation and the impact of top quality schools, a clean environment and peace and justice. I think we’re really conscious of those issues and when we do our homework, that’s how we vote.

Q: We know that only a fraction of eligible voters actually make it out to the voting booths. Do you find that troubling? Why should people—and women in particular—participate in the electoral process?  

A: My favorite campaign button says “vote or you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself.” So many Americans complain about this, that and the other. They have a distrust and disinterest in many political things, and yet while they’re unhappy and gripe about it, they don’t always vote.

When I get letters, phone calls, or emails from constituents or interest groups, and I look them up in our voter database and find that they have not voted, I don’t care if they’re of the other party. I don’t care if they have supported my opponent. I want to see that they are engaged in the most basic job that every American has, and that is to cast a ballot in the primary and the general election, all the time. And if they don’t, they just lose credibility with me. 

Q: So you do your homework. What do you tell those people? Do you give them a guilt trip? 

A: Senators in Maryland get to pick notaries public and we get to choose from those who apply. We also have scholarship money for students who are doing either college or graduate work. One of the things that I look for [among the people who apply] is are they registered, and do they vote? At this point, virtually everyone can be registered through Motor Voter so you’re already on the books. In Maryland you can vote by mail, you can early vote or you can vote on Election Day —so there’s no good excuse [for not voting].  Laziness, cynicism or disinterest doesn’t qualify. 

We used to turn down as a notary anybody who wasn’t registered to vote and I give kind of a mini lecture to anyone who is a Kagan senatorial scholar. It is your job [I tell them] as a senatorial scholar to be a role model. Role models are community leaders and community leaders influence their friends and neighbors. Part of your job is to be informed, to vote and to talk to your friends and neighbors about whom you are supporting and why. It is a responsibility. I don’t care if you vote against me every single time. That’s fine. But you have to vote.

Q: And that’s what we’re about here at JWI. Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent, just get out there and vote!

A: I totally agree, and I’m wearing my “H” pin because I’m with her, and I am really hoping that we’re about to elect our first woman president, not just because of her gender, but because of her talent, passion, experience, and the respect with which she is held around the country and around the world. So I am hopeful and optimistic and working hard. 

Q: I’m sure Secretary Clinton appreciates that. You mentioned some of the reasons why people might not vote or might not be registered to vote. But it isn’t just a disinterest in voting. What are some of the hurdles that people face and how can we help alleviate some of those issues? 

A: America is increasingly diverse. I sponsored the “Informed Voter” bill, which we got enacted with “Language Access,” because those who don’t yet speak English fluently may have trouble understanding government and candidates’ platforms. By making our government fully accessible, regardless of which language you speak, we can help people engage more. In other states, but thankfully not in Maryland, there are voter ID laws and other barriers to voting. The biggest barrier to voting in Maryland is being a citizen, and then coming out [to vote]. Once you’re a citizen, in my view, there is just no excuse not to vote, not to cast your opinion, not to be heard.

Q: What are some of the issues that feel particularly relevant or pressing in 2016 that this election could significantly impact?

A: Maryland has no elections at the state level in a presidential year. We have the off years, so the governor, the general assembly, our legislature, our county councils and other [elected positions] are not on the ballot this year—and neither am I. So we’re all looking at Washington and at Congress. Because we are in Maryland, we are right next door, and are very aware of and affected by—as we all are—national decisions. Certainly the leader of the free world is going to be making international decisions about war and peace; about trade; about where we do or don’t intervene abroad; about refugees. Immigration obviously has been a huge issue, but [there are also] budget priorities and [the need for] support for our children and for moving forward, for the environment and climate change. 

I am a partisan Democrat, but I also believe in bipartisanship. So many Republicans, though, are climate change deniers. The scientific data is not debatable, and yet, depending on who gets in office, we are either going to take action to protect our Earth for future generations or we’re not. We’re either going to work with other countries on treaties, and enforce them and comply with them, or we’re not. Obviously issues like women’s reproductive choice are at stake, depending on who runs Congress. So there are hundreds of issues and I am fervently hoping that we’re going to have a dynamic, thoughtful, progressive new U.S. Senator from Maryland; a terrific new congressman from my district, Jamie Raskin, a Senate colleague of mine; and Hillary Clinton, an effective leader, in the White House.  

Please vote! It’s vitally important, and make sure you are prepared. Don’t just vote based on gender or race or religion. Do your homework and figure out who is supporting issues that are of concern to you. 


 Democratic Vets Mull Convention Changes

By  Danica Roem
The Montgomery Sentinel

The role and scope of women participating in the Democratic National Convention changed considerably from the time state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17) first attended in 1980. 

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) capped that change as the dean of the Senate women formally nominated Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee, the first woman to lead a major party presidential ticket.

Moco Sentinel Prez picture

President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER

“Every convention is different and every convention is exciting and truly a privilege to experience and be a part of history,” said Kagan last week during a phone call from Philadelphia.

Kagan, who said she attended her ninth DNC last week, also saw how disunity affected the party up close when she volunteered for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) campaign during his unsuccessful run for president against incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980.

“I had started off at headquarters photocopying checks,” she said.

It wasn’t the first time she supported a candidate who lost, backing Clinton’s first run for the presidency in 2008.

During that campaign, Kagan knocked on doors during the winter cold in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and eventually traveled to Denver as delegate for Clinton.

However, by the time then-Sen. Barack Obama offered his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium, she backed the man who would eventually become the country’s first African American president.

“We live in a democracy. After the election results come in, there are winners and losers. And at some point, we have to unify in order to achieve our policy goals.”

According to Leggett, people who protested in favor of former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.), who called for all delegates to back Clinton last week from the floor of the convention, are a small but vocal minority within the party.

“I think the Sanders people are coming around. I think you have a core, which is a very small minority that will never come around,” said Leggett. “What you see is a very intense core of people, who are very small by numbers, who are continuing their fight. And that’s their right and we just deal with it.”

Kagan took her policy advocacy to the San Francisco convention in 1984 as a staffer for the abortion rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America.

She also supported the Rep. Geraldine Ferraro’s (D-N.Y.) vice presidential nomination, making her the first woman nominated by a major party for that position.

Past turned out to be prologue for Kagan as she compared 1984 to 2016.

“And once again, we are facing threats to our health choices,” she said. “And that’s not the only issue to be clear.”

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, attending his fifth DNC, said civil rights have been a big part of Democratic politics since the 1960s, particularly regarding racial equity.

“The only difference now is some of these issues are not concluded or resolved and we’ve had to go back to revisit them more intensely than we anticipated,” said Leggett. “It’s not a new issue, it just resurfaced.”

He specifically mentioned recently passed voting laws in states like North Carolina.

Last week, the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a state law banning same-day voter registration and extended early voting.

“(It’s) just a blatant attempt to reduce minority votes and those who would normally vote Democratic,” said Leggett.

Kagan said other issues Democrats should focus on included campaign finance reform, civil rights and protecting marriage equality for LGBTQ people.

She said if any issue should unify the Democratic Party this year, it is the Supreme Court.

“The impact of the Supreme Court on the election cannot be overstated,” she said.

Meanwhile, she said the Democratic Party “has evolved as our society has evolved,” said Kagan, noting there is “a much more visible presence of the gay and lesbian community” at the convention.

On Thursday, Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Sarah McBride became the first transgender person to address a major party’s national convention.

“As more people have come out, there’s a greater focus on civil rights for the gay and lesbian community,” said Kagan. “So we’re seeing more speakers. The speakers are talking more about these issues.”

On the first night of the convention, Kagan watched some of the biggest names among women in the Democratic Party address the audience, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Featured speakers also included women such as Anastasia Somoza, who advocated for people with disabilities, and military widow Cheryl Lankford, who said she lost tens of thousands of dollars to Trump University.

“A lot of people who were the most effective presenters on the stage last night were women,” said Kagan, later adding, “I think it inspires women to get involved in politics.”

That’s because those speakers offer women “someone who looks like them and speak like them and has life experiences like theirs.”

Kagan said the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards (D) inspired her the most and she talked to Richards’ daughter Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, at the convention.

“She was plain spoken, direct, opinionated, passionate, insightful, affective and funny,” said Kagan about the former Texas governor. “And using humor to make a point while never deviating from her fundamental values was powerful.”


Maryland Faces Possible Lack of Female Lawmakers in Congress

July 25, 2016
CBS Baltimore
WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 26: U.S Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) steps into an elevator after she announced that she would vote against Judge John Roberts for chief justice of the Supreme Court Sept. 26, 2005 during the opening day of debate in the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 to recommend Roberts' confirmation as chief justice. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

US. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland has been among leading states in electing women to political offices for decades, but the state could have its first all-male congressional delegation in more than 40 years unless at least one of two Republicans or a third-party candidate wins in November in the heavily Democratic state.

Republican Marjorie Holt became Maryland’s first elected congresswoman, serving seven terms from 1973 to 1987. Democrat Gladys Spellman served three terms from 1975 to 1981. They were followed by Republicans Helen Bentley, who served five terms from 1985 to 1995, and Connie Morella, who served eight terms from 1987 to 2003.

And Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat, is the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress. She first served in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1977, before becoming the first woman to win a Senate seat on her own in 1986, without following a husband or father who had held the seat.

But Mikulski’s retirement next year after serving five, six-year terms could leave Maryland without a woman in the 10-member delegation. Her retirement prompted Maryland’s only other female member of Congress, Rep. Donna Edwards, to run for the rarely open Senate seat in a Democratic primary against Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a race Edwards lost in April.

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan, one of 12 women in the 47-member Maryland Senate, said while she would have liked to have supported a minority woman in that primary, she believed Van Hollen was clearly the stronger candidate. She also noted that voters had female candidates to choose from in the 8th Congressional District primary race, but she believes the best candidate in that race happened to be a man as well.

“This time, the male candidates were stronger, were more experienced, were more respected and ran great campaigns, but Maryland should be looking around for talented women to move up,” Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat, said.

Edwards, who is black, highlighted her race and gender during the campaign in a polarizing battle. The White House and prominent national Democrats supported Van Hollen, but Edwards’ supporters said her opportunity to become only the second black female U.S. senator in history should not be denied.

Republican Kathy Szeliga is running against Van Hollen, but she is running in a statewide race where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in a presidential election year in which voter turnout is expected to be high. Szeliga, who is the Maryland House of Delegates minority whip, said she doesn’t think people should vote for her simply because she’s a woman, noting she’s also a small business owner. But she said women’s views are essential to good government.

“I just don’t think that Maryland should go back to the time when they didn’t have women representing them,” Szeliga said. “We have a proud tradition.”

The only other female running for a congressional seat for a major party is Republican Amie Hoeber, who is challenging Rep. John Delaney in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Maryland has eight U.S. House seats.

Maryland has never elected a female governor. However, the state Legislature has the nation’s eighth-highest percentage of female lawmakers. Out of 188 total seats in Maryland’s House and Senate, women hold 59 of them, or 31.4 percent.

Nationally, although women comprise half the population, they serve as mayors of just 19 percent of all cities and represent just a quarter of all state lawmakers. Just 12 percent of governors are women, and they hold just one in five seats in Congress.

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Your Chamber In Action – Excerpt from The Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce Update

Good Transportation News? No it’s not a hoax!…

The Chamber also supported State Senator Cheryl Kagan’s request that the State support Montgomery County’s planned efforts to provide additional transit services during the Metro repairs to the Red Line. The Hogan administration agreed and will provide an additional $1 million for shuttle bus service that will transport riders in Montgomery County between Metro stations. This is a great case of “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Thanks Cheryl!

On that note, keep in mind that the “Safety Surges” on the Red Line Metro Service with start August 1st, so be prepared. Although each surge targets a limited section of the Red Line, you should expect major disruptions and very long delays throughout the entire loop between Shady Grove and Glenmont. on these dates:
● August 1-7 (Continuous single tracking between Takoma and Silver Spring)
● August 9-18 (Continuous single tracking between Shady Grove and Twinbrook)…
Marilyn Balcombe, President and CEO

Press Release: Per Senator Kagan’s Request, Gov. Hogan To Fund Shuttle Bus Service During Metro SafeTrack Repairs

July 19,2016

Annapolis, MD: Senator Cheryl C. Kagan, backed by a broad coalition of Chambers of Commerce; transportation advocates; environmental groups; and municipalities, has been urging Governor Larry Hogan to cover the $1 million cost of providing shuttle bus service during Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance of Montgomery County’s Red Line. 
At a press conference yesterday, Hogan announced that his Administration would provide the needed funds for the August repairs.  This will allow Ride-On buses to run at least every 10 minutes during peak hours and extend to off-peak periods including weekends.  The County’s Department of Transportation has indicated that it will monitor demand and increase the frequency of shuttles if needed.Ride-On Twinbrook bus 2016
“During Metro’s safety repairs, people still need to get to work. If commuters were to give up on our mass transit, our roads would get even more congested. I am grateful that Governor Hogan joined with Virginia Governor McAuliffe in providing much-needed State funds for frequent, efficient, and air-conditioned shuttle buses,” affirmed Kagan.
Kagan’s coalition included the City of Gaithersburg, the City of Rockville, the Greater Gaithersburg Germantown Chamber of Commerce, the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the Maryland Environmental Health Network, and others. 
According to Rockville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Michelle Day, “Thanks to Senator Kagan’s initiative, commuters won’t have to endure excessive wait times in the summer heat.  She delivered some of our tax dollars to benefit the residents and businesses of Rockville, Gaithersburg, and the rest of Montgomery County.” 



Phyllis Armstrong
July 18, 2016

Millions of dollars in state funding will be coming to Montgomery County to ease congestion along the I-270 corridor and local roads. State Senator Cheryl Kagan and County Executive Isiah Leggett attended the news conference in Potomac where Governor Larry Hogan announced the new funding.

Nearly $230 million dollars will be spent on projects designed to relieve the traffic jams commuters are coping with during rush hour and at other times of the day. Kagan is particularly pleased that the Governor responded to her call for the state to cover the costs of providing shuttle buses in the county during Metro’s SafeTrack repair work that is scheduled next month on the Red Line in Montgomery County.

Watch this MyMCMeda Extra video, below, for Senator Kagan and County Executive Leggett’s reactions to the state funding.

State Will Fund County’s SafeTrack Shuttle Bus Service

Gov. Hogan announced Monday the state to pay estimated $1 million cost


By Andrew Metcalf

Gov. Larry Hogan brought a smile to the face of one state senator from Montgomery County Monday when he announced the state would fund the cost of the county’s free shuttle bus program that will transport local commuters between stations during Metro’s SafeTrack repairs on the Red Line later this year.

Gov Hogan and MOCO County Officials pic 7-19-16

Gov. Larry Hogan, center, poses with state and Montgomery County officials including State Sen. Cheryl Kagan, right, ANDREW METCALF

At a press conference in Potomac, Hogan said the shuttle bus plan organized by the county will help transport Metro riders and ease commuting problems created by Metro’s plans to single-track lines and shutdown stations to make the repairs. The county estimated the shuttle service will cost between $350,000 and $1 million. Hogan agreed to provide $1 million in state funds to help pay for it.

“This will help ensure that citizens of Montgomery County will be able to get to work and go about their daily lives in an efficient manner while Metro repairs take place,” Hogan said

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17) sent Hogan a letter in June requesting the state help the county pay for the shuttle bus service because the state is a member of the Metro compact, while the county is not. The compact guides the funding and operations of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Maryland is a member along with Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

“I’m thrilled,” Kagan said Monday. “The governor clearly understood the implications of people in Gaithersburg and Rockville trying to get to work during the Metro repairs.”

The county plans to use Ride On buses to transport Metro riders when repairs are made to tracks in the Rockville and Silver Spring areas later this year.

“I think it was good for him to [fund the shuttles],” County Executive Ike Leggett said Monday of Hogan’s decision. “We’re going to have a real challenge starting next month and especially this fall when we’re trying to move people through those corridors.”

The county plans to provide the free shuttle buses during morning and afternoon rush hours between the Silver Spring and Takoma stations from Aug. 1 to 7 when the Red Line will be single-tracking. Shuttle bus service is also planned to help transport commuters during single-tracking between the Shady Grove and Rockville stations Aug. 9 to 18 and again from Oct. 10 to Nov. 1 between the Silver Spring and Fort Totten stations when the Red Line will be closed between Fort Totten and NoMa.

Delays! SafeTrack Projects on Red Line Scheduled to Slow Down Summer Commuting

By  Kathleen Stubbs
07 Jul 2016
The Sentinel

metro_logoWith the first Red Line SafeTrack project less than a month away, riders have just weeks left to “rethink their commute,” as Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld requested.

According to Wiedefeld, repair works on three Metro Red Line SafeTrack projects will reduce capacity while trains single-track and stations shut down altogether…

[Click here to read the entire article.]

Ride On President Al Roshdieh told a County Council committee the Ride On shuttles for Red Line SafeTrack projects will cost the County between $350,000 and $1 million.

State Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17) is asking Governor Larry Hogan to cover the cost of the additional buses because Maryland, not Montgomery County, is the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact (also signed by Virginia and the District). 

“There’s no reason Montgomery County should have to foot the bill where Metro is the states’ responsibility,” said Kagan.

While Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said in a letter Maryland would cover the cost of additional cars on the Maryland Area Regional Commuter Train Service (about $450 million), Kagan said Hogan needs to cover the County-provided shuttle buses as well.

“MARC Train does not do the job,” said Kagan.

She said she thought the amount of funding available would determine how many shuttles are offered. She said she was concerned that if there is insufficient funding, residents won’t reach their destinations in a reasonable amount of time during SafeTrack. Consequently, many Metrorail riders might resort to commute by car, increasing traffic on the highways. 

The senator gathered the support from local chambers of commerce, such as the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, the Bethesda Chamber of Commerce and the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce.

Marilyn Balcombe, the GGCC’s president, said she supports Wiedefeld’s plan for much-needed repairs.

“I don’t begrudge this plan at all,” said Balcombe, later adding she supports “Montgomery County in being proactive to make sure their resources are in place to move people. But I also support Senator Kagan’s view that the cost should be covered by the state.”

Balcombe said WMATA is a necessary part of the County’s economy which in turn stimulates Maryland’s economy. She said Maryland should fund the additional buses for this reason.

“It’s critical for the county to provide services to employees and employers to get people to and from work to make sure that our economy continues to thrive during the time when (part of) the Red Line (shuts down),” said Balcombe.

Metro’s SafeTrack Program to Hit Montgomery County

By Scott Taylor/ABC7
Thursday, July 7th 2016

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (ABC7) — Heads up Montgomery County. Metro’s SafeTrack program is headed your way.

Sections of the Red Line will be going off-line starting in August.

One commuter was shocked to hear the news.

“Oh, that’s awful for us because that’s our main transportation,” said one rider.

So if you live or work in spots like Rockville, be prepared to hear two words you never want to hear dealing with Metro–shuttle buses.

Chloe Pance who commutes from Rockville to D.C. every day said, “Honestly I really don’t know how I am going to get to work downtown.”

Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan wants the State to step in and help pay for shuttle buses and not dump all the cost on county tax payers.

Montgomery County thinks shuttle buses will cost them anywhere between $350,000 to a million bucks.

Senator Cheryl Kagan said, “Do we want a shuttle bus that comes every half-hour or so, or do we want one that comes every 5 or 10 minutes?”

Senator Kagan jumped into the SafeTrack discussion thru a letter she sent to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. She flat out called Safe Track, “an emergency transportation issue.” The Senator from Rockville wants the Governor to hand over $1 million to pay for shuttle buses.

Kagan is already aware that Virginia has promised $1 million dollars to help pay for shuttle buses.

Senator Kagan said, “Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe did come up with the money in an Executive Order to help fund extra transportation options during Virginia’s shutdown.”

We reached out to Governor Hogan’s Office and so far there is no decision on whether Maryland will kick in some state funds to cover the cost of shuttle buses.

Click here to read Senator Kagan’s letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Montgomery County Senator Asks State to Pay SafeTrack Shuttle Bus Costs

Published: July 6, 2016
By Andrew Metcalf


Update – 8:20 a.m., Thursday – Montgomery County State Sen. Chery Kagan (D-District 17) is making the case that the county shouldn’t have to pay for providing free shuttle bus service during Metro’s SafeTrack repair surges on the Red Line later this year.

On Wednesday, Kagan released a copy of a letter she sent June 29 to Gov. Larry Hogan and state Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn asking the state to pay for the county’s planned shuttle bus service that will transport riders between Red Line Metro stations during repair surges in August and October.

County officials last month estimated the shuttle bus service, using the county’s Ride On buses, could cost as much as $1 million.

In her letter, Kagan wrote she believes the state should bear the costs because it is a signatory of the WMATA compact, along with Washington, D.C., and Virginia, which governs how Metro is financed and operated. As a result, she wrote the state should provide funding to help mitigate commuting problems caused by Metro’s maintenance surges. “Can you confirm for us that the State will be a full partner in the continued economic success of Montgomery County, one of Maryland’s key economic engines?” she wrote.

Kagan told  Bethesda Beat on Wednesday she hopes the governor will provide the state funding.

“The governor talks a lot about economic development and Maryland being open for business,” Kagan said. “It seems to me if people can’t get to their jobs and visitors can’t enjoy tourist attractions, then that’s going to be detrimental to our state economy.”

If shuttle buses aren’t provided, she said, additional drivers on the county’s roadways are likely to exacerbate traffic.

“It is not reasonable for Montgomery County and Prince George’s County to fund what should be a state responsibility,” Kagan said.

Last month, Prince George’s County officials also detailed plans to provide free shuttle bus service and deploy additional buses along regular routes while SafeTrack repairs are occurring that affect Metro service in the county.

Kagan said she wasn’t expecting an immediate response to her letter—given that she sent it shortly before the July 4 holiday weekend. However, she said she has been in touch with Hogan’s chief of staff and hopes to receive an answer to her request in the next day or two.

Erin Henson, a spokeswoman for the state’s transportation department, said in an email the state is working closely with counties in other ways to help commuters navigate SafeTrack delays. She noted the Maryland Transit Administration is planning to increase capacity on MARC trains by adding rail cars on the Camden and Brunswick lines as needed. The state’s highway administration is also planning to coordinate road construction projects to avoid causing traffic congestion from lane closures or scheduled maintenance.

“At every step of the way, [the Maryland Department of Transportation] is actively monitoring ridership on our rails and traffic on our roads to assist Marylanders in getting to work and home as quickly and safely as possible during these challenging times,” Henson wrote in the email.

The county plans to provide the free shuttle buses during morning and afternoon rush hours between the Silver Spring and Takoma stations from Aug. 1 to 7 when the Red Line will be single-tracking while track repairs are underway. Shuttle buses are also planned to help transport commuters during single-tracking between the Shady Grove and Rockville stations Aug. 9 to 18 as well as from the Silver Spring to Fort Totten stations when the Red Line will be closed between Fort Totten and NoMa from Oct. 10 to Nov. 1.

Montgomery Transportation Director Al Roshdieh told the County Council last month the shuttle buses will cost the county $350,000 to $1 million depending on how much demand there is for the shuttles.

Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for County Executive Ike Leggett, said the county plans to move forward with its shuttle bus plans whether or not the state agrees to provide funds. He said it was important for Montgomery County to provide the service to Montgomery County residents.

“We don’t know at this point how much it’s going to cost,” Lacefield said. “We’re more inclined to let it play out and then make a judgment [on whether to request state funds.]”

July 6, 2016

Press Release: Senator Kagan Urges Governor Hogan to Fund Added Transportation During SafeTrack Delays & Closures: Costs Could Reach $1,000,000

Click Here to read my letter to Governor Hogan.

Click Here to access the full press release.

Annapolis, MD: In order to ensure sufficient, reliable transit alternatives during Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance to the Red Line, Senator Cheryl Kagan sent a letter to Governor Larry Hogan to pressure his Administration to cover the costs for needed supplemental bus transportation.  The Red Line will be single-tracking in Montgomery County for a significant part of August, and a segment will be completely closed in Prince George’s County through much of October.

For just the Montgomery County portion of the Red Line, the estimated expense of increased bus service for up to 50,000 people who commute Down-County and into Washington, DC could be as much as $1,000,000. 

In her letter, Kagan wrote:

“Because it is the State of Maryland that is a member of the WMATA compact, I believe it should be the State — and not the County — that provides funding for this emergency transportation issue… It is vital that frequent, reliable, and comfortable buses replace Metro to meet the transit needs for those commuting to work.”

 “I often describe my Senate District as ‘up the Red Line,’ so I am always concerned about any impending challenges to my constituents and to the rest of Montgomery and Frederick County commuters who choose WMATA.”

 According to Kagan, “Our State government shouldn’t assume that Montgomery County will open its checkbook to pay for services that should be covered by the State.”


June 25, 2016

Reliable data on 911 outages and service is hard to come by

The Baltimore Sun, By Ian Duncan

When a glitch in phone company systems left Baltimore without 911 service for over an hour last week, The Baltimore Sun wanted to know how often such outages occur.

Public records made it clear that the outage wasn’t unique, but much of the information about problems with 911 is confidential, making it difficult to figure out just how often the emergency phone system is out of action. The secrecy highlights the 911 system’s strange role as a critical lifeline to police and fire departments, but one that is almost entirely run by private companies.

The Federal Communications Commission requires phone companies to submit reports about outages that affect a large number of people or that last for a long time. But the agency doesn’t release the reports because they could contain proprietary information about how the companies set up their networks. When the Government Accountability Office investigated outagesin 2015, it didn’t even bother to look at the reports. Investigators wrote in a footnote that they saw no point in reviewing data they couldn’t talk about publicly.

In 2014, technology website The Verge was able to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain complaints consumers filed with the FCC about problems they claimed to have had reaching 911, such as busy signals or recorded messages. But the records did not indicate whether the complaints were verified or how the agency responded.

David Simpson, head of the FCC’s public safety office, said in a statement that the agency has worked to identify trends in outages and propose new rules to address any deficiencies it finds.

“Preserving reliable 911 service is of the highest priority to the FCC,” he said.

Even run-of-the-mill information about how many people are using 911 is closely guarded. State Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan has been battling to make sure that when people call 911 they can get through. Her efforts began after a constituent of hers was struck by lightning and no one could reach emergency services.

“There’s no accountability,” Kagan said. “There’s no public dialogue.”

The Montgomery County Democrat has proposed legislation to give more state and local officials access to 911 data and to require more regular surveys of usage levels to make sure that counties are providing their systems with adequate resources.

“Without the data you’re in the dark,” Kagan said. “You have no idea how many busy signals people are getting.”

Yet the bill also would prevent certain records from being releasable under the Maryland Public Information Act. Kagan said that protection is necessary to stop the information being used to interfere with the 911 system or cause harm to the public.

“When it comes down to public safety and in this era of increased awareness of terrorism, transparency has to take a bit of a back seat,” she said.

May 20, 2016 
Press Release: Maryland State Senator Cheryl C. Kagan Named MML “Super Star”

Click Here to access the full press release 

The Maryland Municipal League (MML) honored Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17) last night for the second time for her effective leadership on issues affecting Maryland’s cities and towns during the 2016 legislative session.

Kagan is one of just seven Senators and Delegates to be recognized as a “Super Star” for her work on behalf of municipalities.

Presented by President Spencer Schlosnagle, the awards are given to legislators who go above and beyond. According to an MML representative, “these legislators work tirelessly to advocate for legislation with impact on municipal government and help protect our cities and towns from harmful legislation.”

“I am honored to be recognized for my work again this session,” Kagan said.  “Maryland’s 157 cities and towns are the backbone of our State.  I am proud to represent two of our largest and most effective municipalities – Gaithersburg and Rockville — which offer services and programming that make my legislative district a terrific place to live, work, and raise a family.”

May 16, 2016
Drawing Attention to our Outdated 911 Emergency System: 
Last night, the HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver highlighted our nation’s crisis with our 911 system and call centers.  According to an FCC report in 2014 that Oliver cites, improving location accuracy could save over 10,000 lives each year.  However, as 70-80% of calls come from cell phones, the location information dispatchers get varies widely based on wireless service provider.
I introduced two bills this past session (SB 424 and SB 686) to modernize our 911 system to “Next Generation” technology and increase crisis preparedness by assessing each call center.  The Senate Finance Committee did not approve either bill this year, but as the video demonstrates, our 911 system is in dire need of reform.  I plan to introduce legislation again next year to address these concerns.
The FCC has mandated that wireless carriers improve accuracy by 2021, but that won’t make much of a difference if many 911 call centers are underfunded and severely understaffed.  Staffing problems continue to plague 911 emergency call centers, which means that when people dial 911, the first thing they hear could be an automated response or busy signal.  This is what happened when Rockville resident, Carl Henn, was struck by lightning.  His passing inspired my legislation.
Please take a moment to watch the clip below. WARNING: The video includes adult humor and some profanity and could be offensive to some viewers.

April 26, 2016
NBC 4 Washington
By Chris Gordon
Click here to watch the full video.

 April 26, 2016

Montgomery County Sentinel/ MOCO VOX


April 25, 2016
As you know, Maryland’s all-important Primary Election Day is tomorrow.  In addition to nominating a candidate for President ( #ImWithHer as the most common sense, experienced leader), we will be choosing our next U.S. Senator, and in 2 districts, a new Member of Congress!
Worthy Successor to Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Barbara Mikulski has diligently worked on behalf of Marylanders since 1987.  With her retirement, we will be electing a new U.S. Senator and have two incumbent Members of Congress from which to choose.
I hope you have noted in repeated missives from me that I have strongly endorsed Chris Van Hollen.  In endorsing Chris, the Baltimore Sun wrote:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen Jr. is by far the most qualified candidate to carry on the Mikulski tradition. [He has] demonstrated the same kind of leadership skills and devotion to progressive causes whether in the halls of the state Senate in Annapolis or in Congress.” 
In Annapolis, Chris was a key leader on issues like the environment, gun control, women’s rights, and civil rights.  In Congress, he has become one of the prime Democratic experts on budget and fiscal issues.  In addition, Chris is known for being a dogged advocate for his constituents and a leader on behalf of federal employees. The contrast in track record of effectiveness versus his opponent’s lack of accomplishment could not be more stark.  Please join me in voting to make Chris our next U.S. Senator!  
Succeeding Chris Van Hollen in the House
I suspect that your mailbox, like mine, has been full of campaign literature from the many talented Democrats seeking the nomination for the U.S. Congress.  I have known and worked with many of the candidates over the years.  In my opinion, two progressive and effective legislators, Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Kumar Barve, are most worthy of your consideration and your vote.  Jamie, my Senate colleague and friend, has been the go-to floor leader on issues ranging from marriage equality to drunk driving.  Respected by both Democrats and Republicans, he is the rare Senator who actually persuades votes to switch with his speeches during floor debates.  Kumar, my District 17 colleague and longtime friend, broke ground as the first Indian-American elected to the legislature.  The former House Majority Leader, he is now the adroit chair of the committee that oversees environment and transportation issues.
Whether or not you agree with all of my recommendations…
PLEASE be sure to VOTE tomorrow!  
You can find your voting location and answers to other FAQ’s here
After you vote, you can follow my work on Election Day and beyond via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  I look forward to seeing you in the community this summer and fall! 
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
Rockville & Gaithersburg
PS: Please feel free to forward this to friends or neighbors.  Voter turnout is vital in this year of hotly-contested elections!

Montgomery County Public Schools
April 19, 2016

Legislative Session Summary

When the 2016 regular session of the Maryland General Assembly came to a close at midnight on April 11, 2015, a total of 2,817 bills had been introduced, of which 834 were successful.annapolisdome

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, total state aid for primary and secondary education will increase by $190.5 to $6.4 billion, a total increase of 3.4 percent compared with FY 2016. State aid through the Bridge to Excellence formulas increases by $147.1 million, or 2.7 percent. This increase reflects full funding of the mandated education formulas including the Geographic Cost of Education Index. The budget also includes $19.4 million for five school systems that have lost enrollment and aid in recent years (Baltimore City, Calvert County, Carroll County, Garrett County, and Kent County). An additional $19.0 million in budgetary savings is restricted for grants to help school systems fund the increase in their share of teachers’ retirement costs.

Montgomery County’s share of direct aid for primary and secondary education is more than $671 million, a 5.3 percent increase from FY 2016. The total state FY 2017 capital budget includes $280 million for the traditional Public School Construction Program. By March 2015, $252 million of those funds was allocated, with Montgomery County recommended to receive $31.4 million. The remaining dollars will be allocated by mid-May.

Click here for the full article and breakdown of local issues

MoCo Exec IKE LEGGETT Lowers Proposed Property Tax Increase

Posted on April 6, 2016
105.9 FM WMAL

FLASHBACK: MARCH 14TH: Leggett Proposes Property Tax Increase In Bid to Increase Education Spending.  In his recommended $5.27 billion fiscal year 2017 operating budget, Leggett called for a property tax increase of 3.94 cents per $100 of assessed value, a new rate that would go into effect July 1 and that would cost the average county homeowner about $27 more per month. The average home value in Montgomery County is about $460,000. The 8.6 percent tax increase surpasses the maximum rate allowed under the county’s charter, meaning it could require support from all nine members of the County Council for final approval.

BREAKING NEWS: LEGGETT TO COUNCIL: REDUCE PROPOSED PROPERTY TAX INCREASE. County Executive Ike Leggett today amended his 2017 budget to the County Council to reduce his proposed property tax increase by 46 percent following the announcement by Governor Hogan that he will allow to become law a Maryland General Assembly bill that extends the repayment schedule for counties to comply with the US Supreme Court’s Wynne decision.
“My initial proposed operating budget includes $50 million to cover Wynne case costs,” said Leggett. “I promised our State Delegation that if they passed legislation that would extend the back payments to the State I would reduce my property tax increase request. They have delivered, I have amended my proposed budget to reflect the savings from that legislation, and I recommend to the Council that reduction. The timing of credits to the affected taxpayers will not be delayed.
“I want to thank the sponsors of the bill, Senators Rich Madaleno and Cheryl Kagan, and all the other members of our State delegation who worked hard to ensure passage of this legislation.”
The legislation, Senate Bill 766, saves Montgomery County $33 million for the upcoming year, reducing the Wynne costs to $17 million. Reducing the property tax increase from 3.9 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 2.1 cents – a 46 percent reduction — brings the County Executive’s proposed average monthly property tax increase down from $27 to $18.67.

Leggett Trims Proposed Property Tax Increase

Washington Post: April 6, 2016

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett in 2010. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced Wednesday that he has trimmed the residential property tax increase he proposed last month, citing new state legislation that eases fiscal fallout from last year’s Supreme Court ruling that Maryland’s income tax system was unconstitutional.

It was Leggett’s second consequential economic message this week. On Tuesday, he said he supported a $15-an-hour minimum wage for the county, provided it is phased in over at least six years and that increases can be delayed if economic conditions deteriorate.

Leggett (D) told the County Council on Wednesday that he reduced the property tax increase included in the 2017 budget he submitted last month from 8.7 percent to 6.4 percent. It drops the property tax rate increase from 3.9 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 2.1 cents.

With rising assessments, it means that the average annual residential tax bill would rise just under $242 a year, from $3,749.50 to $3,991.42 — instead of $4,075.

Leggett said he was able to lower his proposed increase after learning that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will not veto legislation extending the period during which the county would receive reduced revenue distributions from the state because of the Wynne case.

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 last year that Maryland was illegally denying residents a full credit for taxes paid on income earned outside the state. The court said the provision of the state’s tax law constituted double taxation and ordered refunds to those who had filed claims.

The county is still looking at more than $200 million in reduced tax revenue as a result of the court-mandated refunds. But under the new law, the reductions will start in May 2019 instead of this June and will be spread out across 20 quarters rather than nine.

The legislation, sponsored by state Sens. Richard S. Madaleno (D-Montgomery) and Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery), means that the county will face a $17 million reduction instead of $50 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The proposed slice in the tax increase doesn’t change the major elements of Leggett’s 2017 budget. Most of the increase would still be devoted to the 156,000-student public school system, which is facing explosive enrollment growth.

In a letter to Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), Leggett urged the council “to stay within this revised recommended property tax rate and overall recommended level of expenditures.”

The council will have a series of public hearings and work sessions before taking final action on the budget in mid-May.

On Tuesday, Leggett voiced conditional support for a bill sponsored by council member Marc Elrich (D-At Large) to raise the county’s minimum wage — currently $9.55 — to $15 an hour by 2020.

Elrich said he plans to formally introduce the measure next week. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has announced that she will ask the D.C. Council for similar legislation.

Montgomery joined the District and Prince George’s County in 2013 to lift the minimum to $11.50 by no later than October 2017.

A $15-an-hour wage is the target of a national campaign organized by low-wage workers, labor and Democratic activists. New York and California lawmakers have recently approved plans to phase in the new wage over several years.

In an interview Tuesday, Leggett said he would support the Elrich bill if the phase-in period was expanded to 2022, as it is in California. He said the proposal must also have an “off-ramp” that allows the county to delay implementation of increases in a bad economy.

“I would move it back a couple of years,” Leggett said of the phase-in. “Second, if you run into a clear recessionary downturn, you should have a provision to hold it [wage increases] for a period of time.”


Washington Jewish Week: March 30, 2016

Edwards’ Emily’s List support rankles Van Hollen backers 

By backing a woman candidate, is the group opposing one of the ‘good guys’?


Rep. Donna Edwards, left, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen are both progressives who want to succeed Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)


Members of America’s Jewish community, by and large, are some of the most progressive voters there are. They consistently back pro-choice Democrats, in some cases by a margin greater than 2-1, and other candidates who advocate increased public expenditures for social service projects and education.

But they’re also staunchly pro-Israel, a fact which has many in Montgomery County scratching their heads over a decision by the progressive political action committee Emily’s List — which backs Democratic women running for Congress — to throw its financial support, some of it raised from local Jewish voters, behind Rep. Donna Edwards in her primary fight against Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Both want to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

“It’s unfortunate that they’re going against one of the good guys,” said state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17), a Van Hollen backer, member of Montgomery County’s Jewish community and an Emily’s List supporter, said of the push for Edwards over Van Hollen. She said, “And now they have less money to spend in Pennsylvania, California, New York and other key races around the country.”

And at the top of the political heap nationwide stands former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who finds herself in a narrowing race for the Democratic nomination for president.

Emily’s List has “an opportunity to elect the first woman president of the United States,” said Kagan. “It seems to me like that would be a really important use of their time.”

(Emily’s List is on record as supporting Clinton in the primary race against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but its super PAC, Women Vote!, has spent more than $2 million on behalf of Edwards, who currently represents the Fourth Congressional District. Van Hollen represents the Eighth District.)

The controversy surrounding Edwards’ ties to Emily’s List played out onstage Monday night during an often contentious debate between the two candidates at Goucher College. When Baltimore Sun opinion editor Andy Green asked Edwards about her contributions from the PAC, she asserted she was “proud” to have its support.

“Emily’s List doesn’t hide who it is,” she said. “They support pro-choice Democratic women because we need to expand the number of women in the Senate and all of our legislative bodies. On the other hand, Mr. Van Hollen, who was swearing off dark money, is now being supported by [the] Realtors PAC putting in almost $1 million into his campaign.”

Van Hollen retorted that Edwards had taken $25,000 in PAC money from Realtors over the last two election cycles.

“Look, if you’re against Citizens United, you don’t get to pick and choose which super PAC you like and which one you don’t like,” he said, referring to the Supreme Court decision several years ago that affirmed the use of so-called “soft money” in federal campaigns.

Van Hollen went on to challenge television ads being run by Emily’s List that assert that she is not tied to big business.

“When you see their ads running that say Congresswoman Edwards doesn’t take any money from Wall Street, guess what? The overwhelming majority of the money for that super PAC, Women Vote! comes from people on Wall Street,” he said. “Hedge fund managers.”

Some in the Washington Jewish community, such as Helane Goldstein of Chevy Chase, dislike Edwards due to her voting record on foreign affairs, in particular a vote in which more than 400 members of the House of Representatives, including Van Hollen, backed a 2013 bill supporting sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. Edwards was one of 21 members who voted against it.

“She has played her hand dozens of times where she has showed us she’s not a supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship, because legislatively she’s been on the other side of the fence of the House,” said Goldstein.

Goldstein, a supporter of Emily’s List, feels pay equity along with other women’s issues are important in the race, but she said that one should not vote solely based on gender.

“We don’t back Jewish candidates just because we’re Jewish,” she explained. “We have to be moral and we have to be strategic, and we have to delve into what’s right and what’s wrong for us. And I’m not going to support a candidate just because she’s a female.”

Edwards’ record on Israel has also been a source of concern for Washington attorney Behnam Dayanim, who wrote an op-ed last month for Washington Jewish Week supporting Van Hollen. In an interview, Dayanim said he thinks Edwards has been “distinctively unsympathetic” toward Israel by not standing with other members of the House on votes such one on the Goldstone Report in 2009 — a United Nations-commissioned report that accused the Israel Defense Forces of human rights violations in the Gaza war, and whose conclusions were later disputed by the lead author of the report. Van Hollen voted with the majority of Congress in denouncing it.

“On a consistent basis when it comes to issues that are important to Israel, Chris Van Hollen has been there and Donna Edwards has not,” Dayanim said.  “That’s the kind of unhelpfulness and the lack of Israeli support that we’ve seen from her and that contrasts with what we’ve seen from Chris.”

Dayanim added that Emily’s List’s decision to invest so much money to Edwards’ campaign shows a “lack of sensitivity” for Jewish voters in Maryland who care about Israel, and thinks the organization ought to consider whether there is “anything about the candidate who might raise concerns within the constituency upon which they are running” when considering where it should spend its money.
“I think it raises a lot of questions about how Emily’s list prioritizes the candidates its support,” he said.

In a race in which Edwards has positioned herself as the standard-bearer of women’s issues, Kagan pointed out that Van Hollen is fervently pro-choice and has a record of supporting working families. She characterized Emily’s List’s stance as putting money into a “race against an ally.”

“Fundamentally, we shouldn’t be electing people because of gender. I didn’t ask people to vote for me because I was a woman,” said Kagan, who has known Van Hollen since the 1990s, when they both served in Maryland’s House of Delegates. “I thought I could be most effective and a lot more consistent in my advocacy than my opponents. I would love to have a woman as Barbara Mikulski’s successor, but more important than that I want an effective leader for the state of Maryland in the U.S. Senate, and hands down, that candidate is Chris Van Hollen.”

Personal ties to Van Hollen are key for Bethesda resident and former Democratic National Committee vice chair Susan Turnbull, who has known Van Hollen since the early 1980s. Turnbull said everyone she knows has contributed to the Van Hollen campaign, including those who regularly give to Emily’s list.

“Emily’s list has as its sole mission the election of pro-choice Democratic women, and so I believe that they had no choice in the matter,” she said. “However I believe that the long-term impact will be negligible among those who are paying attention to this race.”

One Jewish voter said he’d be happy with either.

Ken Feinberg, a Washington lawyer who was chief of staff for the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, would be happy with either Edwards or Van Hollen.

He said, “Not with any regard to any specific candidate, I think more women should be in government.”

For her part, Edwards sees Emily’s List support as a logical step in a legacy that reaches back to the PAC’s support for Mikulski during her first run for the Senate in 1986.

“Thirty years later,” said Edwards campaign spokesman Benjamin Gerdes, “we’re proud to have their support and the support of working women all across Maryland and around the country.”

Maryland Senate honors former Cuba political prisoner

By Michael Dresser of the Baltimore Sun

Jan. 26th, 2016

A Marylander who spent five years as a political prisoner in Cuba called for faster progress toward reconciliation with the Communist nation as he was honored Friday by the Maryland Senate.

Alan Gross, of Potomac, traveled to Annapolis a little more than a year after he was released by Cuban authorities as part of the agreement that led to the Obama administration’s restoration of full diplomatic relations with the island state.

Gross, an aid worker who had been assisting Cuba’s small Jewish community, was arrested in 2009 and later convicted of crimes against the state. Former United States President Jimmy Carter and Pope Francis were among those who appealed for his release before Cuba freed him in December 2014 in the run-up to the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana last year.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat, said Gross lost five teeth and 100 pounds during his imprisonment but since his release has gained weight and had his teeth restored.

Gross, 66, told senators he is “focused on the next five years, not the last five years.” He said that if his ordeal had no other purpose than to help restore diplomatic ties, he is satisfied.

“Even though we’re moving in a slow pace, it’s better than no pace,” he said.


Maryland League of Conservation Voters: July 23, 2015

Fighting Freshman Sen. Cheryl Kagan Receives 100 % LCV Rating


Legacy Talk Radio Interview: July 17, 2015

Podcast: Cheryl Kagan, “A Passion for Making a Difference” with Gideon Culman


Listen on iTunes:


Two LGBT bills to become law, but without Gov. Hogan’s signature

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is declining to put his signatures on two pieces of legislation that seek to advance LGBT rights, instead allowing them to become law without committing to either measure. 

The two bills in question are one measure dealing with insurance coverage for infertility treatments for female same-sex couples by giving them parity with heterosexual couples, and another measure allowing transgender and intersex individuals to obtain new, unmarked versions of their birth certificate reflecting their correct name and gender.


Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery Co.), the chief sponsor of the Senate version of the infertility treatment parity bill, told Metro Weekly that as far as she knows, Maryland is the first state in the country to require insurance companies to provide the same type of coverage for infertility treatments for married lesbian couples as it would for married heterosexual couples with a similar plan. She said she was glad that Hogan chose to allow the bill to take effect without his signature. Read more…, May 22, 2015

MML Honors Kagan for Advocacy

The Maryland Municipal League (MML) honored Senator Cheryl Kagan Thursday evening for her effective advocacy on issues affecting Maryland’s cities and towns during the 2015 legislative session, according to a news release from the league.

Kagan, in her first year as a state Senator, is one of just seven senators and delegates to be recognized as a “Super Star” for her work on behalf of municipalities. The awards are given to legislators who go “above and beyond,” according to the Maryland Municipal League. Read more…

MyMcMedia Interview, April 28, 2015

Sen. Cheryl Kagan on the Purple Line

MyMCMedia interview, April 24, 2015

State Senator Cheryl Kagan on a Day in Her Life

State Senator Cheryl Kagan on on a Day in the Life

The Kojo Nnamdi Show, April 22, 2015

Men in the Maryland Women’s Caucus

In the first four decades of the Maryland Women’s caucus, not one man requested to join. This year, all that changed. Listen here [starting at 31:23]…

Washington Blade, April 17, 2015

Maryland fertility bill ‘inadvertently’ discriminates against straight couples

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh this week said a bill that would ensure lesbian couples have equal access to fertility treatments may subject heterosexual couples to discrimination.

Frosh in a letter he sent to Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday wrote that Senate Bill 416 and House Bill 838 may violate the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health insurance plans covered within it from discriminating based on sexual orientation.


State lawmakers last month approved the bill that state Del. Terri Hill (D-Baltimore and Howard Counties) and state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery County) introduced in their respective legislative chambers. Read more…

Bethesda Magazine, April 16, 2015

Bill To Increase Power Of Student School Board Member Suffers 11th-Hour Defeat. Questions from conservative senator stalls final vote as legislature adjourns for year

Maryland Reporter, April 10, 2015

Cap on awards for lawsuits against counties, towns divides senators

By Rebecca Lessner


Photo of Sen. Bobby Zirkin by

The fatal shooting on Saturday of an unarmed black man in South Carolina by a white police officer now charged with murder was clearly on the minds of Maryland senators as they debated a 28-year old cap on damages in lawsuits against towns and counties in similar wrongful injuries.


“There are a lot of small cities and towns that do not have police forces…these little towns could be vulnerable to lawsuits that could bankrupt them,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery. Read more…

Maryland Reporter, April 6, 2015

With a week to go, an update on bills we’ve been following

By Rebecca Lessner

With one-week left to go in the 90-day session of the Maryland General Assembly, here is the status of legislation has been following.

Monday after the first meeting of the conference committee on the state budget is scheduled to meet and start resolving differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget.


SAME-SEX INFERTILITY:A bill providing infertility service coverage for same-sex couples, SB 416 sponsored by Sen. Cheryl Kagan, passed the Senate with a 37-10 vote. It moved onto the House for review where it received a favorable report with no amendments from the House Health and Government Operations committee. CLARIFICATION 4/6/2015, 10:30 a.m. The House version of the bill, HB838 by Del. Terri Hill, passed 94-44 March 24 and was sent to the Senate. Read more…

WHAG TV, April 2, 2015

Maryland Lawmakers Work to Provide Fertility Benefits for Married Lesbian Couples

By Kirstin Garriss

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In 2013, same sex marriage became law in Maryland. Two years later, lawmakers are working on bringing equality to health benefits.

“This is about updating our laws in order to reflect the reality that two women can be married and want to start a family. They deserve the same kind of health care coverage that straight couples would have if they’re having trouble conceiving ” said Senator Cheryl Kagan, (D) Montgomery County. View video…


Washington Post, April 1, 2015

Maryland Senate panel approves watered-down charter school bill

A Maryland Senate committee voted Tuesday to approve a watered-down version of a bill proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) that was designed to increase the number of charter schools in the state.

Hogan’s original bill made sweeping changes to the state’s charter law, giving schools the ability to hire and fire teachers, doing away with a requirement that charters fall under state collective bargaining rules and giving charters more say over who can attend. Read more…

Metro Weekly, March 31, 2015

Infertility coverage, transgender birth certificate bills pass first hurdle in Md.

The Maryland House of Delegates and Senate last week successfully passed, by large margins, their own versions of two bills containing pro-equality provisions that will benefit members of the Free State’s LGBT community. All four bills — two from the House and two from the Senate — will now “cross over” into the opposite chamber, where they will again be considered and voted upon. If passed, both bills will head to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature into law. Read more…

The Seventh State, March 27, 2015

Equal IVF Treatment for Same-Sex Couples Passes Senate

By David Lublin

Sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17), SB 416 requires insurers to give equal coverage for in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination to lesbian couples. The bill passed third reading in the Senate by 37-10. Read more…

Maryland Reporter, March 26, 2015

Fertilization coverage for same-sex couples causes Senate debate

By Rebecca Lessner

Legislators debated the meaning of “equality” as they considered a bill that will guarantee insurance benefits for same-sex couples seeking artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures.

The proposal, SB 416, expands fertility benefits for all insurance plans in Maryland to include same-sex couples. It passed the Senate Tuesday in a 37-10 vote. A similar bill passed the House Tuesday. Read more…

Baltimore Sun, March 24, 2015

In vitro mandate bill for same-sex couples passes both chambers

By Michael Dresser and Timothy B. Wheeler

Senate and House pass bills extending insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization to lesbian couples.

Proponents say it’s a matter of equal treatment but foes say it misses mark.

Legislation intended to put lesbians on a par with straight couples on health insurance coverage for advanced fertility procedures has passed both the Senate and the House. Read more…

 Baltimore Sun, March 21, 2015

Budget debate unfolds at opportune time for Van Hollen

Just two weeks after Rep. Chris Van Hollen announced his candidacy for the Senate, the legislative calendar has thrust him into a high-profile fight over the federal budget on Capitol Hill that will almost certainly have implications for his campaign in Maryland.

The Montgomery County Democrat, the first to enter the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, will have a national platform in coming days from which to present a message that’s just as compatible with the fledgling Senate race as it is for the budget debate.


“So many times I happen to randomly turn on my television and see my own congressman,” said state Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat who endorsed Van Hollen this week.

He has been a frequent guest recently on national television and radio, and has held daily media events to hammer the GOP budget proposal for cutting financial aid for students, rolling back the Affordable Care Act and trimming food stamps. Read More…

Baltimore Sun, March 19, 2015

Bill would require fertility benefits for lesbians

By Michael Dresser

Fiona Jardine, right, and her wife Jo Arnone will benefit if the General Assembly passes a bill to extend in vitro health benefits to same-sex couples. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

Fiona Jardine, right, and her wife Jo Arnone will benefit if the General Assembly passes a bill to extend in vitro health benefits to same-sex couples. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun)

If Fiona M. Jardine had a husband, the expensive fertility treatments she’s now undergoing would be covered by her health plan.

But Jardine, 29, is married to a woman, so she and her wife have to pay out of pocket.

A bill that would grant married lesbian couples the same fertility treatment benefits as husbands and wives is advancing in the Maryland General Assembly. The measure passed unanimously in a House subcommittee Tuesday, and full Senate and House committees are likely to vote this week. Read more…

Montgomery County Media, March 18, 2015

Senator Kagan Sponsors Bill to Save Lives

by Sonya Burke

State Senator Cheryl Kagan of District 17 has introduced an organ donation bill to expand entry points to Maryland’s registry in order to enlarge the donor pool and shorten the wait for those in need of transplants.

“This bill is about saving lives,” said Kagan. “Expanding our transplant registry will allow us to find a match for the approximately 3,600 Marylanders on waiting lists.” Read more…

Sen. Kagan Press Release, March 16, 2015

State Government Must be Language-Accessible Under Senator Kagan’s Bill

On Wednesday, March 18 at 1pm, Senator Cheryl Kagan (D/17) will be joined by a disparate group of witnesses advocating for making state government easily understandable to Marylanders of Limited English Proficiency (LEP).  Read more…

WAMU, 88.5 FM, March 12, 2015

Organ Donor Signups Would Be Expanded Under Maryland Lawmaker’s Bill

Sen. Kagan Press Release, March 10, 2015

Senator Cheryl Kagan, Along with 43 State Senators, Sponsors Bill to Save Lives

In Maryland, 54 percent of residents are registered as organ donors.  Unfortunately, that ranks us an embarrassing 27th among states.  Sen. Cheryl Kagan, of Rockville and Gaithersburg, has introduced a bill to expand entry points to Maryland’s registry in order to enlarge the donor pool and shorten the wait for those in need of transplants.  SB415, the “Enhancing Organ Donor Rates Act,” will be heard in the Senate Judicial Proceedings (JPR) Committee tomorrow at 1pm. Read more…

Capital News Service, March 10, 2015

VIDEO: Organ Donor Expansion Bill Aims to Save Lives

By Gillian Morleylondon_live

ANNAPOLIS — An estimated 3,600 Marylanders are currently awaiting life-saving organ transplants. Lawmakers in Annapolis are considering legislation that would help facilitate organ donation and raise the state from 27th in the nation for organ donation registration.  See video…

WAMU, 88.5 FM, March 9, 2015

Maryland Bill Would Help Secure Fertility Coverage For Lesbian Couples

The state of Maryland has been at the forefront nationally regarding equality laws for same-sex couples. But advocates say there are still plenty of gaps, and a state senator from Montgomery County intends to close one of them.

Democrat Cheryl Kagan says health insurance carriers can still deny coverage for fertility treatments to lesbian couples.  Listen here…

Sen. Kagan Press Release, March 2, 2015

Senator Kagan Bill Seeks to Align Insurance Benefits with Marriage Laws

Annapolis, MD: On Wednesday, the Senate Finance committee will hear a bill that will update existing law to include pregnancy and infertility insurance coverage for all married couples.  SB416, introduced in February by Senator Cheryl C. Kagan (Rockville and Gaithersburg), would allow all married women, including lesbian couples, who have exhausted other attempts at pregnancy for two years, to receive the same infertility benefits. Read more…

Baltimore Sun, Feb. 9, 2015

Maryland Senate votes to raise maximum speed limit to 70 mph

Senator Cheryl Kagan, District 17

Yolanda Vazquez is on location in Annapolis Maryland with Maryland State Senator from District 17 Cheryl Kagan. They discuss the the 2015 Legislative Session. Follow Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan on Facebook and Twitter. Taped 01/28/15.

For more videos and information on your your community, go to

Washington Jewish Week, January 29, 2015

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan Sworn-In in Annapolis


Montgomery Gazette, January 28, 2015

Annual legislative briefing empowers women, including next generation

Hogan sworn in as Maryland’s governor

Maryland’s 62nd governor Larry Hogan (R) addressed a crowd in front of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, pledging to make Maryland a place of “unlimited promise.”  Gov. Larry Hogan took office Wednesday calling for a new era of bipartisan cooperation even as he declared that Maryland fell short economically under the policies imposed by Democratic leaders. Read more…

Delmarva Now, January 21, 2015

With inauguration, new governor also gets “Hogan’s Hero”

When Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was sworn in Wednesday, he brought with him promises of bipartisanship in government — and at lunch.

At Chick and Ruth’s Delly, a restaurant on Main Street in Annapolis known for naming its menu items after Maryland politicians, the newest offerings include “Hogan’s Bipartisan soup” ($5.99), which features Maryland crab and cream of crab “working together.” In addition, the new governor will also have a “Hogan’s Hero,” a cheesesteak with American cheese and grilled onions. ($7.79 for a half; $10.79 for a whole sandwich.) Read more…

Montgomery Gazette, January 20, 2015

Rockville to state: Money needed for schools, roads

by Ryan Marshall Staff writer

Rockville city officials’ wish list for its state lawmakers this session include more state money for schools and road projects, plus clarity in how a municipality’s master plan should be adopted.

The session, which started Jan. 14, runs through April 13.

The city is focused on these priorities:

• Getting more money for school construction to allow schools in Rockville and throughout Montgomery County to deal with increasing enrollment and aging buildings.

• Finding a permanent way for municipalities to get money for road and infrastructure projects through highway user revenues. Read more…

Town Courier, January 14, 2015

Legislative Team Ready for 2015

Photo | Pam Schipper Delegate Kumar Barve (standing) addresses the crowd assembled at a District 17 Democratic Club program in the Kentlands Clubhouse. (Left to right) Delegate Jim Gilchrist, Delegate-Elect Andrew Platt and Senator-Elect Cheryl Kagan

The upcoming 2015 legislative session in Annapolis looks a bit daunting. Maryland’s budget shortfall is estimated at $1.2 billion, and new Republican Governor-Elect Larry Hogan was elected on a platform that promised to curb state spending. In December, Governor-Elect Hogan released a statement cautioning “that Marylanders understand that these latest downward numbers mean the upcoming budget choices will be even harder and more difficult than expected.” Read more…


Montgomery Gazette January 13, 2014

Kagan: Hogan not showing ‘his love’ for Montgomery

Cheryl Kagan

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan must understand Montgomery County’s needs and the role it plays in Maryland’s success, incoming District 17 Sen.-elect Cheryl Kagan told Rockville’s mayor and City Council on Monday.

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan must understand Montgomery County’s needs and the role it plays in Maryland’s success, incoming District 17 Sen.-elect Cheryl Kagan told Rockville’s mayor and City Council on Monday.

In the days before taking office, Hogan (R) — an Annapolis businessman — is “not expressing his love for Montgomery County,” said Kagan (D) of Rockville. Read more…

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