This article first appeared here in The Garrett County Republican.
It has been just about a month since the 445th legislative session convened in Annapolis and Senator Mike McKay was sworn in.
“It was a privilege to join my 46 colleagues in what looks to be an interesting and busy 90 days,” he said in his first newsletter.
In a phone interview on Feb. 3, McKay noted that the transition hasn’t been too difficult for him, since he had already represented two out of three of the counties in the Maryland General Assembly in the House of Delegates. This made him familiar with some of the players, contacts and concerns ahead of time.
“But I will tell you that having 23 towns/municipalities, three boards of education, three boards of county commissioners and having a district that runs about two hours and 37 minutes from one end to the other is a little challenging,” he said. “So we are doing our best to introduce ourselves to each and every one within the district.”
McKay said he is also working on putting together a staff.
“Hopefully … we’re going to be able to have somebody who might be a stand-in for me as a representative in some of those towns and municipalities when I’m called to be in Williamsport and Oakland at the same time,” he said.
McKay stated that the No. 1 priority is making sure that any type of funding or issues that were happening in Garrett, Allegany or Washington counties over the last four years still continue to be front and center.
“I don’t want that conversation to be dropped, so whether it be lake issues or it be the Yough or it be just general needs from Garrett County, we’re making sure that that’s there,” he said.
One current bill that McKay mentioned is the Whole Home Act, which he explained will create an entity of funds that will help seniors age in place and also help small landlords.
“We have a population migration in Western Maryland, and we need to make sure that people stay in place as much as they can,” McKay said. “We also need to make sure that we have workforce housing and so this Whole Home Act will take a senior who has gotten older and maybe they physically … and financially can’t take care of their home.”
The Act would take weatherization-type dollars that come from the federal government and put them into one pot to help seniors with grants to keep their homes in good working condition.
“We need to really strengthen our seniors to allow them to age in place and help them to continue the values of their home so it doesn’t become blight,” McKay said. “And then when it’s time for them to sell their home, they now already have workforce development housing already created. So now people can afford to come and live in Garrett County and not in the big homes around the lake.”
McKay stated that a hearing for the Act is planned for Feb. 14. “What we’re asking is to do a pilot program and then let the governor decide what kind of money they want to put in the program,” he said.
When speaking about taking the place of retired Senator George Edwards, McKay stated that the two have worked well together over the last eight years. Edwards was also McKay’s senator when he was a county commissioner in Allegany County.
“What that has done is kind of laid the path for me to follow and it is extended down here in the General Assembly,” he said. “Because of the work we had done with rural health, especially when it comes to oral health and getting oral health put into the Medicaid portfolio, I’ve already made a name for myself looking at statewide issues and how we can help everybody.”
McKay noted that he feels that following the same path as Edwards and also working on relationships gives him an out-of-the gate advantage compared to somebody who had not been there before.
“So we will continue it,” he said. “One of the things that George was always good at was listening, and I hope to follow exactly in his footsteps that way.”
McKay can be reached in his Annapolis Office at 410-841-3565 or his District Office at 240-362-7040. His public email address is email@example.com.