Sheila E. Hixson
|Sheila E. Hixson|
|Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
from the 20th district
January 14, 1976
February 9, 1933 |
|Residence||Montgomery County, Maryland|
Sheila Ellis Hixson (born February 9, 1933) is an American politician, a member of the Democratic Party who has served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 1976. Hixson represents District 20 in Montgomery County, Maryland which includes parts of Burtonsville, Takoma Park, and Silver Spring neighborhoods of Hillandale, Woodmoor, White Oak, Indian Spring, East Silver Spring, and Colesville. Hixson is chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, and the first woman ever to chair that committee in Maryland.
Hixson was born and raised in L’Anse, Michigan. Members of her family worked in the mills (as did she during summer vacations) and were members of local unions. She attended public high school and later Northern State Teachers College. Upon graduation, she became a Head Start Teacher in the Detroit School System.
In the early 1960s she became active in her community and campaigned for U.S. Representative William D. Ford of Michigan. When asked to continue working on his staff, she moved to the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. She was then recruited to work as an Aide for the Democratic National Committee. There she learned about choices and freedoms within the context of the socially and politically changing 1960s. She observed the desirability of collaboration and learned the fine art of negotiation While employed as a legislative representative for the American Psychological Association, she became active in her community and was elected to the Montgomery County Central Committee.
Maryland General Assembly
In 1976, Hixson was elected a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in Annapolis. Her first committee assignment was the House Environmental Matters Committee, followed by the Ways & Means Committee. In 1993 she was appointed chair of the Ways & Means Committee becoming the highest ranked woman delegate in the General Assembly. In this role, she is responsible for state and local taxation matters; education programs and financing; elections; transportation funding; lottery and horse racing; and issues relating to children youth and families.
Hixson was a member of Maryland's "Thornton Commission" and one of the original supporters of the five-year Bridge to Excellence Plan for public primary and secondary education. Maryland became the first State in the country to endorse a comprehensive reform of its school finance system based on principles of adequacy and equity without being forced to do so by a court order. Once enacted, additional funds were included in the 2008 budget to accommodate the Geographic Cost of Education Index, a concept promoted by Hixson. This legislation allows localities to secure funds based on specific costs related to its county or locale. She has also sponsored bills to increase funding formulas for ESOL classes in the schools and for Adult English Language and Literacy education. Hixson has been a continuous sponsor of the Tuition Affordability Act which freezes in-state undergraduate tuition increases for 2006, 2007. The legislation was expanded further into 2008 by governor Martin O’Malley.
Hixson spearheaded legislation for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening making Maryland the 13th state to mandate hearing testing for all babies born in the State. In addition, Hixson’s legislation established the Hearing Aid Loaner Program and mandated insurance coverage for children’s hearing aids. She sponsored the Spinal Cord Regeneration Trust fund to provide for research to develop new therapies to restore neurological function in individuals with spinal cord injuries, the Senior Prescription Drug Act, and a funding formula legislation for infants and toddlers.
Hixson sponsored legislation to first provide for and then accelerate Earned Income Tax Credit for the Working Poor; filed the first bill ending discrimination based on sexual orientation; created a “living will” to provide advance directives; and sponsored the groundbreaking Maryland Responsible Gun Safety Act of 2000 which made Maryland the first state to require that all handguns be sold with built-in locks. Also, Hixson was the original sponsor of the Healthy Maryland Initiative which raised the cigarette tax by $1 as a means to close a gap in Medicaid funding. This increase was added to the 2008 tax package.
Sheila Hixson sponsored legislation making Maryland the first state to enter into an Interstate Compact Agreement to Elect the President by Popular Vote which takes effect when signed by enough states to reach the 270 electoral votes necessary to elect a president. In the same year, Hixson sponsored legislation that provided a “voter-verifiable” paper trail ensuring a physical record of votes.
- 2010- 20 Most Influential Maryland Legislators
- 2008 Champion of Working Families, Progressive Maryland
- The Daily Record's Maryland's Top 100 Women(2000 and 2007)
- Maryland's Top 100 Women's Circle of Excellence (2009)
- AFL-CIO of Maryland Building and Construction Trades Council (Legislator of the Year, 1996)
- Outstanding Leadership Award from the Woman Legislators of Maryland (1993)
- American Heart Association, Heart & Torch Award (1998, 1999 & 2003)
- The Smoke free Maryland Legislator of the Year (1999)
- Louis L. Goldstein Outstanding Mentor Award (1999)
- Maryland Manufacturers Council, Legislator of the Year (2001)
- John Bragg Award Service to Maryland, Southern Legislative Conference (2002)