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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Maryland General Assembly postpones special session

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones were grim-faced at Gov. Larry Hogan's news conference on COVID-19 Thursday. (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones in a March press conference about COVID-19. (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

As expected, the May special session of the Maryland General Assembly has been postponed.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones made the announcement in a joint statement, saying it was too soon to hold such a gathering in light of ongoing efforts to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This decision to not meet in May was not taken lightly,”  Ferguson said in the statement. “This is a matter of balancing the safety of staff, legislators and the public, while ensuring that legislators can continue their daily focus on serving their constituents and public in battling this virus, and preparing for the recovery effort.”

The House and Senate ended the 2020 regular session on March 18, nearly three weeks early. The leaders ended the session over concerns about the virus and its potential spread. One staff member was reported to have contracted the virus near the end of the abbreviated session.

The plan, announced at the time, was to reconvene during the third week of May.

Since then, members of a joint legislative work group on the virus have met weekly.

Ferguson and Jones said they continue to evaluate the need and timing for a future special session. Committees in both chambers will continue to meet remotely as needed.

“Legislators in every community in Maryland are working to help their constituents through this historic pandemic — and that’s where their focus should remain.” Jones said in the statement “After consulting with health experts, this is the best course of action at this time. We will get through this together — with every branch of government working as a team until we can safely return.”

The legislature sent more than 670 bills to the governor. Hogan said it is unlikely that those with significant spending will be signed into law but has not committed to vetoing those bills.

Legislation that is not vetoed could become law without his signature.

Hogan has until May 7 to make decisions on those bills.

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3 comments

  1. I am not an attorney. However I believe legislators shouldn’t meet again until all citizens are allowed to attend. During the last three days of the General Assembly our 1st Amendment tights were violated. Lobbying is constitutionally protected free speech. We’re professional lobbyists allowed in? Are all the bills during those three days legally passed or do they have to be voted at a later time when citizens are attending.
    Furthermore the Speaker of the House refused to Recognize Republicans who wanted to discuss the Kirwan funding bill. Therefor, the House passed that bill without allowing it onto to the floor. It seems to me this is a breach of the rules. Rules are rules. It reminds me ofvMarvin Mandel’s minions contemptuously delaying sine die and continued the legislative session significantly after the final hour. There should be legal consequences for these crimes.

  2. Corrected version.
    I am not an attorney. However, I believe our legislators shouldn’t meet again unless all citizens are allowed to attend the session. During the last three days of the 2020 General Assembly our 1st Amendment rights were violated. Lobbying is constitutionally protected free speech. Were professional lobbyists allowed in? Are all the bills during those three days legally passed or do they have to be voted upon at a later time when citizens are able to attend?
    Furthermore, Adrian Jones, the Speaker of the House, refused to recognize Republicans who wanted to discuss the Kirwan funding bill. Therefor, the House passed that bill without allowing it onto to the floor.
    It seems to me this is also a breach of the rules. Rules are rules. It reminds me of when Marvin Mandel’s minions contemptuously delayed, “sine die”, and continued the legislative session well after the final hour. There should be legal consequences for these crimes.

  3. kumarbarve@gmail.com

    The comment that Speaker Jones did not allow debate on the Kirwin bill is flatly untrue. There was extensive debate by both sides. The debate lasted for over an hour. Then there was a vote. A video of all this is on the Maryland General Assembly website. Again, saying that there was no debate or that it was not on the floor is a lie!

    Kumar Barve
    Chairman, Environment & Transportation Committee

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