Maryland lawmakers prepare for coronavirus impact

Posted at 4:35 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 17:11:12-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — As the Governor concentrates of the Health and Safety of the State, legislators are fast at work in case this virus take effect on the session.

Legislators are doing what many businesses are doing right now, trying to find a way to get ahead of the coronavirus.

Senate President Bill Ferguson with his take on the pandemic we find ourselves in now. The session, like many others, has Democrats and Republicans sticking to their views with some cooperation but, the coronavirus seems to have both parties in agreement...we need to finish the session before the scheduled last day of April 6.

"We need to follow the guidelines, pass the emergency stuff and get back to our districts," J.B. Jennings said.

"We can not leave the chamber until we pass a budget or else government will stop on July 1," Ferguson said.

To assure our government won't come to a screeching halt on July 1, legislators are picking up the pace, starting with this weekend.

"We will be having double sessions, working in committee, really pressing hard to get the budget out. I know we can do it," Kathy Szeliga said.

There's a reason for all this and it's a harsh reality.

"The minute somebody in this chamber or the other chamber test positive, we're all going to be quarantined and we're going to be shut down."

As with most of the state things are developing quickly.

"We're looking at every option. We want to make sure that we know what options are available to us and making sure should facts change that we have the right steps available to protect the state of Maryland and members and protect public safety," Ferguson said.

"Today is kind of like September 12th, the world changed yesterday and we're in a new environment and we need to make sure we keep everybody safe," Jennings said.

President Ferguson said coming back for a special session later has been discussed as well.

Governor Larry Hogan today issued the following statement:

“With Maryland in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature’s sole focus should be those measures immediately necessary to protect the public health and safety of Marylanders.

“Members of the General Assembly must take these three actions no later than Tuesday, March 17:

1) Approve the FY21 budget to assure the government remains open and functioning.

2) Confirm Colonel Woodrow J. Jones as Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.

3) Pass the emergency legislation to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our state.

“It is impossible at this time to know how long this public health emergency will continue, and it is critical for legislators to take these actions immediately in the event that this rapidly evolving situation requires them to immediately adjourn.”