ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The floor at the statehouse is back open but not in a way any of us our used to.
The building will rarely be bustling, instead we will see politicians in front of their computer screens working to get the state back on track during the pandemic.
On Wednesday, politicians came to their desks now surrounded by Plexiglas.
Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times.
No more breaks longer than two hours.
The prayer before the session now zoomed in.
“All the committee hearings are going to be virtual, all the sub committee hearings are going to be virtual,” said Del. Jay Jacobs. “Sometime in February we will be called in and start voting on the floor as according to the constitution we have to be on the floor to register our votes.”
That’s just the precautions inside — so many of the issues and laws up for discussion are related to COVID-19.
Another big topic of course this session will be the Kirwin Commission plan that the Governor vetoed and how to pay for it.
Republican Sen. Paul Corderman said it’s important for people to remember that no matter what side they are on everyone is for education.
“I don’t want that to be lost in it. We’re all pro education we’re pro teachers, we want to support our schools and support our children. The realities are the financial implications. Especially more so than ever the current climate of the economy and certain issues we’ve been facing with the COVID pandemic it makes it even more challenging.”
Senate President Bill Ferguson said there are ways to pay for it including the digital ads tax and digital downloads tax, but the Governor also vetoed those bills last session.
“Big tech does not pay taxes into Maryland,” Ferguson said. “Big tech and big tobacco have made record profits in the midst of the pandemic while our mom and pop small businesses have been struggling to get by.”
As far the first orders of business there was a virtual joint work group focusing on vaccines at 3:30.