When Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency to combat the spread of COVID-19, the presiding officers of the House and Senate asked all 188 lawmakers to allow their staffs to work from home; mandatory telework was made effective immediately for all other nonessential personnel.
The State House was closed indefinitely to tours and visitors. Only those with state issued identification can enter the Statehouse or legislative offices.
“As many of you know, we are trying to limit the spread of COVID-19 in order to prevent rapid increases of cases in Maryland,” wrote House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson letter to fellow lawmakers. “The more proactive measures we take now, the better Maryland will fare over the weeks to come.”
The memo alluded to an early adjournment of the session and asked committee chairs to prioritize the most critical bills in order to expedite the process.
“We will work through the weekend in session – including floor sessions for the House and the Senate on Sunday, March 15, 2020,” the memo said. The memo also instructed lawmakers to submit any amendment requests to legislation by email.
“In order to fulfill our Constitutional duties and protect the health and safety of all Marylanders, we need to be sure that the Governor has the resources necessary to maintain public health during this extraordinary time.”
Del. Jay Jacobs, R-Kent, said the legislature’s only legal obligation was to pass an operating budget.
“And that’s were going to try and do as quickly as we can, hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday,” Jacobs said in a brief phone interview late Thursday.
He said the session could either adjourn next week or go into recess until the session can be reconvened at a later date.