ANNAPOLIS, Md. — For the first time since the Civil War, the Maryland General Assembly was forced to bring their 2020 Legislative Session to an immediate halt on March 18, almost three weeks earlier than anticipated. At the time, provisions were made to hold a special legislative session in the third week of May, giving what lawmakers thought would be enough time to allow the novel coronavirus(COVID-19) to run its course.

But it turned out not to be enough time.

In a statement from House Speaker Adrienne Jones[D-Baltimore County] and Senate President Bill Ferguson[D-Baltimore City], both agreed that the May session would be too early to reconvene the legislative body. Multiple members of the Southern Maryland delegation agreed that this was likely the best option.

“I think it’s a good move,” Del. Brian Crosby [D-29B] said. “Governor [Larry] Hogan[R] hasn’t reopened other businesses so I don’t think we should be conducting business. I don’t think it sends the right leadership message, and additionally, it just increases the risk of infection… [To come back together] is counterproductive to the social distancing guidelines that governor Hogan has put out.”

While Crosby didn’t want to speculate about the purpose of the special session which would be called by his democratic colleagues, some on the other side of the aisle say they believe the original purpose was to override gubernatorial vetoes that the republican governor is expected to take action on.

Hogan recently announced at one of his press conferences that he will not be signing any bills that would involve increasing state taxes.

“I think the driving force behind [the special session] was to override the governor’s vetoes on tax increases and Kirwan,” Del. Matt Morgan [R-29A] explained. “Their decision not to have that makes sense, because the pandemic has put the state and local government in a [tough spot] right now… They can call a special session at any time so I don’t know whether we will have one late summer, early fall, or something like that, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”

If the governor doesn’t veto a bill by May 7, it will automatically go into law. Hogan is currently sitting on over 670 bills that require action.

Following the impact of COVID-19 on Maryland, Morgan believes that if their is another special session called this year, the “fiscal impact” of the virus will likely be the center of discussion.

“My understanding is that the budget is projected to be $2.8 billion out of alignment because of the pandemic,” Morgan said. “Something is going to have to be redone where the legislature meets or the Board of Public Works meets again, because our only constitutional mandated thing that we must do is pass a balanced budget…

This is a financial crisis as much as it is a public health crisis, and nothing causes unhealthy people like poverty and financial chaos.”

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