Preparations for the General Assembly amid COVID-19
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – As lawmakers prepare to reconvene in January, they’re tackling many changes to the legislative process due to COVID-19 regulations.
Del. Carl Anderton Jr., a Republican representing District 38B says “This session will be unique unlike anything we’ve every experienced, a lot of it will be done virtually.”
Maryland lawmakers say they’ve made many adjustments as they prepare to reconvene in January. “We as the elected officials will take responsibilities for very small meetings, no more than two people. We would escort and make sure they pass those health screenings so we’re protecting the public, our colleagues and the staff,” says Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, a Republican representing District 38.
Lawmakers say they’re used to working with the public, so the pandemic has created challenges as to how they will carry out certain procedures to pass bills while also keeping the public involved. As a result, they’re planning to use Zoom this year to make the process accessible virtually.
“We will also ensure that the public has access, and can see us at all times and also provide their testimonies through that mechanism as well, as well as traditional written testimony that will still be accepted,” says Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes, a Democrat representing District 37A.
They consulted an infectious disease and indoor air quality expert, to create these new regulations. Some say the new regulations will make their jobs different, but not impossible.
Sen. Addie Eckardt, a Republican representing District 37 says, “I think we’re going to learn to make better use of our time and be a more efficient and focused with our hearing process and our delivery.”
With all of these obstacles to overcome amidst COVID-19, local lawmakers say they are working diligently to adjust to these new norms and will continue to work together to get bills passed for the eastern shore.
“As trying as it may be going into Annapolis, we’re going to succeed because we always do. We have a great team working together, so I look forward to getting up there and making it happen,” says Del. Anderton.
Maryland lawmakers say their top priorities this session include, rural broadband access on the shore, COVID-19 recovery, and inclusiveness within the state.
The general assembly is set to reconvene on January 13th in Annapolis.