ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — With the number of cases of the coronavirus in Maryland growing, lawmakers at the State House are ending their session more than two weeks early.
It’s the first time since the Civil War lawmakers have cut a session short. In doing so, the fate of a number of bills is uncertain.
“I have four bills up in their air right now,” said Del. Robin Grammer (R-Baltimore County). “They may be dead. We may be able to save them. We’ll see.”
The session will end Wednesday, but lawmakers could come back in the last week of May.
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Now, everything from the state budget to education reform — and more than 2,000 other bills — are being crammed into the next 48 hours.
“We will be essentially condensing the last month of the session into three days with a third of the staff,” Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) said.
The state’s $47.9 billion budget, which includes $10 million to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, is the only action lawmakers are constitutionally required to complete.
“We’re focused on passing the budget because we have to do that to make sure the state of Maryland operates and is funded,” said Del. Al Carr (D-Montgomery County).
Lawmakers are also hoping to finish work on education funding and Gov. Larry Hogan’s crime bill.
“The coronavirus has pretty much taken over the conversation, but if we walk away Wednesday and we don’t have the governor’s crime (bill) passed, it’s not going to be good,” Grammer said.
After Hogan banned mass gatherings of more than 50 people, some delegates are wondering whether their assembly is even allowed.
On Monday, the Senate passed emergency legislation addressing coronavirus-related issues, including extending temporary unemployment benefits. The House of Delegates is set to take up the legislation later Monday evening.