Common Cause Maryland, Maryland PIRG and dozens of other organizations today sent a letter to House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, urging the General Assembly to recess rather than continue operating with only limited input from the public and advocacy organizations. Their letter reads as follows:
March 13, 2020
The Honorable Adrienne A. Jones, Speaker of the House of Delegates
The Honorable Bill Ferguson, President of the Senate
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
Dear Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Jones,
Regarding recent decisions prompted by COVID-19: We are grateful for the rapid response taken by leadership to keep the public informed as well as slow the spread of the virus across the state and in government buildings. As you deal with this crisis, we ask that you do so in a way that is as transparent as possible and urge you to maintain the public’s ability to both watch and participate in the process of our democracy.
On the morning of March 13, 2020, leadership announced that lobbyists and advocates, in addition to the public, will be prohibited from entering the State House, Senate Office Building, and House Office Building. Thus, the General Assembly is operating with limited input from the public and advocates, and the legislative process is taking place without the full voice and input of the people of Maryland.
In order to protect the ability of Marylanders to participate in the democratic process, we urge you to swiftly go into recess until it is appropriate and safe for the public to participate. Once the General Assembly has handled emergency-measures to deal with the public health crisis and the state budget, the legislature should immediately recess.
The public, and advocates play a vital role in the legislative process. But perhaps more importantly, in times of crisis, the public needs to have trust and faith in government. We must be extra vigilant to ensure we are acting in the public interest and in a way that is fully transparent and democratic.
Thank you for all you are doing to protect the health and safety of Marylanders, and for all of the work that has gone into literally hundreds of bills this session.
We look forward to reconvening the 2020 General Assembly so we can all work to finish what we started, as well as deal with the consequences of this crisis on the lives of Marylanders.
Joanne Antoine, Common Cause Maryland
Emily Scarr, Maryland PIRG
Joe Spielberger, ACLU of Maryland
Lois Hybl & Richard Willson, League of Women Voter of Maryland
Ricarra, 1199 SEIU
Ricardo Flores, Maryland Office of the Public Defender
Jesse Iliff, Arundel Rivers Federation, Inc.
Kim Coble, Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Cristi Demnowicz, Represent Maryland
Timothy Judson, Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Betsy Nicholas, Waterkeepers Chesapeake
Chloe Waterman, Friends of the Earth
Lisa Radov, Maryland Votes for Animals, Inc.
Rianna Eckel, Food & Water Action
Diana Philip, NARAL Pro Choice Maryland
Reverend Kobi Little, Citizen
Kimberly Haven, Reproductive Justice Inside
Monica Cooper, Maryland Justice Project
Katlyn Schmitt, Waterkeepers Chesapeake
Jo Saint-George, Maryland Plant-Based Advocates Coalition
Ruth Berlin, Maryland Pesticide Education Network
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Advocates for Children and Youth
Nanci Wilkinson, Cedar Lane Universalist Church EJM
Bonnie Raindrop, Central Maryland Beekeepers Association
Kurt R. Schwarz, Maryland Ornithological Society
Ashley and Paige Colen, Hippocratic Growth LLC
Tom Parenteau, Citizen
Bob Musil, Rachel Carson Council
Meagan Andrade, Citizen
Raquelle Contreras, Citizen
Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, Interfaith Power & Light (DC. MD. NoVA)
Gwen DuBois, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear
Mark Posner, MD Sierra Club
Caroline Taylor, Montgomery Countryside Alliance
Paolo Mutia, Friends of the Earth
Diana Wingate-Gaiser, Constituent
Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastal Trust
Brian Evans, Campaign for Youth
Harriett Crosby, Fox Haven Farm and Learning Center
Rebecca Forte, Anne Arundel County Indivisible
Olivia Lane, Citizen
Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland
Rebecca Snyder, MDDC Press Association
Paulette Hammond, Maryland Conservation Council