Common Cause, Maryland PIRG, other organizations urge General Assembly to recess

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
State House
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.

Thank you,

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

Click here to view full list of organizations and individuals

See More: COVID-19