PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Md. General Assembly Could End 90-Day Session Early Due to Coronavirus

ANNAPOLIS — As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc across the globe, the Maryland General Assembly may be the next casualty, as lawmakers mull ending the 90-day session early.

The final day of the legislative session known as “Sine Die” is scheduled for April 6.

“This is an extraordinary moment” said Senate President Bill Ferguson after the House stood in recess until 4 p.m. Friday. “First and foremost, we’re here to make sure we’re protecting the health and safety of members and staff and the public. Of course, we have the people’s business to do.”

Before the 141 members of the House of Delegates and 47 state senators can leave, members must pass a state budget.

Sen. Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, who represents portions of Baltimore and Harford counties, summarized other pieces of legislation the chamber must approve: confirm state police superintendent, coronavirus emergency legislation and assess boards and commissions scheduled to end at the end of this fiscal year.

Members are scheduled to conduct meet in Annapolis throughout the weekend.

“That is what we need to be doing right now, because the minute somebody in this chamber or the other chamber tests positive, we’re all going to be quarantined,” Jennings said. “We need to stop dragging our feet dealing with all these other bills, but times have changed. We need to make sure we keep everybody safe. Let’s pass the emergency stuff and let’s get out of town.”

The Senate granted preliminary approval on emergency legislation to grant Gov. Larry Hogan the authority to reduce costs for testing for the coronavirus to decrease health care barriers. It would also prohibit price-gouging and ensure employees who are quarantined don’t lose their jobs.

The House approved a similar version first introduced by the presiding officers and Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Howard County), who is also a doctor.

While members continued conducting government business in their respective chambers, Hogan announced five new confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the state, bringing the total number to 17.

Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci posted an update on the new cases on Twitter at 12:05 p.m. Two are from Prince George’s County and one each is from Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Charles counties.

Because all public schools in Maryland will be closed from Monday through March 27, Prince George’s County Public Schools announced sites where students can receive “grab and go” lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The nine locations are:

• Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, 4545 Ammendale Road in Beltsville.
• William Wirt Middle School, 6200 Tuckerman St. in Riverdale Park.
• Nicholas Orem Middle School, 6100 Editors Park Drive in Hyattsville.
• Kenmoor Middle School, 2500 Kenmoor Drive in Landover.
• Benjamin Tasker Middle School, 4901 Collington Road in Bowie.
• Walker Mill Middle School, 800 Karen Blvd. in Capitol Heights.
• Drew-Freeman Middle School, 2600 Brooks Drive in Suitland.
• Thurgood Marshall Middle School, 4909 Brinkley Road in Temple Hills.
• Stephen Decatur Middle School, 8200 Pinewood Drive in Clinton.

President Donald Trump scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. Friday, during which he is expected to declare a national emergency on the coronavirus.

According to a tracking system by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed cases stood at 137,445 as of 2:10 p.m. Friday.

The full charts and graphs can be viewed at arcgis.com.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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