January 21, 2022 State House Update

Last Wednesday, January 12, 2022, marked the beginning of the third session of the Maryland General Assembly that has been substantially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the rules and procedures of the legislative session will be more relaxed than the 2021 session, when Plexiglass partitions separated Senators on the floor, and half of the House of Delegates members were located in an “auxiliary” chamber across the street for floor sessions, the procedures are quite different than the beginning of the 2020 session.

This year, the Plexiglass is gone, and all legislators are attending floor sessions in their respective chamber. There is limited public access to the chambers and floor sessions will continue to be live streamed.

Committee activity in the House will operate in a similar manner to last year, with virtual committee hearings and witnesses testifying remotely. The Senate will treat committee activity similarly in the first month, but plans are to move committee hearings to in-person beginning February 14.

At that point, all testimony must be presented in person, but the committee hearing will continue to be live streamed. One significant change from the 2021 session is that once the Senate committees are conducted in person, voting sessions will no longer be live-streamed.

The session activity will also be proceed differently this year. Because the General Assembly addressed the 2021 Regular Session gubernatorial vetoes during its special session in December, there are no outstanding vetoes to consider. In addition, legislative redistricting, which only occurs every ten years, will dominate the early portion of the session. A joint hearing of Senators and Delegates took place on Tuesday, January 18, to consider competing proposals: the Governor’s legislative redistricting map based on the recommendation of his Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, and the redistricting map proposed by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission. The General Assembly must adopt new legislative maps by the 45th day of session or the Governor’s proposal automatically goes into effect.

The Greater Baltimore Committee is heading into session with a focus on advocating for policies to bolster economic opportunity for all Marylanders by creating the conditions needed for a competitive business environment and job creation. Issues of main importance include continued support of businesses seeking to recover from the COVID-19 recession, including direct assistance, tax credits, child care enhancements, and workforce development investments; adoption of a climate bill that does not disproportionally impact business; supporting policies that will provide a superior transportation infrastructure; and ensuring that federal funds are spent effectively and on programs or projects that won’t add permanent costs to the State budget.

Click here to view the full State House Update.