March 16, 2020 State House Update

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and consistent with public health experts’ advice regarding meetings involving large groups, establishing “social distancing,” etc., the presiding officers announced that the Maryland General Assembly will adjourn its 2020 legislative session Sine Die this Wednesday, March 18. Legislation that does not pass during this abbreviated session will die upon Sine Die and will have to be re-introduced again in a future session.

Following the adjournment, the legislature plans to reconvene in a special session in late May. The purpose of this special session would likely be to consider gubernatorial vetoes and assess the FY 2020 and FY 2021 budgets once a clearer picture emerges on COVID-19’s impact on State revenues. Legislators would be able to introduce legislation but any legislative proposals would have to go through the standard bill approval process.

Legislators will meet today, tomorrow and Wednesday in a rushed effort to pass legislation deemed a priority. The issues likely to be considered a priority include public education reform (Kirwan), school construction, revenue increases, public safety, sports betting, horse racing funding (Preakness) and transportation initiatives. Legislators are constitutionally mandated to pass a Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

There will be many bills that fail this year due to the abbreviated session. For this reason, it is likely that the 2021 session will set another record for the volume of legislation introduced.

The Greater Baltimore Committee is closely monitoring the remaining days of the 2020 session and will provide a report to our members upon Sine Die.