The presiding officers of Maryland’s General Assembly disappointed a coalition of progressive activists Wednesday night, telling them they would not call for a special session to act on issues such as housing, worker protection and police reform.
Members of the coalition, from groups like Progressive Maryland, Jews United for Justice and CASA, spread out on 141 socially distanced folding chairs—the same number as in the House of Delegates—in a field outside an Annapolis school. They were trying to demonstrate that lawmakers could safely hold legislative hearings and votes.
They were to take mock votes on an eviction moratorium, a workers’ bill of rights and to demand a special session.
But Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones paid a surprise visit to say there would be no session.
Ferguson said the issues are too complicated and too important to rush through in a special session.
“We need the information,” he said. “We need to do the work to make sure that when we convene as a General Assembly we solve the problems that you care about, that I care about, that all of us who are here tonight fighting for on an every single day basis.”
But that angered many in the crowd, who cheered loudly when Rashad Lloyd, of New Carrollton, said he lives with two people who are susceptible to COVID-19, yet he goes to work every day.
“If I gotta work, you gotta work, too,” he shouted. “How dare you sit here and tell us that we have to work with our representatives? You have the power. You whip your teams into shape, and you get them back to work.”
Jones promised lawmakers would “do right by” the group.
“Just give us a chance,” she asked.