Veto (Almost) Everything
Three days ago I wrote that the General Assembly, out of respect for the need to protect public health, should pass the budget and adjourn sine die. Well, Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones finally got around to making a decision about that:
Maryland’s General Assembly will adjourn Wednesday out of concern over the coronavirus, with plans to meet again in the last week of May for a special session, legislative leaders announced Sunday.
That’s right. Despite the fact they should already have done their job so they could go home, they are going to wait three more days before adjourning.
It gets worse than that.
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“We’re going to focus and prioritize but we’re going to continue to legislate,” said Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat.
That’s right, they are going to keep on doing the work of special interests, behind closed doors, during a crisis.
What’s even wilder about it is the fact that Speaker Jones acknowledges that what they are doing is a risk to public health but that they are comfortable exposing their members and their family members to the transmission of the disease.
“There’s a lot we don’t know about this virus,” she said. “What we do know is that public health research shows the more steps we can take right now to prevent transmission, the better off we are.”
Look, it’s not exactly like the legislators are quarantined in Annapolis right now. I can name five Republican legislators right now who were at the Old Stein Inn in Edgewater Saturday night for dinner. The General Assembly remaining in session puts its membership at risk specifically and the public at risk generally.
So what all is going on down there in Annapolis? Well primarily Democrats are doing what they always do: hurting taxpayers to keep left-wing groups happy.
Cherly Kagan tweets about a whole host of things that are of drastically less importance than combatting COVID-19
— Cheryl C. Kagan (@CherylKagan) March 14, 2020
.@SenatorSarah just educated the Senate that one POD of @JUULvapor has the level of nicotine in an entire PACK of cigarettes! SB2 would dramatically increase the tax on this unhealthy and addictive item. #MDGA2020
— Cheryl C. Kagan (@CherylKagan) March 14, 2020
Others think every bill is important. Even when it doesn’t affect our state of emergency.
The governor may want us to go home, but many of us are determined to stay and keep doing the peoples’ work. Every bill is important to someone, and we also need to be here to be ready to deal with whatever comes up. https://t.co/k4HaEVDt2j #Working4MD #mdga2020
— Sheila Ruth, District 44B Delegate (@StandUpWithRuth) March 14, 2020
I’ll remember that next time a Republican bill doesn’t get a committee vote.
Meanwhile, Delegate Brooke Lierman, one of the most self-important legislators in Annapolis, thinks that a state of emergency is a perfect time to cheese for the camera and tell the world how important she is to be working in a state of emergency.
— Brooke Lierman (@BELBaltimore) March 14, 2020
Times like this make me wish we had more adults in Annapolis instead of vainglorious children like Brooke Lierman.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter though: Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Jones are being reckless and irresponsible through their actions so far. That the General Assembly is still in session, three days after the Governor’s Emergency Declaration, is wildly irresponsible. The fact that they have not finished the budget and any COVID-19 related legislation shows a complete lack of judgment and an inability to lead. The prioritization of non-emergency legislation such as the Kirwan Commission recommendations, the $700 million in new taxes passed yesterday, and vaping legislation, among others, shows a complete lack of appropriate priorities for the people of Maryland.
And now, staying until Wednesday? That shows a blatant disregard for the health and safety of General Assembly members and the public at large. It borders on negligence.
And that’s before we even get to the Special Session Jones and Ferguson are calling for May. There is no need for a Special Session. At all. Period. End of story. The only non-essential legislation that can’t wait until the 2021 Session would be Governor Larry Hogan’s crime bills, and that appears to be less important to Democrats than tax hikes and Kirwan. What this Special Session is really about is overriding any vetoes issued by Governor Larry Hogan before the public gets truly made aware of them. As the crisis continues, it’s going to be hard for the Governor to articulate why he is vetoing these bills and why they are bad for the people of Maryland. Ferguson and Jones just want to make sure that they don’t let this crisis go to waste.
Passing bills behind virtually locked doors? Scheduling special sessions to eliminate public awareness of vetoes? Politicizing a pandemic by using a public health emergency to stealthily pass anti-taxpayer priorities? Nobody is going to nominate Bill Ferguson and Adrienne Jones as a Profile in Courage. And the media in this state will never hold them accountable for it; it is only Republicans who are expected to stop being political creatures during a national emergency.
Bill Ferguson and Adrienne Jones, frankly, have shown throughout this that they don’t have what it takes to lead their chambers.
The legislation passed during this time of crisis will wind up on Governor Larry Hogan’s desk. The prudent course of action for Governor Hogan will be to veto any and every piece of legislation passed since his Emergency Declaration other than legislation related to his budget or to the COVID-19 emergency. Keeping the General Assembly in session was a reckless and unnecessary move, and for that non-essential legislation should be vetoed. If the Democrats don’t want to act responsibly, they should face the consequences for it. They can explain to the public why their bills got vetoed and why they decided that keeping left-wing interest groups happy was more important than public health.