A Much Different Legislative Session for 2021
Coalitions of like-minded citizens and businesses will be more important than ever.
The Maryland General Assembly session that begins on the second Wednesday in January will be unprecedented in appearance and operation. The 442nd convening of our state legislature must fulfill constitutional responsibilities while balancing COVID-related protection of members with the obligation of transparency and citizen participation.
In a normal year, the 90-day session brings together 188 elected officials and thousands of citizens and their lobbyists to consider almost 3,000 bills. In 2021, members will convene in House and Senate Chambers on January 13th in socially distanced, plexiglass protected desks. Their hours together will be purposely limited. Committee hearings will be conducted by Zoom and legislators will work from home for several weeks, into early February.
There will be no organized dinners, receptions, or opportunities to gather. Buildings will be closed to the public.
Coalitions of like-minded citizens and businesses will be more important than ever. Zoom testimony on bills in the Senate will be limited to four supporters, two with amendment, and four opposed. All others will testify in writing. This means those of us working to protect utility customers, broadband expansion and rural communities will have to work strategically to get our message delivered.
The Presiding Officers in the House and Senate have identified a few priorities for the 2021 session. By law, they must pass the state budget. Beyond that, they expect to work on COVID recovery, law enforcement reform, health disparities, and environmental and economic justice.
On behalf of Choptank Electric Cooperative, Valerie Connelly and Matt Teffeau will review all bills introduced to identify those that may have an impact on cooperative members. Choptank Electric’s goal continues to be affordable, reliable electric and broadband service to members. This year, we will likely weigh in on energy mandates that could drive up costs to members and work to protect funding for broadband expansion.
Choptank Electric Cooperative members can access our 2021 legislative guide and regular updates on our website at https://choptankelectric.coop/legislative-news. Stay safe and stay engaged.