We are grateful for the rapid response taken by Maryland elected officials to keep the public informed as well as slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state and in government buildings.
Common Cause Maryland and Maryland PIRG sent a letter to Senate President Miller and Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones Governor regarding operations during the coronavirus outbreak. The letter asks that they that ensure that the legislature’s operations be as transparent as possible and that they maintain the public’s ability to both observe and participate in our democratic process.
The letter was signed on to by dozens of Maryland organizations and individuals urging you to swiftly go into recess until it is appropriate and safe for the public to participate.
Dear Senate President Ferguson and Speaker Jones,
Regarding recent decisions prompted by COVID-19: We are grateful for the rapid response taken by leadership to keep the public informed as well as slow the spread of the virus across the state and in government buildings. As you deal with this crisis, we ask that you do so in a way that is as transparent as possible and urge you to maintain the public’s ability to both observe and participate in our democratic process.
On the morning of March 13, 2020, leadership announced that lobbyists and advocates, in addition to the public, will be prohibited from entering the State House, Senate Office Building, and House Office Building. Thus, the General Assembly is operating with limited input from the public and advocates, and the legislative process is taking place without the full voice and input of the people of Maryland.
In order to protect the ability of Marylanders to participate in the democratic process, we urge you to swiftly go into recess until it is appropriate and safe for the public to participate. Once the General Assembly has taken emergency-measures to address the public health crisis and the state budget, the legislature should immediately recess.
The public, and advocates play a vital role in the legislative process. But perhaps more importantly, in times of crisis, the public needs to have trust and faith in government. We must be extra vigilant to ensure we are acting in the public interest and in a way that is fully transparent and democratic.
Thank you for all you are doing to protect the health and safety of Marylanders, and for all the work the body has devoted to considering hundreds of bills this session.
We look forward to reconvening the 2020 General Assembly so we can all work to finish what we started.
Joanne Antone, Common Cause Maryland
Emily Scarr, Maryland PIRG
Joe Spielberger, ACLU of Maryland
Lois Hybl & Richard Willson, League of Women Voter of Maryland
Ricarra, 1199 SEIU
Ricardo Flores, Maryland Office of the Public Defender
Jesse Iliff, Arundel Rivers Federation, Inc.
Kim Coble, Maryland League of Conservation Voters
Cristi Demnowicz, Represent Maryland
Timothy Judson, Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Betsy Nicholas, Waterkeepers Chesapeake
Chloe Waterman, Friends of the Earth
Lisa Radov, Maryland Votes for Animals, Inc.
Rianna Eckel, Food & Water Action
Diana Philip, NARAL Pro Choice Maryland
Reverend Kobi Little, Citizen
Kimberly Haven, Reproductive Justice Inside
Monica Cooper, Maryland Justice Project
Katlyn Schmitt, Waterkeepers Chesapeake
Jo Saint-George, Maryland Plant-Based Advocates Coalition
Ruth Berlin, Maryland Pesticide Education Network
Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Advocates for Children and Youth
Nanci Wilkinson, Cedar Lane Universalist Church EJM
Bonnie Raindrop, Central Maryland Beekeepers Association
Kurt R. Schwarz, Maryland Ornithological Society
Ashley and Paige Colen, Hippocratic Growth LLC
Tom Parenteau, Citizen
Bob Musil, Rachel Carson Council
Meagan Andrade, Citizen
Raquelle Contreras, Citizen
Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, Interfaith Power & Light (DC. MD. NoVA)
Gwen DuBois, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear
Mark Posner, MD Sierra Club
Caroline Taylor, Montgomery Countryside Alliance
Paolo Mutia, Friends of the Earth
Diana Wingate-Gaiser, Constituent
Kathy Phillips, Assateague Coastal Trust
Brian Evans, Campaign for Youth
Harriett Crosby, Fox Haven Farm and Learning Center
Rebecca Forte, Anne Arundel County Indivisible
Olivia Lane, Citizen
Larry Stafford, Progressive Maryland
Rebecca Snyder, MDDC Press Association
Paulette Hammond, Maryland Conservation Council
Nicole Hanson, Out for Justice
Brigette Dumais, Community Organizer/Baltimore resident
Caryn York, JOTF
Danielle Torian, Open Society Institute-Baltimore
Molly Amster, JUFJ
State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG
Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Emily has helped win small donor public financing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County. She has played a key role in establishing new state laws to to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms, require testing for lead in school drinking water and restrict the use of toxic flame retardant and PFAS chemicals. Emily also serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. Emily lives in Baltimore City with her husband, kids, and dog.