Like you, I am itching to start to safely reopen our communities for business. As a small business owner and father with a family to support, I share your uncertainty, concern and frustration. This has been difficult for all of us as we do our part to flatten the curve and slow the spread. I especially applaud the health care and public safety professionals who have been working around the clock putting themselves in harms way of this virus in service to our communities. Please know that I am here for the people of District 1C, and me and my team will do whatever we can to help you and get you the information you need to weather this storm.
I find myself wresting with three recurring thoughts: the need to be safe and take COVID-19 seriously, concern about the economic devastation this virus has caused, and worry about the expansion of draconian government policies. The tension between liberty and security weights heavily on me, as it has for many Americans since our nation was founded.
Over the past few days, I have been given cause to hope that a gradual reopening is on the horizon. President Trump announced the Federal guidelines for reopening, and Governor Larry Hogan has announced that a reopening plan for Maryland will be shared with us on Friday. On Monday, we also learned that Governor Hogan and First Lady Yumi Hogan had secured 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea which will vastly expand our testing capacity and get us closer to reopening.
Please know that I have shared your concerns, ideas and questions with the Governor and his team. Last week, I was on a call with senior members of his administration and on Friday, Republican leadership spoke with him as well. As a follow-up to those conversations, the House Republican Caucus sent a follow-up memo to the Governor. You can click here to read it.
While there is light at the end of this long tunnel, unfortunately, I don’t believe there will be a definite reopening date just yet. However, I am encouraged that we will soon have guidelines for reopening so we can all prepare and be ready when Maryland is open for business.
No Special Session
We just received word that there will be no special legislative session at the end of May as legislators are focused on serving their constituents and being the “eyes and ears” on the ground throughout the State. There were also safety concerns about bringing us all back to Annapolis when social distancing and other protocols could not be followed. The Governor has a few more weeks until he must sign, veto or let bills go into law without his signature. Click here to read more.
My office has been fielding a lot of calls from concerned constituents who are having a hard time filing for unemployment. I understand and commiserate with your frustrations and agree that the system is less than perfect at the moment. The Department of Labor has relaxed or removed several deadlines and restrictions to expand access to benefits.
I have received updates from the Department of Labor and they are simply overwhelmed by the volume of applications and are doing their very best to expand their capacity, train new workers and give every applicant the time they deserve. Please keep calling. The earlier in the day the better. Thank you for your patience!