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'Working As Quickly As Possible' | Maryland House Passes Budget, Works Toward Early Adjournment

ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) -- Maryland's General Assembly has just hours before it shuts down, suspending their session early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, the Maryland legislature has passed over 200 bills. There were just three done as of Sunday morning, and they were in session until midnight Monday night, trying to make the most of their time before it shuts down Wednesday.

"Initially I was really irritated." said Sen. Jill Carter, (D)- Baltimore City.

One senator tweeted Monday night, "It's after 11 p.m. and we're still in session."

The General Assembly passed the Kirwan Commission bill, a $4 billion per year sweeping overhaul of Maryland's public schools.

"As the crisis has unfolded there are a lot of issues that have arisen." said Sen. Bill Ferguson, (D) Baltimore City.

Emergency coronavirus legislation has taken priority- passing in the House and the Senate.

Sen. Clarence Lam co-sponsored the bill.

"To enable the governor to have emergency powers to help address the covid epidemic that we're seeing." Sen. Lam said.

The bill eliminates copays for testing, expands virtual access to health providers, blocks price gouging and creates job protections.

"So that people that are under a government mandated quarantine cannot lose their jobs because of that." Sen. Lam said.

The Maryland House of Delegates passed the state's $48 billion budget on Tuesday with added money to deal with the new coronavirus.

The House voted 126-8 for the state's spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Senate is poised to vote on the measure before the General Assembly adjourns this week, nearly three weeks early due to concerns about the virus.

"We are working as quickly as possible to make sure we get the budget done that is our main constitutional duty." Sen. Ferguson said.

It's the only action lawmakers are constitutionally required to complete.

"We have to do that to make sure that the state of Maryland operates and is funded." said Sen. Al Carr, (D)- Montgomery County.

The Senate approved the budget bill, it will be read a third and final time.

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