Progressive Maryland, one of several advocacy groups calling on Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) and leaders of the General Assembly to schedule a special legislative session, has begun airing digital and video ads on social media pressing the case.
The ads are targeting Hogan, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County).
One 30-second video ad notes in a video image that “right now, 347,000 Marylanders are at risk of eviction.”
“I’m about to lose my apartment,” a woman says in the ad. “I’m about to lose everything because I need my income.”
The ad ends with an image urging viewers, “Tell Sen President Ferguson it’s time to get back to work!”
Another ad that runs for just under two minutes features a variety of people who have been impacted by the economic crisis — including a woman who delivers her message in Spanish.
Larry Stafford, executive director of Progressive Maryland, said in an interview that lawmakers are squandering an opportunity to address serious challenges — like the economic downturn, the threat of evictions and utility shutoffs, and racial equality — by not meeting before the scheduled 2021 General Assembly session, which starts in January.
“I think it’s going to go down as something that’s going to be embarrassing,” Stafford said. He noted that other state legislatures have managed to meet since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Legislative leaders have hesitated to schedule a special session for a variety of reasons — including not knowing yet what the full picture of budgetary doom the state coffers are facing.
Stafford said the group is raising money to circulate the ads more widely — and may target other leaders of the legislature besides the presiding officers. He said Progressive Maryland and other advocacy groups will be pressing legislators to gather in special session as late into the fall as possible — and added that his group could use lawmakers’ posture on a special session as part of its overall report card on lawmakers that will deliver before the 2022 elections.
“Enough with playing safe-ball politics,” Stafford said.
While not a direct response, Senate Democrats launched a minute-long web video Monday, urging Marylanders to wear masks for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirteen Democrats, including Ferguson, appear in the video.