Col­lege is­sues rules for Har­ris town hall

Record Observer - - News - By JOSH BOLLINGER jbollinger@star­dem.com

WYE MILLS — Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege has is­sued a code of con­duct for the hour-long March 31 town hall meet­ing with U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris, R-Md.-1st.

Mean­while, lo­cal cit­i­zen groups are say­ing that one hour isn’t enough, and has de­manded that three hours, in­stead of one, be sched­uled to cover the is­sues cur­rently be­fore Con­gress.

The town hall schedul­ing came af­ter lib­eral groups crit­i­cized Re­pub­li­can con­gress­men across the coun­try for sup­port­ing a re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act, the wide­spread and con­tro­ver­sial health care re­form bill signed into law by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2010.

For the past few months, Repub­li­cans in town halls and at their of­fices across the coun­try have been con­fronted by protesters ar­gu­ing their points to keep the Af­ford­able Care Act. Many of those ar­gu­ments at town halls turned into shout­ing. Har­ris has been on the re­ceiv­ing end of those protests, too.

Lo­cally, the con­cerns re­volve around changes in fund­ing to Planned Par­ent­hood and the out­right re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act. Har­ris, who sup­ports re­peal­ing the health care law, said he would hold a town hall when a Re­pub­li­can al­ter­na­tive to the Af­ford­able Care Act is sub­mit­ted.

A Re­pub­li­can al­ter­na­tive was re­leased in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives last week and was with­drawn af­ter GOP lead­ers were un­able to col­lect enough votes for pas­sage. Har­ris op­posed the Amer­i­can Health Care Act pro­posed by Re­pub­li­can lead­ers be­cause he said it didn’t do enough to re­duce premium prices.

Be­fore an al­ter­na­tive was re­leased, Har­ris held a se­ries of town halls over the tele­phone, but he was crit­i­cized again for not hold­ing them in per­son.

Ahead of the town hall, Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege is­sued a code of con­duct.

The fol­low­ing rules will be en­forced at the town hall:

• No weapons of any kind will be per­mit­ted on cam­pus.

• There will be a des­ig­nated area for any­one who wants to walk back and forth with signs, but they will not be al­lowed to in­ter­fere with any­one en­ter­ing or leav­ing the venue.

• Signs are per­mit­ted with­out sticks at­tached to them.

• Bull horns are al­lowed on the out­side of the venue, but not al­lowed in­side.

• No ta­bles will be al­lowed to be set up in­side or out­side the venue.

• In­for­ma­tion may only be handed out if at­ten­dees ap­proach the des­ig­nated ar­eas. No at­ten­dees may be ap­proached.

• Small signs (no larger than 8½ x 11) that do not in­ter­fere or ob­struct views of at­ten­dees can be brought into the venue. The small cir­cle in front of the Todd Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (TPAC) will be re­served for those who need to be dropped off at the venue due to phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties.

• Venue will open at 5 p.m. Once seats in­side the theater reach ca­pac­ity, no oth­ers will be al­lowed in the build­ing.

• Park­ing area on Ring Road in front of the TPAC will be re­served for me­dia stag­ing.

• Un­ruly be­hav­ior that dis­rupts the town hall will not be tol­er­ated. If any type of be­hav­ior dis­rupts the event, that per­son will be asked to re­frain his/her be­hav­ior. If the be­hav­ior con­tin­ues, then they will be asked to leave. If they refuse to leave, they will be sub­ject to ar­rest by law en­force­ment.

Sev­eral lo­cal cit­i­zen groups sent a let­ter to Har­ris’ of­fice on March 23 that asks for the town hall to be ex­tended, and states that one hour is a “wholly in­ad­e­quate amount of time” to dis­cuss their con­cerns about vi­tal is­sues fac­ing Con­gress and hear Har­ris’ views on them.

The groups in­clude Tal­bot Ris­ing, To­gether We Will-Del­marva, Demo­cratic Club of Queen Anne’s County, Tal­bot County Demo­cratic Women’s Club and the African Amer­i­can Demo­cratic Club of Maryland.

“His con­stituents de­serve an­swers and a fair chance to voice their con­cerns,” Emily Jack­son, from To­gether We Will-Del­marva, said in a joint press re­lease is­sued March 22. “Re­gard­less of whether we voted for him or not, as con­stituents of his dis­trict it is im­por­tant to feel that he is serv­ing our best in­ter­ests, and how is that pos­si­ble if he only al­lows in­ter­ac­tions with him in such lim­ited ca­pac­i­ties as his very mod­er­ated con­fer­ence calls, and this con­stricted town hall?”

Har­ris’ of­fice has not re­sponded to the re­quest to lengthen the town hall, which is sched­uled for 6 to 7 p.m. Fri­day, March 31, at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege’s Todd Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter @jboll_ star­dem.

REP. ANDY HAR­RIS

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