By William J. Ford
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan decided to not sign more than 200 bills into law, but he chose to veto eight pieces of legislation the majority Democratic legislature may override when lawmakers reconvene in January.
One of the bills the Republican governor vetoed Friday is “ban the box,” legislation lawmakers passed to allow returning citizens a better opportunity for employment.
“However, when and how an employer asks about criminal history is a decision that should be left to employers, not dictated by the legislature and micro-managed in the annotated code,” Hogan wrote in a letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Adrienne Jones.
Another bill vetoed by the governor dealt with undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at four-year public colleges and universities if they received a high school diploma or an equivalent. The bill sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery County) also eliminated the community college requirement to receive in-state tuition from legislation approved in 2012.
Hogan said in a separate letter to Miller and Jones the law narrowly expanded existing law and excluded Marylanders with a green card or has U.S. citizenship.
“This is unfair and unacceptable,” Hogan said.
The governor rejected a bill to abolish the Handgun Permit Review Board he called “just another in a long series of politically motivated and ill-conceived power grabs” to not allow judges decide who receive a concealed permit.
The other five bills vetoed include increasing the number of employees on freight trains; changes to recover the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay; rejecting a $3.8 million annual plan toward implementation of bike lanes; collective bargaining agreement procedures; and duties and reports of political appointees.
For lawmakers to override Hogan’s vetoes, the House of Delegates would need 85 votes and 29 from the Senate.
“I am disappointed that Gov. Hogan vetoed so many common sense pieces of legislation, many of which passed the Senate with bipartisan support,” Miller said in a statement. “After we have discussions with Senate leadership and Speaker Jones, I expect the Senate to override several of these vetoes when we return.”
Meanwhile, legislation that will go into law without Hogan’s signature includes a ban on foam packaging, gender-neutral driver’s licenses and dozens of alcohol-related bills that affect local jurisdictions.
One high-profile bill deals with the creation of a prescription drug affordability board, the first in the nation slated to go into effect July 1.
Health care advocates have said the legislation would allow Maryland to become a nationwide model to help curb the high cost of prescription drugs. It will assess those prices for local and state government workers.
“This legislation promises to bring down the costs that governments are paying for drugs, which will benefit taxpayers,” Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative, said in a statement. “This board will be a public watchdog and establish fair and affordable costs for state and local governments.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.