On Thursday, Governor Larry Hogan allowed 15 bills to become law without his signature, avoiding confrontation with Democratic lawmakers. Among the bills that Hogan elected not to sign or veto included a measure that would require the state to fund Planned Parenthood, if it loses federal funding. The nonprofit organization has an estimated 650 health clinics in the United States, with nine in Maryland that serve 25,000 patients.
Another controversial measure set to become law blocks oyster harvesting within protected areas until a survey of the bivalve is completed. Larry Hogan’s administration previously announced a plan to open 11 percent of the 8,600 acres of oyster sanctuaries to watermen. State lawmakers passed a measure by veto-proof margins that blocked changes to the protected areas.
Hogan also allowed a bill to become law that would repeal the requirement for the state mass transit system to obtain 35 percent of its income from fares. The mandate is known as farebox recovery, transit advocates were overjoyed with the passage of the new law.
Two state budget bills will also become law, even though lawmakers refused to provide the governor relief from funding formulas and strict spending requirements.
The House of Delegates and state Senate overrode on party-line votes Hogan’s only veto so far. The bill sets strict guidelines for how the state evaluates schools that are performing below average and limits actions by Maryland State Board of Education on how to help those schools.
Last week, 27 bills ended up on the governor’s desk, giving him adequate time to sign or veto them, before the 90-day session comes to an end on Monday. This would give Democrats an opportunity to override potential vetoes.
Hogan signed 11 bills into law over the past week and vetoed only the education bill, while the remaining 15 bills become law without his signature. The Protect Our Schools Act, which prevents the state from ratifying specific school reforms, was vetoed, but lawmakers took immediate action to uphold the measure, which they passed last week.
The EmPOWER Maryland energy efficiency program will be extended, thanks to another bill that will become law without Hogan’s signature. Under the program, a fee is added to consumer utility bills and utilized for energy efficiency programs, such as rebates, bill credits and home energy checkups.
“EmPOWER Maryland means more electricity savings for consumers, reduced operating costs for employers and increased jobs across the state,” said Brendon Baatz, a policy manager for the council who has studied the effectiveness of EmPOWER.