Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Wednesday vetoed four bills, all of which passed the Democrat-led legislature during its recent session either unanimously or close to it.
O’Malley also announced he would allow three bills to become law without his signature, including a much-debated measure that curtails the governor’s power in granting parole to serious felons. Governors typically allow bills to become law without their signature when they have reservations that are not serious enough to warrant a veto.
None of the bills vetoed Wednesday drew any high-profile debate during the 90-day session, and O’Malley said he was rejecting one of them at the request of its sponsors, who later realized the bill did something that they did not intend..
One of the vetoed bills would have required Maryland courts to adopt uniform subpoena procedures, a goal O’Malley said he supports. But in a veto message, the governor objected to a provision in the bill that relaxed rules regarding the photocopying of subpoenas.
O’Malley said Maryland Chief Judge Robert Bell has urged him to reject the legislation on that basis.
Another vetoed bill would have resulted in the loss of some retirement payouts for former teachers and state employees who file for vested benefits after the normal retirement age.
In his veto message, O’Malley said he considered the measure to be a ”very harsh punishment” and expressed concerns that no exceptions were granted for those with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other hardships.
A third vetoed bill would local political committees a role in selecting members of the Allegany County Board of License Commissioners. O’Malley said in his veto message that a political body should not be a part of selecting a governmental board.
The final bill vetoed by O’Malley was intended to provide a property tax break to charter schools in Frederick County. As written, O’Malley said, the bill was broader than that, allowing the exemption for all private schools that lease property.
In his veto message, O’Malley said the bill sponsors requested a veto.
Only one of the bills O’Malley said he would let become law without his signature received much media attention during the session.
That bill limits the amount of time the governor has to decide whether to grant parole recommendations for those serving life sentences. If the governor does not act within 180 days, parole is automatically granted.
In a letter to legislative leaders, O’Malley said he would have preferred the “default” to be that parole is denied if there is no action by the governor.
Another bill O’Malley is letting become law facilitates the alcohol licensing of a planed slots casino in Anne Arundel County. At the time the bill passed, the casino developer had said the facility would open this year.
Since then, plans have been pushed back. In a letter, O’Malley said a “flaw” in the bill related to Sunday alcohol sales could have been fixed if lawmakers had known the casino wouldn’t open until next year.
Still, O’Malley said he would let the bill become law because that is “consistent with the state’s desire to expedite the project.”
The final bill O’Malley will let become law expands an exemption from coverage by unemployment insurance for drivers at small companies that deliver messages and documents locally. Under the bill, the companies will also be allowed to deliver several other items, including medical supplies.
In a letter, O’Malley said it was important the bill not result in Marylanders becoming ineligible for unemployment insurance.