Acting Maryland Gov. Blair Lee III said yesterday he would veto a bill that would have permitted motorcyclists to ride without wearing helmets.
Lee also said that he would sign another measure that would lower Maryland's air pollution standards in order to attract more business to the state.
Both bills were the subject of intense lobbying by opponents and proponents during the legislative session that concluded in April.
"These guys may want the freedom to splatter their brains over the highway," Lee said of those favoring helmetless riding. "But it's not going to be because I made it possible for them." The bill he will veto would have repealed a law requiring the helmets.
He said he agonized over his decision because of the "freedom of choice" raised by cyclists, who also argued that the helmets contributed to injuries rather than prevented them.
However, Lee said he made his choice after concluding that cyclists injured in states without a mandatory helmet law have a "greater severity of accidents and head injuries" than do cyclists injured in states with such a law.
Lee yesterday announced a full slate of decisions regarding bills he will sign or veto by next Monday.Lee's decisions were often oriented towards businessmen with large and small financial interests.
For example, Lee told his regularly scheduled news conference that he will sign the measure lowering Maryland's ambient air quality standards.
The air quality bill lowers Maryland's standards by 10 percent regarding particulter pollution in the air, and makes the state's standards similiar to federal levels, Lee said.
The signing will have "symbolic importance" designed to bolster the state's standing in the eyes of businessmen, and will have "no adverse health impact," he said.
"Maryland has gotten itself a reputation, for better or worse, as being a state with unusually tight air standards," higher than those of the federal government or adjoining states, he said.
"The message [of his signing] is, We're trying to create a better business climate," said Lee, who has declared his candidacy for governor this year.
Lee said he would also sign a measure that prohibits chain stores, supermarkets, and discount houses from selling bear or wine, a measure that had been backed by hundreds of small liquor store owners and tavern operators at a hearing on the measure last week.
Lee also said he would sign a bill prohibiting major oil firms from selling gasoline at their company-owned stations at prices that are lower than their wholesale prices to independent dealers. The bill had been backed by owners of independent service stations, who feared that without it the major companies might be able to undercut their sales prices and force them out of business.
Spokesman for the major oil companies has claimed the measure would deny them the flexibility they claim they need to adjust their prices for competitive purposes.
A bill that would have opened to public scrutiny certain meetings of the state's Board of Public Works will be vetoed, he said. It is "close to the mark" to say that he basically does not want the public to attend those work sessions because he believes they are not covered by the state's "sunshine law," which requires all public meetings to be open to the public unless they deal with business such as personnel criminal investigation and real estate acquisitions.
More than 500 bills were enacted by the legislature this year, and Lee said that he will veto as many as 175 of them by the mandatory Monday evening deadline. Many of bills are being vetoed because they duplicate others, he said.
Lee, also said he would announce by next Thursday his choice for a running mate, and whether or not he will field a full slate of candidates committed to him in the fall elections.