ANNAPOLIS, JUNE 2 -- Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer vetoed a bill today that would have required more security at all-night service stations, but said his decision was not motivated by Crown Central Petroleum Corp.'s opposition to the measure.
Facing the deadline for either vetoing actions from this year's legislative session or allowing them to become law, Schaefer also killed two attempts to give the General Assembly a stronger role in checking the governor's actions and his spending plans.
At a news conference where he announced the decisions, Schaefer also said that he was satisfied that William A. Fogle Jr., state licensing and regulation secretary, had learned from his mistake in hiring a lobbyist friend to conduct a seminar for some of Fogle's top lieutenants.
Fogle realized he had made an "error in judgment" by hiring his close friend, lobbyist Carolyn T. Burridge, to conduct a seminar for his department, Schaefer said. Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg, acting as governor while Schaefer was in Europe, forced Fogle to cancel the event after news reports about it.
Schaefer said Steinberg handled the situation correctly and said he had confidence in Fogle. "The people who work for me have integrity, honesty and if they didn't, they wouldn't work for me," Schaefer said.
On the service station security issue, Schaefer said that while he was "sensitive . . . to the tragic incidents where service station attendants were seriously injured or killed during robberies," he thought the bill was "discriminatory, did not effectively improve security and might hurt service to the public."
The bill would have required gasoline distributors to install bullet-resistant glass, remote-control pumps, secure cash drawers and other precautions in stations that are open more than 18 hours a day.
The House passed the measure by a 121-to-0 vote, and the Senate voted 33 to 13 in favor of it.
But the opposition came from several oil companies and was led by Crown Chairman Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., a political ally of Schaefer's and a contributor to his campaigns, who sent the governor a letter asking him to veto the bill.
Proponents of the bill criticized Schaefer's decision.
"This was intended to protect human life and safety and I can see no justification at all for the veto," said Roy Littlefield, executive director of the Greater Washington-Maryland Service Station and Automotive Repair Association. "I would certainly hate to think he did this as a political favor; I'd be disappointed if that was the bottom line."
"It wasn't because of Rosenberg," Schaefer replied. "Rosenberg brought no pressure on me."
Schaefer said it was wrong for the state to be "designing" gasoline stations and pointed out that the bill did not apply to all service stations. Convenience stores, for instance, were not covered by the bill.
Schaefer said that another bill he vetoed, which would have required the governor to consult with the legislature before making changes in the state's school construction program, was poorly constructed, and it was not clear whether it required legislative approval or simply notification. He said the Board of Public Works, which makes decisions regarding the building of new schools, would consult with the legislature before adopting any new rule regarding school construction.
Schaefer also vetoed a bill that would have required legislative approval before the governor could make certain spending decisions.
House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. (D-Kent) said that the veto would be a prime candidate for an override attempt.