Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) last week vetoed six bills that had broad support from the Democratic-controlled legislature, but his actions may not hold up when lawmakers reconvene next year.
Sponsors for three of the measures told The Washington Post this week that they will rally support to override the governor’s actions or that they expect such efforts from others.
None said they would push for a special session, suggesting instead that they would wait to address the vetoes during the next session, which begins in January.
The House needs at least 85 votes to overcome a veto, while the Senate needs 28. Each of the proposals in question passed through those chambers with more than enough or nearly enough support to meet the thresholds.
Among the rejected measures was a proposal to decriminalize public marijuana smoking and to legalize pot paraphernalia such as bongs. The bill passed with 83 votes in the House and 32 in the Senate.
Hogan said he vetoed the measure because it would have created confusion about whether police can stop individuals for smoking pot while driving.
Sen. Robert Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), who sponsored the measure, said the governor’s argument is “patently false,” insisting that nothing in the proposal or in current law would affect stops and searches of vehicles.
“We’re either going to override the veto or pass more legislation next year,” Zirkin said. “I think we should just override the veto.”
Hogan also rejected two bills that would have allowed felons to vote when they are on parole or probation. The Senate passed the legislation with more than enough support to overcome a veto, but the proposals were three votes shy of that threshold in the House.
Del. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore), one of the House bill’s sponsors, said he plans to pull together supporters of the legislation in coming weeks to decide how to advance their interests.
Hogan said he rejected the bill because convicts on parole and probation have not finished paying their debt to society.
McCray disagreed, saying current law disenfranchises individuals trying to move their lives in a positive direction.
“They want their seat at the table,” the lawmaker said. “They want to be able to decide on the policies that affect their families and themselves so greatly.”
Another bill Hogan rejected would have required online hotel-booking services such as Expedia and Travelocity to pay the same 6 percent state sales-tax rate as hotels.
Supporters of the bill say online services receive a sweetheart subsidy under existing guidelines. The measure passed with 84 votes in the House and 32 in the Senate.
Hogan said he vetoed the legislation because the state comptroller’s office is in a legal battle over how to interpret the current law.
Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery), one of the bill’s sponsors, contends that the lawsuit is part of a delay tactic by companies that benefit from the existing policy. “It’s unfortunate that the governor has fallen for this trick instead of listening to in-state businesses,” he said.
Madaleno added that he plans to work on overturning the governor’s veto. “I feel confident we will have the votes,” he said.
“I assume this will be a very busy interim on this subject,” Madaleno added. “I’m sure the lobbyists will be out in force trying to secure the numbers on both sides.”
Hogan also rejected a similar bill affecting hotel-rental taxes in Howard County. The measure passed with 90 votes in the House and 30 in the Senate.
A sixth bill Hogan vetoed would have placed new limits on the seizure of criminal assets, including a ban on the taking of assets totaling less than $300. The measure passed with 89 votes in the House and with unanimous backing in the Senate.
The governor said he rejected the legislation because it would “detrimentally impact” law-enforcement efforts to deal with drug-dealing and other criminal networks.