Legislators override two of Gov. Hogan’s bill vetoes

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Gov. Larry Hogan delivers his State of the State Address in Annapolis, Maryland, on January 29, 2019. (Daniel Oyefusi/Capital News Service)

By Natalie Jones
Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS — One day after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed three bills on $15 minimum wage, school districts setting their own calendars and stripping alcohol and tobacco regulation from the state comptroller, the Maryland General Assembly fought back to override him Thursday.

Both the House and Senate voted to override two of the three vetoes, including measures that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15, and to strip the comptroller of some regulatory powers. The Senate voted to override Hogan’s veto of a bill giving county school boards power to decide when the school year starts, while the House had not taken up the measure by press time Thursday.

Senate Bill 280 and House Bill 166, also known together as the “Fight for Fifteen,” sponsored by Sen. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore) and Del. Diana Fennell (D-Prince George’s County) aim to increase the state minimum wage to $15 by 2025, with a longer phase-in for employers with fewer than 14 employees.

Although the two bills passed in both House and Senate chambers, Hogan vetoed them both, saying they “could cost us jobs, negatively impact our economic competitiveness, and devastate our state’s economy.”

The House voted 96-43 and the Senate voted 32-15 to override the veto of the “Fight for Fifteen” bill.

Another bill Hogan vetoed was House Bill 1052, sponsored by Delegate Warren Miller (R-Howard and Carroll counties), which would shift regulation for alcohol and tobacco from state Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) to a newly created alcohol and tobacco commission.

The governor vetoed the bill, arguing that the bill is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, adding that the legislation “is not necessary, serves no purpose, will waste taxpayers’ money, and disrupts a well-ordered and completely functional regulatory system.”

Franchot echoed Hogan’s concerns in a statement, saying that it was “especially brazen and irresponsible” for legislators to use the process to carry out laws that lessen oversight and allow them to “handpick their regulators.”

The House of Delegates, missing a few representatives, voted 98-39, and the Senate voted 30-16, excusing Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery County), to override the alcohol and tobacco regulation bill.

Hogan also vetoed Senate Bill 128, which would give county school boards control of setting start and end dates for the school year in their own districts.

Sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s County), the bill was written to overturn the governor’s executive order to start schools after Labor Day.

In a letter explaining his veto, Hogan called the legislation “unfortunate,” saying that it unravels years of bipartisan work and study and—citing polls—runs directly against what’s favored by a majority of Marylanders.

The Senate voted 32-15 along party lines to override Hogan’s veto, effectively undoing his executive order.

The override of Hogan’s veto of Senate Bill 128, also known as the Community Control of School Calendars Act, was sent on Thursday to the House of Delegates for consideration.

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