Md. Gov. Hogan vetoes bills, lets others become law without his signature

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has vetoed legislation that would change state laws regulating handguns and oysters, among other bills.

Hogan, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have abolished the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board. Proponents of the legislation say the board’s political appointees were too liberal in granting appeals from individuals seeking handgun permits.

The board hears appeals from Marylanders whose applications are rejected by Maryland State Police. The legislation would have replaced the panel with a group of judges.

In a statement explaining his veto, Hogan called the legislation a “power grab.”

Hogan also vetoed a bill that would create a new process for regulating oyster harvests. Hogan said the bill would disrupt a balanced scheme that’s currently in place in favor of a process dictated by environmentalists.

A statement from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said the bill would have created a “consensus-based” process, with input from watermen, oyster farmers and seafood dealers in addition to environmentalists.

Hogan also vetoed the so-called “ban the box” bill: that legislation would have barred employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal record on a company’s application.

Under the bill, employers could still ask about criminal history during the interview process. Hogan said that approach would “result in costly and time-consuming human resources work that ultimately goes nowhere.”

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones reacted to the governor’s vetoes by issuing a statement in which she expressed disappointment that he vetoed “important policy initiatives, particularly around gun safety and improving the state’s oyster population.”

Senate President Mike Miller also commented in a statement, saying, “After we have discussions with Senate leadership and Speaker Jones, I expect the Senate to override several of these vetoes when we return.”

Jones also expressed confidence that several of the vetoed bills would face override votes when the Maryland General Assembly returns for the next session in January.

The legislature can override the vetoes with a three-fifths vote.

Dozens of other bills, including one that bans the use of polystyrene foam, commonly referred to by the trade name Styrofoam, will become law without the governor’s signature.

Another bill includes a state measure to create a prescription drug affordability board. The bill was included Friday on a list of legislation that Hogan isn’t vetoing but won’t sign, either.

The law creates an independent board with the authority to evaluate expensive drugs and recommend methods for addressing high costs.

The measure was scaled back significantly from an initial proposal. For one thing, it will only apply to state and local governments, not all Maryland residents. Also, the board could only set upper-payment limits with approval from a legislative panel in 2022.

In December 2023, the board will recommend to the legislature whether lawmakers should pass legislation to expand the ability to set upper-payment limits.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. 

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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