Maryland lawmakers override group of bills vetoed by Gov. Hogan

Maryland lawmakers succeeded in overturning Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes of five bills passed in the last legislative session.

One of those bills that will now become law include a bill that bars potential employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history. The legislation was also known as the “Ban the Box” bill, referring to boxes on forms that applicants would have to check.

Another bill that the governor vetoed was overridden, so now grievance procedures for some categories of state employees can be heard before administrative judges.

Lawmakers also overrode the veto of the “Dream Act.” That bill allows students who are not in the country legally but who attended high school in Maryland to pay in-state tuition for college. Under the previous version of the bill, those students would first have to attend community colleges before applying to four-year schools. Under the current version of the bill, those same students can go straight to four-year colleges or universities and get the in-state rate for tuition.

Lawmakers also voted to override Hogan’s veto of the bill that abolished the five-member Handgun Permit Review Board. Supporters of the override said the board, made up of members appointed by the governor, often met behind closed doors and too often overruled decisions made by Maryland State Police on who should be granted a conceal-carry permit.

Del. Lesley Lopez, D-Montgomery County, said the board at one point had 250 cases. Of those 250 cases, she said, “222 decisions by the Maryland State Police were overturned — now, I’m not a gambling woman, but those seem like pretty good odds.”

Del. Susan McComas, R-Harford County, spoke in favor of sustaining Hogan’s veto. She said abolishing the five-member board won’t make Maryland residents any safer.

“There’s been nobody murdered because they overturned the state police decision,” McComas said, referring to the board’s rulings.

Hogan released statements on the veto overrides. He called the decision to override the veto on the Handgun Permit Review Board one in a series of “politically motivated, ill-conceived power grabs.”

Another veto overridden by lawmakers included legislation on oyster restoration and management of the state’s oyster fishery.

Under the bill passed by lawmakers, the state Department of Natural Resources would convene a panel of watermen and scientists — including the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science — to develop a package of recommendations designed at making sure the oyster fishery remains sustainable in the future.

Del. Johnny Mautz, a Republican who represents Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico counties, spoke in favor of sustaining the governor’s veto.

Mautz expressed concern about the balance between the interest of science and the ability of the state’s watermen to make a living. “We are leading the country in oyster restoration science and understanding oysters. However, we’re not leading in productivity,” he said.

Del. Dana Stein, D-Baltimore County, pointed out that the bill states that recommendations by the Oyster Advisory Commission could only pass if 75% of the members agreed, and that the bulk of the members of the OAC would be made up of watermen.

“Watermen will have a majority of seats on the board, so there certainly will be a full opportunity for watermen to participate,” Stein said.

Hogan explained his objections in a statement complaining that the goal posts on oyster restoration are “continually being moved.”

But legislators also declined to override three of the governor’s vetoes.

Hogan had vetoed a bill that would have restricted some of the governor’s powers to make appointments — that veto was left in place. Lawmakers also let stand a veto of legislation to put money into the state’s Bikeways Network Program, and decided against a veto of a bill to require two-person crews on freight trains crossing Maryland.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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