Democratic Sen. Craig Zucker could push a button Friday morning and become the deciding vote for the second time on override of a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan.
Zucker is expected to become the 29th vote needed to secure the override of Senate Bill 340 and House Bill 980, identical bills that restore voting rights to felons who are still on parole or probation. A three-fifths majority is needed in the Senate and a vote in that chamber was delayed in order to appoint Zucker to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Karen Montgomery, D-Montgomery County, who was the 29th vote in 2015 when the senate passed the bill by simple majority.
That vote is tentatively scheduled for Friday morning.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has served in the position for 30 years and describes himself as a student of Maryland political history said he could not think of another similar instance. He added that the vote would be constitutional based on a advisory letter from the attorney general.
A spokesman for the senate president declined to release a copy of the advisory letter.
And as unusual as the vote is, Miller all but acknowledged that any attempt to override the veto on the bill would fail without Zucker.
“I anticipate that the veto will be overriden,” Miller said. “It’s really the only veto that there were philosophical differences with. This one, there is strong philosophical differences and it doesn’t poll well but it’s the right thing to do.”
“It will be a close vote as it was when it passed,” Miller said.
In the House, 85 votes are needed for a veto override — the exact number of delegates, all Democrats including Zucker, who voted January 20 to overturn Hogan’s decision.
“It’s an issue that people understand and understand well. Minds are made up,” Miller said. “It’s not an issue that you lobby or try to change people’s thinking on.”
“There wont be any people changing their minds. You just need to make sure everybody’s here,” said Miller.