ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday that he will allow the vast majority of more than two dozen bills sent to him last week to become law without his signature.
Lawmakers sent the bills up in the last week under the so-called six-day rule in an attempt to force Hogan’s hand on some issues. The rule requires the governor to sign, veto or allow a bill sent to him with at least six days left in the session, leaving time for the General Assembly to override vetoes before the session ends next Monday.
“Working together we’ve made incredible strides over the last 85 days but there’s also been some detours to our continued progress as a result of actions taken by the legislature, including a couple of needless political actions like mandating spending on programs our administration was already 100 percent committed to,” Hogan said.
Among those are mandates for spending over five years for a program to demolish vacant and dilapidated homes in Baltimore City, he said. Another provides bridge funding for the Prince George’s County Regional Medical Center.
“It would not be happening if not for our efforts,” Hogan said. “Both of these items represent bipartisan, common-sense policy. Things all of us can proudly support. Unfortunately some people chose political grandstanding over real bipartisan solutions. Neither of these bills actually accomplishes anything and they’re not worth signing nor vetoing.”
Hogan said the biggest concern continues to be mandated spending in legislation.
“Unfortunately, the legislature has not taken this issue seriously and the legislature has been all too happy to use its considerable power to spend taxpayer dollars but refuses to use its authority when it comes to savings and reducing costs,” Hogan said.
But legislators in recent weeks have defended their actions. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. has repeatedly pushed back on Republican senators in debates over bills with mandated spending saying that he dislikes mandates but must resort to the tactic because the governor will not negotiate on legislation.
A spokesman for Miller said the Senate leader was not immediately available for comment.
Hogan has already vetoed House Bill 1013, a measure that would require the Department of Transportation to implement a scoring and ranking system for funding projects using nine equally valued criteria and require the governor to justify in writing when lower scoring projects are funded ahead of higher scoring ones.
Added to that, Hogan said he would veto a bill that would alter the selection process for the Anne Arundel County School Board. The governor said the bill is unconstitutional because it terminates five members of a nominating commission before their terms expire.
The governor said he’d prefer to not be involved in appointing school board members and called on the legislature to give that power to the county executive and county council or to the voters in that county.
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Michael E. Busch said he declined to make an immediate comment, saying legislators were seeking further information regarding the justification of the veto of the school board nominating commission.
The balance of the bills — 14 Senate bills and eight house bills — will be allowed to become law without Hogan’s signature, thus avoiding additional confrontations over veto overrides.
“Overall we found nothing in these bills that would do major harm or negatively impact Marylanders,” Hogan said.
Included on that list is a bill that strips the governor of his ability to appoint members to the Baltimore City liquor board on April 12. The Senate rejected his previous nominees and the governor has said he will not send new appointees.
Also on the list of bills that will become law without a signature is the state capital budget, which Hogan praised for coming in under $1 billion but contains legislative language that attempts to prevent the governor and Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot from grilling local education leaders during the annual school funding meeting known as “Beg-A-Thon.” Some school officials complained that Hogan and Franchot were using the process to question them about unrelated issues.
Franchot has defended the process, saying the questions are within the scope of the board’s authority to approve school construction and renovation money and to hold the local school systems accountable for how state-funded school buildings are maintained.
Hogan will also allow to become law without his signature bills establishing the strategic partnership between the University of Maryland’s College Park and Baltimore campuses as well as another that would require the Board of Public Works to notify legislators about proposed reductions three business days in advance.
Hogan called on the House of Delegates to pass tax cuts already approved by the Senate and for lawmakers to move on his proposal for redistricting reform.
“There can be no possible excuse for keeping this bill hidden in a drawer and simply ignoring the will of nearly every person in Maryland,” Hogan said.