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Hogan to make veto decision on dozens of bills Friday

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan will decide the initial fate of more than three dozen bills by the end of the day Friday, setting off a potential for multiple veto override votes.

The legislature delivered 39 bills by the deadline that would allow them to override any veto before the General Assembly session ends at midnight Monday. In some cases, this was done because the legislature that is seated in January would not be able to override the vetoes in a previous term.

Hogan can sign the bills, allow them to become law without his signature or veto them. The General Assembly would have time to override any veto.

Hogan rarely tips his hand on whether he will sign a bill.

A spokeswoman for the governor said Hogan “is reviewing the bills” presented to him last week. Other than the deadline, there was no timeline for decisions.

Last week the legislature sent Hogan a bill that expands the number of health care professionals who could perform abortions. It also requires $3.5 million be set aside for training.

In the past, Hogan has been able to walk a thin line on the subject of abortion. He has previously said he personally opposes abortion. He has also said the issue is “settled” in Maryland. Hogan’s decision on the bill could be an issue in a potential campaign for president in 2024.

The governor will also have to address legislation on climate change. House and Senate bills passed last week calls for a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2031 based on 2006 levels. The state is expected to meet a carbon-neutral goal by 2045. Owners of large buildings are also expected to reduce or offset their carbon footprint in about eight years.

The governor cited concerns about costs to consumers.

In 2016, Hogan vetoed a bill requiring the state to increase the amount of electricity generated by renewable sources from 20% to 25% by 2020.

But he’s also supported some environmental efforts, including announcing in 2018 that Maryland would join a coalition of states that would continue to adhere to reducing greenhouse gas emissions called for in the international Paris climate accords. Then-President Donald Trump announced that year that the U.S. would not abide by the agreement.

The governor cannot veto a bill that will ask voters in November to decide if recreational adult use cannabis will be legal in the state because it is a proposed constitutional amendment.

Hogan can, however, veto companion legislation that begins to implement the program if voters approve. Hogan has not said what he would do with the bill this year.

In a 2019 interview with WBAL radio, Hogan said he did not support legalizing recreational marijuana, citing problems with the state’s medical cannabis program. He said at that time that he didn’t think the state was ready for recreational marijuana. “Before we take another step with recreational use of marijuana we really need to look at all the data, all the impact. There’s huge ramifications.”

The governor will also have to decide how he will handle four other bills of interest to businesses or the state’s largest union.

On Thursday, AFSCME Council 3 and Tom Perez, a Democratic candidate for governor, called on Hogan to sign legislation that creates a fund that would pay employees for up to 12 weeks of leave to care for sick family members or remain at home after the birth of a child.

But Republican lawmakers say the mandatory fund, paid for by employers and employees, will hurt businesses.

The union also called on Hogan to sign legislation that provides health care to undocumented immigrant women and their children up to age 1. They also want Hogan to sign bills that would allow staff at the Office of the Public Defender to unionize and another that provides a cost of living increase to employees at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.