ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan announced vetoes of 18 bills Friday, including a measure that would have allowed voters who forget to sign their mail-in ballot envelope to do so after mailing it to get it counted.
The Republican governor also vetoed a bill that would have allowed union dues to be tax deductible, as well as a bill that would have stayed eviction proceedings against tenants who could show they are awaiting a determination about rental assistance.
The General Assembly, which has a supermajority of Democrats, won’t have the chance to override these vetoes when they convene in January for their regular 90-day session, because it is the last year of the term.
On the ballot bill, Hogan said the measure did not address election security concerns as more people in Maryland are voting by mail.
“While this legislation allows a voter to provide a missing signature by one of several ways — including in person, mail, email and text — it remains silent on basic security measures such as signature verification — with Maryland being one of only nine states that does not conduct signature verification — and does nothing to address ballot collection,” Hogan wrote in his veto letter.
Del. Marc Korman, a Montgomery County Democrat, criticized the governor’s veto. He said Hogan was putting national political ambitions ahead of legislation that Hogan described in his veto letter as including some positive changes, including early canvassing of ballots.
The governor noted that early canvassing of absentee ballots “would allow hard working election officials to get a much needed head start on the deluge of ballot envelopes that, under current law, must wait until after Election Day for processing.”
“Wow, if you want to see some real Repub presidential politics at work, the Guv vetoed a bill he says has ‘positive changes to State election law’ because it did not also address other election matters,” Korman wrote on Twitter.
Hogan has not ruled out a 2024 presidential bid.
The governor also said allowing union dues to be tax deductible promoted “an unfair advantage to unions and activists.”
“By using the tax code to confer political power to unions, it creates a political advantage — not only to the unions but also to the political parties and candidates supported by them,” Hogan wrote.
The term-limited governor also vetoed two measures relating to evictions, including a bill to require a landlord to comply with a county’s licensing regulations before filing for repossession of a property. The other stayed eviction proceedings for tenants awaiting a determination about rental assistance.
“Maryland already has some of the strongest tenant protection laws in the nation and these bills impose additional burdens on small property owners who are already struggling to stay in business,” Hogan said.
A measure that creates requirements related to virtual education for public schools also was vetoed by the governor.
“Giving the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) discretion to shut down underperforming schools as currently drafted in this bill gives too much influence to political whims, instead of putting learning at the forefront,” Hogan said.
Hogan also vetoed a bill that aims to ensure the state’s transportation planning is more equitable. The governor said the regulatory landscape could change later in the year, with new federal guidance and regulations.
“Adopting new state requirements as the federal requirements are being updated will result in conflicts, inconsistencies, or other unintended consequences,” Hogan wrote.
Bills that would have required Senate approval to appoint the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services, and a bill to create a professional qualification requirement for the state health secretary also were rejected by the governor.
“Senate Bill 819 and House Bill 287 create a dangerous precedent and significantly undermine the voters and the Maryland Constitution, which entrusts the executive branch with making appointments to critical government roles,” Hogan wrote.
Separately, the governor said 294 additional measures will take effect without his signature.
Brian Witte reports for The Associated Press.