Hogan Vetoes Abortion and Paid Family Leave Bills, Allows Climate Measure to Become Law

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) vetoed several bills on Friday evening, including measures to expand abortion services in the state and establish a statewide paid family leave program. He also allowed a number of bills to become law without his signature, including sweeping climate change legislation and a juvenile justice reform bill. The legislature is likely to take up veto override votes starting on Saturday. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) vetoed 10 bills on Friday evening, including measures that would expand the types of medical professionals who can perform abortions in the state, establish a statewide paid family leave insurance program and impose tighter security restrictions on gun stores.

The governor allowed about 28 bills to take effect without his signature — including the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, which would set aggressive goals for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland and establish new policies to help achieve that goal, including by requiring more building electrification, creating a “green bank” that would invest state funds into private projects that reduce gas emissions and expanding the state electric vehicle fleet.

Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), sponsor of the climate legislation, said Hogan’s decision to allow the climate bill to become law without his signature reflected growing public concern about the impacts of climate change.

“The governor does a lot of polling,” he said. “And I believe the public demands action. As a legislature we can tail the public or lead the public, and I think the governor read the tea leaves.”

Among the other bills taking effect without the governor’s signature are a ban on the sale and possession of ghost guns, a framework for a legalized cannabis industry in the state and a wide-ranging juvenile justice reform measure that will generally prohibit kids under 13 from facing criminal charges, though charges could be placed in criminal court for the most serious crimes, including murder and sexual offenses.

The General Assembly is set to adjourn on Monday at midnight, giving lawmakers a short window to override the vetoes. Both chambers are convening on Saturday to take up veto override votes.

In a veto letter on the abortion measure, Hogan wrote that he was upholding his commitment to taking no action that would affect Maryland law concerning reproductive rights.

But, he said, House Bill 937 “endangers the health and lives of women by allowing non-physicians to perform abortions.”

As passed, the bill would expand who can perform abortions in the state to include nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and physician assistants.

“These procedures are complex and can, and often do, result in significant medical complications that require the care of a licensed physician,” Hogan wrote.

Hogan went on to say the bill would “set back standards for women’s health care and safety.”

The bill would also provide $3.5 million in financial support to clinically train health care professionals to offer reproductive services. The bill would also make the state’s existing abortion care coverage under Medicaid permanent, and require private health insurance plans — with exceptions for those with religious or legal exemption — to cover abortion care without cost-sharing or deductibles.

The governor also vetoed Senate Bill 275, the Time to Care Act of 2022, which would offer Marylanders 12 weeks of partially paid family leave each year to care for themselves or a loved one after a serious health issue and up to 24 weeks of paid leave for new parents.

Hogan wrote in a veto letter that if the General Assembly had passed a family leave program that defined small business as those with fewer than 50 employees, he would have been “more inclined to support it.”

The Time to Care Act defines small business as those with employers with less than 15 employees. He also wrote that the bill is supported by “no actuarial analysis, no viable plan for implementation, and leaves the smallest of small businesses vulnerable to insurmountable regulatory burdens.”

As passed, the bill would require an actuarial analysis to be completed by December this year.

Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-Baltimore), senate sponsor of the bill, said Hogan’s veto of the paid family leave bill was “unfortunate.”

“Overwhelmingly, Marylanders support it,” he said. He said he is optimistic the legislature will override the veto on Saturday.

The legislation “will be beneficial to a lot of Marylanders that have to choose between work and taking care of a loved one, or taking time and bonding with a new baby,” Hayes said.

The governor also vetoed House Bill 1021, sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), which would require businesses that sell firearms to have 24-hour burglary alarm systems, as well as other safety measures including security bars, metal doors or physical barriers to prevent vehicles from crashing through.

The other bills that Hogan vetoed are:

Senate Bill 1 would allow the Maryland Department of Labor’s commissioner of labor and industry to investigate and send out stop work orders to state contractors and subcontractors that have violated the prevailing wage law.

Senate Bill 53, the Child Interrogation Protection Act, would protect minors from self-incrimination during encounters with law enforcement.

“Many of the provisions in the bill meant to protect youth were concepts that I could support, such as requiring the recording of interrogations, notification to parents/guardians, and developing age-appropriate language to explain Miranda rights to a youth,” Hogan wrote in a veto letter. “The hurdles created by this bill, most notably requiring consultation with an attorney prior to questioning, will effectively elminate the ability for law enforcement to interrogate a youth.”

Senate Bill 259 expands the state’s prevailing wage requirements to state-funded service contracts for mechanical services like HVAC, refrigeration, electrical and elevator maintenance.

Senate Bill 475/House Bill 580 would add sergeants and supervisors within the Maryland Transit Administration Police to the list of employees authorized to participate in collective bargaining.

House Bill 778/Senate Bill 514 would require the Maryland Transportation Administration to create investment programs to move forward with projects to connect Maryland with surrounding states through the Maryland Area Regional Commuter rail.

House Bill 90 would allow lawyers at the Office of the Public Defender to choose to enter into collective bargaining agreements with the state over their pay, benefits and working conditions. Under the bill, public defenders would also only be able to be disciplined or fired for cause.

House Bill 609 would require the state secretary of Health to provide a written explanation if a local health officer is fired and give the fired officer the opportunity for a hearing.

The governor’s office released the full list of House and Senate bills that will take effect without his signature here and here.

Hannah Gaskill, Bennett Leckrone and Elizabeth Shwe contributed to this report. 

Hogan Vetoes Abortion and Paid Family Leave Bills, Allows Climate Measure to Become Law