Veto battles on Assembly's mind as it moves with unusual speed

Democrats hope to drag Larry Hogan down with associations with Donald Trump, and are lining up some early veto bait to sharpen their fights with the governor as the session aims for Sine Die in less than two weeks.

/PM BlogSpace Report/ With a little less than two weeks left in the Assembly session, quite a lot of stuff is moving faster than one would expect. In part that’s because the Assembly is tired of waiting a whole year to override Larry Hogan’s vetoes and are putting some of their choicest material in front of him in a way that statutorily requires him to veto them now, rather than after the session, so the override can come before the April 10 sine die.

Always in the background is Democrats’ hopes to tie the unpopular GOP president to Hogan, whose popularity ratings have been sinking with Donald Trump’s

Included in that array of potential fights is an education bill that curtails Hogan’s opportunities to amp up charter schools and private-school vouchers. However, the legislators didn’t face up to a challenge on public money going to private schools, agreeing to a part of Hogan’s budget that nearly doubles the amount of money that can be applied to private-school scholarships.

On criminal justice, a struggle to agree with the state’s highest court that cash bail unconstitutionally discriminates against the poor and low-income workers is faltering. Bills that would complement that agreement are holding back but a bill sponsored by Sen. Anthony Muse of Prince George’s, which clearly carries water for the bail-bond industry, works to nullify the court ruling.

An attempt to build on last year’s clear win for victims of police misconduct (a Progressive Maryland priority) has been killed by – what else – the House Judiciary Committee.

The $15 minimum wage is considered a “wait-till-next year” effort while the legislators try to put final form and gather veto-proof votes on a bill that Hogan has declared he will veto – paid sick leave for employees in any businesses larger than 15 employees.

One pretty open electoral strategy of the Democratic-controlled Senate and House of Delegates is to link the more-popular Larry Hogan with his deeply unpopular GOP counterpart in the White House. Nearly every opportunity (looking at the 2018 election) is taken to mount resistance at the state level to Trump policies and to send Hogan difficult choices that could reflect on his loyalty or lack of it to the GOP regime.

The state’s attorney general got money for five new attorneys for the purpose of suing the federal government.

Trump budget threats against Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting got promises from the Assembly to make up any shortfalls. However, a bill from the House that severely restricts local governments’ ability to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement got a chicken-hearted nay from Senate President Mike Miller, probably shaken by the hype over a Rockville rape case; he said the Trust Act wouldn’t get out of a Senate committee in its present form.

On the environmental front, the governor and legislators achieved rare agreement when Hogan acquiesced in a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracturing, in Maryland. A bill promoting energy efficiency in the public power sector, already cheerfully adopted by the Hogan-majority Public Service Commission, will probably not get a pushback from the governor.