Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has a week to sign or veto a stack of controversial bills the General Assembly sent him Wednesday afternoon, starting the clock for a heightened political fight in final days of the legislative session.
Hogan publicly promised to veto one bill that would forbid education reforms he championed for consistently failing schools, including giving students vouchers to attend private schools, converting public schools to charters or letting private companies take over schools.
Another bill likely to provoke Hogan's veto would give the attorney general $1 million year and five lawyers in order to sue the federal government, a transfer of power the governor has lambasted.
Traditionally, lawmakers wait until after the session concludes to send bills to the governor's desk. But sending them early triggers a clock that forces his decision before the General Assembly adjourns for the year, allowing lawmakers to immediately attempt to override his veto.
The legislative leaders also sent Hogan a bill he has promised to sign: a fracking ban that would make it illegal to use hydraulic fracturing to mine natural gas. Maryland is the first state above the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale to ban the practice before it starts.
The other 23 bills sent to Hogan include: the state's $1 billion capital budget for construction projects; a prohibition on opening oyster sanctuaries to harvesting; a three-year promise to give school districts with declining enrollment, including Baltimore city, extra money; a law requiring the state to make up for any federal money withheld from Planned Parenthood; and an extension of the statute of limitations for child victims of sex abuse to file civil lawsuits against their abusers.
The governor has promised to veto two other bills that would mandate paid sick time for most workers and limit how local police can cooperate with immigration authorities. Lawmakers are still negotiating on the final form of those bills.