Gov. Larry Hogan canceled his final bill-signing ceremony that was scheduled for Thursday, a sign that he will likely allow hundreds of bills to become law without his signature.
“Based on the remaining bills, the May 23 bill signing was no longer necessary,” Hogan spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said in a statement.
Among the bills awaiting action from the Republican governor are measures that would create a board to monitor prices for prescription drugs that insurance plans for state and local governments pay, ban most foam food and drink containers and dissolve the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board.
Hogan also must make a decision on a bill that would send $3.2 million in state money to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The BSO is counting on that money to resolve a labor dispute with musicians.
Another pending bill would require the state to refuse to accept federal family planning assistance, called Title X, if the federal government institutes a proposed “gag rule” that would prevent participating providers from discussing a pregnant woman’s options with them. The state would have to make up the funding difference for those low-income patients.
There also are hundreds of non-controversial bills awaiting action, including dozens of bills that adjust local liquor laws
Hogan has until Friday to make final decisions on bills, including issuing any vetoes. Any bill that he doesn’t sign by Friday will automatically become law.
Hogan announced on Thursday that one of the bills that was awaiting his action, which increases renewable energy standards, will become law without his signature. The Clean Energy Jobs Act requires that the state get 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
State lawmakers passed 864 bills and two joint resolutions during their 90-day General Assembly session this year.
Hogan vetoed a few bills during the session, with lawmakers quickly overturning them, including: a gradual increase of the minimum wage to $15, allowing local school districts to start the academic year after Labor Day, permanently protecting several no-harvest oyster sanctuaries and moving alcohol and tobacco enforcement from the Office of the Comptroller to a new independent agency. Democrats hold such a large majority in the General Assembly that they overrode those vetoes easily.
If Hogan vetoes any more bills, lawmakers will have to wait to take veto overrides votes the next time they are in session — which is currently scheduled to be their next regular General Assembly session in January.
Hogan also already has announced that he’s allowing a key public school funding bill to become law without his signature. The so-called “Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” will send more than $850 million extra to public school classrooms over two years, kicking off the implementation of recommendations of a commission that’s studying ways to improve the state’s schools.
But most bills have gotten Hogan’s signature in a series of bill-signing ceremonies at the State House since the end of the session in April. The lawmakers who sponsored the bills and supporters snake through long lines at the State House before posing for pictures with the governor, House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller in the Governor’s Reception Room.