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Hogan upbeat as Maryland legislative session wanes

Governor Larry Hogan talks about his successes on the last day of the legislative session. (Pamela Wood, Baltimore Sun)

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters Monday he was pleased with his accomplishments in the General Assembly this year, but hoped lawmakers would still act on his proposal to grant tax credits to certain manufacturing companies that bring new jobs to areas with high unemployment.

Hogan called it "the final and most important piece" of his agenda and said he "can't imagine" why lawmakers would vote against it.

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He praised the annual 90-day session as the most bipartisan and productive of his tenure, and pointed out it is the third year in a row without a tax increase.

"I'm not sure how it could have been any better," Hogan told reporters during an Annapolis news conference. "We had a few heated moments here and there on some different topics and some rhetoric, but the reality was we worked across the aisle and got things done."

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Several of the governor's initiatives were watered down or changed completely, but he still counted them among his legislative wins, including a strengthening of ethics laws and creating a grant program for environmental clean-up programs.

After previously saying the General Assembly's paid sick leave law would be "dead on arrival," Hogan on Monday would not say whether he planned to veto it. Maryland lawmakers approved legislation that would mandate five days of paid sick leave for most workers, a sweeping plan the governor has said would be harmful to Maryland businesses.

"It's technically not on my desk just yet," Hogan said, adding that he would consider it along with approximately 1,000 other bills passed this year.

Lawmakers also watered down a law that forces the governor to publicly score and rank transportation projects. Hogan said the current law will spark endless lawsuits over transportation projects, and therefore force him to put most of the state's major transportation projects on hold. The governor said Monday all of those projects can now move forward.

Hogan also pointed out lawmakers approved his proposed tax breaks for retirees and law enforcement, as well as a proposal related to sex trafficking and to address the heroin crisis.

Other pieces of the governor's agenda have not advanced, including his proposal to tamp down on mandated spending, to grant bigger tax exemptions on student loan debt and to change the way charter schools are approved in the state.

Lawmakers also did not advance his proposal to broaden the information prosecutors can tell juries about accused rapists, nor his proposal to have legislative districts drawn by an independent commission rather than politicians.

Still, Hogan remained upbeat and said he accomplished more than the first two sessions of his term, combined.

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