Consideration of Vetoes Update
Today, the House of Delegates voted to override three contested vetoes from the 2015 Session: HB 71 (Capital Budget), HB 209 (Room Rental Tax), and HB 980 (Ex-Felon voting). Yesterday, I discussed what to expect in an article on Red Maryland, and there were no surprises. The votes were mostly along party lines, with the vetoes pitting supporters of the Speaker of the House against those of the Governor.
You can listen to today’s proceedings in the House of Delegates by clicking on this page and then clicking on “Wednesday, January 20, 2016 Session # 1”. The quorum call before the consideration of the vetoes begins at 8:32, with HB 71 starting at 8:50, HB 209 at 10:25, and HB 980 at 20:21.
When HB 71 was introduced, no one rose for debate and the vote was immediately called. Originally, the vote was 90-51 but two unidentified Delegates from Anne Arundel County changed their votes to override the veto. House rules prevented their names from being used on the floor, so they will be unidentified until the official vote count is posted. This article will be updated when the official vote count is made public.
The original bill passed unanimously in the House of Delegates during the 2015 session.
Discussion of HB 209 began with legal questions and was filled with debate over how taxes affect business. The vote was taken at the 20:25 mark, with 90 in affirmative and 51 in negative, which matches the original override vote count for HB 71. A veto override was passed on both bills by a wide margin.
The original bill passed 90-44 in the House of Delegates during the 2015 session.
The truly contentious, 55-minute long debate took place over HB 980. It is well worth listening to in full, especially with the vigorous back and forth over the issue of voting as a right. Noteworthy, Delegate Pat McDonough criticized the speakers on the floor and the bill itself for listing those affected as “ex-felons” when it would affect parolees, who are technically still serving part of their sentence, though not within the confines of a prison. The override passed with the bare minimum of votes needed, 85-56.
The original bill passed 82-57 in the House of Delegates during the 2015 session.
In the end, the House of Delegates leadership secured the votes it needed without any issue. Concluding session, the Speaker said, “You can all be proud of the quality of debate.” He then followed his comment with more praise: “My compliment to the majority and the minority party for their presentation today.”
None of the three veto overrides have been assigned a date to be discussed in the Senate.
What to Expect in the Senate
Tomorrow, the State Senate will discuss veto overrides regarding four of their own bills. All of these bills were previously passed with the 29 vote margin needed to override a veto:
SB 190 (Room Rental Tax)
The Senate bill is similar to vetoed bill HB 209, which was overridden today in the House of Delegates. While HB 209 pertains only to Howard County, SB 190 is a state-wide version. The House version passed 30-17, and the Senate version received a 32-15 vote in the Senate. The history on this piece of legislation is interesting, with members on both sides switching back and forth on the issue.
Republican Senators who voted for: Addie Eckardt (37-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico)
Democrat Senator who voted against: James DeGrange (32-Anne Arundel) and Douglas Peters (23-Prince George’s)
Democrat Senator James Brochin (42-Baltimore) and Deputy Majority Leader Katherine Klausmeier (8-Baltimore) voted against HB 209 but voted in favor of SB 190. In the Senate, a vote on HB 209 took place two weeks after SB 190.
Democrat Delegate who voted against: Freshman Ned Carey (31A-Anne Arundel)
Republican Delegates who switched to against: Freshman William Folden (3B-Frederick), Freshman Christopher West (42B-Baltimore), and Herb McMillain (30A-Anne Arundel)
Democrat Delegates who switched to against: Freshman Mark Chang (32-Anne Arundel), Freshman Mary Ann Lisanti (34A-Harford), Pamela Beidle (32-Anne Arundel), Eric Bromwell (8-Baltimore), Theodore Sophocleus (32-Anne Arundel)
Democrat Delegates who switched to support: Freshman Sheree Sample-Hughes (37A-Dorchester and Wicomico), Charles Barkley (39-Montgomery), Deputy Majority Leader Dan Morhaim (11-Baltimore)
SB 340 (Ex-Felon Voting)
The Senate bill is a match to vetoed bill HB 980, which was overridden today in the House of Delegates. SB 340 passed 29-18, with not one Republican Senator voting in favor of the bill.
Democrat Senators who voted against: James Brochin (42-Baltimore), James DeGrange (32-Anne Arundel), James Mathias (38-Somerset, Worcester, and Wicomico), Deputy Majority Leader Kathy Klausmeier (8-Baltimore)
Three of the Senators changed their mind when voting on the House version of the bill (2015 Senate vote on House version), with Freshman Republican Robert Salling (6-Baltimore), Republican Gail Bates (9-Carroll and Howard), and Democrat Kathy Klausmeier (8-Baltimore) switching to Support.
SB 517 (Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia De-criminalization)
This veto is already one of the most contentious so far. Senate leadership has attempted, with little success, to take their arguments to the air waves. Currently, they are saying that the legal concerns of prosecutors and police officers are without merit. As of yet, no legal opinion has backed up the Senate leadership’s claims. The Senate passed the bill 32-13.
Republican Senator who voted for: Freshman Justin Ready (5-Carroll County)
Democrat Senator who voted against: James Mathias (38-Somerset, Worcester, and Wicomico)
In the House, the vote was 83-53 (corrected to 84-52).
Republican Delegate who voted for: Freshman Trent Kittleman (9A-Howard and Carroll)
Democrat Delegates who voted against: Freshman Mark Chang (32-Anne Arundel), Charles Barkley (39-Montgomery), Pamela Beidle (32-Anne Arundel), Theodore Sophocleus (32-Anne Arundel), C.T. Wilson (28-Charles)
SB 528 (Seizure and Forfeiture)
Republican Delegates who voted for: Freshman Trent Kittleman (9A-Howard and Carroll) and Glen Glass (34A-Harford).
Democrat delegates who voted against: Freshman Mark Chang (32-Anne Arundel), Freshman Michael Jackson (27B-Calvert and Prince George’s), Eric Bromwell (8-Baltimore), and Jay Walker (26-Prince George’s).
Prosecutors and police officers have also expressed concerns over this piece of legislation.
What to Expect Tomorrow
There will be some debate but little action. The Senate tends to have a “go along to get along” attitude, where Senators from both sides agree to pass legislation that the leadership wants in return for capital funds or support for their own legislation. The postponement until tomorrow suggests that the Senate President will have all of the votes he needs.
I will provide an update tomorrow following the debate with any additional information regarding today’s vote.
Correction: The article originally stated that three Senators switched from Support to Oppose on SB 340 to HB 980. They switched from Oppose to Support. Also made minor corrections to SB 528 to give two Democrats credit for opposition, and added Douglas Peters to SB 190 and Glen Glass to SB 528 vote counts.