Consideration of Vetoes: Maryland General Assembly Mid-Week 2
The House of Delegates will convene tomorrow, January 20, 2016, at 11AM to hold a vote on three pieces of legislation from the 2015 Session of the Maryland General Assembly that the Governor vetoed. The State Senate will not hold a vote on its own set of vetoed bills until Thursday, January 21, 2016, due to unspecified health-related issues among the membership. This postponement either means that the Senate President lacks the necessary votes to override the veto without the missing Senator(s) or the Senator(s) requested a postponement so his or her view could be included in the official record.
According to the Maryland Manual: “The power to override a veto rests with the General Assembly. If the Governor vetoes a bill during a regular session, the General Assembly immediately considers the Governor’s veto message. If the Governor vetoes a bill presented after the session, the veto message must be considered immediately at the next regular or special session of the legislature. The General Assembly may not override a veto during the first year of a new legislative term since the bill would have been passed by the previous legislature (Const., Art. II, sec. 17). A three-fifths vote of the elected membership of both chambers is necessary to override a veto.”
In the House of Delegates, three-fifths translates into 85 votes. In the State Senate, three-fifths is 29 votes.
Expect the votes on these vetoes to follow party lines with some exceptions. Democratic politicians who originally voted against a bill will be pressured to vote to override a veto if it looks like the leadership does not have enough votes to win. Those who are in districts where their constituents care about the issue will be allowed to stay while Freshmen will be pressured heavily to change.
The leadership has many tactics to obtain votes, including the adding of funds in the Capital Budget, leadership assignments, and, if necessary, legal prosecution (see: Tiffany Alston following her switch to an oppose vote regarding the gay marriage legalization bill). Occasionally, some individual legislators or a whole Delegation will withdraw support from the leadership’s position until they are awarded funds or support for another piece of legislation (see: Baltimore City Delegation’s support for the Casino expansion amendment in return for $1 billion in school construction funds).
Here are the vetoed bills that will be heard in the House of Delegates:
HB 71 (Capital Budget)
This will be an interesting vote because 125 members of the House of Delegates supported the bill, including the Minority Leader and Whip (2015 House vote). In the State Senate, the vote was unanimous (2015 Senate vote).
However, only one portion of the bill was vetoed, a line item that provided money for a project in Annapolis. This will either result in a vote along party lines or some Republicans voting for the veto override to help ensure that they will receive funds for their districts in the 2016 Capital Budget.
HB 209 (Room Rental Tax)
The Room Rental Tax will be the most interesting of the veto override votes to watch because there are very different views on the issue within each party. The Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of a veto override, yet key players within the House and Senate leadership were opposed to the original bill.
In the House, the vote was 90-44 (corrected from 88-46) (2015 House vote):
Republican Delegates who voted for: Freshman William Folden (3B-Frederick), Freshman Christopher West (42B-Baltimore), Herb McMillain (30A-Anne Arundel)
Abstain: Glen Glass (34A-Harford)
Absent: Kathy Afzali (4-Frederick and Carroll), Susan Krebs (5-Carroll), Pat McDonough (7-Baltimore and Harford)
Freshmen Christopher Adams (37B-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico) and Johnny Mautz (37B-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico) originally cast votes to oppose then corrected their votes to support.
Democrat Delegates who voted against: Freshman Sheree Sample-Hughes (37A-Dorchester and Wicomico), Freshman Ned Carey (31A-Anne Arundel), Charles Barkley (39-Montgomery), Deputy Majority Leader Dan Morhaim (11-Baltimore)
In the Senate, it was 30-17 (2015 Senate vote):
Republican Senators who voted for: Addie Eckardt (37-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico)
Democrat Senators who voted against: James Brochin (42-Baltimore), James DeGrange (32-Anne Arundel), Deputy Majority Leader Katherine Klausmeier (8-Baltimore), Doug Peters (23-Prince George’s),
HB 980 (Ex-Felon Voting, see: SB 340 also vetoed)
This bill is guaranteed to be the most controversial of the veto overrides to be heard tomorrow. Expect heavy debate on the floor. In the House of Delegates, the vote was 82-57 (2015 House vote):
Democrat Delegates who voted against: Charles Barkley (39-Montgomery), Pamela Beidle (32-Anne Arundel), Eric Bromwell (8-Baltimore), Freshman Ned Carey (31A-Anne Arundel), Freshman Mark Chang (32-Anne Arundel), Freshman Mary Ann Lisanti (34A-Harford), Theodore Sophocleus (32-Anne Arundel), C.T. Wilson (28-Charles)
In the State Senate, the vote was 32-15 (2015 Senate vote):
Republican Senators who voted for: Gail Bates (9-Carroll and Howard), Robert Salling (6-Baltimore)
Democrat Senators who voted against: James Brochin (42-Baltimore), James DeGrange (32-Anne Arundel), James Mathias (38-Somerset, Worcester, and Wicomico)
As a note, three of the Senate votes changed on the Senate version of the bill (2015 Senate vote on Senate version), with Republicans Gail Bates (9-Carroll and Howard) and Robert Salling (6-Baltimore) and Democrat Kathy Klausmeier (8-Baltimore) switching to Nay.
The vote on the Senate version of the bill in the House stayed the same except for Democrat C.T. Wilson (28-Charles) not voting (2015 Delegate vote on Senate version).
As of this moment, no other item of business has been scheduled in the House of Delegates for tomorrow. If you would like to listen to the proceedings, click on the homepage of the Maryland General Assembly and check the box labeled “House Session Status” (right side of the screen under the heading “What’s Happening Now”). When session starts, it will have a link that you can click on to listen.
Tomorrow, I will provide an update on what transpired during the floor debate and what to expect Thursday on the Senate floor.
Correction: This article originally said two Republican Delegates switched from support votes to oppose votes. They switched from oppose to support.