Hogan, a Catholic who had been able to dodge weighing in on abortion by saying it was a matter of “settled law” in Maryland, on Friday established he’s willing to curtail access to the procedure.
“As governor, I have upheld my commitment to take no action that would affect Maryland law where it concerns reproductive rights. With this action, I am reaffirming that commitment, ” Hogan said in a letter accompanying the veto. “The only impact that this bill would have on women’s reproductive rights would be to set back standards for women’s health care and safety.”
As he weighs a bid for president after his term ends, he was facing a list of litmus-test policies widely popular in Maryland but unpopular with Republican primary voters.
On Friday, he also vetoed nine other bills, including some that would have created a state paid family leave program, bolstered unions and forced firearm dealers to adopt specific security measures.
Hogan’s decisions set in motion a weekend of veto-override fights in the General Assembly as the legislature seeks to salvage election-year priorities, many of which it had passed with veto-proof majorities.
The abortion bill would have allowed medical professionals other than physicians to do the procedure, the most sweeping change to Maryland’s abortion laws since that restriction was adopted in the early 1990s. The bill would allow medical providers who already care for pregnant patients to also perform abortions, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives.
The bill also forced most insurers to pay for the procedure with no out-of-pocket costs to patients. (Maryland is already one of seven states that requires Medicaid to pay for abortion using state funds.) Maryland allows abortion until the fetus is viable. After that, it is permitted in cases of fetal anomaly or when the mother’s health is endangered.
Democrats who pushed the bill said they expected Maryland to become a destination for women if the Supreme Court decides to roll back the landmark Roe v. Wade case.
The governor let some of the policies become law without his signature, including banning purchase and possession of ghost guns, a climate change plan he had derided as too costly, and providing prenatal and infant care through Medicaid for undocumented immigrants. He also let a framework for legalizing recreational marijuana become law. That is contingent on a constitutional referendum that voters will consider in the fall.
The vetoed bills had been passed by veto-proof majorities, though the legislature has until Monday to take all the votes to override Hogan.
Advocates for workers’ rights have been pushing for paid family leave for at least a decade.
Momentum began to build for the bill this year after the pandemic highlighted the strain employees are under in caring for loved ones while maintaining their jobs.
Under the bill, workers could be eligible for up to 12 weeks of partial paid leave, beginning in 2025. The legislation calls for a study to be conducted to decide how the program will be set up and who will administer it. It also levies a tax on employers and workers to fund it.
Hogan had a mixed record supporting paid leave. During his reelection bid in 2018, Hogan gave a full-throated embrace of a parental leave policy for state workers that his administration had once opposed.
Hogan pushed his own statewide paid sick leave policy in 2017 but vetoed one developed by Democrats after calling it “job-killing” and “disastrous to our economy.” In 2018, he promised to pitch tax credits for private employers to implement paid leave. But this year, he did not offer an alternative proposal to the Democrats’ plan.
Hogan also vetoed a bill that would require an attorney to be present when a child is interrogated, legislation that would change the process in which local health officers can be removed from their position, and a measure that would allow employees of the Office of the Public Defender to form a union.
His decisions offered a mixed approach to gun control.
Hogan vetoed a bill sponsored by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) that requires businesses that sell firearms to have certain security features, including security cameras and a bar, grate or security screen on its outside doors. Jones said the legislation is a common-sense crime prevention measure designed to avert thefts. The requirements under the bill are similar to those imposed in Baltimore County three years ago.
He did not veto a bill that would make Maryland the 11th state in the country to ban the purchase and possession of untraceable firearms, commonly known as ghost guns. Explaining his decision, Hogan tweeted Friday morning that the ghost gun legislation is “a positive step” toward preventing violent crime but “it does nothing to penalize those who actually pull the trigger on firearms.”
He also again criticized the General Assembly for failing to move on his crime package, including a measure that would enhance the penalties for those who use guns in violent crimes.
The decision to present the bills to the governor early was a preemptive strike that enables the legislature to overturn the governor’s vetoes before the 90-day session ends on Monday. Under a provision in the state constitution, bills submitted to the governor at least six days before the end of a legislative session become law after six days, unless the governor issues a veto. Friday was the deadline for Hogan’s decisions.
Hogan has endorsed certain gun control measures while rejecting others.
He signed a ban on the sale of bump stocks and a “red flag” law that allows judges to seize firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. He also vetoed an effort to restrict who can get a concealed carry permit.
During his first campaign in 2014, gun rights advocates said he offered private assurances that he would work to expand access to firearms. During his second in 2018, he publicly sought distance from the National Rifle Association and said he would not accept the group’s endorsement.
Banning ghost guns was a top priority of law enforcement this session, with Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) leading the effort. Police chiefs and prosecutors across the state said the firearms, which are assembled from parts and sold in kits on the Internet without background checks, are increasingly becoming the weapon of choice among criminals.
In Prince George’s County, 27 ghost guns were seized in 2019, police said. Last year, there were 264. The county police chief said earlier this year that investigators have linked at least 13 homicides, 10 robberies and 20 aggravated assaults — many committed by young people, including some in their teens — to ghost guns since 2019.
The new law would ban the sale, receipt and transfer of unfinished frames or receivers that are not serialized by the manufacturer, and the ban to purchase new ghost guns would take effect June 1. The effective date for possession would take effect March of next year.