Help Wanted: 19 Maryland Republican Senators Needed
By Mark Uncapher, MCGOP Chairman
Of the 47 current Maryland state senators, today only 14 of them are Republicans. Emboldened by these numbers, Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly can routinely pass legislation that they expect Governor Hogan will veto, confident that these vetoes can be overturned. During the governor’s first legislative session in 2015, some 197 bills were vetoed.
An increase of five GOP seats in the 47-person chamber would mean that Democrats lack the 29 votes needed to override vetoes. Under the math of Maryland’s constitution, 19 Republican votes could prevent the 3/5thor 29 votes necessary to override the governor’s vetoes.
Redistricting is one of the most important upcoming issues. After the 2020 Census, without the necessary votes to override the governor, the legislative maps that the governor proposes can survive the General Assembly.
Yet additionally, it is also worth remembering that Ben Jealous need not be elected governor for some of his extreme proposals to become law. Any of his extreme liberal policies can be introduced by any legislator, jammed through the General Assembly and sent to the governor. Again, without five additional Republican senators, a veto by Governor Hogan might not be sustained.
During the past four years, multiple examples of bad ideas becoming law over the governor’s veto have occurred. For example, one law permitted approximately 40,000 individuals on parole or probation for a felony conviction to become able to register to vote immediately after being released from incarceration.
And that’s not all.
Just in the most recent 2018 legislative session, Democrats passed several bills vetoed by the governor, demonstrating why good government in Maryland depends on sustaining the governor’s vetoes.
This year, Democratic leaders stealthily amended legislation on the oath of office for the state employee public pension trustees. At the very last minute, and without any hearings or debate on its final form, this bill was changed to prevent Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot from becoming chairman of the pension fund’s trustees. Whether a Republican or Democrat, one should be alarmed that the governance of how the state invests its $50 billion pension fund can be changed without any public input. Fortunately, Governor Hogan vetoed the bill.
Other vetoed bills this year include three that would weaken accountability in Maryland schools. Among these bills were changes to the school construction funding and approval processes. Although the governor vetoed the bill, the General Assembly overrode the veto during the 2018 session and it became law.
In his veto message, the governor noted: “These three bills are a crude attempt to accomplish two things: dilute the authority of the Board of Education by packing it with appointees that represent the interest of lobbyists rather than those of teachers, parents, administrators or students; and, these bills seek to prevent the Maryland State Department of Education – a body that is already insulated from political influence – from removing high-level employees who are ineffectual, incompetent, or who simply aren’t getting the job done. It is shocking to me, as well as to the citizens of Maryland.”
Maryland’s Republican Party has emphasized that breaking the grip of this veto-proof Democrat majority would become a top priority for the current election. Districts held by Democrats that were won by Governor Hogan in 2014 have been given priority resources.
Republicans’ success in achieving this objective will significantly shape not only Larry Hogan’s second term as governor, but because of the 2022 legislative maps, it will also be an important factor in state politics during his second term in office.