• Stephen Buckingham

Governor Vetoes Priority Bills

On May 26, 2021, Governor Larry Hogan vetoed three bills that UULM-MD had designated as priority legislation and had passed the General Assembly. Two were immigration bills and one was a criminal justice bill. Once again, we will need to seek overrides of important bills in the next legislative session that begins January 12, 2022.

Immigration Priorities

Citing his opposition to legislation that would “hinder cooperation with federal law enforcement and make Maryland a sanctuary state,” Hogan claimed that “Flawed legislation such as this sets a dangerous precedent regarding the state's commitment to upholding the law and ensuring the safety of our citizens.” He particularly objected to provisions in HB 16, the “Dignity Not Detention Act,” that would prohibit law enforcement officers from inquiring about immigration status, citizenship status, or place of birth during a routine stop or search, stating that police should be able to make such inquiries during an arrest. In addition, the bill would have limited state and local participation with federal immigration authorities and ended private and state participation in detention centers. Hogan also objected to HB 23, the “Maryland Driver Privacy Act,” as it would “impede important criminal law enforcement investigations” by denying ICE access to driver records without a warrant.

Immigration Task Force Chair Jim Caldiero has called these vetoes outrageous and is asking UULM-MD members to contact their Senators and Delegates now, asking them to commit to veto overrides next session. These measures are important to our goals of protect legal and undocumented immigrants from harassment and ending local police role in enforcing federal immigration law.

Criminal Justice

One of the most important priorities for criminal justice advocates is SB 202 which would reform the parole requirements by removing the Governor from a role in making final decisions on parole of individuals serving life sentences. In vetoing this measure, Governor Hogan cited his willingness to grant parole or clemency to some “lifers,” unlike his last three predecessors. Hogan claimed that his primary objection was that SB 202 would allow “individuals receiving a life sentence after October l, 2021, [to be] eligible for their first parole hearing after 20 years less diminution credits, which could be equivalent to 17.5 years.” He favors applying diminution credits in determining eligibility for parole, requiring all to serve a minimum of 20 years.

While this may be his stated rationale for the veto, we believe that his true objection is the removal of the Governor from the parole process which would depoliticize the process and allow the experts on the Parole Board to make these decisions. Criminal Justice Task Force Chair Candy Clark will be also contacting members about overriding the veto of this important bill. While Governor Hogan has granted parole for some lifers, there is an election coming up next year, and we don’t know how the next Governor will view the parole of those serving life sentences.

A number of other bills still await the Governor's action, and we expect more news by Monday, May 31, his deadline.

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