ANNAPOLIS — A majority of the early-filed bills presented to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) by the Democratically controlled Legislature became law at 12:01 a.m. Thursday — without the governor’s signature.
Those measures included a bill that ensures funding for Planned Parenthood and other women’s health care providers if federal funding is cut. Another was the state’s capital budget bill, which includes $16 million in funding for a proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center project.
Hogan signed 11 measures — including one addressing Metro safety oversight and a statewide fracking ban — over the past week.
The governor vetoed one bill — the “Protect Our Schools Act of 2017” — on Wednesday. Both the House of Delegates and Senate voted — along party lines — to override the governor’s veto on Thursday.
More on the measures that have become law:
Capital budget funding for downtown hotel project
As amended, the capital budget includes $16 million in grants for the project. In fiscal 2018, the project would receive a $5 million grant. Other amendments include a $7.5 million grant preauthorization for fiscal 2019 and a $3.5 million grant preauthorization for fiscal 2020.
Hogan originally struck the General Assembly’s preauthorized funding for the project when he introduced the capital budget earlier this year. He could have used his line-item veto authority to strike any of the projects in the capital budget.
Opponents of the project, including Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4, said the governor’s decision not to use veto power is not the final word on the project’s funding. The grants are subject to release by the Maryland Board of Public Works, which Hogan chairs.
A new fact sheet about the project from the city shows $53 million in private funding from Plamondon Hospitality Partners. It also includes $31 million in public funding through a combination of city payments and parking funds, tax-increment financing at the city and county level, and the state capital grant funding, among other public sources.
The fact sheet states that design will begin as soon as funding is in place — estimated as the start of the 2018 fiscal year, July 1 — and that the hotel and conference center is projected to open in the spring of 2020.
The proposed hotel and conference center property at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St. is owned by a business entity formed by members of the Randall family. The Randall family also owns the parent company of The Frederick News-Post.
Other Frederick County funding in the state’s capital budget plan includes matching grants for the Remsberg Park multipurpose youth sports field in Middletown ($100,000), the Historical Society of Frederick County ($25,000) and New Spire Stages ($50,000). Capital funding is also included for renovations at Frederick Community College and improvements to the water treatment plant at Cunningham Falls State Park.
If federal funding is cut for Planned Parenthood or other Title X-funded health centers in the state, House Bill 1083 would shift state funding to cover health services.
The measure, which takes effect July 1, would direct $2 million from Maryland’s Medicaid budget and $700,000 for the state’s general fund to family planning services.
Planned Parenthood — a regular target of Republican defunding proposals — serves about 25,000 patients at nine health centers in Maryland, including one on Thomas Johnson Drive in Frederick.
Responding to federal
One bill allocates $1 million in future budgets to the attorney general’s office to pay for added expenses for bringing lawsuits against federal government actions that hurt the state. Hogan spoke out against the bill in February on WBAL-AM’s “The C4 Show.” The Republican governor questioned how much money would be “wasted chasing windmills.”
Another measure creates a commission to monitor federal actions that could affect health care in Maryland. The measure was prompted by concerns about Republican-led efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
‘Protect Our Schools’
Hogan vetoed a bill that creates a formula for identifying and assisting struggling schools.
Supporters say the bill takes a creative approach to provide a big-picture view of how schools succeed. They also say it protects public schools from privatization.
Hogan and other Republicans who oppose the bill say it’s too lax on academic performance standards, caves to special interests and makes it difficult for the state to fix struggling schools.
The House of Delegates voted 90-50 on Thursday to override the veto. The Senate voted 32-15 in favor of the override.
Among Frederick County lawmakers, all three Democrats — Sen. Ron Young and delegates Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young — voted to support the override. Republican lawmakers — Sen. Michael Hough and delegates Kathy Afzali, Barrie Ciliberti, William Folden and David E. Vogt III — voted against the override.
Energy efficiency program extended
Maryland’s five largest electric utilities will be required to provide customers with energy-efficiency programs and services to cut energy consumption by 2 percent a year. It extends the EmPower Maryland initiative, which was first enacted in 2008.
Universal pre-K to be studied
A work group will study the implementation of universal access to prekindergarten for 4-year-olds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.