Gov. Larry Hogan signing

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is facing pressure to sign bills that would create a state board to monitor drug prices and to increase the state’s requirements for using renewable energy.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is facing pressure to sign bills that would create a state board to monitor drug prices and to increase the state’s requirements for using renewable energy.

Hogan, a Republican, has already signed 552 bills and resolutions that were passed by state lawmakers, and has about two more weeks to decide the fate of more than 300 more pieces of legislation.

Hogan has three options on bills: veto them, sign them into law or allow them to become law without his signature.

Health advocacy groups have been pressing Hogan to approve a bill that would create a state Prescription Drug Affordability Board. They were buoyed by comments Hogan made at a political event in New Hampshire last month when he was asked about high drug prices.

“We just passed a bill in our legislature to try to address this issue,” Hogan said. “There’s no question it has to be addressed.”

Starting in 2022, the state drug board would review the prices for certain prescription drugs that are paid for by insurance plans for local and state government workers, and set an upper payment limit.

The drug board would be allowed to review drugs that are new, brand-name drugs that cost at least $30,000 per year, existing brand-name drugs with price increases of at least $3,000 per year, existing generic drugs with price increases of at least 200% per year and any drug that creates “affordability challenges.”

The drug board would also be charged with making a recommendation of whether the reviews should apply to all purchases of prescription drugs.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act, meanwhile, would increase the requirement for how much of the electricity sold in the state must come from renewable sources such as wind farms and solar panels.

The new goal would be 50% by 2030, up from the current goal of 25% by 2020. Proponents of the bill say it will help combat climate change while ensuring the viability of clean energy industries, especially the solar industry, by creating demand.

But the bill is controversial because it still allows the burning of trash to count as a form of renewable energy that is eligible for government subsidies. Trash incineration is a major source of air pollution, so some environmentalists believe it shouldn’t count as “clean” energy.

A Wheelabrator Baltimore incinerator is Baltimore City’s largest single source of industrial air pollution and has been targeted by stringent air pollution standards passed by the Baltimore City Council. The owners of Wheelabrator and a medical waste incinerator have sued in an attempt to block those rules.

Hogan has not tipped his hand whether he will sign the renewable energy bill.

“Governor Hogan is proud of Maryland’s commitment to environmental stewardship, and he is giving this legislation the thoughtful consideration it deserves,” said Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci.

The last time that lawmakers passed a bill increasing the renewable energy requirements, in 2016, Hogan vetoed the bill, deriding it as a “sunshine and wind tax” because it would add costs to consumers’ electric bills.

Lawmakers overrode that veto.

This year’s bill, if it becomes law, could lead the average residential customer to pay about $1.50 extra on their electricity bill each month, according to a nonpartisan analysis from the state Department of Legislative Services.

Other bills awaiting a decision from Hogan include one that would ban polystyrene food containers starting in 2020 and another that would dissolve the Maryland Handgun Permit Review Board. Handgun owners who want to contest decisions on permits to carry their guns would instead file their appeals with an administrative law judge.

Hogan has until May 25 to make decisions on these and other pending bills.

Hogan has a final bill signing ceremony scheduled for May 23.

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.

(3) comments

jerseygrl42

Update in todays ( 5/23 hard copy edition but left out of the on-line version for some reason) indicates this very bad Bill will pass w/o signature of the Gov. who expressed concerns about it; the Burn industry once again has its way with with some of those who supposedly represent us in Annapolis who did a last minute re-insert of burning trash and recyclables back into the Bill that will allow the likes of Covanta and Wheelabrator to reach into our pocketbooks and wallets and gather up Millions of subsidy dollars paid for by the taxpayers of course. Those who support this have no shame starting with once upon a bad time our Gov.O'Malley who first initiated placing trash burning ,the DIRTIEST and MOST expensive form of energy generation known to humankind, the day after accepting a check from Covanta for $100K ...this current Billcould have been a very good one but those bought and paid by the Burn industry have once again sold their integrity

jerseygrl42

Hopefully the Gov. will NOT sign the energy Bill which is nothing but a "Gift" from the Dems. to the trash burning industry, namely Covanta and Wheelabrator who will benefit with Millions more of taxpayer dollars if this Bill is signed. WTE as that ugly industry calls it is the dirtiest and MOST expensive form of energy known to humans; nonetheless those on the inside including the NMWDA a state agency that continues to push this horrible form of energy generation. Had the trash incinerator planned for Frederick that was pushed by Young, Marschner and the 5 contracts signed by Gardner , we would be heading for bankruptcy while polluting the Bay with 400,000 gallons daily of toxic wastewater and the air we breathe with 7 MILLION lbs annually of toxic particulate that the scrubbers would NOT have captured...and the toxic ash created would have weighed MORE that the total of Frederick and Carroll County waste that the taxpayers would have pro pay to haul and bury.....and that is exactly what the Bill will increase if it is passed

DickD

I am all for renewable energy, but what happens to the nuclear energy plant Maryland has?

Burning waste has to stop. That is a no brainer. There has to be other ways to get rid of that waste.

Good bye coal, Trump can't save you on this and the coal that they want to pollute our air with.

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