2016 Session Opening Will See 1,200 Draft Bills & Veto Override Debates

A January 4, 2016, Maryland Reporter article stated that the start of the 2016 Session will likely be both fast and contentious with 1,200 bills already being drafted and veto override questions facing the General Assembly. From the article:

According to the legislature’s bill drafting office, there are over 1200 requests for legislation from members of the House and Senate. Already 179 bills have been pre-filed (113 in the Senate, 66 in the House). …

This is not necessarily a record number, but it does reflect that the office holders are in the second year of a four-year term.

“We have a lot of freshmen ready to spread their wings,” Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings told county officials last month. A third of the legislature was new to their jobs, but they now know how a bill gets passed. “They’re going to come out fighting for the issues they care about,” Jennings says.

The article analyzed the potential veto override on changes to hotel room taxation for Internet travel sites:

At the top of the veto override list is the bill to tax Internet travel sites and travel agents based on the full price of hotel rooms, rather than the discounted price they pay the hotels.

Pressured from businesses on both sides, [Governor Larry] Hogan said he vetoed the measure because there is a pending lawsuit by Comptroller Peter Franchot to collect the tax from the Internet sites based on the full price. Senate President Mike Miller believes he has the three-fifths majority needed to override the governor’s veto. But the vote was much closer in the House of Delegates. Hogan also vetoed a Howard County version of the bill affecting the local hotel tax.

The article also briefly discussed several criminal justice vetoes, including one related to asset seizures by law enforcement:

Another bill blocked by Hogan made it harder for police to seize assets from people who have been arrested or accused of drug trafficking. The governor sided with prosecutors and police who objected to the bill, but lawmakers said the powers to confiscate had been abused by police. The bill passed both houses with veto-proof majorities.