Sine Die 2020: Where Do We Go From Here?

The Maryland General Assembly Legislation Session has adjourned early for the first time since the Civil War, ending on March 18 instead of April 6.

With over 650 bills heading to Governor Hogan for signature, what happens now? What about the bills that failed? Is anything different because of the abbreviated session? What about talks of a “special session” later this year?

As the General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die instead of simply recessing, the bills that did not pass through both chambers automatically fail. Those bills would need to be reintroduced during the next session (or special session) in order to have a chance of becoming law.

All passed bills, except the budget bill and constitutional amendments, must be presented to the Governor within twenty days following adjournment. The Governor may veto such bills within thirty days after presentation. If a passed bill is not vetoed, it becomes law. The budget bill, however, becomes law upon its final passage and cannot be vetoed. Constitutional amendments also cannot be vetoed; they become law only upon their ratification by the voters at the next general election.

After both houses pass the budget bill, it becomes law without further action (Const., Art. III, sec. 52). The Governor may not veto the budget bill.

Bills that have passed are sent to the Governor to sign or veto. The abbreviated time period for this decision when bills are passed and presented while the General Assembly remains in session does not apply in this year’s case of an abbreviated session, because the General Assembly has formally adjourned.

If vetoed, the power to override a veto rests with the General Assembly. If the Governor vetoes a bill during a regular session, the General Assembly immediately considers the Governor’s veto message. If the Governor vetoes a bill presented after the session, the veto message must be considered immediately at the next regular or special session of the legislature

While the leadership of both the House and Senate have stated the possibility of convening a special session in late May to take up gubernatorial vetoes and other unfinished business, there is still high uncertainty due to COVID-19.

In regards to the budget bill, after both houses pass the budget bill, it becomes law without further action (Const., Art. III, sec. 52). The Governor may not veto the budget bill.

MACo’s Conduit Street blog will keep readers updated with the latest news. For more on MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session visit the MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.

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