Md. Gov. Hogan largely bypasses veto showdown with legislature

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Largely avoiding a showdown with the legislature, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that he won't try to block a package of legislation aimed at helping Baltimore after last year's unrest highlighted problems -- though he disagrees with requiring spending to tear down old buildings over several years.

Hogan, a critic of spending mandates, also said he would not veto mandated spending for a new Prince George's County hospital center. At a news conference, the Republican governor emphasized he supports his own plans to address urban blight in Baltimore and the hospital center.

"Some of them are on good things that we actually want to spend money on," Hogan said of legislation sent to him early. "We still don't like the process of it, but this is what compromise is all about. This is what checks and balances are all about. Nobody gets everything that they want every single time, but I think we're making progress."

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In a letter to House Speaker Michael Busch, the governor noted he announced plans for "a multi-year, multi-hundred-million dollar initiative to address blight in Baltimore," and he wrote that the measure passed by the legislature to mandate spending over five years was "unnecessary." House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, has said the legislation is needed to assure stability for the initiative over several years.

Another Baltimore-related measure would create a fund to provide grants to "anchor institutions" like colleges and universities for community development projects in blighted areas. One would create a college readiness outreach program to allow eligible students in grades seven and eight to prequalify for a college scholarship program, if they get into college.

The governor said he won't try to block more than 20 bills the Democrat-controlled legislature sent to him early, just in case lawmakers wanted to try to override any vetoes before adjourning next week, but they will become law without his signature. The governor decided to veto a measure to change the composition of a commission that nominates members of the Anne Arundel County school board. That's his second veto in recent days, including one to block a scoring system to prioritize transportation projects.

The General Assembly could try to attempt to override both vetoes before they adjourn for the year at midnight Monday. The transportation bill passed with nearly the three-fifths vote they would need in both chambers for an override. The school board bill passed with votes to spare for an override in each chamber.

Meanwhile, Hogan said he would not ban taxpayer-funded travel to North Carolina over its new law preventing specific anti-discrimination rules for gay and transgender people for public accommodations and restroom use. Some city and state officials have announced such bans.

"We're not going to take that step," Hogan said.