House, Senate Override Hogan’s Post Labor Day Veto

House, Senate Override Hogan’s Post Labor Day Veto
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OCEAN CITY — Public school systems across Maryland will now have the opportunity to pick and choose the start date for their school year after the state Senate and House both overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of legislation overturning his executive order mandating a post-Labor Day start.

Back on March 10, the state House of Delegates passed legislation overturning Hogan’s 2016 executive order mandating a post-Labor Day start for all public schools in Maryland, instead returning the scheduling of start and stop dates to the individual school districts. On March 18, the state Senate voted 95-45 to pass the same legislation overturning Hogan’s executive order.

From the beginning, Hogan vowed to veto Senate Bill 128, introduced by Senator Nancy King (D-39-Montgomery) that will allow each school district in Maryland to set their own start and end dates. Hogan made good on that promise last Wednesday when he vetoed the legislation passed by both the Senate and the House.

Last Thursday, the state Senate quickly voted to override Hogan’s veto with a 93-43 vote. On Friday, the House followed suit, voting 32-15 straight down party lines to override the governor’s veto, essentially eliminating Hogan’s post-Labor Day school start mandate. After the Senate voted to override Hogan’s veto, the governor called on the House to uphold it, but the House ultimately followed the Senate’s lead.

“Inexplicably, the Senate just voted against the will of the overwhelming majority of Marylanders,” he said. “They have overturned my veto of legislation that reverses our common-sense initiative for a post-Labor Day school start.”

Hogan has asserted from the beginning the state legislature’s efforts to overturn his executive order mandating a post-Labor Day school start was politically motivated. Hogan has pointed to the work of a task force under the previous administration that recommended a post-Labor Day school start and several different polls that suggest the majority of Marylanders support the initiative.

“These partisan legislators are now turning back the clock on years of bipartisan recommendations, including a 12-3 vote by an expert task force created by the legislature and the previous governor,” he said. “What is even worse, beyond this reversal by the legislature are heavy-handed tactics to unfairly influence the ballot process and any petition to bring this issue directly to you, the Maryland voters.”

After the House approved the legislation last month, Hogan fired back with a vow to submit legislation that would send the post-Labor Day school start issue back the residents of Maryland with a referendum on a future state election ballot. Hogan’s strongly-worded speech admonished certain legislators and what he characterized as political activists and special interest groups for going against the will of the people of Maryland with their latest attempts to reverse his executive order mandating a post-Labor Day school start.

It remains to be seen if Hogan can get legislation introduced that would send the school start issue to the voters through a referendum in the next election, but the current General Assembly session is winding down. For her part, State Senator Mary Beth Carozza (R-38) last week also called the override of Hogan’s veto a partisan issue.

“With so many pressing education challenges facing our state, it makes no sense whatsoever to overturn Governor Hogan’s executive order to start school after Labor Day and influence the ballot language on a possible referendum in the November 2020 election,” she said.

From the beginning several years ago, Ocean City has been at the forefront of the issue, beginning several years ago when Comptroller Peter Franchot announced his “Let Summer Be Summer” initiative and launched a petition drive from the Boardwalk. When Hogan announced the executive order in 2016, he made it from practically the same spot on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

Almost immediately after Hogan’s announcement, educators across Maryland decried the mandate and called into question the validity of the executive order. Critics have claimed a later school start, although the required 180 days will be preserved, would cut down on valuable teaching time. Perhaps more importantly, some school jurisdictions have claimed the governor’s mandate undermines the autonomy of the various school districts and ties the hands of superintendents to make decisions on what they believe is best for their schools.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.