Maryland’s Democrat-led legislature began the process Wednesday of overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes, with one chamber upholding legislation that would allow felons to regain the right to vote sooner. After a passionate, 45-minute debate, members of the House of Delegates voted, 85-56, to uphold the bill they passed last year that allows people convicted of felonies to vote as soon as they leave prison. The House reached the minimum number of votes needed to override Hogan’s veto after the bill received 82 votes last year. The House also overrode the Republican governor’s vetoes of a Howard County bill that changes the way hotel taxes are collected and $2 million in the state budget that was earmarked for the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, a community arts center in House Speaker Michael E. Busch’s district. The Senate is expected to vote on veto overrides on Thursday.
In the House on Wednesday, Republican lawmakers argued that felons committed crimes such as murder, rape and human trafficking and should complete their full sentence — including parole or probation — before regaining the right to vote, as required under current law.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan proposes $42 billion budget
“There are consequences to being a convicted felon,” said Del. Jason Buckel, an Allegany County Republican.
Supporters of the bill — mostly Democrats — argued that ex-inmates trying to rejoin society deserve to have a say in how they are governed. Some pointed out that former felons have jobs and pay taxes, and shouldn’t be taxed without having a say in who represents them in government.