- Associated Press - Friday, May 26, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill on Friday that would stop public colleges from using information about a student’s criminal history to automatically restrict a student’s admission.

Meanwhile, the governor decided to allow some high-profile bills to go into law without his signature. One will make Maryland the first state to empower the attorney general to take action to stop pharmaceutical price gouging. Another allows a Guinness brewery to be built in Baltimore County, while making changes to craft brewery regulations.

As for the use of criminal records in college admissions, Hogan said he supports policies that recognize people have potential, despite criminal histories. However, the governor said he believes the bill jeopardizes student safety by dictating how and when schools can ask about and use information about criminal histories.

“Our laws must balance the opportunities for second chances with our most important duty of ensuring public safety,” Hogan wrote in his veto letter.

The bill passed by comfortable margins in each chamber of the General Assembly, which could try to override the governor’s veto next year.

On the pharmaceutical price-gouging bill, Hogan expressed concerns about unintended consequences by restricting access to drugs. The measure enables the attorney general to bring civil actions against manufacturers of off-patent or generic drugs that make an “unconscionable” price increase. Hogan said the term is vague.

“These terms are the heart of the legislation, and because they have been so broadly drafted, it is difficult for manufacturers to know whether they are in violation of these provisions, leaving the decision entirely to the interpretation of the attorney general,” Hogan wrote.

Hogan also expressed reluctance about a bill to allow a Guinness brewery in Baltimore County. While he praised the economic development potential of allowing Diageo to build the facility, he was troubled by provisions he believes will more than likely be detrimental to Maryland’s developing craft beer industry.

“This legislation punishes new entrants into the market through shorter tap room hours, requires an onerous buy-back provision for breweries seeking to sell more than 2,000 barrels, and places limits on contract brewing, which hurts an integral piece of many brewers’ business models,” Hogan wrote.

The governor explained he wasn’t vetoing the bill, so that the Diageo project could move forward. Still, he said he hoped lawmakers would explore modernizing the state’s brewery laws and lift impediments so the industry can grow.

Hogan also decided to let a bill that provides a minimum level of funding for Maryland Public Television to go into law without his signature, in an expression of frustration that lawmakers didn’t agree to livestream all of their floor sessions for public view online. Hogan had set aside $1.2 million to livestream all House and Senate floor sessions during the 90-day legislative session, but lawmakers only agreed to $500,000 to broadcast the State of the State address, the State of the Judiciary Address and the last two weeks of the legislative session.

“It is not acceptable in this modern era that Maryland is one of only seven states which does not livestream video and audio of their legislative floor sessions,” Hogan wrote. “In fact, it is shameful that we do not provide this service to our citizens.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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