Poll: Marylanders Oppose Hogan’s Drug Board Veto, Favor Special Session

The steps of the Maryland State House, where lobbyists often ply their trade. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines

While recent polls show Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) continuing to rack up high job approval ratings, in part due to his management of the COVID-19 crisis, Marylanders strongly oppose one of the governor’s recent vetoes — and an even greater number would support the Maryland General Assembly returning to work before its next scheduled session, in January 2021.

Voters’ attitudes on the Hogan veto and a possible special legislative session were part of a poll partially paid for by two progressive organizations in the state.

A significant number of Maryland residents said they opposed Hogan’s decision earlier this month to veto a bill to fund the state’s fledgling Prescription Drug Affordability Board, according to the just-released survey.

The poll, sponsored by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, found that 62% of Marylanders believe Hogan  should have signed the bill.

One in five voters approved of his decision to veto the measure and 17% had no opinion.

Democrats disapproved of the governor’s veto by the widest margin (75%-17%), though Republicans (42%-25%) and unaffiliated voters (52%-30%) also believed it was a mistake.

The measure Hogan vetoed — Senate Bill 669 and House Bill 1095 — established a funding source for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, a first-in-the-nation bid to force cuts in the price of medications.

It would allow the board to levy a fee on drug manufacturers, wholesalers, insurance carriers and pharmacy benefits managers to underwrite the panel’s operations.

The survey’s wording was imprecise, asking respondents if they supported Hogan’s veto of “legislation that would have required drug corporations to pay for the state’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board.”

Hogan vetoed the bill on May 7, citing the hit Maryland’s economy has experienced due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative was a leading proponent in the creation of the panel in 2019 and in the creation of a funding source for its operations. The panel held its first meeting earlier this year.

The survey was conducted May 19-23 by Gonzales Research & Media Services and had a margin of error of 3.5%. The firm polled 810 likely general election voters from across the state, balanced for age, geography, race and party affiliation.

The same poll also asked voters whether they would support the General Assembly going into session before January 2021. That portion of the poll was paid for by Our Maryland, a progressive group that works with an array of advocacy organizations promoting a liberal agenda.

Specifically, the poll asked voters: “The Maryland General
Assembly is not scheduled to reconvene until January, 2021 but it does have the power to come back earlier to pass laws in the case of an emergency, like the coronavirus
pandemic. Do you support or oppose the Maryland General Assembly convening sooner?”

More than three-quarters of the poll respondents — 76% — said they supported the idea of an early session. Sixty-three percent said they strongly supported the idea, while 15% were opposed.

A special session could be used to override Hogan’s 20-plus vetoes, including the prescription drug bill and the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, an extensive and expensive education reform plan.

Curiously, Republicans favored the option of a special session more strongly than Democrats, with 85% of GOP voters answering in the affirmative and only 10% opposed. Among Democrats the numbers were 76% to 13%, and among unaffiliated voters it was 63% to 27%.

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.
Josh Kurtz
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.