Just hours before it was due to go into effect, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) vetoed a bill on Thursday night that would have established five permanent oyster sanctuaries in Chesapeake Bay tributaries. The bill, among other things, would have barred oyster harvesting in the five waterways.
Environmentalists and the bill’s sponsors – House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Chair Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) said the legislation represented the best hope for restoring the Bay’s dwindling oyster population.
But in his veto message, Hogan said the measure “is bad for our watermen” and asserted that it “disrupts a fair process that was working well, and ignores good science and citizen consensus on how to best enhance the oyster population.”
In a statement, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Maryland executive director, Alison Prost, called Hogan’s veto “extremely shortsighted.”
Hogan delivered his veto during the same week that he and governors of other Chesapeake Bay states have pressed congressional appropriators for more cleanup funding for the Bay. It is his fourth veto of the legislative session. The other three were quickly overridden by the Democrats who control the General Assembly.
Due to the timing of the bill’s passage and Hogan’s veto, lawmakers are likely to attempt an override vote before they adjourn Monday at midnight. The bill passed roughly along party lines in both chambers of the legislature.