Governor Vetoes Montgomery Delegate’s Tuition Bill for 'Dreamers'

Governor Vetoes Montgomery Delegate’s Tuition Bill for ‘Dreamers’

Foam plastic ban, gender-neutral driver's license designation in effect without action from Hogan

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Del. Eric Luedtke

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Legislation sponsored by Burtonsville Democratic Del. Eric Luedtke, which would have allowed more undocumented immigrants, or “dreamers,” to pay Maryland’s in-state college tuition rate was among eight bills vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Friday.

In 2012, Maryland voters passed the “Dream Act,” which grants in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants at public four-year institutions, if they have attended high school in the state for three years and earned 60 credits, or an associate’s degree at a community college. Luedtke’s bill would have allowed any undocumented immigrant who has completed their high school diploma, or equivalent in the state, to receive in-state tuition. It also would have eliminated the community college requirement.

Hogan, in a letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr (D-Calvert), and House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County), wrote that he vetoed the bill because he thought it was too narrow, compared to legislation he backed that would have created scholarship programs granting tuition assistance to immigrants attending community colleges and for two years of free tuition at four-year institutions.

“Inexplicably, the General Assembly refused to support this common sense expansion to help all Maryland students. Instead, you adopted legislation that only narrowly expanded existing law to the total exclusion of all Maryland students holding U.S. citizenship or permanent resident immigration status. This is unfair and unacceptable,” Hogan wrote.

Luedtke, in an interview with Bethesda Beat Friday afternoon, said the governor was conflating two different issues and that “it was clear from the veto letter he hadn’t read the bill.”

“In the veto letter he’s talking about expanding access to scholarships and reducing tuition across the board. This bill has nothing to do with scholarships. It’s just saying that if you’re an undocumented immigrant who lives in the state, pays your taxes in the state, you should pay the same tuition as everyone else,” he said.

Overriding a governor’s veto requires 85 votes in the 141-member House and 29 votes in the 47-member Senate. Luedtke, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said the legislature could consider an override in the next session, which begins in January 2020.

Hogan declined to take action on more than 300 bills that were passed during the 90-day session between January and April, which will automatically become law. Among them is a ban on foam-based food containers, sponsored by Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who represents Rockville and Gaithersburg. The foam ban takes effect July 1, 2020.

Additionally, a bill allowing state residents to designate a gender “X” on their driver’s license was also included in the list of bills Hogan allowed to become law. The legislation, which was sponsored by Del. Sara Love, a Bethesda Democrat, was intended to accommodate residents who don’t identify as male or female. The law will take effect Oct. 1.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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