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Maryland Senate overrides some of governor’s vetoes

January 16th, 2021 by WCBC Radio

The Maryland Senate voted Friday to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of a measure to fund a first-in-the-nation state board that focuses on making high-cost prescription drugs more affordable.

It was among more than a dozen veto overrides approved by the Senate in the first week of the General Assembly's legislative session. They included measures aimed at fighting crime. The Senate plans to take up additional veto overrides later in the session. The House of Delegates will still have to override the vetoes for the measures to become law.

Maryland’s Prescription Drug Affordability Board studies drug costs. It is authorized to establish ways to make high-cost drugs more affordable for state and local governments, with the approval of a state legislative panel. The board also will propose a plan to lawmakers on how to make prescription drugs more affordable for all state residents.

The panel was created by legislation in 2019. The bill passed by lawmakers would enable it to raise up to $2 million a year through assessments on drug manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmaceutical benefit managers and insurers. The board has estimated that about 1,400 entities would be assessed under the measure.

“The board has already started its work with preliminary funding and is doing a great job exploring the impact of rising drug costs across the state,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative. “And other states are following our lead by moving to create similar boards.”

The veto override passed on a 30-15 vote. A three-fifths vote of 29 was needed.