Ho­gan seeks to re­peal ‘Road Kill’ law

Mid­dle­ton says govenor re­fuses to work with leg­is­la­ture

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

Af­ter at­tempt­ing to veto the bill last spring, Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) has dou­bled down on his ef­forts to kill a trans­porta­tion re­form ef­fort put forth by the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly last year.

Ho­gan said it is his “top pri­or­ity” to re­peal the law. If it is not re­pealed, he said, it would ef­fec­tively end 66 of 73 road projects in­clud­ing U.S. 301 up­grades from Prince Ge­orge’s County through Wal­dorf, and im­prove­ments on Route 5 and Route 228.

On Wed­nes­day morn­ing at the State House in An­napo­lis, Ho­gan an­nounced he would push for the “full and im­me­di­ate re­peal” of the law and called it “dis­as­trous.”

“It will wreak havoc on the en­tire state trans­porta­tion sys­tem and usurp im­por­tant au­thor­ity away from lo­cal gov­ern­ments and away from the ex­ec­u­tive branch of state gov­ern­ment,” Ho­gan said.

The Mary­land Open Trans­porta­tion In- vest­ment Act, or the “Road Kill” bill, re­quires state of­fi­cials to rate and pri­or­i­tize the dif- fer­ent trans­porta­tion projects for cat­e­gories such as eco­nomics and safety. The bill’s pur­pose, ac­cord­ing to the Gen­eral Assem­bly, was to pro­vide trans­parency.

But the bill ben­e­fits lob­by­ists and spe­cial in­ter­est groups, Ho­gan said. Mary­land State Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Pete Rahn called the bill a “one-size-fits-all” rank­ing sys­tem and does a dis­ser­vice to tourists, vis­i­tors, em­ploy­ers and Mary­land driv­ers.

The only way the ad­min­is­tra­tion can fo­cus on fund­ing top pri­or­ity projects is if “this deeply mis­guided law is re­pealed,” Rahn

said.

The Charles County Del­e­ga­tion unan­i­mously voted for the bill last spring and also voted for the veto over­ride to ul­ti­mately pass it. Only Del. Susie Proc­tor (D-Charles, Prince Ge­orge’s) was ab­sent for the ini­tial vote, but voted in fa­vor of a veto over- ride pass­ing the bill into law.

Mary­land Se­nate Pres­i­dent Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Charles, Prince Ge­orge’s) said Ho­gan’s claims are “an ab­so­lute falsehood.” The bill does not man­date any- thing, he said, but only ad­vises on what the pri­or­i­ties are.

“The trans­porta­tion bill is not go­ing to be over­turned,” he said. “It is a tool they can use or ig­nore. It’s sim­ply ad­vi­sory and [Ho­gan’s] peo­ple get to put the cri­te­ria in place.”

Sen. Thomas “Mac” Mid­dle­ton (D-Charles) said the gov- er­nor’s de­ci­sion to try to re­peal the trans­porta­tion law is short- sighted. Mid­dle­ton said he has “never” dealt with an ad­mi­nis- tra­tion that has shown such an un­will­ing­ness to work with the state’s leg­is­la­ture.

The leg­is­la­ture will work to over­ride any bill Ho­gan puts forth that would do away with what pro­po­nents call a trans- parency law. Mid­dle­ton said Ho­gan claims the law ties his hands with trans­porta­tion projects, but it re­ally man­dates noth­ing.

“We haven’t seen any re­search or any anal­y­sis from him,” Mid­dle­ton said. “He said he has to stop 66 projects. We haven’t seen any anal­y­sis.”

With or with­out a transpar- ency law, Mid­dle­ton said, Ho­gan has al­ready pushed back mul­ti­ple trans­porta­tion projects. South­ern Mary­land and Charles County have not got­ten im­prove­ments they have asked for, de­spite vot­ing in fa­vor of a gas tax that Ho­gan has ben­e­fited from — de­spite run­ning against it.

“We got some­what shafted on our high­way projects that we were sup­posed to get. The light rail stud­ies ... that won’t be com­plete un­til 2023. The over- passes have been pushed out to 2019,” Mid­dle­ton said. “We can’t wait. We’re one of the fast- est grow­ing ar­eas in the state.”

Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles) said he voted for the bill hop­ing there would be some clar­ity on which projects are get­ting done, but is not op­posed to other sug­ges­tions that may come from the gov­er­nor’s of­fice.

It does not mat­ter what the so­lu­tion is, Wilson said, as long as what is done is in the best in­ter­est of the peo­ple across the state, in­clud­ing in Charles County and South­ern Mary­land.

“It would be nice if we could find a happy medium to make sure that no on­go­ing or up­com- ing projects are scrapped,” Wil- son said. “There may be an­other thing be­yond ve­to­ing the bill. Es­pe­cially if the gov­er­nor has an­other pro­posal in mind like the [re­place­ment of the Gov.] Harry Nice Bridge.”

At the end of the day, Wilson said, there has to be a “de­cent” com­pro­mise ben­e­fit­ing ev­ery­one and not leav­ing out those in ru­ral places.

Mid­dle­ton said he would “love to roll up my sleeves and work with the gov­er­nor,” but at ev­ery turn Ho­gan has been against the leg­is­la­ture no mat­ter what bill is be­ing con­sid­ered.

This is about trans­parency, Mid­dle­ton said, and show­ing the work the ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing. It should be easy enough to do, he said, but the gov­er­nor com­bats it.

“He just won’t work with us,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.