Hogan seeks to repeal ‘Road Kill’ law
Middleton says govenor refuses to work with legislature
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 If it is not repealed, he said, it would effectively end 66 of 73 road projects including U.S. 301 upgrades from Prince George’s County through Waldorf, and improvements on Route 5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The only way the administration can focus on funding top priority projects is if “this deeply misguided law is repealed,” Rahn
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.