By Len Lazarick
The Senate and House on Thursday rushed to enact a new scoring system for transportation projects, sending it to Gov. Larry Hogan. He must act on the legislation by next week, giving the Democrat-controlled legislature enough time to override his expected veto.
“It’s a terrible piece of legislation,” the governor told reporters at a road project announcement Thursday morning.
Hogan not only said he would veto the bill, but the administration would not follow its directions.
“We would have to kill pretty much all the road projects in 22 of 24 jurisdictions,” Hogan said.
Defenders of the legislation and a reading of the bill suggest that Hogan’s doomsday prediction does not reflect what the bill, HB1013, actually does.
The bill adds a new layer of scoring in nine categories that Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said are weighted toward mass transit. He also told MarylandReporter.com that it will force his department to reevaluate many projects already in the planning stage.
Under the bill, Rahn’s transportation department itself will develop the details of the scoring system. Arguing against several amendments to delay or modify the bill, Sen. Guy Guzzone, D-Howard, floor leader, pointed out that even if one road project scores less than another, the administration could still move ahead with the project by justifying the move.
There are no penalties in the bill for not following any new ranking of projects.
In limited debated in both House and Senate, Republicans argued that the legislature did not know what it was doing.
“This is not well thought out,” said Del. Bob Flanagan, R-Howard, former transportation secretary in the Ehrlich administration.
A few Democrats in both chambers joined Republicans in opposing the measure.
“This bill would have been heresy in the last administration,” said Sen. Jim Brochin, a Towson Democrat. “I think it’s bad public policy.”
Hogan did not say when he would act on the measure.
“They have a process they go through and we have a process that we go through and we’ll see what happens,” Hogan told reporters.