Hogan pushes repeal of transportation-scoring law | WYPR

Hogan pushes repeal of transportation-scoring law

Dec 14, 2016

Gov. Larry Hogan hopes to repeal a state law that ranks transportation projects.
Credit Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan plans to introduce legislation repealing a transportation law passed by the General Assembly last spring, he announced at a press conference Wednesday.

The measure that Hogan calls the “Road Kill Bill” creates a scoring rubric to rank transportation projects. On Wednesday, the governor released a list of 66 ongoing projects around the state, including two rail projects in Baltimore City, that he said will be canceled as a result of the law.

“In Baltimore County, where the county executive says that he strongly supports the Road Kill Bill, if it is not repealed, his county will lose every single priority project in the entire county,” Hogan said.

The legislation requires the state Department of Transportation to rank projects by how they advance state goals such as safety, the environment, and economic development. Then the department is supposed to prioritize higher-ranking projects over lower-ranking ones.

Hogan and Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn have for months argued that the legislation, now enrolled as state law, benefits urban areas and transit projects over rural areas and road projects. They say the measure also ignores local preferences for which project should move ahead first.

“The repercussions of this law are quite simply disastrous for our state, and I can assure you that on behalf of our citizens, I will not stop fighting until this catastrophic bill is repealed,” Hogan said.

But in an August letter to Del. Maggie McIntosh, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, the Attorney General’s office said the law gives the department discretion to pick which projects move forward, regardless of rank. If the department decides to fund a lower-scoring project first, it must simply provide a written explanation.

The text of the law also specifies that it doesn’t affect projects already under construction.

Proponents of the measure say it increases transparency in the decision-making process.

“The people of Maryland want a transparent government where they understand how politicians are spending their money,” House Speaker Michael Busch said in a statement. “The law requires the Governor to simply explain his spending decisions, not hide behind them.”