Maryland House overrides veto of transportation project scoring

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/7/2016

A veto override attempt in Maryland for a bill to force the state to score transportation projects is halfway home.

Democrats hold a super majority at the statehouse, which allows them to override any veto by the Republican governor.

House lawmakers voted 88-52 on Thursday, April 7, to override the veto of a bill to create a scoring system to rank transportation projects for funding. The vote tally was three votes more than the three-fifths margin necessary to override.

The bill, HB1013, now moves to the Senate where a vote is expected as soon as Friday with the regular session scheduled to wrap up on Monday, April 11. The chamber also needs a three-fifths margin for the bill to become law.

The General Assembly voted one week ago to send the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk. The governor quickly vetoed the bill saying it “exemplifies the worst kind of policymaking.”

“House Bill 1013 represents the beginning of what could be a long-term fundamental shift in how transportation decisions are made, with political forces and unaccountable special interests manipulating the legislative process to dictate what projects get built,” Hogan wrote in his veto letter.

Advocates say the scoring system increases transparency in an important process. Opponents say it is an attempt to undermine the governor’s transportation decisions.

“Quit trying to change the rules of the game,” Delegate Haven Shoemaker, R-Carroll, said during House floor discussion on Thursday afternoon.

The bill creates a nine-point process for the state government to rank projects.

Delegate Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum, said the governor could still choose to fund a project with a lower score than another project. However, the decision would require an explanation.

Democrats say changes to the process are necessary after the governor’s decision last year to scrap plans for a light rail project in Baltimore in favor of allotting more funds for transportation projects statewide.

“Anyone who thinks the populace areas are not going to get a better deal than less-populace areas are fooling themselves,” Delegate Anthony O’Donnell, R-Calvert, argued.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maryland, click here.

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