Maryland lawmakers override veto of transportation project scoring

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/11/2016

The Maryland General Assembly has completed a successful veto override attempt of a bill to require the state to score transportation projects.

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

Senate lawmakers voted 29-17 on Friday, April 8, to override the veto of a bill to create a scoring system to rank transportation projects for funding. The 29-vote tally was the number needed to secure the three-fifths majority necessary to override.

The bill, HB1013, now becomes law. House lawmakers voted 88-52 on Thursday to override the veto.

Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the bill earlier in the week 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.

Sen. Justin Ready, R-Carroll, opposed the legislation. He said while speaking on the Senate floor that the bill directs more money from roads to transit.

The new law 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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