It was passed last year by the legislature over the Governor’s veto.
Frederick, Md (KM) The fight over a state transportation funding law could be resumed when the 2017 General Assembly gavels into session on next week in Annapolis. The bill passed last year would set up a scoring process for transportation projects, and that would determine whether they get state funding.
“The bill is terrible. It really harms rural counties,” says Frederick County Delegate Kathy Afzali (R).
The legislation was passed in the 2016 Maryland General Assembly with strong Democratic support. But Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, vetoed the measure. His veto was overridden. Hogan said he plans to work in repealing this law when the legislature convenes next week for its annual, 90-day session.
Afzali says she also wants to see this law repealed. She says previously, local governments decided which transportation projects in their communities were top priorities, and they submitted them to the state for inclusion in the Comprehensive Transportation Program, which brought the projects some state funding. “What happens now with this bill is it takes it all out of the hands of the local, and it gives basically to a group of bureaucrats to prioritize and rate each project according to population and different things,” she says. “Basically, according to the rating system, Frederick County gets zero, nothing.”
The affects of this law were evident in late summer of 2016, when local jurisdictions received a letter from the Maryland Department of Transportation asking each of the states’s 24 jurisdictions to provide information on the projects for which they’re seeking funding.
Supporters of the law says the Hogan Administration is misinterpreting it. A Baltimore Democratic Delegate says the Governor is trying to make the law look bad.
But opponents say Democrats rushed through a poorly drafted legislation, and they should have been looking carefully at what they were voting for, not trying to “get the Governor.”
Afzali says she will try to get her Democratic colleagues in the local delegation to support a repeal of this law. “Clearly, the whole thing is a sham and an utter disaster for Frederick County,” she said. “The only counties that will end up with any road projects will be Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore City as they have the most population.”
The 2017 General Assembly will gravel into session on Wednesday, January 11th.
By Kevin McManus