Transportation “Lockbox” And Special Election Constitutional Amendments Certified By Secretary of State

Two constitutional amendments were recently certified by the Secretary of State’s Office for inclusion on the statewide ballot for the November 4 election.  Question 1 will create a “lockbox” for State transportation funds and question 2 authorizes charter counties to fill  a vacancy in the office of county executive through a special election.

The specific ballot language is in a letter from the Secretary of State’s office. The transportation amendment limits the use of the State’s Transportation Trust Fund to the payment of principal and interest on transportation bonds and for constructing and maintaining an adequate highway system or any other transportation-related purpose; and prohibits the transfer of funds into the State’s General Fund.  However, the transfer of funds does not apply to highway user revenues for local governments.

As mentioned above, the special election amendment authorizes charter counties to provide for special elections to fill a vacancy in the office of chief executive officer or county executive.  Under existing law, charter counties may only authorize special elections to fill vacancies on the county council.

Many groups have begun advocating for the amendment to create a “lockbox” for transportation funding. In an opinion piece for Center Maryland, Don Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, encourages voters to support the “lockbox” amendment.

While lawmakers rightfully point out that most of the funding “borrowed” from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund over the years was eventually repaid, the deployment of dedicated transportation funding for other uses nevertheless detracted from the state’s ability to address infrastructure challenges.

Maryland voters interested in strengthening the integrity of our state’s transportation fund should remember to vote for Question 1 on the ballot this November.

AAA Mid-Atlantic also recently issued a press release encouraging support of the amendment.

MACo did not take a position on the legislation providing for the transportation “lockbox,” SB 829 (Ch. 422, Acts of 2013) as the bill did not provide specific protections of local highway user revenues. MACo supported HB 1415 (Ch. 261, Acts of 2014) providing for a constitutional amendment to authorize charter counties to fill a vacancy in the office of county executive through special election.