A Game Changer on Highway User Revenues?

A new bill, with 8 House delegation chairs offering bipartisan sponsorship, would restore full Highway User Revenue funding right away and guarantee it for the next four years. Where does this idea fit in the larger transportation debate?

HB 1455 was introduced by Delegates Lafferty, Anderson, Impallaria, Jameson, Pendergrass, Shane Robinson, Sophocleus, and Walker. They are the delegation chairs of the largest jurisdictions across the state.

The operative section of the bill reads as follows:

FOR FISCAL YEARS 2017 THROUGH 2020, FROM THE TOTAL HIGHWAY USER REVENUES:

(1) AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 12.1% OF TOTAL HIGHWAY USER REVENUES SHALL BE DISTRIBUTED TO BALTIMORE CITY IN MONTHLY INSTALLMENTS;

(2) AN AMOUNT SHALL BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE COUNTIES AT THE TIMES SPECIFIED IN § 8–407 OF THIS SUBTITLE, TO BE ALLOCATED AS PROVIDED IN § 8–404 OF THIS SUBTITLE, EQUAL TO 15.3% OF TOTAL HIGHWAY USER REVENUES; AND

(3) AN AMOUNT SHALL BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE MUNICIPALITIES AT THE TIMES SPECIFIED IN § 8–407 OF THIS SUBTITLE, TO BE ALLOCATED AS PROVIDED IN § 8–405 OF THIS SUBTITLE, EQUAL TO 2.6% OF TOTAL HIGHWAY USER REVENUES.

Some insight into the broader context for the bill lies in the uncodified section of the bill following its statutory changes above:

SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it is the intent of the General Assembly that the reduction of revenue under Section 1 of this Act that is credited to the Transportation Trust Fund may not reduce for fiscal year 2017 the funding that is currently planned for any mass transit project or system preservation project that is crucial to the health and safety of the citizens of Maryland.

Early session rumblings have shown heightened attention to transportation funding and decision-making, in the wake of the Governor’s 2015 decisions to alter funding plans for major transit projects and to reduce tolls. For more background on these matters, see previous Conduit Street coverage:

DLS: Highway User Revenues Should be a Bill, Not Just in Budget
Hogan Budget: $53m in New Local Transportation “Capital Grants”
General Assembly Leaders Expect Some Contention Over Budget, Transportation Priorities

The bill is not yet scheduled for a public hearing, as it was among a large wave of House bills introduced around the filing deadline last week.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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