Controversial Bill Would Overhaul State’s Transportation Planning Process

HB 1013 and SB 908, legislation that would create a dramatically different system for evaluating and selecting state-funded transportation projects, has been introduced and quickly attracted great attention across Annapolis.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch threw their combined support behind legislation that would create a new process for evaluating which transportation projects deserve funding priority. While the legislative package would affect all chief executives, the move is an explicit reaction to Gov. Larry Hogan’s massive shift of mass transit money to highway construction last summer.

The leaders billed their legislation as a measure that would “create a new process to objectively screen and score transportation projects based on their anticipated benefits.” But the measure would also require the governor to justify decisions that fall outside of that scoring system — such as the cancellation of an urban transit project to build a highway in a lightly-populated part of the state.

The Governor’s office has suggested the bill represents a partisan intrusion into a longstanding executive function, and reinforced local consultation as a key element in current processes:

[Hogan spokesman Matthew A.] Clark defended Hogan’s record of consulting with local officials about his plans.

“Today’s thinly veiled power grab is a reckless attempt by legislators to weaken the role of county executives and other local authorities in order to drown the state’s crucial investments in roads, bridges and transit projects into the bilge of Annapolis politics and lobbying,” Clark said.