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Senate compromises on 'road kill bill'

Rachel Baye

A law passed last year requires the state Department of Transportation to rank transportation projects according to how well they meet certain goals, such as reducing traffic congestion and encouraging economic growth. Democrats say the measure creates transparency in the planning process by allowing residents to see how the state chooses which transportation projects to build. But Republican Gov. Larry Hogan dubbed it the “road kill bill,” arguing that the law stymies road projects.

At the beginning of the current General Assembly session, Hogan introduced a bill repealing the law — a nonstarter for the legislature’s Democratic supermajority. So the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee developed a compromise.

The new bill delays the law from taking effect for two years while a workgroup studies it. The full Senate gave the bill initial approval Wednesday. A final vote is expected before the end of the week.

Senate President Mike Miller said Wednesday that the geography of Hogan’s supporter base is at the root of the fight over the law.

“The governor wants to build roads to Delaware and West Virginia, and you know, at the same time, we say, look, we need to solve problems. Solve those problems on the Eastern Shore, but at the same time, address the immediate problems right now which is the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore,” Miller said.

During a press conference Wednesday, Hogan warned that a study won’t change his stance.

“I can assure you, while I’m governor, nothing like that will ever take effect,” he said.

Under the new bill, the scoring system would take effect after the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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