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Hogan promises veto for transportation bill

Rachel Baye

The General Assembly and Gov. Larry Hogan are at odds over how the state should pick which transportation projects to build.

On Thursday, the legislature passed a bill that ranks projects based on priorities such as safety, cost, economic development and environmental concerns. But Hogan has said he will veto it when it reaches his desk.  

The Department of Transportation must create a scoring system based on nine criteria named in the bill.

Projects that cost more than $5 million get a score that the agency is supposed to use to decide which to fund. The agency can choose to pay for a lower-ranking project, but with a written explanation.

Hogan and other Republicans say the bill takes power away from local officials.

Republican Sen. Stephen Hershey, from the Eastern Shore, said it also prioritizes more populous areas of the state.

"What we have before us in this piece of legislation is a system that ... competes road projects and transit projects together," he said. "And that’s going to make it very difficult for a lot of us who need these road projects to be able to compete on this scoring system.”

The bill is widely considered a reaction to Hogan’s decision last summer to cancel Baltimore’s Red Line light rail, which Republicans reiterated on Thursday.

But Senate President Mike Miller defended the bill.

“It’s not about politics. It’s not about me or anybody else saying what should happen," he said. "It’s about the numbers justifying what should happen.”

Democrats have rushed to get the bill to Hogan by Friday, leaving just enough time to override Hogan’s veto before the session ends on April 11.