Editorial: 'Road Kill Bill' partisan, unnecessary; but power still in governor's hands

Gov. Larry Hogan's declaration of war on what he has dubbed the "Road Kill Bill," is a bit hyperbolic in that the piece of legislation formally called the "2016 Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act" wouldn't actually hamstring the governor from providing funding for any transportation project he wishes, but it would call for him to justify doing so.

Carroll Countians should keep a close eye on this upcoming fight, as long-awaited funding for improvements to Md. 32 from Liberty Road (Md. 26) in Eldersburg to Interstate 70 south of Sykesville could be in jeopardy, as could money for projects on Md. 30 (Northwoods Trail to CSX railroad crossing), Md. 26 (operational, safety and streetscape improvements at the Md. 32 intersection) and Md. 140 (improvements between Market Street and Sullivan Road).


Democrats are likely hoping the law, slated to go into effect in January, will provide them with necessary leverage to rally voters in the most populous jurisdictions — typically Democratic strongholds like Baltimore and Montgomery and Prince George's counties — and unseat the wildly popular Hogan in 2018.

The bill itself doesn't actually require the governor to fund specific projects over others, but it does require the administration to rank transportation projects based on a rubric that decidedly favors mass transportation projects in more populous jurisdictions — for example, the controversial Red Line project in Baltimore City that Hogan nixed and was the genesis for the legislation.

While we don't necessarily disagree with the logic that transportation projects should benefit as many people as possible, it doesn't mean urban transit projects are the only ones that should be undertaken. Roads in less populated and rural counties shouldn't be ignored or pushed aside, as they were under the previous administration and could be under this formula. In that regard, the formula is inherently flawed and we agree with Hogan that the "Road Kill Bill" is decidedly partisan and unnecessary.

We disagree that it will kill more than 60 projects across the state. Only Gov. Hogan has that power.

If it isn't repealed — and considering Hogan has already vetoed it once and the General Assembly overruled his veto, it's highly unlikely it will be — state Democrats will be able to use Hogan bypassing transportation projects with higher scores to fund others as part of the campaign rhetoric in the next election.

If funding for planned projects is lost, it won't be because of the "Road Kill Bill," it'll be because Gov. Hogan caved to the political pressure and chose to fund projects that received a higher score rather than ones he promised more rural jurisdictions like Carroll that helped sweep him into office.

Make no mistake, this is bad legislation and there's little question it should be repealed. If it isn't though, we hope the governor has the political chutzpah to stick to his guns and fund the road projects in Carroll and other rural jurisdictions that have been ignored for too long.