Contractors told support for fee increase uncertain Lobby hard, House speaker tells contractors


The speaker of the House of Delegates has warned highway contractors that legislators are not overwhelmingly in favor of a bill to raise motor vehicle fees to pay for highway projects.

"There are a lot of uncertain votes right now in the legislature," Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Eastern Shore, said yesterday. He urged the contractors to lobby "each and every" legislator if they want the bill to pass during a June 26 special session of the General Assembly.

Mitchell addressed more than 100 businessmen involved in various aspects of highway construction at a meeting at a Linthicum hotel.

This month, Mitchell dropped his opposition to the bill that would increas state Motor Vehicle Administration fees this month after being pressured by contractors and the Schaefer administration.

The bill would raise five dozen fees charged for driver's licenses, titles and other MVA services. It would raise $35 million and would help protect $312 million in federal money for highways. The new revenue also would allow the state to pursue more than two dozen highway projects now on hold, transportation officials said.

Mitchell complained that the Maryland Department of Transportation could have saved the federal money without a fee increase if it did not devote so many resources to the construction of a Hunt Valley-to-Glen Burnie light-rail line.

He said the cost of the light-rail line has risen far beyond its original projections, and he expects the final price tag to be $500 million.

Mitchell also told the group he does not want to consider raising gasoline taxes before the legislature's 1992 session.

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