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Maryland General Assembly overrides Hogan's veto of transportation bill

The General Assembly goes 8-0 in votes to overturn Gov. Larry Hogan's vetoes.

The Maryland Senate voted Friday to override two more of Gov. Larry Hogan's vetoes, allowing bills on transportation projects and Anne Arundel's school board to become law.

The House of Delegates voted Thursday to override vetoes on the same bills.

Senators voted 29-17 to reverse Hogan's veto of a bill that forces him to publicly rate and rank transportation projects before deciding which ones should be included in the state budget.

The vote was exactly the number needed for an override and came after a few minutes of confusion when Sen. Jamie Raskin -- who Democrats needed to reach 29 votes -- was missing from the chamber. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller appeared to only realize he was missing Raskin's 29th vote when he called for the vote and the tally board lit up with green and red lights.

Democrats bought time for Raskin to return by taking turns explaining their vote. Miller ordered the ringing of loud bells that often ring in parts of the State House and Senate office building to signal that senators should be in the chamber.

When Raskin arrived with a sheepish grin, some senators cheered and Miller called the final vote.

Raskin later said that he had been summoned to the governor's office to talk with Hogan about redistricting reform -- a common area of interest between the liberal lawmaker and the conservative governor.

During a brief debate before the vote, Republicans said the requirements of the transportation scoring bill will mean that more money will be funneled to mass transit projects instead of road projects.

Sen. J.B. Jennings, the Senate minority leader, questioned what would happen to projects already in the pipeline. "It's going to stop everything and they're going to have to re-score," said Jennings, who represents parts of Harford and Baltimore counties.

Sen. Robert G. Cassilly, a Republican from Harford County, said the current process already involves plenty of public discussion and evaluation of the effects on the environment, schools, pedestrians and other factors. The transportation bill pushed by Democrats "in fact removes the transparency," he said.

Democrats remained firm that the transportation scoring bill will improve the process of picking which projects get money. Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said the scoring process required in the bill will be "fair and objective."

When Hogan vetoed the bill last week, he said it "has the potential to once again put Maryland roads and highways on a path of neglect and underinvestment. I would be defaulting on my vow to Marylanders if I did not make every effort to resist passage of the bill."

After the override, a spokeswoman for Hogan continued to blast the bill.

"The General Assembly's decision to add a thick and nasty layer of bureaucracy to the state's transportation decisions does nothing to move Maryland forward and only harms local government and hardworking taxpayers," spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said in a statement. "The only people celebrating this vote are out of touch legislators and the lobbyists who bent their arms."

The Senate also overrode Hogan's veto of a bill that changes the composition of the Anne Arundel School Board Nominating Commission, which recommends appointees to the governor for that county's school board. The override vote was 31-15.

Lawmakers have now reversed vetoes on eight bills since their annual 90-day session began in January. Six veto overrides came early in the session on bills that allow felons to vote as soon as they leave prison, make possession of marijuana paraphernalia a civil offense, change the rules for when police can seize property and money during investigations, allocate $2 million for the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis and change how certain hotel taxes are collected.

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