Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said unequivocally Thursday he would veto a just-passed bill that would require his administration to publicly evaluate transportation projects it funded.
"Yes," Hogan said when asked about his veto plans at an event in Severn.
The promise assures another veto override fight is looming in the General Assembly. The Senate and House gave final approval to the bill several hours after Hogan spoke. The margins in both houses indicate that Democratic leaders will be able to override a veto if all of their members are present.
Hogan and fellow Republicans in the legislature see the bill as a power grab by Democrats, whom the governor has accused of trying to insert themselves in a transportation planning process that he says has worked fine.
"It has the potential of putting in place a scoring system that jeopardizes all of the road improvements that we talked about today," Hogan told reporters gathered for an announcement about the schedule of road projects around Fort Meade.
"It's a disastrous bill. It's a terrible, terrible piece of legislation. It's bad politics. It's bad policy. And it doesn't make any sense
Democrats who have successfully pushed the legislation say Hogan dramatically misrepresents what the bill would do, arguing it only requires the administration to be transparent about how it decides to spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year.
"The political rhetoric against this bill is designed to concern and scare people about its effects on important transportation projects," said Baltimore Del. Brooke Lierman, a Democrat who led the bill's floor debate in the House of Delegates. "In reality, this bill will provide more transparency in how transportation funding decisions are made. The [transportation] secretary retains total control."
The bill is one of a handful Democrats plan to present Hogan this week, leaving enough time for lawmakers to override any vetoes before the General Assembly adjourns for the year.
Lawmakers in both parties expect the bill to be presented to the governor Friday, giving him a week to veto it. That means the legislature will be able to cast an override vote before the session ends at midnight April 11.
In the Senate, Democrats Kathy Klausmeier and Jim Brochin of Baltimore County, as well as Sen. James N. Mathias Jr. of the Lower Shore, joined the Republicans in opposing the bill on a 28-17 vote with two Democrats absent.
"There's clearly a double standard here," Brochin said. "This bill would have been heresy under the last administration."
The House vote was 83-51. The only Democrat voting no was Del. Eric Bromwell of Baltimore County.