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Transit


Larry Hogan couldn't have canceled the Red Line so easily if a new bill had been law

In Maryland, the governor has a lot of unilateral authority to kill or approve transportation projects, and Larry Hogan hasn't been slow to wield it. But Maryland legislators are working to pass a law that'd make it harder to cancel projects that'd benefit the community at large.


Students supporting the Baltimore Red Line, a project that Maryland governor Larry Hogan cancelled. Photo by Maryland GovPics on Flickr.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan campaigned on redirecting more money from transit to roads. And when he came in, he started doing just that, removing large amounts of state aid from the Purple Line and totally killing Baltimore's plan for a light rail system.

Last Tuesday, Maryland lawmakers unveiled a slew of bills aimed at bringing balance back to the transportation budget. One, called the Open Transportation Decision Investment Act (SB908/HB1013), could change the way Maryland funds transportation projects.

This particular law would establish a scoring system that considered transportation projects in the context of measures like environmental stewardship, community vitality, economic prosperity, and equitable access to transportation. If a Governor decided to fund a project that ranked low over one that ranked high, he or she would have to provide an official explanation.

It's been hard to stop Hogan from going after transit projects

In Larry Hogan's first year, state construction aid for the Purple Line went from $700 million to $168 million, and both Montgomery County and Prince George's County had to cough up more money to keep it alive. Highways went from making up 45% of the transportation budget to 57%.

Hogan is now using the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund to build highways and support sprawl, the exact opposite of what the fund was intended to do.

Regarding the Baltimore Red Line, Hogan called the project a "wasteful boondoggle." Killing it, however, was a major blow to Baltimore leaders and business interests. Research pointed toward the line having huge economic benefits, with 15,000 jobs coming from project construction alone.

Cancelling the Red Line is an even bigger blow to Baltimore when you consider sprawl is a major economic drain on the city's economy.


Baltimore's cancelled Red Line. Image from the Maryland Transit Administration.

Where did the savings killing the Red Line go? You guessed it: roads.

Of $2 billion dollars in road projects($1.35 billion of it new), most went to sprawl-inducing development like $160 million dollars to widen Route 404 on the Eastern Shore and $90 million to realign a road in Garrett County.

This bill could keep officials like Hogan in check

While Hogan's spokesperson called SB908/HB1013 a "power grab," Virginia enacted a similar bill with bi-partisan support.

So is this really a partisan issue? No. What this bill does is prevent killing or approving projects arbitrarily. It makes it so that merit, not ideology, is what decides whether projects move forward.

Hopefully with more transparency, pro-sprawl governors like Larry Hogan will have to explain to taxpayers why they are spending millions of dollars on projects that just do not add up.

If you're a Maryland resident who supports the Open Transportation Investment Act, you can contact your legislator via 1,000 Friends of Maryland.

Transit


Lots of Maryland residents from places other than Montgomery and Prince George's use Metro

Although WMATA's impact on Maryland is most significant in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, the system is important to the entire state. 5% of daily Metrorail total ridership comes from Maryland locations outside of those jurisdictions.


Photo by ehpien on Flickr.

Every Maryland Metro station is in Montgomery or Prince George's County, but we have long known that Maryland Metro riders come from all over the state. A typical morning at Union Station finds a flow of MARC train commuters going from the commuter rail line to the subway. Other residents from southern Maryland, for example, access the system by parking at Prince George's County stations.

While lawmakers in Annapolis often see WMATA as a Montgomery and Prince George's County issue, the system affects a much larger portion of Marylanders.

The study includes the origination and destination of Maryland riders, purpose of the trip, and how riders get to and from the system. You can read the full study here, and some major takeaways are below:

  • Only a small majority (52%) of Maryland Metrorail riders access the system by car, with the rest using other modes such as bus, bike, or foot.
  • While 34% of Montgomery County riders access Metro by foot in the morning, just 11% in Prince George's County riders do so. That suggests that investment in transit-oriented development in the two counties has not been equal.
  • 5% of rail and bus system riders commute from DC and Virginia into Maryland each weekday morning, representing a not insignificant reverse commute.
  • 3.3% of all rail and bus trips on a typical weekday are by Maryland residents besides those living in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.
  • 5% of daily Metrorail ridership on a typical weekday is by Maryland residents besides those in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.
  • There are thousands of Metrorail riders from jurisdictions in Maryland besides Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. The data should be more focused in future reports, as right now WMATA only studies five non-Montgomery and Prince George's categories of origins.
WMATA capital and operating subsidies represent a rising cost for the state of Maryland even though WMATA is not increasing the jurisdictional operating subsidy this year. For Maryland's investment to continue to grow—and if WMATA is going to be a world class system again, it's going to have to—it's important to have data such as this to support Maryland's role in the system.

The study, which a 2015 General Assembly bill called for, was part of a broader effort to increase attention to WMATA issues in the state house. It's now required every five years, and future versions should have even more specific data.

Government


Maryland might allow many mopeds on trails, sidewalks, and highways, even for children

Hoping to encourage the sale and use of small motorized bicycles, Maryland's House of Delegates passed a bill allowing anyone to drive some mopeds anywhere a bicycle is allowed, including streets, trails and sidewalks. But did lawmakers understand what this bill will mean?


Photo by Earthworm on Flickr.

If it becomes law, someone could operate even a one-horsepower electric vehicle capable of driving up to 20 mph on trails or many sidewalks in the state, and children could drive one on the highway.

House Bill 205 would give Maryland one of the least restrictive electric bicycle laws in the United States. Maryland currently allows mopeds on streets, but not on trails or sidewalks. As with all motor vehicles, moped drivers must have a license and liability insurance. The bill would dispense with all of these restrictions for mopeds with an electric motor that cuts off when traveling faster than 20 mph.

Like Europe (but not most other states), Maryland would impose no minimum age, require neither a driver's license nor insurance, and allow them on trails and some sidewalks. But unlike Europe, these privileges associated with bicycles would apply for electric bikes with as much as one horsepower.

What is a moped?

Maryland law treats mopeds as a hybrid between motor vehicle and human-powered vehicles. Yet there is a continuum from very small electric motors mainly used to help people up hills, to 1.5 horsepower motors for a vehicle which a human would only propel if it runs out of power. The law must draw a line to define the vehicles that require insurance and a drivers license, from those that require neither and will be allowed to mix with pedestrians on trails and sidewalks.

Americans are still deciding where to draw that line. "I've seen folks try to set it based on size, speed, and horsepower, but there's always a new innovation that makes it unworkable," says a local bicycling advocate. "I want motorized assistance to be available to people, but I don't want people riding primarily motorized vehicles at unsafe speeds on trails." Michael Jackson, a bicycle expert with the Maryland Department of Transportation, says the same standards should apply whether the motor is powered by fuel or electricity.

The European Union draws the line at 250 watts or 1/3 horsepower, which is roughly the amount of power a cyclist can sustain for a few minutes. The power must gradually diminish with speed, and cut off completely at 15 mph. So if the motor is no stronger than a human being (albeit one who does not get tired), the vehicle can be treated as human-powered.

In the United States, the legal patchwork is more confusing, largely because the federal government regulates manufacturing while individual states regulate where and by whom they can be driven. The federal definition of electric bikes is essentially a moped with an electric motor less than 1 horsepower which cuts off at 20 mph.

States can draw the line elsewhere for trails and driver's licenses, but so far they have not. Instead, most states lump both heavy and light electric bikes together, and impose more restrictions than for bicycles but fewer than for motor vehicles. About half the states require a driver's license. Most states have a minimum age and prohibit them on trails and sidewalks.

Steve Carr of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources points out that park managers can issue rules more restrictive than state law: "We will not allow motorized vehicles on our trails, other than motorized wheelchairs."

Did lawmakers understand the bill?

The House of Delegates may not have realized what it was doing. The bill's sponsor, Allegany County Delegate Kevin Kelly, and his witnesses only told the Environmental Matters Committee (MP3, 4.2 MB) that the bill was needed to make state law conform to federal law. But Kelly didn't explain that the federal law deals with consumer protection while the state law addresses who can drive the vehicles, and where.

The bill's only co-sponsor from the Washington area is Delegate Barbara Frush (D-College Park). Reached by phone, her staff could not determine whether she realized what the bill would do.

House Bill 205 does not explicitly declare that children can drive some mopeds on the street. Nor does it say that some mopeds will be allowed on trails or sidewalks. But it allows children to drive mopeds, and for mopeds to go on trails or sidewalks, by changing the definition of a bicycle.

The universally understood definition of bicycle is a two-wheeled vehicle propelled by human power, and the law essentially uses that definition today. Under the new law, the definition of a bicycle will be a two-wheeled vehicle propelled either by human power or by an electric motor with less than one horsepower.

Whether allowing children to drive mopeds on highways was intended or not, it illustrates the problem of accomplishing legislative goals by revising the definition of a commonly understood word like "bicycle" to mean something else. The more straightforward approach would be to define the new class of vehicle and explicitly define its rights and duties.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for March 18. The Committee will also consider House Bill 250, which changes the definition of bicycles to include all mopeds.

Bicycling


Maryland legislative roundup: Return of the bag bill

Maryland's 2014 legislative session began last month. For the state's urban areas, one of the biggest issues is whether to spend the glut of transportation funding on more highways or new transit. But there are also two bills seeking to improve bicycling safety, while legislators will again consider a statewide disposable bag fee.


Photo by Michael Hilton on Flickr.

Disposable bag fee returns

Right now, Montgomery County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City are allowed to impose a fee on stores giving out disposable bags, though only Montgomery currently does. Two new bills from Senator Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park), SB 707 and HB 718, would allow the other 21 counties to charge for disposable bags as well.

This isn't the first time Maryland's attempted a statewide bag fee. Raskin has introduced the bill each year for the past four years.

Bike bills would increase passing distance, outline cyclist rights

Lawmakers have also introduced two bills to promote bike safety. Delegate Jon Cardin (D-Pikesville) submitted HB92, which would strengthen Maryland's current 3-foot passing law by increasing the distance drivers need to pass cyclists to 4 feet. There would be some exemptions, including when the road is too narrow for drivers to leave 4 feet of space.

Delegate Al Carr (D-Kensington) introduced the other bill, HB52, which clarifies that the duties of bicyclists are those defined in Maryland law. The bill would give cyclists the same rights and duties as drivers.

It would require bicyclists to watch for other vehicles in public areas, while drivers would have to watch for bicyclists along highways where bikes are allowed. By clarifying the duty of a bicyclist, this bill would protect cyclists who are riding lawfully from additional or hypothetical responsibilities.

Both bills came up in a committee hearing on January 28th and were not received well. Legislators questioned if the new legislation is necessary at this time. The Washington Post quoted Delegate James Malone (D-Baltimore and Howard counties) as saying that cyclists already "don't pay any attention to the rules of the road."

We'll keep you posted on what happens next.

This post was edited to reflect that only Montgomery County has enacted a bag fee, while Baltimore City and County are authorized to.

Roads


Maryland considering mandatory helmets for drivers

This article was posted as an April Fool's joke.

Following a rash of pedestrian-car collisions across the state, Maryland legislators have proposed requiring all drivers to wear helmets. While driving activists are split on the issue, area pedestrians say it's about time drivers took responsibility for themselves.


A driver behaving safely. Photo by joelogon on Flickr.

Yesterday, state delegate Arundela Mills (D-MCDOT) announced that she plans to amend House Bill 339 to require all drivers to wear helmets. The original version of the bill, which has languished in committee, would require adult cyclists to wear helmets.

Delegate Mills notes that the number of cars hit by pedestrians in recent weeks has skyrocketed. In the past month alone, pedestrians walked into cars in Columbia, White Marsh, and Bowie, causing indecipherable damage to vehicles and making their drivers slightly late for work.

And Friday morning, three pedestrians walked into a car driven by Richard Phillips, 38, who was passing through a crosswalk in Germantown on his way to work. Phillips was unhurt, but according to a police report the car's recently-polished grille sustained minor smudges from one pedestrian's bag. The pedestrians all walked away from the scene and have not been charged.

In an interview, Delegate Mills credited the Washington Area Drivers Association (WADA) for the idea. "Helmets will protect drivers from collisions, making it safe to allow drivers on all roads throughout the state," she said. She quoted a study from the Maryland Department of Transportation that found that helmets are the "single best way to avoid head and face injuries."

Driving activists are unsure about the bill's merits. Rental-car agencies note that travelers from out of state rarely pack a helmet, while even members of WADA have distanced themselves from the legislation.

"Studies in Australia show that when helmets are required, driving declines by 35%," said WADA president Penny Farthing. "MDOT is quoting junk science."

In Prince George's County, officials welcomed the proposed legislation. Bai To Hitachi, director of the Department of Public Works & Transportation, noted that cars clearly do not belong on roads meant for pedestrians. "DPW&T cares about public safety and is concerned when members of the community ... knowingly commit acts of high-risk behavior as a mechanism to achieve a public action," Hitachi said.

Hitachi called for additional legislation to require helmets for drivers in parking buildings, where heavy pedestrian traffic puts them in danger. "I'd feel safer walking on the Capital Beltway than driving in the parking building at the New Carrollton Metro Station," he added.

Community leaders look forward to the institution of more helmet laws for any and every situation. "Fifteen years ago I wound up in the intensive care unit of the Georgetown University Hospital neurology department," said Montgomery County Councilmember Flora Noreen. "I don't really know what happened, but I do know that I was not wearing a helmet."

The bill remains in committee and with one week to go before the General Assembly adjourns, opponents of the bill are optimistic that the session will end without action.

In the meantime, police advised drivers in a recent press release to stay alert while crossing sidewalks; to drive cars in bright visible colors or even in reflective paint; to always use controlled intersections; and, before driving, to look left, then right, then left again to check for any pedestrians.

"Parents are the most important models of proper driver behavior for children," said the press release. "Remember, be an engaged driver. It may save damage to your car."

Government


Prince George's considers two new TOD bills

Five months ago, public outcry persuaded Prince George's councilmember Mel Franklin to pull two controversial fast-tracked bills to exempt Metro station developments from site plan review and public meetings. On Wednesday, the council will consider two new, and better, bills.


Photo by MDGovpics on Flickr.

Both bills would streamline the development review process near Metro stations. CB-6-2013, spearheaded by Councilmember Eric Olson (District 3), would apply to proposed developments either in a Transit District Overlay Zone (TDOZ) or within ¼ mile of a Metro station.

CB-12-2013, advanced by Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development (PZED) chair Franklin (District 9), would apply to proposed developments within ½ mile of a Metro station or a constructed MARC or Purple Line station. The council will consider both bills at a special evening meeting of the PZED committee this Wednesday evening, March 13, at 6 pm.

Both bills appear to have broad support among the council members, although they appear to address the same topic in meaningfully different ways. Eight of the nine council members have signed on to Olson's bill. Councilmember Mary Lehman (District 1) has not yet expressed her support for CB-6. Six of the nine council members have signed on to Franklin's bill. The three who have thus far declined to support CB-12 are Olson, Lehman, and Obie Patterson (District 8).

Unlike the case with Franklin's TOD bills during the 2012 legislative session, these two bills are coming earlier in the session and do not (yet) appear to be on a fast track. Instead, these bills seem to be proceeding at a normal pace through the typical three-step process for passing legislation in Prince George's County:

  1. the first reading (or "presentation") of a bill, where a bill is assigned to a committee for further hearings;
  2. the second reading (or "introduction"), when the amended bill comes out of committee; and
  3. the third reading, after which the committee's bill is debated, perhaps further amended by the full council, and then either put to a vote or referred back to a committee.
CB-6 and CB-12 are both at the initial stage of the process (presentation), so there still should be time for the public to provide meaningful input into the process.

CB-6: Simple and straightforward streamlining—but needs tweaks

The primary goal of CB-6 appears to be the elimination of costly, time consuming, and duplicative development review procedures that apply to certain zones currently in use around Metro stations. In some zones, such as the Mixed-Use Transportation-Oriented (MXT) Zone around the New Carrollton Metro Station, developers have to submit and obtain approval for both a conceptual site plan (CSP) and a detailed site plan (DSP) before building permits can be issued.

In theory, the CSP is supposed to be more preliminary in nature and general in substance than the DSP. For phased projects, the CSP is supposed to outline all of the various proposed stages that a developer anticipates. As a practical matter, though, the CSP and DSP are often extremely duplicative of each other—particularly for development projects that are proposed in only one phase.

And because the CSP and DSP both call for full public adjudicatory hearings before the Prince George's County Planning Board of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), with all the attendant rights of administrative appeal and review before the District (County) Council and judicial review by the courts, it can take an incredibly long time for developments to get approved.

This, in turn, can create a disincentive for developers seeking to build around Metro stations. After all, time is money—and wasted time is...well, you get the picture.

CB-6 would alleviate some of this burden by dispensing with the CSP process for "TOD priority projects." Eligible projects would go through only one round of DSP hearings before the Planning Board. The legislation also calls for other agencies, such as the Department of Public Works and Transportation, to expedite TOD priority projects around Metro stations.

The public would have the same full panoply of rights to advance notice and a public adjudicatory hearing that they currently have with respect to DSPs now. Items or issues that would ordinarily be discussed in a CSP (such as overall phasing plans) would be wrapped into the DSP.

CB-6's targeted streamlining approach is generally a good thing. However, the bill needs slight tweaks to ensure that adequate urban design standards are in place to require the type of compact, walkable mixed-use development that should exist in a transit zone. In particular:

  • The bill should apply only at Metro stations where a recent sector or area plan has prescribed specific, form-based building envelope and site standards, along with other architectural and open-space standards applicable to urban areas. Without these standards, the bill's directive that TOD priority projects should "use the best urban design practices" has no real teeth. Generally, any Metro station area plan that was enacted after January 2008 should incorporate these types of standards.
  • The bill should apply not only in Transit District Overlay Zones, but also in Development District Overlay Zones, Comprehensive Design Zones, and Mixed-Use Zones. Given the clunky and non-user-friendly way that the Prince George's Zoning Code has developed over the years, there are multiple types of zones that currently exist around the county's 15 Metro stations. This legislation should reach all of these different zoning types currently in use.

    (The county's form-based Urban Centers and Corridor Nodes Development Code, approved in 2010 and also known as Subtitle 27A, has its own set of expedited development review procedures and should not be covered by CB-6. Currently, however, no Metro station area is covered by Subtitle 27A.)

CB-12: Better than last year's bill, but still problematic

It's clear, from reading CB-12-2013, that Councilmember Franklin has made some attempt to respond to some of the public comments in opposition to last year's bill, CB-79-2012.

For example, similar to Olson's bill (CB-6), CB-12 would require only a Detailed Site Plan review for "expedited TOD projects" constructed within ½ mile of a Metro, MARC, or Purple Line station. (Franklin includes MARC and Purple Line stations that exist at the time the development proposal is submitted.) Additionally, contrary to last year's bill, CB-12 would incorporate a public comment process into the expedited DSP review.

The problem is that CB-12's expedited DSP review process would not facilitate meaningful and informed public participation. Additionally, elimination of an interested party's right to a public adjudicatory hearing before the Planning Board in connection with proposed development projects is likely contrary to state law.

Under CB-12, a developer proposing an expedited TOD project would file an application with the Planning Director (not the Planning Board). The Planning Director or a staff member designee would schedule a "pre-application conference" with the developer, at which time members of the public could appear, hear a presentation from the developer, and offer oral or written comments on the "preliminary project plan" filed by the developer.

The preliminary project plan would be made available to the public via M-NCPPC's website, but only seven days after the scheduled pre-application conference. If you want to see it before the conference, the only option appears to be making a trek out to the Planning Department Office in Upper Marlboro, the county seat.

Nothing about the preliminary project plan is binding on the developer or M-NCPPC. The actual Detailed Site Plan filed by the developer could differ dramatically from the preliminary project plan discussed at the pre-application conference. M-NCPPC staff would post the actual DSP application on a website and accept additional written comments, but would hold no further in-person conferences with the public. Nor would there be any opportunity provided for a formal adjudicatory hearing before the Planning Board.

Within 20-50 days, the Planning Director or a staff member designee would prepare a staff report and final recommendation and file it directly with the District Council. Within the next 25 days, the Council could elect to review the recommendation, or an interested party could file an "appeal" of the Planning Director's recommendation with the District Council. (The word "appeal" is somewhat of a misnomer in this context, since there was never a hearing before M-NCPPC to begin with.)

If an appeal or review is filed, a hearing before the District Council would be scheduled within 30 days, and a final decision would be issued within 15 days thereafter. Barring any appeal or review, the Planning Director's recommendations would become the final decision of the District Council within 25 days after they are filed with the District Council.


Prince George's Planning Board. Photo by M-NCPPC

The above procedure eliminates altogether the involvement of the Planning Board in evaluating DSPs relating to expedited TOD projects. It also eliminates the public's right to a formal adjudicatory hearing before the Planning Board relating to the DSP—including the right to cross-examine the developer's witnesses under oath, introduce evidence of one's own, and have a decision rendered on the basis of the record developed at the hearing. Although that certainly speeds up the development review process and otherwise makes things easier for developers, it's also quite likely unlawful.

Under a 2012 amendment by the Maryland General Assembly to the Regional District Act (the state law that establishes the M-NCPPC as a bi-county commission covering Prince George's and Montgomery counties), Prince George's County is prohibited from withdrawing its previously-delegated authority to M-NCPPC to decide DSPs unless it is doing so for purposes of re-delegating that same authority to a municipality within the county. Because CB-12 seeks to withdraw the Planning Board's authority to hear and decide DSP cases in the first instance, it probably runs afoul of state law.

Show up at Wednesday's meeting if you can

Whatever your feelings about CB-6 or CB-12, the County Council needs to hear your voice. All too often in Prince George's County, legislative committee meetings are held during normal business hours, thereby depriving most working-age citizens of the opportunity to participate. The result is that those meetings are typically filled with developers, county planning professionals, and occasionally retirees—hardly a representative sample of the community.

This time, however, PZED chair Mel Franklin has made good on his promise to hold an evening meeting on these bills, given the high public interest in the issue of Metro station transit-oriented development. Let's honor Councilmember Franklin's decision by turning out in great numbers this Wednesday, March 13, 6 pm, in Room 2027 of the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, MD.

Budget


O'Malley unveils transportation funding plan

Yesterday, Maryland governor Martin O'Malley released his proposal to restructure Maryland's gas taxes to raise $3.4 billion for transportation over 5 years. The plan is superficially similar to the recent Virginia transportation funding bill, but improves upon it in several ways.


The Purple Line won't happen without more money. Image from Maryland MTA.

Maryland needs new revenue this year. Without it, the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, and the Baltimore Red Line could all stop moving forward.

The key to the bill is a new 2% wholesale tax on gasoline. Wholesale taxes differ from normal gas taxes in that the gas distributor pays them rather than the consumer. The distributor then usually passes the tax along to consumers via higher prices.

The plan partially offsets this wholesale tax by reducing the normal gas tax, from 23.5¢ per gallon to 18.5¢ per gallon. But the plan would also index the new lower gas tax to inflation, so it would increase slightly each year.

Taken together, overall tax revenue from gas would go up by about 2¢ per gallon as soon as the bill takes effect. In 2014 the 2% wholesale tax will increase to 4%, increasing gas tax revenue by another 9¢

Maryland's bill versus Virginia's bill

Both bills reduce the normal gas tax but add new wholesale gas taxes. But while Virginia plans to reduce its total gas tax and subsidize highway building with revenue from other sources, Maryland's proposal sticks to the principle of transportation user fees.

Unlike Virginia's bill, Maryland's does not include new fees on hybrid car owners, increases to the sales tax, nor any taxes on land or hotel visits.

Like Virginia's bill, Maryland's specifies that if Congress allows states to raise internet sales taxes, Maryland will do so, and will allocate some of it to transportation. If Congress doesn't allow an internet sales tax by 2015 then Maryland's wholesale gas tax will increase from 4% to 6%.

One thing Maryland's proposed bill does that Virginia's does not is to index transit fares on MTA buses and trains to inflation. That will put more burden on transit riders, but will also provide MTA with a more predictable budget.

Since Maryland cannot impose rules on WMATA without agreement from DC and Virginia, WMATA fares will not be indexed to inflation.

Smart Growth advocates are generally more supportive of O'Malley's proposal than the Virginia bill. Montgomery County councilmember Hans Riemer says the bill "appears to be a very strong plan and just what Maryland needs to get big infrastructure projects going."

The bill will undoubtedly face stiff opposition from Maryland Republicans, so its passage is no sure thing. But O'Malley's proposal is co-sponsored by Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, so it is clearly a serious initiative with a real chance of becoming law.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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