By: Elizabeth Hays
National security, equal rights, healthcare, and road kill are top priorities for any state government, at least according to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. When the headline first appeared – “Hogan vows to fight Maryland ‘road kill’ law” – I pictured a poor little raccoon being hauled away after being hit by some in a Ford Bronco. If you keep reading, however, you find out that it has absolutely nothing to do with Rocky the raccoon and everything to do with the governor trying to overcome road blocks in his transportation initiatives.
In the 2016 legislative session, House Bill 1013, more affectionately called the ‘Road Kill Law,’ was passed and became law after overriding Governor Hogan’s veto. The new law created a scoring system for approval of Maryland transportation projects. According to the Governor, the new mandated scoring system forces the cancellation of 66 out of 73 top transportation projects; yet, Assistant Attorney General David Stamper doesn’t necessarily agree with Governor Hogan’s assertion. He stated, “the administration can pick a project with a lower score over a project with a higher score if it provides, in writing, a rational basis for the decision.” If you believe that the legislation is only advisory, Hogan states, then you are ignorant of the facts.
Joining the exhilarating political sparing match, Delegate Brooke Lierman, the freshman Democrat from Baltimore City, who led debate on the bill in the House, said “Gov. Hogan seems to be creating his own fake news. It’s just a score, and that shows to us, the taxpayers, how we’re spending our money in a transparent way.” Adding to the continued contradiction, Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn agreed with the governor that the there was no possible way to avoid the cancellations of the projects under this new law. In a legislative hearing held on November 18, 2016, he stated, “The one-size-fits-all ranking system mandated by this law is wrong for Maryland drivers, wrong for employers relying on needed improvements to local roads and bridges, wrong for tourists and visitors traveling to our state, and wrong for Maryland taxpayers who expect their dollars to be spent in an fair and equitable manner on projects that will improve their daily lives.”
The repeal of the ‘road kill’ law is deemed a top priority by the Hogan administration and will likely produce more and more controversy while the facts continue to be sorted out. As far as actual road kill law in Maryland is concerned, you still need a salvage permit for removal of animals off roadways. While it is uncertain what the 2017 legislative session will bring, for now, raccoons are still safe.
Elizabeth Hays is a third-year day student at the University of Baltimore. She serves as a Staff Editor of the UB Law Forum and is Co-president of UBSPI. Her legal interests include, administrative and military law. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org