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Transportation bill skips ahead

A bill Democratic legislators say is meant to promote transparency in transportation funding took an ironic turn Monday when the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee voted on a bill that is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday.

The move sets up the potential for the General Assembly to send a bill to Gov. Larry Hogan before the end of the session and force him to sigh it or possibly have the legislature override his veto before the session ends on April 11.

House Bill 1013 was amended and voted out of the committee Monday afternoon. It is scheduled to be on the Senate floor a preliminary vote on Tuesday morning — the same day the legislation, sponsored by Del. Pamela G. Beidle, D-Anne Arundel County, was scheduled for a hearing in the same committee.

The bill was introduced this year after some lawmakers expressed concern about how transportation projects are added and removed from the state Department of Transportation’s six-year consolidated transportation program following the cancellation of the $2.9 billion Baltimore Red Line project.

The committee schedule on the legislative website shows no scheduled hearings, workgroups or voting sessions for the Budget and Taxation Committee though a voting session was announced during session on Friday. The same site shows House Bill 1013 on the committee schedule for a sponsor-only hearing Tuesday — the Senate has already held a hearing on a cross-filed bill.

Sen. James E. “Ed” DeGrange Sr. said Monday his bill “is going nowhere” as the Senate has made amendments to the House version and apparently fast-tracked the bill.

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Western Maryland, complained about the short notice on amendments made by the committee. After the voting session he told a reporter he was unaware that the bill was still on the schedule for Tuesday.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard and Baltimore Counties and chair of the budget committee, was overheard Tuesday afternoon telling Edwards that there was a push to get the bill on the floor by Tuesday morning.

“When the hierarchy wants to move something they can cram it through,” Edwards said. “Though it’s not too transparent if there’s a hearing tomorrow after we voted it out of committee today.”