There will be no free rides on state public transportation services for legislators and staff or employees of the Judiciary.
And definitely no study on the feasibility of such a benefit after the Senate Thursday voted to strike language snuggled into a bill that would have done just that.
A bill sponsored by freshman Sen. Malcolm Augustine, D-Prince George’s, proposes codifying an 18-year-old executive order that provides state executive branch employees free rides on public buses, subway and light-rail services. The legislation also seeks to expand that practice to about 5,700 other employees who are covered by collective bargaining units, many of whom are full-time employees of various state colleges and universities.
A state review of the practice a decade ago found that eligible employees who took advantage of the free ride benefit comprised about 1 percent of bus, subway and light rail trips. If those same employees had purchased monthly passes, the MTA would have seen a revenue increase of $1.45 million or about 2 percent annually.
Language in the bill called for a study by the Departments of Budget and Management and Transportation on the feasibility of providing that benefit to legislators, legislative staff and Judiciary branch employees.
The mention of the study drew a rebuke Wednesday from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.
“Free rides for legislators?” Miller said.
“I don’t like the word legislator in that,” Miller said. “I just want to say I don’t like the word legislator in there. We don’t need free rides and we certainly don’t need to vote for a possibility of getting free rides on metro.”
The preliminary vote on the bill was held off until Thursday morning. Miller’s message was received.
“That language was struck as was the will of the (Senate),” Augustine said on Thursday as he introduced the amendment.