CARA NEWCOMER, Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — After months of Gov. Larry Hogan publicly criticizing a transportation transparency law last year that he refers to as the “Road Kill Bill,” one lawmaker has introduced his own interpretation.
Delegate Marc Korman, D-Montgomery, decided a bill was needed that takes the Republican governor’s nickname — which has been panned by Democrats — and attaches it to what he calls a serious subject: dead and decaying animals on the side of the road.
The Roadkill Bill of 2017, which has 32 co-sponsors, is a bill that would require the State Highway Administration to create a regulation allowing residents to report roadkill and have it removed promptly.
Korman told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service on Thursday he drafted this bill after Hogan’s 2017 State of the State Address, where he asked legislators to address the “Road Kill” issue.
Korman said he didn’t realize how common roadkill neglect was until he saw a dead squirrel remain on the side of the road for at least three days.
“Because it does not include mandated spending, cannot be mischaracterized as a tax, has a catchy name, polls well, is unopposed by big business, and is unrelated to Donald Trump, it is expected that the Administration will not show up to testify and (will) allow the bill to become law,” according to a Feb. 9 press release from Korman’s office.
Current law requires the State Highway Administration to “remove any animal carcass that will impede traffic or substantially endanger the safety of the traveling public as soon as it becomes aware of the carcass,” according to the Department of Legislative Services fiscal analysis.
Korman said he has not been in contact with the State Highway Administration about this issue, but he has not heard any pushback.
While he did hear testimony on transportation legislation that the Hogan Administration refers to as the “Road Kill Bill” repeal, Korman said — in a solemn tone — he was confused why the term “animal carcasses” was not mentioned. “It’s frustrating when people don’t take the work we do here seriously,” Korman said. “This is a real issue.”
Delegate William Folden, R-Frederick, said believes this bill is more burdensome and wastes taxpayers money. “We have more important issues,” Folden said in the House Environment and Transportation Committee meeting Thursday. “We’re really getting off into the weeds here.”
The highway administration can handle the bill’s requirements using existing resources, according to a fiscal analysis.
Baltimore County submitted written testimony in support of the legislation Thursday saying the bill would “promote an open and transparent process for reporting roadkill on State highways to the administration and gives the (highway administration) the prerogative of evaluating how best to prioritize clearing roadkil from State highways.”
“Indeed, this bipartisan issue unites rural Maryland, urban Maryland, and suburban Maryland,” said Delegate Andrew Platt, D-Montgomery, according to the Feb. 9 release. “When it comes to roadkill, we are one Maryland.”
Delegate Cory McCray, D-Baltimore, suggested in the committee hearing Thursday an amendment to score the dead animals collected from the side of the road, referencing a scoring system in the contentious transportation bill.
Korman said he was open to the amendment.
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