Metro and Vetoes
One of my long-term goals is to improve oversight of our Metro system. The Metro system is not directly controlled by state government, but the state does provide approximately $450 million a year in capital and operating funds. The Governor also appoints members to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority ("WMATA") board. As a daily rider (when the legislature is not in session), I know first hand the challenges the system faces across a range of issues.
I was pleased to launch a work group in Annapolis to focus on the system with my colleague from Prince George's County, Erek Barron. The WMATA-Metro Work Group was formed in 2015 to provide the General Assembly and citizens with oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”); to educate and inform the General Assembly about WMATA; to respond to challenges in a timely fashion; to make recommendations for long term reform; and to generally support and advocate for WMATA, a vital component of our state and regional transportation network, economic future, and environmental sustainability.
The tentative schedule of meetings for this session is now available here.
The big legislative news this week will be the General Assembly's efforts to override six vetoes made by Governor Hogan last year. It may interest you to know that unlike some state legislatures, we do not hold "veto sessions" after vetoes are made and unless there is a special session, the first opportunity to override a veto is the next regular legislative session. The six bills that will be voted on are:
One of the major issues in our state is the quality of water feeding into and on the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay is an incredible environmental, recreational, and economic resource. One approach to Bay pollution under discussion is to allow the trading of pollution emission credits among polluters (similar to the old acid rain model, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and other greenhouse gas/climate change proposals). There are some concerns with the ability to verify these types of credits but others believe this type of market-based approach is appropriate. The Maryland Department of Agriculture has issued a proposal for trading, available here. But many of the necessary details will be left to the Maryland Department of the Environment ("MDE"). I am concerned that MDE plans to design these rules without a formal and open rulemaking process. I reached out to Attorney General Brian Frosh and his official opinion confirmed that such an approach would violate the law. I recently shared the opinion with the Secretary of the Environment and a copy of my letter can be found here.
District 16 Notes
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