Md. Gov.: Toll-shirking rental companies ‘scofflaws,’ ‘deadbeats’

WASHINGTON – The Maryland governor says a tougher approach is necessary to hold “scofflaw” car rental companies accountable for not paying tolls.

The Maryland Transit Authority should revoke car registrations from rental companies that have outstanding toll fares, says Gov. Martin O’Malley. If these “scofflaw,” “deadbeat” companies question the MdTA authority to do so, they should file a lawsuit, he says.

Such truancy is a part of a reported $6 million in unpaid tolls, according to a Baltimore Sun report. The state needs to amend what some say is ambiguity in the laws, O’Malley says.

A bill to give MdTA the authority to suspend licenses and registration failed in this year’s General Assembly session. A bill will return next session, O’Malley says.

O’Malley appeared Monday on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor.” Learn more in our live blog about what he calls the Virginian “confetti cannons” and other “gimmicks” every time the state reports a budget surplus, his thoughts on the classification of pit bulls as dangerous and his challenging of the Virginia governor’s manliness:

10:57 a.m., O’Malley challenges Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to a pushup contest on WTOP if they both appear on a show before the November election.

10:54 a.m., speaking about running for president in 2016:

I can tell you “damn little” about that. I’m focused on getting the president reelected, and the Democratic redistricting program.

10:52 a.m., speaking about Chesapeake Bay cleaning efforts:

We’re looking at cap-and-trade initiatives. We’ve doubled our investments in wastewater treatment plants. We’ve increased 4-5 times the thousands of acres in the Cover Crop Program. The “dead zone” was reduced to less than in recent memory. Crab populations at 19-year high.

10:51 a.m., speaking about the DREAM Act vote:

I hope Md. voters approve it. The act says if your family pays taxes in Maryland and you get into a Maryland college, you should pay in-state tuition regardless of your immigration status.

10:44 a.m., speaking about the federal government reneging on their pledged $50 million in Metro funds:

You get what you pay for. I’m hopeful the federal government will avoid this “sequester cliff” the Republicans in the house would like to drive us off of.

“Because of the stature and the esteem with our congressional delegation…are held, they have this one covered.”

10:41 a.m., speaking about voter ID requirements:

We don’t discourage people from voting in Maryland so we don’t have that thing where you have to have a “triple-sealed MVA card, or that sort of thing. We don’t have those voter oppression laws in our state. That would be in Virginia.

10:36 a.m., speaking about youth incarceration in adult facilities in Baltimore:

There are a number of youth being tried in the adult system because of the grievous nature of their charges. Those offenders have been held in a very “old and decrepit” facility in Baltimore.

We have a certain obligation from a “humanitarian standpoint” to uphold a certain standard.

We often get complaints that we’re building prisons for children when we should be building schools for children. We are building schools for children.

We have a need for a greater number of juvenile facilities.

10:35 a.m., speaking about classifying pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dog:

I don’t know that any breed is more brutal than another.

10:31 a.m., speaking about reported $6 million gone unpaid for tolls, many by car rental companies:

“There’s a lot of conversations going on right now” with regard to collecting from the rental companies.

We need to amend what some say is an ambiguity in the law. Some say the Maryland toll authority has the right to suspend drivers registrations.

10:27 a.m., speaking about the same-sex marriage ballot question – how would churches be affected?:

We have laid out several itemized protections for religious freedom and religious liberty. “There is not freedom of religion without protection of individual conscience.”

“We have to protect the freedom of religion, but we also have to protect each child’s home under the letter of the law.”

10:21 a.m., speaking about where gambling revenues would go:

By statute, 48.5 percent of slot machines and 15 percent of table games goes to the education trust fund. It’s already generated roughly $180 million for Maryland schools.

Despite the cuts, the one area we have increased is the state education funding to counties. It’s gone from $2.9 billion to $7.3 billion this year.

10:11 a.m., speaking about a caller who says Maryland ‘is in order,’ and Virginia is ‘out of order’ in regard to budget deficits:

“We have a AAA bond rating. That has been certified by all the major rating agencies. One thing we don’t do in Maryland, is if we finish a month with more cash on hand than might have been expected, we don’t fire off cannons” to celebrate.

We have a higher median income than Virginia.

We’re really not against each other. Maryland, Virginia and the District are one, strong science and technology corridor.

“Gov. McDonnell is a sworn opponent to asking millionaires to pay any more for anything.”

In a microcosm, the difference between Virginia and Maryland is an example of the national debate on balancing the budget.

“We’re creating a better life with a higher median income and the best schools in the nation.”

On cuts, we’ve applied a balance of revenues and cuts.

10:03 a.m., speaking about revenue from photo enforcement:

“We should all be concerned when you look at the number of traffic deaths in our state.”

Traffic deaths are up, due to distracted driving and speed.

We implemented these cameras “to save lives.”

Counties have the ability to put them up in school zones, we have ability to put them up in work zones.

We’ve seen a reduction in deaths in work zones.

“The fact that lesser revenues are coming in here really isn’t the point of the exercise.”

(On why Maryland doesn’t have fine penalties for not paying these tickets:)

“We’re trying to get at the life-saving potential of speed cameras…we had a lot of legislators who were concerned this not become a way to raise revenues.”

WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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