Maryland P3 bill a go

Maryland has a touch-and-go relationship with enabling legislation. HB 560 is the latest manifestation of a would-be P3 programme.

In Maryland, a US Mid-Atlantic state where the need for infrastructure investment is clear, introducing private capital has proven a difficult sell.

A public-private partnership (PPP; P3) proposal was unveiled last April, but resistance in the state legislature to State Bill 358 (SB 358) was high. In the end, the bill did not get final approval. In addition, it was deemed 'unfriendly' to the private sector.

Last week, the Old Line State trotted out its latest enabling P3 legislation. The measure – House Bill 560 (HB 560) – was likewise contentious in state capital Annapolis, but did pass the lower house of the General Assembly with a 119-19 vote.

The administration behind Democratic Governor and P3 proponent Martin O’Malley is hopeful HB 560 can entice the private sector.

The revamped P3 legislation is credited with helping the private sector sidestep bureaucratic ‘red tape,’ while making room for unsolicited bidding.

Under HB 560, the board of public works and a legislative committee will review each private bid, helping to ensure a process the state called predictable and transparent.

Lieutenant governor Anthony Brown has identified the state has an $800 million annual gap for transportation infrastructure alone. Brown, in charge of leading a P3 task force, has also touted the bill as a job creator.