'Road kill' litters governor's alternative Facebook headline

AP News
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Posted: Mar 14, 2017 9:42 PM

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — An alternative headline on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's Facebook page has been littered by "road kill."

The governor's page altered a headline Tuesday from The Baltimore Sun and changed it back to the newspaper's original one after a couple of hours.

The headline referred to a bill before lawmakers that has been contentious for the Republican governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature. Hogan has derisively called a law passed last year by lawmakers the "road kill bill," because he says it will end up blocking transportation projects in the state.

Doug Mayer, Hogan's spokesman, says the headline change was "a staff mistake" that resulted after a staffer used a headline seen elsewhere.

"We thought it was the original headline, because other people were using that headline," Mayer said. "It was a staff mistake, simple as that."

The Sun's headline was changed to: "Maryland Senate Committee Approves Road Kill Repeal w/Amendments." The newspaper's actual headline was: "Maryland Senate committee crafts compromise on transportation scoring law."

The Sun reported Tuesday that the headline was changed after it asked the governor's office why it misrepresented the newspaper's work. The Sun said it generally does not use the term "road kill" in headlines because it does not accurately summarize the legislation.

The governor initially submitted the legislation to repeal a law passed last year that creates a scoring system to rank transportation projects in the state's funding process. Hogan has called repeal a top priority of this legislative session.

The law requires the governor to rank transportation projects and provide an explanation if he approves funding for a lower-ranked project over a higher-ranked one. Hogan vetoed the bill last year, but the legislature overrode the veto.

The legislation now before lawmakers aims to strike a compromise over the highly contentious bill, by suspending some of its main sticking points for two years while a workgroup tries to address differences between the governor and the legislature. The governor would not have to explain funding decisions under the bill, but if the workgroup doesn't find an agreeable change to the law after two years the current law would take effect again.

"We're not going to repeal the whole bill, simple as that," said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, on Tuesday.

Last week, the staff of North Carolina's Republican Senate leader used special tools available on the North Carolina senator's Facebook page to alter headlines of stories that they posted. The altered headlines were critical of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Beneath the headlines were links to the original, unaltered news stories.