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Lawmakers share negative E-ZPass experiences during bill hearing on toll payments

Bill would waive penalties for backlogged tolls
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Posted at 6:31 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 23:20:59-05

BALTIMORE — During a committee hearing on a bill impacting toll payments and penalties, several lawmakers shared their recent experiences with Maryland E-ZPass.

Senator Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City), the sponsor of Senate Bill 59, introduced the legislation after he received several toll notices in the mail.

RELATED: New legislation targets 'E-ZPass debacle,' bill waives toll penalties, allows for payment plans

“When I got my E-ZPass bill, there were five charges back-to-back-to-back, so my immediate thought was did somebody steal my credit card when I see five charges?” McCray told WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii.

He added that he was charged late fee penalties even though he received the toll notices after the due date.

“I’ve never ever, ever, ever seen a business that’s able to mark up a 1,000+ percent late fee. So, remember if you’re late for $2 they can charge you $25,” McCray told the Budget and Taxation Committee Tuesday afternoon.

Senate Bill 59 proposes waiving penalties for tolls where the Maryland Transportation Authority is responsible for the delay in timely processing.

The agency paused processing video and image toll transactions for seven months during the pandemic. It's now trying to catch up on millions of backlogged tolls.

The bill would also require the MDTA to offer installment payment plans, accept payment through different methods including payment apps, and keep certain debts from going to collections.

“My daughter just got a bill for E-ZPass, the charge was from August,” said Senator Nancy King (D-Montgomery County).

“Unfortunately, I received them, like you said, very late. They were already overdue by the time I received them, so thank you for bringing this up,” Senator Melony Griffith (D-Prince George’s County) told Senator McCray.

Senator Guy Guzzone, committee chairman, added that he had a different issue with MDTA involving fines. “There are some issues there. We got a little work to do,” Guzzone said.

After meeting with MDTA, Senator McCray said he’ll be proposing an amendment to the bill.

MDTA submitted testimony expressing concern about the major financial hit to the Central Collections Unit if debts are recalled. The agency is self-funded by a 17 percent collection fee paid by debtors.

During the hearing, McCray said he’d consider keeping that fee for debts that have already been sent to CCU.

The committee will now review the bill and issue a favorable or unfavorable report, which impacts whether it advances to a second reading.