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O’Malley fails to get vote on offshore wind proposal

- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2011

ANNAPOLIS | Gov. Martin OMalley's legislative agenda was dealt another blow Monday when his signature offshore wind proposal failed to get either a full House or Senate vote before a major General Assembly deadline.

The O'Malley proposal to support offshore wind development by requiring utility companies to purchase alternative energy remained in the House Economic Matters and Senate Finance committees as dozens of other bills were passed on so-called "Crossover Day," the date by which the House and Senate traditionally pass bills that have a realistic chance of passing the other chamber.

Mr. OMalleys proposal, which would require utility companies in Maryland to enter into a minimum 20-year wind-energy contract, failed to garner support from either Democrats or Republicans largely because it would increase consumer energy costs.

With estimates having households pay as much as a $9 more a month, Mr. O'Malley offered an 11th-hour change last week to keep the monthly increases below $2.

The proposal's likely failure has been expected in recent weeks as several legislators have said the bill could be downgraded to a study and revisited next year - the same fate dealt this month to an OMalley proposal to restrict the further use of residential septic systems.

Mr. OMalley, a Democrat, has argued the wind bill will lower dependence on fossil fuels and create as many as 20,000 jobs.

O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec said Monday the governor will continue to push for the bill's passage.

"A study is always a step in the right direction, but youve got to look at the cost of waiting," Mr. Adamec said. "Were in a race with other states to capitalize on this opportunity. If we delay another year, well lose this race and watch those jobs go by the wayside."

After the crossover date, bills passed from their initial chamber must be reviewed and approved by the opposite chambers Rules Committee before they can be introduced to a committee.

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