ANNAPOLIS — The House of Delegates voted Tuesday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of renewable energy legislation the first-term Republican has labeled “the sunshine tax.”
The 88-51 vote, which fell largely along party lines and was not unexpected, came after an hour of debate.
Supporters of the bill said Hogan’s objections to the legislation are disingenuous and compared it to the governor labeling the stormwater management fee as “the rain tax.”
“I guess I am not surprised to see a policy objection disguised as a tax objection,” said Del. C. William Frick, D-Montgomery County and sponsor of the bill. “This (argument) has come up before. We’re in year three of this administration and I guess we’re already recycling old material.”
The bill calls for increasing the standard for renewable energy use in Maryland from 20 to 25 percent using solar and wind technologies.
But under the increased standard in the bill, electricity suppliers would comply by purchasing a percentage of renewable energy credits proportional to its share of Maryland’s total electricity sales.
Each credit is equal to one megawatt-hour of generated renewable energy.
Hogan called the bill a $100 million tax on electricity ratepayers.
The vetoed House bill now moves to the Senate, which also must vote to override. The Senate needs 29 votes to overturn Hogan.
The Senate is expected to take up overrides Thursday on its own version of the bill, which passed with a veto proof majority.
“This administration has and will continue to support sensible efforts to encourage the use and growth of all forms of renewable energy but that is not what happened today,” said Amelia Chassé, a Hogan spokeswoman. “Make no mistake, certain out of touch members of the House just voted to increase energy rates on their own neighbors anywhere from $50 to $200 million per year. For years, Marylanders have made it clear that they are sick and tired of these kinds of rate increases – hopefully our good Senators won’t turn a deaf ear to their calls like their colleagues in the House just did.”