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Maryland Senate votes final legislative override of Hogan renewable energy veto  

(File)

(File)

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Senate voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill to increase the state’s renewable energy standards, thus making the measure law.

The Senate vote of 32-13 along strict party lines followed the House’s vote to override on Tuesday and put the law into effect. Despite the defeat, Gov. Larry Hogan did walk away with a small victory as the Senate voted unanimously to sustain another veto — a first for the first-term Republican governor.

“Today, the Maryland Senate put the final touches on a clean energy bill of true national significance,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “While President Trump appoints the CEO of Exxon to obstruct global climate efforts, states like Maryland will fight back here at home with jobs, cleaner air, and truly responsive government. Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland thought he could confuse state voters by siding with polluters over good-paying solar and wind jobs. Today, the people of Maryland have spoken and Hogan should listen.”

The law will increase requirements to use energy sources like wind and solar power to 25 percent by 2020. That’s up from 20 percent by 2022.

“This legislature has the ability to say to say to Mr. Trump, ‘You may destroy renewable jobs in Texas for the oil industry. You may destroy renewable jobs in other states. You made the former president of Exxon your Secretary of State so we have some sense of where your alliances are, but not in Maryland. We will protect Maryland jobs by overriding this job-killing veto,” said Sen. James C. Rosapepe, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s.

But Maryland generates little renewable energy within the state.  Under the new 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.

“It’s just not the right program,” said Sen. Stephen S. Hershey Jr., R-Upper Shore. “It’s not the right program for Marylanders. It’s not the right program to merit an increase (in electrical bills).”

Hogan has repeatedly criticized the measure, saying he says it will raise electricity bills. More recently, he called it a “sunshine tax.”

The governor called the measure a $100 million tax on electricity ratepayers.

“These senators are now faced with the unenviable task of explaining to their friends, neighbors, and constituents why they voted to increase the price of energy in Maryland,” said Amelia Chassé, a Hogan spokeswoman. “Unfortunately, our hardworking citizens will now be forced to foot the bill for an unnecessary addition to a program that already exists and one that subsidizes out-of-state companies.”

Chassé said the General Assembly’s votes “stand in stark contrast to the legislation and policy being put forward by the governor, which will actually create green jobs for Maryland workers.”

On another bill, Hogan achieved a small victory after the Senate voted 45-0 to sustain a veto of Senate Bill 910, sponsored by Sen. William “Bill” Ferguson. The bill would have created the Maryland Education Development Collaborative that would have received and distributed education grant money.

Hogan last year wrote that he vetoed the bill because it violated the state constitution’s separation of powers article.

Ferguson, speaking to the Senate Thursday, acknowledged a “legal issue” and said he was working on a new bill that would correct the flaw.

The vote marked the first time since Hogan took office in 2015 that policy veto was sustained by the either the House or the Senate.