Maryland Lawmakers to Talk Wind Farms (USA)


Maryland Lawmakers to Talk Wind Farms (USA)

The Maryland General Assembly is cramming dozens of hearings into next week’s special session to address issues that will define the coming year, which include generating more transportation revenues, expediting the development of an off-shore wind farm and closing the state’s roughly $1 billion budget shortfall.

While no votes or legislation will come out of the hearings, they will provide a window into what Marylanders can expect for the 2012 legislative session, which convenes in January.

Budget and finance committees are scheduled to meet Tuesday to examine new revenue options for the state’s transportation needs, which add up to roughly $800 million, according to Maryland’s legislative analysts.

One of the biggest revenue generators that lawmakers are considering would add five cents annually to the state’s 23.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax over the course of three years. The tax would raise at least $491 million annually.

Also on Tuesday, the House Economic Matters Committee will discuss ways to kick-start the development of an off-shore wind farm off the coast of Ocean City.

The committee is expected to revisit a measure — which Gov. Martin O’Malley failed to push through the legislature last spring — that would require utility companies to enter long-term power purchasing agreements with off-shore wind developers.

One of the legislature’s most important meetings of the week will be Thursday’s budget briefing, when lawmakers will receive the most up-to-date analysis of Maryland’s fiscal status.

The state is expected to have a fiscal 2013 deficit of at least $1 billion, but with federal cuts looming, Maryland could be squeezed even more.

By Hayley Peterson (washingtonexaminer)


Source: washingtonexaminer, October 17, 2011; Image: fairvote