On its third try in three years, Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to spur development of an offshore wind farm off the coast of Ocean City won the approval of a key committee Tuesday night, setting the stage for what is expected to be easy passage on the Senate floor.
The Senate Finance Committee, which spurned the bill the past two years, voted 7-4 for this year's version of one of O'Malley's top environmental priorities.
The governor was helped by a change in the composition of the committee, which previously has six members who were committed to voting it down.
Before this year's session, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller replaced one of those opponents with Sen. Victor Ramirez, a Prince George's County Democrat who voted aye on the bill. Sen. Catherine Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat, reversed her previous opposition. The bill was opposed by the committee's three Republican members, along with Sen. Delores Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat.
"This was the biggest hurdle. This was the moment," said Jen Brock-Cancellieri, deputy director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.
Brock-Cancellieri said she is confident the House-approved bill will pass the full Senate, where it has 24 co-sponsors -- just enough to pass it. Because it was amended, the bill would have to go back to the House for what she expected would be a routine concurrence.