ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Senate will debate Friday whether to override Gov. Parris Glendening’s veto of voluntary treadmill emission testing for Maryland cars.
The Senate Judicial Procedures Committee voted 7-4 Wednesday to challenge Glendening’s veto of Senate Bill 278, which would have made the now-mandatory treadmill tests strictly voluntary.
Glendening vetoed the bill May 19, citing health, environmental and economic concerns.
“One of the best things we can do to continue to preserve Maryland’s environment … is to have a solid vehicle emissions inspection program,” Glendening said of the mandatory testing program.
An official at the governor’s office said Glendening will not comment on the override attempt until Friday.
But the bill’s supporters challenged the need for mandatory treadmill testing.
“We’re not sure there’s any benefit to (treadmill testing),” said Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore, one of the bill’s sponsors.
Stone and other proponents of the bill say placing the cars on treadmills for the tests, aside from taking time, can damage cars. Since the tests became mandatory Oct. 1, he said, 32 cars have been damaged by the treadmills.
“Some might say that’s not a lot, but that’s 32 cars that need to be fixed,” Stone said.
But supporters of mandatory treadmill testing contend that, without it, the state could lose federal funding for highways.
The testing is an important program, said Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, who said he will not vote to override Glendening’s veto.
“It’s mandated by the federal government. … I don’t like taking my car in for testing, but it’s the most efficient way to reduce pollution,” he said.
But supporters are not optimistic that they can muster the three-fifths vote of the House and Senate needed to override. The bill did not pass last year with enough votes for an override.
“It’s probably unlikely,” said Del. Don Elliott, R-Carroll, who sponsored a similar bill in the House last session.
Even Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, and chairman of Judicial Proceedings, refused to support the override attempt yesterday. Baker voted for the bill last year.
“Back then, that’s the way the political wind was blowing,” Baker said.
But other supporters of the override are pushing onward.
“We won a battle today,” Stone said after the committee meeting. “We’ll continue to fight.”