ANNAPOLIS – Treadmill emissions testing appears to be here to stay.
The Senate failed Friday to override Gov. Parris Glendening’s veto of a bill last year that would have made the now-mandatory treadmill tests of cars voluntary. The 20-27 vote fell nine votes shy of the 29 needed to override the governor’s veto.
Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County, who sponsored the voluntary treadmill testing bill, said he was disappointed by the outcome.
“The voluntary testing was working,” said Stone, who said the number of motorists volunteering for the tests had risen from 10 percent to 40 percent by Oct. 1, when the tests became mandatory. He said it could have gone over 60 percent with the proper incentives.
Opponents of mandatory testing claim the treadmills can damage cars. Stone said 32 cars have been reported damaged since Oct. 1.
But Glendening vetoed the bill May 19, citing health, environmental and economic concerns. Some officials fear the state would lose federal highway funding if the tests were not mandatory.
“If we don’t do it we will get sacked with millions of dollars in penalties from the federal government,” Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, said Friday.
While others argue that the federal government would not penalize states that do not have mandatory testing, Sen. Martin Madden, R-Prince George’s, said that’s too big a chance to take.
“The need to keep the program in place is obvious,” said Madden, who added that testing-related damage to cars has yet to be seen.
Sen. Timothy Ferguson, R-Carroll, argued that mandatory testing is not fair because exemptions are granted to some and not to all. “There are so many idiosyncracies with the law,” he said.
A spokesman for Glendening said the governor was pleased with the Senate action. Ray Feldmann also said that mandatory testing will take 70 tons of pollutants out of the air annually and keep Maryland from running afoul of federal regulators.