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Early Voting And Offshore Wind Power Advance In Maryland Senate

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The Maryland Senate advanced the early voting and offshore wind bills.
Robert Williams (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwillia532/6023529955/)
The Maryland Senate advanced the early voting and offshore wind bills.

A bill to expand wind power off Maryland's Eastern Shore moved forward, even though opposing Republicans weren't done offering amendments trying to change the measure.

Senate President Mike Miller said he would allow more amendments when the chamber takes it up for a final vote, possibly Friday morning. Miller supports offshore wind, though his new energy source preference is nuclear power.

"Nuclear power is very costly," says Miller. "It's a lot of jobs in my district, and we have a foreign investor willing to go forward. But the federal government is not willing to step up at this time. Wind is the next best source that's available to us at this time. And we have the ocean on our border, and we need to take advantage of it."

Republicans like E.J. Pipken of the Eastern Shore say offshore wind is too expensive for Maryland ratepayers, and too unreliable.

"The wind doesn't blow in August in Ocean City," says Pipken. "That's when we need the power the most. That's where we're putting windmills."

The full Senate has never taken a vote on the measure during the past three years offshore wind has been pushed by Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The Senate also advanced, in the more traditional manner, a bill that would add early voting days in Maryland. That measure also allows for same-day registration at early voting centers. Republican Alan Kittleman tried unsuccessfully to force voters, seeking same-day registration without a picture ID, to use a provisional ballot.

"I think that if you come in with a BG&E bill, I think that's fine and you're going to vote three weeks later," says Kittleman. "But to vote that same day, how in the world do they know that you're that person? You have nothing that shows you're that person."

Senators did add one change allowing rural parts of the state, namely in the western Maryland panhandle, to have more early voting centers to cut down on the distance some people travel to vote.

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