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.
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.