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House votes to keep VEIP

April 06, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland legislature on Tuesday took a step toward prolonging the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program and requiring motorists to pay more for repairs.

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The House of Delegates gave tentative approval Tuesday to eliminating the program's Dec. 1, 1999, expiration date.

By 2002, motorists would be required to spend up to $450 on car repairs to meet pollution regulations. The current cap is $150.

The measure still faces a full vote in the House of Delegates and the Senate.

Earlier this session, Washington County lawmakers tried to exempt county residents from the testing program.

"We lost our fight, so I guess that's indicative of how it's going to go," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

Shank, as well as most other members of the county delegation, are expected to vote against the measure.

"Mark my words, that program is going to get more controversial over the years," Shank said.

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The standards required to pass the test are expected to become tougher, he said.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he won't support an increase in the repair cap.

"I think that's a ridiculous amount of money. I hate that program and I'm not going to vote for that program. We're being penalized for having clean air," he said.

But House Environmental Matters Committee Chairman Ronald A. Guns has said the state is only doing what is required by the federal government.

Under the proposal, the repair cap would first increase in 2000.

Cars built in 1998 or later would have a $450 cap. The cap would be $300 for cars built between 1991 and 1997 and $200 for those built in 1990 or earlier.

By 2002, the cap would go up to $450 for all cars.

Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, has said he would like to see the state provide a tax credit to motorists who are required to spend money on car repairs.

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