Anne Arundel County's House and Senate delegations nearly agreed to legislation eliminating an automatic salary increase for the county's state's attorney - an agreement that would have greatly boosted the bill's chances of passage.
But nearly doesn't count at the General Assembly. And one hastily changed vote will.
At Friday morning's House delegation meeting, legislators approved an amended bill to do away with the automatic increase and boost the state's attorney's salary from $165,551 in 2014 to $175,000 in 2015.
The salary would stay that way until the next election year.
Later on Friday, when the Senate delegation met, Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, proposed an amendment to make the Senate bill the same.
But Sen. John Astle, D-Annapolis, proposed to raise the state's attorney's salary in increments from $165,551 in 2014 to $177,000 four years later. Astle also proposed a car for the state's attorney.
Simonaire is the sponsor of the proposal in the Senate and said he worked to get the county government to agree to the proposal that passed the House. He told his fellow senators they should approve his amendment.
He said the county government may not agree to Astle's proposal because of the cost of giving the state's attorney a car.
In the end, Simonaire and Sens. Ed Reilly, R-Crofton, voted for Simonaire's proposal. And so - to the evident shock of the two Republicans - did Sen. Jim Rosapepe, D-College Park.
So Simonaire's proposal won, 3-2, and the House and Senate delegations have agreed on the same bill, right?
The three Democrats in the five-member Senate delegation usually vote with each other, often collaborating to kill county bills passed by the Republican-controlled House delegation. That's what happened to last year's bill to change the county school board from all-appointed to a hybrid model.
This time, after Rosapepe sided with the Republicans, Reilly asked him if he had really just voted for Simonaire's amendment. And Rosapepe quickly backtracked.
Reilly: "You said aye?"
Rosapepe: "I said aye."
Astle: "You voted for (Simonaire's) amendment?"
Rosapepe: "I did. Is that a problem? Seriously. I mean, I didn't hear anybody argue against the amendment."
Astle: "Well ..."
Rosapepe: "That's fine. I'll withdraw my vote and flip my vote. I will. That's fine."
So Rosapepe's vote was quickly changed to a "no" and Simonaire's amendment failed, 3-2. Then Astle's proposal was approved, with the three Democrats voting for it. And the county's House and Senate delegations were backing different bills.
Both versions are still alive. The House version, House Bill 825, got preliminary approval from the full House of Delegates on Saturday. But if the Senate and House can't agree on the same legislation, the bill can't reach Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk for his signature.
After Friday's vote, Simonaire said he was worried that this, in fact, will be what happens.
"It's just a little discouraging," Simonaire said. "When you think you have it, you're within grasp of victory, and you see it snatched from you ... this is life in Annapolis."