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Back and forth on the PSC bill

Tempers flared today on the floor of the Maryland Senate over legislation that would effectively fire Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's appointees to the Public Service Commission in the wake of proposed electric rate hikes of up to 72 percent.

"It's probably the most mean-spirited bill I've seen since I've been in the legislature," said Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus (R-Somerset). "It's opportunistic piling on. ... This is a firing bill in its ugliest form."

Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, chairman of the Finance Committee, countered that lawmakers needed to take steps to restore public confidence in a regulatory panel that appeared to have a "warm and cozy" relationship with the companies it regulates.

The bill would end the tenure of Ehrlich's five appointees and give the legislature control over four of their replacements.

Republicans made several unsuccessful attempts to amend the bill. One measure would have prohibited lawmakers who voted for a 1999 deregulation bill from making appointments to the commission. That would rule out the current presiding officers of both the chambers.

By John Wagner  |  March 28, 2006; 7:37 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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Yes! Yes! Yes! The entire commission should be fired! It is exactly this type of cozy relationship between former industry representatives turned politicos and a commission that oversees that same industry that has completely destroyed public trust in our system. We see the same thing due to cronyism in the federal government and we all know how much credibiilty they have with the public now. We need to have non-partisan, impartial, qualified people who have the public's best interest in mind on every commission.

Posted by: Mr. K | March 29, 2006 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. K.

However, I'll also add that I have absolutely no issue with the Republican amendment that would prohibit those lawmakers who voted for deregulation in 1999 from making appointments to the commission. Like those leaders in both chambers, I may be a Democrat, but that can't prevent me from being fair about this - it was a Democrat-controlled general assembly that allowed the deregulation in the first place. Since the blame can be spread so well among so many, it's only fair there should be consequences for all.

Posted by: corbett | March 29, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. K too.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 29, 2006 3:40 PM | Report abuse

With "life imitating life", I am amused that you Maryland consumers have the same quid pro quo problem that Florida had with a Republican selected PSC COmmissioner or two. Lila jaber became an advocate for the power companies. And in 2002, the phone and electric companies funded the SEARUC convention in Miami. As both PSC and the Legislature were having rate increase dockets and legislation reviewed and APPROVED.
As you know, we are the other half of Maryland's nightmare, the FP&L merger. And FP&L's costs and rates are also being challenged. But now that the Florida Legislature is pushing through an Energy Bill (SB 888) that will allow state eminent domain for power company siting and transmission lines over city and county objections. It will allow FP&L nuclear plants to be devoid of competitive bidding, and allow them to charge the consumers of Florida for 10 years of nuclear plant building charges BEFORE the plant gives us energy.
And now that the NRC shut down the FP&L Turkey Point old nuclear power plant, I wonder if you consumers know you will be funding this merger too. At least your Maryland legislators feel SHAME. And your Constellation power company execs snake out of meetings to avoid the Press. In Florida, and the "Land of Jeb" power companies and Legislators feel no shame...

Posted by: Peggy Arvanitas | April 3, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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