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Senate Seeks Additional Advise and Consent

Over cries of partisanship from Republicans, the Maryland Senate today gave preliminary approval to a bill that would require Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s cabinet secretaries to face a second confirmation vote by the chamber if the state's first GOP governor in a generation is re-elected in November.

"Why?" Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus (R-Somerset) demanded as debate over the Democrat-backed measure began.

"Why not?" Sen. Paula C. Hollinger (D-Baltimore County) shot back, arguing that many other appointments in state government are term-limited.

Republicans said that they suspect the bill, sponsored by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) is directed primarily at Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan. Lawmakers have sparred repeatedly with the former Republican delegate on many issues, including his department's decision to withhold about $26 million in local funding for road projects approved last year by lawmakers.

Stoltzfus defended Flanagan's performance and said the bill was "partisanship raising its ugly head. ... It's very mean-spirited. It's not where we want to go."

"I don't know what this body is afraid of, unless it's another term by the current governor," added Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Cecil).

Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) drew laughter from some colleagues when she argued that the bill was not partisan because it would also apply to the cabinet of future Democratic governors. Two Democrats, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, are seeking to unseat Ehrlich.

On lawmaker, Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), said he doesn't believe the bill goes far enough: It should also include the head of the Public Service Commission, heh said, referring to the embattled agency that recently announced electric rate increases of up to 72 percent.

The Senate gave preliminary approval to Miller's bill, 27-20, with six Democrats joining the chamber's 14 Republicans in opposing it.

By John Wagner  |  March 21, 2006; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , Governor  
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Why not indeed ?
This is an excellent idea. Certainly the department heads serve at the pleasure of the Governor, but their performance and suitability to serve a second term should receive the same scrutiny as when they were first nominated. Let them be questioned again by the representatives of the people who pay their salaries.

Posted by: jmsbh | March 21, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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