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Speaker removes caucus chairman from committee

Anita Kumar

The Republican House Speaker, Bill Howell, removed Del. Ken Plum, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, from a committee he has sat on for 28 years.

Plum, who has been in the House for three deades and now serves as the Democratic caucus chairman, also served as co-chairman of that same committee, Commerce and Labor, at one time.

Plum questions whether he was removed because of his leadership position (he was elected last year to replace Brian Moran, who resigned to run for governor) and raised $400,000 for Democratic candidates in the House last fall.

"Why would a 28-year veteran and former chairman be removed?'' he asked. "What's the message in that?''

In the House, the speaker wields absolute control over who sits on which committees.

Paul Nardo, Howell's chief of staff, said the Speaker removed him from Commerce and Labor in order to put him back on another committee Plum had served on before and wanted to return to -- Science & Technology.

Plum served on two committees last year -- Commcerce and Labor and Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources -- and now serves on three committees -- Science & Technology, Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources and Rules.

It's true Plum asked last year to get back onto Science & Technology, but he says he never wanted to get back if it meant leaving Commerce and Labor. He said he has more experience with electricity regulation and deregulation than anyone in the House.

Nardo also said Howell chose to reward Plum for his new Democratic leadership position by putting him on the Rules Committee, which helps determine what bills are heard in the House.

Nardo said many delegates are not happy with their committee assignments, and that's what happens when 100 members each receive at least two committees assignments. Not everyone can get exactly what they want, he said.


By Anita Kumar  |  January 18, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates  
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