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Bickering continues

nominees still wait

March 18, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Partisan politics has been a running theme during this year's session of the Maryland General Assembly, beginning with an acrimonious special session to reform the state's medical malpractice laws before the regular session started.

Since then, the tension that has bubbled beneath the surface has sporadically erupted, with Republicans and Democrats tossing accusations at each other about everything from the way the malpractice debate was handled to who cares more about education.

So when Democratic senators, allegedly on orders from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, voted Monday to hold up confirmation of a number of Gov. Robert Ehrlich's nominees to state boards, Republicans seethed.

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Two of those nominees were from Washington County.

On Thursday afternoon, a handful of Republican lawmakers summoned journalists to a news conference outside the State House to denounce what they called "obstructionist" political ploys by the Democrats.

Specifically, they accused Democratic leaders of holding up confirmation of Ehrlich's appointments for political purposes, and manipulating budget cuts to eliminate the state jobs of Ehrlich loyalists.

As the minority party, said Senate Minority Leader Lowell Stoltzfus, Republicans had for decades respected the rights of a succession of Democratic governors to make their appointments - even when they didn't like them.

"We have never stooped to this level of obstruction," he said.

On Thursday evening, Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said he was surprised during Monday's meeting of the Executive Nominations Committee when, at the end of confirmation hearings, Sen. Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County, made a motion to hold up a floor vote on a lengthy list of Ehrlich nominees. No definite date for taking the nominations forward was given, he said, but the motion carried.

There was no explanation for holding the nominations, he said, but based on what he was told by other committee members, he believed the action came at Miller's request.

It's not unusual to hold onto a few nominations for later consideration, Munson said. "The surprise was that (Miller) held the entire calendar."

Those nominees included county residents Marc M. Gamerman to the Board of Chiropractic Examiners, and Carla K. Viar to the Board of Certified Interior Designers.

"Why he did it, I don't know," Munson said. "I was not happy that the senator held it, but he has the perfect right to do it at this point I don't think it's a big deal, but it will be if he continues to hold it."

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