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Zucker to head Democratic Caucus; Senate president names other key appointments –

by Judith Hruz


District 14 Sen. Craig Zucker will chair the Senate Democratic Caucus as the 2020 session of the Maryland General Assembly kicks off its 90-day session Jan. 8.

Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-Dist. 4) of Baltimore will serve as vice chair.

Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Dist. 46) of Baltimore, who was unanimously selected by the Democratic Caucus as the next Maryland Senate president, made the appointments in December.

Ferguson, who grew up in the Flower Valley community of Montgomery County, will succeed longtime Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who announced in late October that he was stepping down as president. He is battling prostate cancer.

Miller (D-Dist. 27) said he will continue to serve the remainder of his term as senator. He is the longest serving Senate president in the United States.

In his appointment announcement, Ferguson says Zucker understands how to wade through the myriad of issues facing the Senate and will be a key member of the leadership team.

Zucker also will continue to serve as vice chair of the Senate Rules Committee. Sen. Joanne Benson (D-Dist. 24) of Prince George’s County will continue to serve as chair of the committee.

Other key appointments for Montgomery County senators include:

Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Dist. 15) of Potomac will continue to serve as vice chair of the Finance Committee. Sen. Delores Kelley (D-Dist. 10) of Baltimore County will continue to serve as chair.

“Feldman has been heralded for his leadership on issues of health, transit and energy during the last session and has the respect of all his colleagues for his fairness and ability to forge a compromise,” Ferguson says in his appointment letter.

Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville will serve as vice chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Dist. 22) of Prince George’s County will continue as chair.

“Kagan has served ably in the Senate since 2016 on the committee, and has been an active voice on every issue that comes through the committee,” Ferguson says during his appointment. He also calls her “a fierce advocate for municipalities and the nonprofit sector.”

Sen. Will Smith (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring will serve as chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee and Sen. Jeff Waldenstreicher (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington will serve as vice chair.

Smith “is widely praised for his willingness to listen to all members of the committee,” Ferguson says, adding that he comes from the long line of heavyweights from Montgomery County,” including U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Dist. 8), U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D).

Ferguson calls Waldenstreicher “a leader in the Senate on issues of corporate and civil laws,” adding he gained a reputation for his willingness to work with all members of the Senate.

Sen. Nancy King (D-Dist. 39) of Montgomery Village will serve as majority leader and Sen. Susan Lee (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda will continue to serve as majority whip.

Other statewide Senate appointments include:

Sen. Guy Guzzone (D-Dist. 13) of Howard County will serve as chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee and Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Dist. 21) of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties will serve as vice chair.

Melody Griffith (D-Dist. 25) of Prince George’s County will serve as president pro-tem and Kathy Klausmeier (D-Dist. 8) of Baltimore will serve as president pro-tem emeritus.

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