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Kelley replaces Gladden as Senate committee vice chair

Sen. Delores Kelley replaces city's Sen. Lisa Gladden as Judicial Proceedings Committee vice chair

Veteran Baltimore County Sen. Delores G. Kelley will replace the city's Sen. Lisa A. Gladden as vice chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Friday.

Kelley, 80, will move from the seat she has held on the Finance Committee since 1998. Gladden will move to Finance, the committee on which she served when she was first elected to the Senate in 2002.

Both Kelley and Gladden, 52, are African-American Democrats from the Baltimore region. Kelley was elected to the Senate in 1990 after a single term in the House of Delegates. A former professor and dean at what was then Coppin State College, she served on Judicial Proceedings during her first Senate term.

In a news release, Miller described Kelley as "one of the brightest minds in the Senate." One of the more liberal members of the Senate, she is known for her strong advocacy for legislation on domestic violence and juvenile justice.

Kelley's elevation creates a rare circumstance under which both the chair and vice chair of a General Assembly standing committee come from a single jurisdiction. Sen. Robert A. Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat, chairs the committee, which deals with crime and punishment as well as civil law.

"It'll be hard work but I think I'm up for it," said Kelley. She noted that she has frequently proposed bills in the committee's jurisdiction and has appeared before the panel frequently to present them.

Kelley said she has not yet decided whether to seek re-election in 2018 but has been raising campaign money.

Gladden, who has multiple sclerosis, missed about half of this year's legislative session with health problems after a fall. During the session, she was temporarily replaced on Judicial Proceedings by Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden of Baltimore, a Democrat who moved over from the Budget & Taxation Committee. He has since returned to that panel. 

There has been public speculation, which Gladden has not confirmed, that she might resign her seat before next year's legislative session because of health problems.

Gladden could not be reached immediately to comment.

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