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Senate panel delays vote on higher education secretary amid new complaints

State higher education secretary faces new confirmation delay, as senators mull more complaints.

A Senate committee held up approval for a second time of Jennie C. Hunter-Cevera to be Maryland's new higher education secretary, as lawmakers said they had received unspecified new complaints about her.

Sen. Jamie Raskin, chairman of the Executive Nominations panel, said his office had received more information Monday that he considered relevant to her nomination to direct the Maryland Higher Education Commission. He did not say what the information was.

Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat, said he had been in touch with Gov. Larry Hogan's appointments secretary, James D. Fielder Jr., about the new information.  And Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said the committee is weighing whether to hold another hearing on her nomination.

Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said Monday night that Hunter-Cevera is "highly qualified and has a proven track record of working collaboratively across the Maryland University System. Governor Hogan looks forward to her confirmation by the Senate."

The committee delayed acting last week on five of Hogan's top aides, including Hunter-Cevera, after interviewing each of them.

Hunter-Cevera came in for the stiffest questioning at the time. Raskin shared with committee members then that while she had been president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, the faculty had given her a vote of no confidence to register their unhappiness over her management.

On Monday, the panel voted without discussion recommend the other four top Hogan aides whose names had been held up a week. They were Carol A. Beatty, secretary of the Department of Disabilities; Mark J. Belton, secretary of natural resources, David Garcia, secretary of information technology, and William M. Pallozzi, superintendent of the Maryland State Police.

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