Zirkin named to head Senate Judicial Proceedings panel

The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore County's Senator Zirkin to head Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Sen. Bobby Zirkin, who cast the pivotal vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to repeal Maryland's death penalty, will take over the chairmanship of that panel, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announced Wednesday.

Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat, inherits the coveted post from Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County, who was elected attorney general last month.

Elected to the Senate in 2006 after two terms in the House of Delegates, Zirkin represents the Pikesville-Owings Mills area. In 2013, he reversed his longstanding support for capital punishment and cast the decisive vote in committee to allow Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to repeal the death penalty go to the Senate floor. It then passed.

Zirkin, 43, will be the youngest senator serving as chairman of one of the Senate's four standing policy committees. The Judicial Proceedings Committee handled such topics as crime and punishment, traffic laws and the rules governing civil suits. Baltimore Sen. Lisa A. Gladden will continue as vice chair.

Meanwhile, Miller put Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County, thought to be Zirkin's main competitor for the Judicial Proceedings Committee, in charge of the panel that will considers appointments that require Senate confirmation. As chairman of the Executive Nominations Committee, the liberal Democrat Raskin will be in a position to vet Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan's choices for top positions.  The previous chairwoman, Baltimore County Democratic Sen. Delores Kelley, was named vice chair. 

The appointments to his Democratic Senate leadership team were among several announced by Miller Wednesday in the wake of an election in which one of his committee vice chairmen, Sen. Roy Dyson of St. Mary's County, was defeated. Miller named Sen. Paul Pinksy of Prince George's County, among the most outspoken environmentalists in the Senate since taking his seat in 1994, to take Dyson's vice chairmanship of  the Education, Health and the Environment Committee. Baltimore's Sen. Joan Carter Conway will continue to head that panel.

Other appointments:

  • Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. of Montgomery County will become vice chairman of the Budget & Taxation Committee.
  • Baltimore Sen. Catherine Pugh will become majority leader. Sen. Katherine Klausmeier of Baltimore County will be her deputy.
  • Sen. James "Ed" DeGrange of Anne Arundel County will move from vicee chairman of Executive Nominations to vice chairman of the Rules Committee.
  • Sen. Nancy J. King of Montgomery County will chair the Budget & Taxation subcommittee on education, business and administration. 
  • Sen. Douglas J. J. Peters will chair the Democratic caucus and head the Budget & Taxation pensions subcommittee.
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