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Lawmakers call hearing to press Hogan administration on crab manager's firing

Maryland lawmakers are demanding an explanation of why the manager of the state's crab fishery was fired.

State lawmakers have called on Gov. Larry Hogan's administration to testify publicly whether political pressure prompted the firing of the longtime manager of the state's crab population.

They are asking state Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton and other members of the Hogan administration to answer their questions at a Monday afternoon hearing before dozens of members of both chambers of the General Assembly.

The lawmakers also invited Brenda Davis, who was dismissed last month from her post as manager of the state's crab fishery.

Several Democrats have accused Hogan and Belton of bowing to pressure from watermen seeking to loosen restrictions on crab harvesting.

Del. Kumar Barve, a Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the House's environment committee, said lawmakers want to know why Davis was terminated, and if her dismissal suggests a larger problem.

"We want to make sure that these agencies that are designed to protect the Chesapeake Bay are functioning properly," he said. "There's more to it than just Brenda Davis."

A spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources said officials plan to respond to the lawmakers' request by the end of the week.

Belton, who has already faced questions from lawmakers about Davis' dismissal, defended the decision. Members of the Senate asked him about it at a budget hearing Friday.

"It is inappropriate for me to discuss personnel actions," Belton told the senators.

Belton previously said he has the right to ensure that the department has "the right people in the right places."

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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